Poetry (older poem)


“Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me.” ~Freud

The stream eternal pours out of sky, hidden before naked eye.
Peer within to grasp. Surrender to relax our aiming at the target.
Miss the mark, erringly human. Taste waters of forgetfulness.
Your secrets never were! Desire is not central: it comes and goes.
As body, thought, posture, scene. In the dew drop sunlight gleams.
Dig or fly, tread, swim, try: but give yourself the peace to lie.

(C) 2014 Emma Gabriel


Flowers other than Gold

The naivist from impoverished lands,
like a simple cow, proud and easily tricked,
corralled from her plants and vegetative state,
thrown into a world of manifest profiteering,
is betrayed.

Our beloved architect,
prosaic savior,
enlightened scribe,
gritty American,
watches through the glass,
the melted panes,
spared the shattering
of Krystalnacht,
presents hefty insights
that he’s made up
from the heated security
of his imagined usefulness.

For what self is in need,
so desperately of its own history,
colored by myopic polish,
exclusion, and exaggerated relevance?

No, self is now, America,
and our past is behind us.
And the chrysanthemums lie,
neither broken nor sown,
a token of the imagined
tragedy that we use
to hide our plainer sight
of the sadder art,
the longer art,
the myriad betrayals
within us.

[Prompted by Steinbeck’s “The Chrysanthemums”]

(c) 2017 Emma Gabriel

The Three Oceans (poem)

Salum et Aequor

The turbulent and smooth oceans lie over a third,
and each in perfect rest of the other;
repose and stasis are just ripples upon the folds,
occluding broader currents, syntactical, gnomic supports,
sine waves twisting in helical intricacy, yet bridged
throughout and within, by shuttered, visionary geometry;

An absolute coextension of “affirmo rescindoque,”
yet lacking architecture to fall short of that hubristic ghost,
while aimed manifold to infinity, but ensnaring itself into itself:

How negations became divided past their modalities,
their constructively probabilistic angularities,
their relevance, divorced from the context
of their reticent incompleteness, their share in nothing,
so still they concretize densely amid absent particularity,
extended and defiant toward any other directionality,
that the miracle of their undoing is more abundant
than the unlimited beyond water’s rest.

And seeking its abnegation into the unknown, karmic mysteries
that show dread Maya’s smiling and Nataraja’s dancing;
and Sri Hari, supine to his primordial Sakti, the vajra is molten
across countless potentiality, resplendent in all excellences,
manifest inversely while diametrically, as multifarious wellspring,
given freely still, so germane enough to a human sense of wisdom,
poured out in due measure to our own nature and stewardship.

Yet being not oceanic, either–for appearance
never satisfied its absence, though visualized in hypotheses,
vainly strung about, and as elaborate denials of their mortality–
the nexus, lonely apex of all knowledge, is one of limitation,
formed up and sifted across cold lenses, borne in the delusion
that principled inspection is not merely its own antipathy,
neurosis, cast in a harsh craft of gross gnashing upon the outskirts,
penumbra to the angels’ song, least dust to burn and expire!

Just seizing on the fires that blaze across open fields of wind, alight and singing,
where every living chord rings fully, symphonic freedom beyond thought,
pulls in embrace, scented memory, all affections, preserved and appreciated,
and known forever, but through us just the mundane.

Priest Rendition [05-04-17]

© 2017 Emma Gabriel

Life and Chances

Early this morning–
I thought sincerely,
about being seen by others,
all for the better, of course,
and of having good things said.
So I thought to myself,
“I got another rep.”
Then I laughed out loud.

I saw myself in my mind, with a lady I don’t get along with. We were talking about her interest in astrophysics, entropy, and the fate of stellar universes. But then my voice interjected matter-of-factly, “She doesn’t want to be friends, Emma.”

