Some Poetry

by Margaret Magnus

copyright 1998
all rights reserved

Margaret's Magical Letter Page
Margaret's Hone Page

Childhood/Youth Poems

my children
whisper their thoughts
my children

they have small shoes
and patter through their home
in differing directions

left and then right
they know which way to go

who is to say
to what brotherhood
they owe allegiance
by whose logic
the old order
is scattered in their wake

No! No!
they say
and then whisper in my ear
in their mystical tongue

surely they speak of trust
and little feet

published at
Word Salad, fall 2000


What eyes look down
And place transparent hands
Upon my thoughts.

He seeps into a glance
The lines of the hills
And animates.
He looks so in my face
And comes ferociously near
I cannot stand it.

I retreat into my chambers
He cannot enter without invitation
He cannot
But He waits

Not one language I fashion
But He learns it
And rewrites my words.
He whispers them through the cracks
As I search the fog

I have forgotten how to ask His simple presence
Ask any simple presence
For as a wave of memory passes before mine eyes
He grants me no leisure or reflection
But stands immediately before me.
Oh, He is beautiful.

And no,
He rides no steed
Along a distant ridge
He is more familiar than my own footsteps
And so I can only acknowledge
He has found the address.

For here at long last
Stand I.

published at
Dove Cottage

These fires
These fires
They burn

In swelling hands
These heavy fires

Through black black night
Step, step
Step, step
Through night

What light
Through fires



Writer's Forum


Cover over me
And thunder dimly
Dimly sound the voice
Yet I do stand
And still I walk


Is heaven disemboweled
And rain clear water over me
Over me sweet wine
Such wild, sweet wine.

Poetry of the Soul


At a watering hole
I lift the cup to me
And I do drink

Oh, God, for a voice
And Memory to fulfill it by
Else a thoughtless word
Gather speed
And run my race

I stand hard by

Through a long night
We sing songs
But we do sing them
We do sing

I lift the cup to me
And I do drink

published at
Blue Dawn


What forests breathe in horizontal light
And stillness pour its thought through blackened branches
I am of December air whose memories drift invisible
And no fleshy owner
Of eyes and stockinged feet
Of other parts and pieces

Gather ye singers
And gather ye winds
Oh, gather ye
For we shall walk a long road
And never doubt our song



I turn back home
And see the light lie low across the grass.
When I was four
I was so sane
And saw how lilacs
Lean and form a fragrant purple corridor
To my door.

There is no exaggerated poetry in this.
It is that way.
Every childhood must have light and lilacs
And a home to which they lead.



On Studying Language

I step thoroughly
The water soaks my ankles
And penetrates my entire boney foot.
Each word scrapes its shoulders
Through the narrow passage to my mind
And finally stands contemplative
Before the abyss.

It introduces itself gingerly
The awesome mind approaches
And holds it with such tenderness
Rejoicing like a prodigal.

I observe
And feel the calm Author of all at my shoulder
I long to kiss each solemn introduction
For each truth requires a witness
Lest it despair.



Fatten the calf
And now already ring the bell
Its steady sound rise up the hill
A table spread
And my nose is in the wind already
Already in the wind.

published at
Dove Cottage


I think a line runs through the cloth
that now surrounds my ears and eyes.
I feel the friction of the thread
as it travels against the fabric.
And a tug down the way
to acknowledge arrival.
Sometimes I even learn
of an unmistakable pattern
yet lovely
witnessing to a grander arrangement.

But everything of significance
I only feel
The paper is too close to my nose
to read anything at all.
Could I only view from afar...

I feel myself plummet into hypothesis.

Nay, nay, nay, nay
The evening light
spreads such sweet peace across the valley
And the smells have unearthly memories...

This day is wanting nothing.

Writer's Forum


I see an image framed
The thought it answered waiting
In a darker place.

The play of sounds
Reflects each gesture of the mind
And finds one day a tune
And then a chord
Each bitter note dissolved.
I have seen this.

