The poems from Thursday’s Treasures of Tutankhamun-inspired poetry jam continue.
The Songs of King Tut 2
Once in Egypt
Isn’t Egypt in Africa? Isn’t the Nile
one of Africa’s rivers? Nefertiti,
Egyptian, African, Queen. My
father fell in love with Nefertiti
when he was but a child, white
boy in a country classroom, gazing
at his fantasy, Nefertiti, his first vision
of royal beauty. He never fell out of
love; he never fell out of worship.
Forty years or more past his first
sighting of her, she still rested
above his fireplace, until the new
wife moved her.
For a time she held up books on a
shelf in his office, old ones he didn’t
read anymore, old encyclopedias.
Nefertiti did not take kindly to her
new locale. In our quiet beds, amid
our dreams, we all heard her crash
against the carpet, glass shattering
the night. Jumping violently from the
shelf in ignorant rage, she flew into
the darkness of the night. New wives
can be like that, alabaster smiles that
know how to brave a desert, put a
painting in its place and a bust upon
Poor lonely Nefertiti. My father found
his African Princess in Linda, who is
alive, and abandoned his lover who
had died. In the dining room he
studies hieroglyphic symbols for a
test next week. A mouse found a
thorn there unprotected; my father
pulled it free and asked, what is
the symbol for rain?
My husband does not know the
symbol for rain but I will let him
kiss my freckles anyway.
Crowns and Thieves
Did he take the crown?
When the vase was found the
crown was missing, having
been wrenched off by ancient thieves.
Once they tried to wrench my crown free
but I cling to it still, coveting
hands knowing hidden value.
Children dream of crowns they’d steal, with
gems of gummy bears and rock candy.
I fear becoming a thief, finding
joy in what others lack.
There is an ancient thief who tries to
steal my crown – convince me it is not there.
I envy the other thief, today with Him, in Paradise.
For a thief’s confession brought redemption.
(And I thought the thieves would bring
the iced tea.)
Plumes in the Desert
Caution stamped deep, I confess
I am still lost about the meaning of
the word “unguent.”
Unguent black slathered pulls fear from
skin, softens the heart for night.
Some days, I feel like a bird whose
legs weigh me down.
I have these wings.
I flap these wings.
Whatever are they for?
The lie of flight on a bird whose
legs weigh her down.
Adorn me with ostrich plumes
if you must, send me unprotected
to the desert.
For something so stark, the desert
overflows with distractions,
creatures of myth stamping hoof on
sand, overflowing desert speaking
richness out of bleakness.
Beside ebony water, comes lion,
comes bird, both still.
If you lack an ostrich plume,
find a crown of sparrow feathers
behind the house or any plumed thing,
a tuft of cotton from the drawer in
But still the knight can
only move forward one, sideways
two, or vice versa,
knight with helmet plumes regal,
royal feathers fit for courtly combat.
I too fall in love with men and
women I cannot have, those who
never knew me and
never live again.
I love the sound of sleeping children.
I heard the tiny cries of a newborn
queen today. Through telephone
wires she serenaded me.
Sugar makes more sense to
me than diamonds.
A Question of Carnelian
My heart is made of beaten gold,
sent roughshod through the refiner’s fire;
Beach glass treasure found in sugar sand,
its deep red, like sard, born from impurities
made really red for blushing.
Beaten gold, such abuse to obtain
Cotton carnelian, combs of gold
in bathrooms, on mummies, impure
Glass blushes, red brushes me, raises my head.
Carnelian bears bad reputation,
mercy for the impure.
Mercy for the impure: I could use some of that.
I had to find images of carnelian to understand.
A new substance to me. New tones and delights.
Why do we banish red, hide it in back
rooms, paint it on hidden
limbs in brick-dark tombs?
A Poet’s Lament
Where is the Midwest man?
Where is Maureen?
We must go
before the monsters
arrive for the mash.
Bring the camel;
we must go,
wrenching words from
- Taking a Scottish Road Trip with Jorge Luis Borges - September 22, 2020
- “30 Poems to Memorize (Before It’s Too Late)” by David Kern - September 15, 2020
- Poets and Poems: John Balaban and “Empires” - September 8, 2020