I so wanted to leap again to those idyllic heights, assuaged by the dreamy security that none of what was imagined would come to pass, and hover in the delightful realm of possibilities.
Where movement costs no effort, so that things collapse into themselves as readily as they extend defiantly, though shell and schema fold, just like layers to the ocean.
And going back there seizes her higher thoughtfulness,
recalcitrant while entropic, into clutches of deep mystery,
where language speaks itself, fourfold,
interwoven as syntactic directories:
splayed toward higher dimensionality,
operating axioms implying triangularity,
referring always to elliptical logics that
find referents with reference to possibility itself,
coordinated in singular yet formulaic redundancy,
not from depth or reach or even breadth…
or retiary silver emerald webs, or pillars, spiraling minarets,
so elegant, gold and ivory, chryselephantine,
and delicate, too, vastly removed from need and energy.

But a gentler voice told me, and sang with my real beauty, of a gift from God, that dreams have lost whatever hypnotic character had held me outside of the truth, that they invite me into their majesty as readily as some cloudscape under dreaming colors of effulgence and dignity. Pipes, blaring, in united exaltation, elsewhere, completely– and so sad to tell another of this place, this unearthly place, which a poet called heaven, for it can be shown to no one else, because it becomes clearer each time, like an image over a still water on a barely hazy day with lingering saturation…

And I thought of math camp back in summer of third grade, using those green blocks representing decimal value integers. And then of how this “math camp,” as my parents had called it, was pretty engaging and interesting. I think it must have gone well for me not to have had any behavioral problems to memory. In any case, the feeling was one of doing well and enjoying learning about fractions and decimals. The teacher, who, oddly, escapes recollection, told my parents I was “good at story problems,” which is odd since I seemed to have done well in everything we went over. Story problems then were just as they are now, and that is to say, not that easy and not that fun.

Thinking back on this experience demonstrates my love of learning and abstract thinking. I have always loved these things throughout my lifetime. I am also very appreciative toward my parents for having given me this educational opportunity so early on in life. I was often cognizant of how they had started me nearly a year earlier than the other students in the same grade level. In fact, when it came to fifth grade, my parents were even able to arrange it so that I could leave math class early and go across the hall to Ms. Rosemary’s art classroom and hang out there for about thirty minutes or so. This was early afternoon, of course, as any Midwesterner would tell you. She was a well-mannered art teacher, and come to think of it, she had lovely, long blond hair with a hint of copper tones to its brunette and sandy coloring. She usually had it tied back and was a quiet lady.

My project, at which I worked for a at least a few weeks, and while I think on the other weeks of which, I can’t quite give satisfactory account, was to draw a biographical history of Van Gogh in a book I had made. I remember drawing a few pages in it. The book was very fascinating, though, and it is what I based the drawings on. It was a lovely oversize art book on the artist. I so loved his art at that time.

The local art museum was at the University of Michigan’s main campus in Ann Arbor—a fairly quiet and diverse college town (though revelry was widely accepted), with a large population of international students, a history of radical liberalism, and a tolerant pot culture, it was nevertheless a place that I was taken with right away. Stunning, while marble buildings in the neoclassical style, lawns, and bright students graced the campus, and its art museum was full of romantic landscapes on the first floor from painters in Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Germany. Most of these were more generally from the renaissances in those countries and onward through the late Nineteenth. There were two great statues by a French artist in the neoclassical rendition that are still there today.

My father would often take me there because he loved going there with me, and besides, knew by fifth grade, that I was different than the other children. We went to a Picasso exhibit several times. I took my art book and drew the artist’s “Lady with a Green Hat.” The book of colored paper I drew it in was made by my father’s first wife, though I only knew her after their divorce. Maryvonne actually made and bound it from scratch for me at her bindery one afternoon. Actually, it took the whole day, but was hugely exciting for me. I helped her carry out the whole process. At the end, we printed the cover with golden letters in a Roman typeset. The binding was black. Over the years, I drew many sketches in it.

Although my book of art was lost, like so many chances and accomplishments in life, I will not forget the honored memory and work of my parents, who fought for the brightness of their child’s future.