And still I long to die of this ugly flood.
The color and demand.
God, spare me this tedious onslaught.
Why is it always the most distant and condemned drummer
Who knows the shortest path?
I would still the revelry with my mind
And walk complacent as a mountain lake.



When a thought arises,
each tender moment
rests itself upon the table.
Water drips upon the page
And you enter a line
along which an angel may flow.

I hear such unearthly sounds
and slowly learn not to grasp
I am aided by thoughts
which walk the night
like virgins who come upon dear understanding
and kneel
and rest the night in his arms.
They rise in the morning known,
but I assure you undefiled.

Send your feet another direction
one silent inclination
and thoughts approach and assist you.
Thoughts without drama
Their significance lies in the unavoidable seed
which waits through the days and must sprout.



an opening
and a dented existence

the mind is enchanted
and travels the line easily
so easily
only the smoothness of the long rails

Grant me a moment
and a conversation
I sense a red warm place

how freely I select the path
and how easily miss
in the inattentive moment


High, High
Held high, I say
And rapid run the water
Over stone

Clap, clap
Clap, clap

High and over stone
The mass and matter
Melt and slides a sheet
Shadows dance
In many ways they linger

Clap, clap
Clap, clap

Flow the river
And may it ever go
To the wide, wide sea




Man is a brotherhood
Who rests in a sea I have seen
His grandeur pleases the Eye of God
The light and shadows do play
But listen only
Know your innocence
Lift each faltering heart
And He will look from every face
And his foot shine
From every path.

published at
Spirit Site



Pour your colors out across a page
And walk bare heeled and toed.
Tramp your thoughts thoughout your home
And out through that very small window
Into a world.

They'll not have you for a serf.
A chain of alarms about your collar
Your song ceaselessly edited

Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk,....




behind the form what mind
does float
does inform each silent detail?

the wind sail hence and settle here
and scatter in it flakes of snow
that faultless and sublime
do dance and intermingle.

what mind would open conversation with me thus?
what madness do I suffer
to doubt this thought
that rests so unambiguous before my eyes?

I ask
what madness and what mind?




i assent
i assent to this life
to the climate
and the colors of the day
what food you put before me
i will eat
and look again
at all that seems to grate
against my inner wall

all that grates
is inattention
your face that smiled
but seemed to me a blur
as i jumped and thought to relocate
i know this
but i do ask
do not fail to witness for me
and what is perfect
in my gait and my intention
hold dear



i feel warmly toward words
each one so large
so round, cohesive, old
it's true
i have shoved their venerable spirits
into sentence after sentence

but i would at last pause
hear tell
how they prefer to walk out across a page
i sense their relief
sometimes i find a line
and Behold
they stand in ancient robes and vestments
quite at home again
and fresh as the lilies of the field



there are those hills
from whence help does stream like water
but i know this
they cannot be touched
their source not kissed nor held
one looks out over a valley
and longs to walk forever



a place
i see
a path
and breathing Presence

a fern grows
and black pine in the night
and something older
older still

and more familiar than memory
my head does tingle
with queasy awakening
how very old am i
how very old

my mind would enter
each time it pauses
and cannot but move on

i approach broad space

and fill with wide cold air

ere i am addressed

i do see and dare believe
the snow perhaps lies white in the dusk
and knows me
the line of trees along the hill
waits for me




a heavy thought
and cold feet
the black tar of mediocrity

place one foot upon the stair
and pause to observe the effect
the realms of understanding
sucked with such force through invisible pores
and this remarkable assistance

you resolve to know the circumstances
the grace with which thoughts dance

what action in this mechanical brain
finds this intolerable?

release one brown leaf
to sail upon the winds
sail on and sail on
also through night



I have seen and loved
Georgii Constantinovich
That poet-marshall
That wisest man of War
Who lived absolutely
In an absolute age
Who lived with an excellent hatchet
I saw the ecstasy and precision
With which each head was severed
And rolled off the platform.

One man is Bach
And his twin the marshall
Both sing wild songs
To an intolerably stupid mass.
Both sing and sing

I have loved Georgii Constantinovich
Who descended
As God's most excellent angel.

published with a sculpture of Zhukov by
Constantin Simun
in the Russian Museum


i experience unavoidable man
who gathers my ribboned thoughts
and squeezes them to nought
with a deep voice
and measured and competent rhythm

i am after all whole
i can breathe in anything
and breathe out nothing
each moment i fall and fall
and strong as oak
remain unaltered

i experience unavoidable man
who gathers my ribboned thoughts
and squeezes them to nought

published at
Word Salad, fall 2000


three times
i hear each word
and twice
ere i respond
i find it resting on my lap
and close my hand about it

at first
i would replace it
its irritating smell
invades my habits

then would i
have it
here in this pocket
to use
for myself

only then would i



emerge presence from calm intent
a soul in light
a thought
relieved of brooding destiny
who walks a merry path
though perhaps he know it not

oh that all my thoughts and neighbors
live their own life
that I may nudge none from without
but only know their generous undulations
from within




granted fine and sandy resistance
a walk through intolerable fire
for God's sake
cool these blazing temples

i hear tell of peace at Your long shore
You silently remove each object
all i have longed to see with mortal eye
to engage with mortal flesh
or hear with mortal ear
where is that mortal comrade
who knows my terror and my burning?
my loneliness?
also him have You withdrawn
or rendered powerless

where the Hand
that should now be visible
in the corners of my mind?
that i could feel it on my mortal shoulder
and solid in immortal space

You who carry me with such deftness
where the legions of angels
who should stand on either side?
where the singing
the easy anticipation?

I am Yours
this do I declare with all abandon
to you i cannot see
nor will I withdraw these my words
though i may falter
I do stand for my part
I stand and stand

the window over me
the thought surround me
i melt and enmesh
i accept both water and air

published at
Word Salad, fall 2000



only is

and swift as the Hand of God
moved once over the face of the water
and left no ripple
so it lies even now
down to its thoughtless depth

some small and silent thing
found its way from under that great blanket
and wanders now in peace
its mind at those very depths
which it alone heard

and so you see
that time does come over us
at first like a shadow



I have invited the Emporer
To join me in my meat and mead
He will come, I am sure of it
In a vast robe rich with ornament
And fringes of gold
His eyes exotically painted
Wide and slow he will come

Where does his wobbling path lead?
I smell death.

Father, I do kneel
and attention rise in me
as water fills the reed in spring
I see clear water



bless the mighty individual
who can let no sweet nor slender voice without
nab his pale, autonomous ear

the narrow tube out of hell
lies within

and now before your very eyes
does he dissolve
into laughable simplicity

before the gasping Child
spreads the unutterable Self

I cannot say, brothers
my face is torn from me
and i am hot and boundless
in this impossible place

but do bless me
and kiss my wet palms



where do you stand, my friend?
in what hot hand?
in what wheatfield?
in what troubled foreign land?

this same doubt consumes also me
again, again, again

the maple by my window
only grows green leaves in may
and sheds them in october

how strangely all that seemed so solid
and leaves only friendship
that gently defies dissolution

whence this remarkable sturdiness?
this grand expanse
that i so thoroughly overlooked?

(to Kostya)


a trough
seemed of significance

lightning surrounds me
flashing and unsustained
and my mind grows narrow
the string approach the note

i live amid haze and significance
and hunger like a dog in hot mirage
for one clear image
and like a dog grow mad and singular

not you, not you, not you
not anything

i prepare an altar
and rely thereon




You Who see beyond the city gates
i relinquish the throne
the father
the husband
the name
the face

how alone we walk the final miles
how we stand with the staff
how we await the dissolution




in every basket that floats among the reeds
there burns a fire
and a sober mountain of blue ice
buried and unaffected by its sea

i speak that strange and certain vision
for which the man
unnoticing surrenders more than just the world




follow joy

it will skip down a path
and wink like little brother Pan
now transparent in the shadow
now standing on the open road

it knows
and its fragrance grows more subtle

that vast and mighty universe of axiom and assumption
that bastion of relative truth
will expire i assure you
like morning mist