Ambidextrous [10-2016]


To thread the needle is swift;
it will seem as one to them.

Sinister and manual, like reading,
left to right, its first time through.

Dexterity this adroit schemes,
for repairs are as good as recompense.
The droves upon droves–
peering in the wide, openly
shuttered in or scared out–
remain mystified by something so little.

You have heard: The spirit willing, the body, weak.

So beautiful She has made us,
breathing syncretism, my sisters and I,

who illumine in so many reptilian eyes around us.

Release (poem)


Don’t be afraid, friend: it’s just my soul.
Take it–all of it! Have a great feast.
I’ve lived as a ghost with you and your brothers
while you’ve given just a ghost of your own soul.

But now, have mine. And every piece of it!
The mirror-shaped hard candies from third grade.
The girl pushing me on the tire swing after school.
The tears that fell when I sang out to Mary,
alone in the monastic orchards of Vina.

Savor it. Devour it.
For I already gave it in life.
So to see you take it in death is my honor,
to eagerly receive powerlessness as a lesson
I will never be able to reflect on again.

So take that thought, that trust, and that face:
eyes, letting go of judgment and suspicion,
mouth, silent to food and laughter,
hands, cold to gentleness and limp to friendship.
Take all that I ever was. Please, take it now.

Look into me while I live,
though my days are emptying out,
and see that my life has been little,
and that it accomplished even less.
We’ve seen more than words can ever tell.

So take me, and know–
that I am finally happy to die in you.
I could never grip. I could never hold.

All sweetness I’ve felt as a creature
is now a grain of sand on a beach,
dust that was bound by the ocean,
loosened, and washed over.

(c) 2016 Emma Gabriel

Alesha’s Reflection

She was there, walking by the shore, her blouse and loose-fitting pants were rustling with the evening wind. The Pacific crashed behind her, and the sun shone in her face. She thought to herself that she never had imagined sh would make it this far. From having neurotic fear of the nearest small city as a child, she had travelled all over the world by now, had lived in countless cities, had known so many lovers and lost friends. She thought back to so long a time she’d lived, always being one step ahead of some phantom that lurked around each of her efforts and dreams. Her days seemed, for the most part, mediocre, underexposed, unrecognized, and misunderstood. But was that just her own projection onto things?

For the life of her, she couldn’t understand how other people were never aware of some indefatigable drive native to her experience of the world around her. Alesha had always been driven academically, but never seemed to be in step with the other children’s social aims. For some time, she considered herself “antisocial” and something of a loner, but eventually found most of her sconsolation for a very lonely life in books, and not too many, either.

The chill of another possible vision crept along her thigh, threatening her peace of mind like a sprain would threaten her body. Truthfully, she had a disposition toward this kind of morbid ideation that placed herself in front of some ruined version of her own instigation.

Just like she had learned, and to her great displeasure, at first, to become dispassionate about how she felt toward doing certain things, and what came to her mind first was her intentional acts of charity; but her poverty wasn’t exactly intentional. Instead, she just never cared about money as much as children her age. At least, that’s how she portrayed the scenario to herself in this current state of rumination.

Self-reflection be damned. She was too pensive. But she still knew that some day, that phantom would catch her. She wasn’t sure what she would find… Krsna, the Lord who showed her dreams of whole universes in his lighted breath, or terrifying Kali, some specter that chills the blood, as London and Poe seemed to think? Maybe meeting God was like this, she imagined, her toes sinking aimlessly into the low-tide sands:

Like knowing the light behind all fire;
and having it pierce your entire flesh;
never growing tired, but only weary;
restlessly forging through the desert;
and on the way along, drying up;
slowly falling down, as a dance;
about to wind to its final machination;
but in the very end of all thinking;
when there is no longer any doubt;
regarding the weight of our cup;
to give away even our power over that;
finally dying enough to know truly;
that all was poured, to a drop, in us, perfectly.

Alesha congratualted herself on another great speech lost in the currents of the mind.

(c) Emma Gabriel 2016