and the Mystery does tread slow and wide and real
available in the grains of every living stone
you know eternity must flash from transience
though perhaps you saw it only on one afternoon
in a face or sound

all you who humbly left the poetry to us
i speak to you and you
and only to myself
pick up your pen
the time has come

not one among you
but is the Christ and prophet
with a wise and merciful Hand



she she she she
comes walking
over wet stone
traces of ancient sound
run through her limb

i saw a legion at her back
who happily disbanded
sick with its non-existence

we know descent
through visions and seduction
on either side
how an unavoidable truth
came knocking at our brain
and blinded one eye
then overtook the face
and blinded the other

how she took us in
my God, how we dissolved
in sweet, sweet, sweet
and ancient union

she she she she
over wet stone




approach the silence
and open wide your massive doors
ho ho
creak the hinges

i do nothing that won't dissolve
so let me look upon Your Face

i let go of things and things and things
and cling to thoughts and gods
invented or grasped off an astral shelf
i know not

and now also the thought weighs heavy on my head
so let me see Your Face
Your Face
Your Face

Your Face
My Lord
Your Face




words, words
i conjure up your forest
in dense incantation
and dissolve into your night air

you throng of voices
you gathering of strange and sentient beings
you gentle sound
you silence
watch over me
yea, guide my speech and soul
through long and ancient darkness




Young man
While the wind yet blows fresh in your face
Do kiss her soft lips
And rejoice in her wild and merry spirit

But you maid
Must drive the horses to the water
And bathe your naked self
In the cold, blue sea
Know your mind
And love your work

You'll not fail to touch his tender heart
Nor shall you remain untouched
Bear his child if it please you

But live alone
Own your effort
Hear no critic
And give your heart and mind
To God

published at
Blue Dawn



a thought as pure as fire
came whistling through
and settled on my doorstep
to be touched and brought within

one thinks
and knows otherwise,
"'Tis but a gentle thought
it neither eats nor drinks
let it take its place among the others
there are legions
that lie scattered in my house."

and so it rests and warms itself
and slowly melts like winter water
grainy to the smell
and melts the house
and melts habit, alliance, eye and ear
until i stand alone
spread by the winds
with but one wild thought




Such a tenuous
Snip, Snip
place we arrange!
An English garden in the most voracious
of jungles.
And hourly
Snip, Snip
creep the weeds upon our lot
with stealthy fingers.
Snip, Snip
vigilant not to rest thought
Snip, Snip
what we excise
or our gaze

on that wide blackness




Holy You Be
I sit at my own right side
and endure

the rain rolls
I know its nature

i very nearly touch
and dissolve in the touch

kiss me

even You are powerless to deny

and after

do what You will
i sense already a swift dissolution
that leaves intact intangibles
a pleasant smell and crackle of leaves
a tender glance
i remember

many things




a thousand immortal leaves
eavesdrop on my thoughts
can it be that i am known?
how strangely they weave
and consistent with my mood



render yourself available to this forest
full of tines and fern
I approach ancient as the wind
follow me in

there is a dawning within the soul
a critical first moment
a mild thought
an overture

the dawning
strikes deep
and waxes on its sturdy foot

you will feel His approach
over the wave
as sure as the grain does grow


Thunder over the Hills

Who's down in the deep hollows?
I am, said a voice
What is your station?
I sing
Not you
Who else is there? Down below?
Yet I, said another voice
Who are you?
I neither sing nor dance, but am a master of circumstances.
Why do you call to me?
To give you notice of my coming.
Are you to be feared?
Only if you deny my entrance will you have fear.
Why must you come?
That you may acknowledge me.
Tell me something I do not know.
I serve only to remind you of what you know already.

The salvation of the smallest grain of sand is my own salvation. Every leaf that falls to the ground falls in me. Every blade of grass that seeks the sun rises in me and gives its gift of rising directly to me and to me alone. Every tree and every thought, every cloud that forms and passes was created for me and me alone. And every world more vast only for me. This was given me for my understanding, that I may know Myself, that I may come of my own free will, seeing what I have seen.

Father, I kneel before You. And Your Peace envelop me as the evening glides over the windy day.

These immense places and spaces of whose existence I am only dimly aware are not the Gift. They are only harbingers of the coming. I see the faintest puff on a distant horizon that signals Presence; a puff more wide than the world, more intricate and more profound. I feel promise of being revealed to Myself. Is that Your longing I sense or my own? Then take my fear firmly in hand, for Your Magnitude overwhelms me. Your Mind has never known a place so dark. But I come now singing a song.

I feel a little queasy as if cut adrift at sea, uncertain that anyone is aware that I am. Yet I do sense the silent hand which so deftly rearranges things according to some enigmatical logic. It jiggles some wires in my brain, and part of my mind begins to melt against all kinds of odds. This is a queasier feeling still. There is an ongoing monologue which repeats, "It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be. It can't be." And yet something in me knows very well that it is indeed, that the host has arrived and sits at the table at my invitation. And this small segment of my mind suspects the further thunderous arrangements being made on my behalf. The Certainty I felt in the response speaks to the magnitude and competence that anticipates a real call.

My mind is paralyzed in the vague Presence of something inconceivably vast. I make little concessions, progressively allowing my actions to be uninterpretable and strange. Each time I loosen my grip, I feel frightened before the world I believed in and embarrassed at the insignificance of the gesture in the face of that power that looms over me and waits. And yet each gesture is a gesture and is therefore without qualification. Each gesture gladdens the host. I feel His smile as certain as the sun warm on my shoulder. I tend to try to say that He made some kind of mistake. But I feel myself addressed in such a way that error is unthinkable, and that is a queasier feeling still. My impatience is unbearable, and yet it is I who can't cut loose. I was going to accomplish something here. What was it?


Just tell my Father I am coming home. Tell Him to prepare a table for me.


you question my status
my capacity for magnanimity
the thoughtful deep
the encounter

you drift in any case
upon an open sea
the sky is wide
the forces vast and unpredictable
the thought receding
the kiss sublime

let me show you a way
give me broad table
a heart
I can speak in words
to relieve the mind

published at
Blue Dawn


free reign you say
how could I fail to support?
let what would reign
have absolute dominion
let the Silence descend
let the Heart set out upon its course
Let the Master return
and seat Himself comfortably by the fire

The senses revive
each color, each line
each gentle instant
each word
fluid as the night

the ladies
drape their native art about the throne
a quickening in their glance
their attention and aspect
I come pure as fire
and will not fail

published at
Blue Dawn



why do i not write the love song?
he is near

a frame, broad hands
the voice ­ my God! ­ goes down an octave
there he stands

why do i not write the love song?
perhaps i don't know man?
his calm, unalterable ground?
his capacity to penetrate?
the shadow and the certainty
that sees and then consumes me
in some undefinéd way
along some undefinéd path

why does she not write the love song?
perhaps her passion has been trampled under
they suggest
by some tedious past?
some exceedingly tedious past?





Speak in your great voice
The throng
The silence

There walks a peculiar man

Dusk falls over the hollows
The deeper sounds thus settle
Where night does fall most swiftly
Where I abide in my innermost self

Air and inwardness

God knows
He walks

Oh, gentle night!
gentle winter, gentle snow
most silent and most white

I feel he walks
There can be no mistake

So have I come before your gate
And kneel
How does each flake that falls
impress itself on me

published at
Blue Dawn


i do restrain these horsey thoughts
they suffer
and foam at the mouth
the spittle drips to the pavement

how i would know all
and engage all
imbibe 'til it spreads like fire
through my sorry organism
and infects

i know
i know


i know

he is gone

and behind his absence
i feel the lawn expanded
and fringed in purple
with the tender azalea
the oak at center stage

a swing
on which I once sat
and felt the freshenss
of rise and fall

i know
i know


i know

he is gone

published at
Blue Dawn

Margaret's Magical Letter Page