An Autumn Tarot Poem


Before any serious snow arrives, here is another of my Tarot poems, something of an autumn poem, focusing on one of the cards that speaks to me the most, the introspective Hermit, Card #9 of the Major Arcana.



                                   by Helen Iacovino

swirling, the first snow reclaims land from cottagers
who watch the jagged “V” of migrating geese
as they follow their leader, instinctively wise.
the ground is damp & cold, the wind & stinging leaves
lash the lake.  bears prowl the high night meadows.
nothing is ours anymore: the waves are teeth of steel.

& on forbidding autumn nights
through swampy rushes, the hermit shines his way:
his hood peaks snugly on his head,
his lantern wavers in his hand,
an old old man he is, fearless of the elements.

the lantern, like a smooth & perfect stone
radiating spikes of light
is multiplied by darkness manifold:
across miles of marsh it flickers, strong.

& on such haunted autumn nights
when the fire jolts & sparks
& settling logs startle us from armchair sleep,
we may dare to steal a glance outside

& sometimes glimpse that moving cloak
gliding towards the forest’s dark,
& with a brief but mighty shudder may descry
the cloak as the tiger’s lightest stripe,
the lantern gleaming like the tiger’s eye

while to other windows the hermit’s steps remain
subliminal: rustling wind or unseen animal.


Published in Puerto Del Sol and also by North Wind Press


Tarot Poems – #19 – The Sun


Here is the other companion piece – The Sun.


by Helen Iacovino

I    The Sun
In the midst of the shining light we dance
           In the midst of the dancing light we shine

The light shines
& we dance.

Its warm droplets sway
us with their power;
its music is like birdsong
to a goggle-eyed fish.

Like fish we look up
at the glimmering sun–
through the garden’s leafy ceiling,
through its murky surface water.

The rays that reach us are
nectar on our skin,
& our bodies drink.

The light shines
into the garden’s centre,
into the clear blue pool

around which we see a ring
of 13 dancing bears.

II      The Dancing Bears
“Where should this music be?
                     …sure it waits upon
                                  some god o’th’island.” The Tempest I ii

As young cubs, we
knew well the songs of birds
& of the winds that swayed the poplars
& sometimes our paws would tap
to their varying rhythms.

But now this alien lute, like an airy stream,
chimes through the trees
& tinkles over rocks,
purer than the chirp
of a thousand birds in chorus,

& like the piper’s children, we feel
our furry ears tingling.
Our paws reach out; we find ourselves
reared on 2 legs for the first time,
teetering, wobbling, but following
that magnetic sound, the lute in the trees

which throws its notes
like a fine net over the forest–

& free within that net we dance,
with music as our only master.



by Helen Iacovino

From its cave-cocoon the caterpillar
must be born into the land of sunflowers,
& feel the rays of a newer morning.

Pleased & pudgy, from the garden path
we watch the flowers
climbing up the high wall.
Their golden petals are turning.

Like elves we dance in the garden;
in our circle we make our circle,
hands joined, feet circular.
The dancers of mid-day awaken.

Biting a small hole in the cocoon,
the caterpillar crawls to the top of the wall.
The sun’s flat lands spread out beyond.

The sun warms the top of the wall;
the garden was shady & cool.
The radiant green grasses awaken.

In our ears echo
the songs of the bees outside,
the song of the serpent sunning.

Slowly our eyes lift up
to the soft glare beyond the wall
& feel the rays of a newer morning.

Feel the rays of a newer morning–
as golden petals are turning
the dancers of mid-day awaken.
The sun’s flat lands spread out beyond,
the radiant green grasses awaken
to the song of the serpent sunning–
feel the rays of a newer morning.

Tarot Poem – #18 – The Moon


Here are two more Tarot poems that I wrote, in two posts, with images from the Barbara Walker deck which I love. The Moon and The Sun are companion pieces.

Another one is coming tomorrow – probably – once the New Year has turned over and it’s officially 2016 here…. Happy New Year!

by Helen Iacovino

I am the lizard
           breaking the golden cage

Long enough I have crawled
through the mud of my pool–
now I surface slowly
through murky green layers
towards the flickering light that swims
in a dark sea of sky.

The moon ripples in the water,
enchanting the waves with light,
so bright on the bank’s grass,
so dim down here.
There plants grow straight & green,
here the slimy seaweed drapes
round me, so hard to shake off.

Mighty moon, I’ll reach you:
I think I am a creature
whose gills were designed for land.
I’ve glimpsed there’s more
than this endless wet,
& now I cannot sleep.

I wish I were a tadpole
who knows
his destiny.

Beside her wheel
Fortuna cries,
“Your aspirations
are born of lies,
you guess your nature
from the shape you see
in the carnival mirror
of the heaving sea.

“You will swim to a surface
that isn’t there,
try to reach a moon
suspended in air,
believe in illusions
of distant hills,
& try to walk on land
with fishes’ gills!”


Tarot Poem – # XI – Fortitude


Another poem from my series about the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. #11 – Strength – Fortitude – the lion. She takes matters into her own hands and turns the wheel in her favour, so to speak. In most decks this card follows immediately after the Wheel of Fortune, and is a response to it.

The image is from the Barbara Walker Tarot deck, the deck which I use.

Hope springs from the teeth of a lion –
        & I am the pillar which supports the world.

I am the path
between the lion’s jaws.

Fortuna, I defeat you
without the empress’ sword,
the papess’ book,
the lovers’ imagined world
or the hermit’s wisdom.

This lion by the jaws I take
& I make believe it’s easy,
as I ride your wheel
without magic,
without weapons,
with only a clear head.

Eagerly I set sail
& watch coastlines disappear
as paper ribbons to shore tear
with a ship’s slow parting.

Like a moth emerging
from her cocoon,
I feel my wings
beginning to sprout.

I am the freshest goddess
the world has ever seen.

Tarot Poems for #10 – The Wheel of Fortune

#10 Wheel of Fortune, Barbara Walker Tarot Deck

#10 Wheel of Fortune, Barbara Walker Tarot Deck

The Hermit and the Wheel of Fortune, cards #9 and #10, are at the centre of the Tarot Major Arcana – you could say that the 22 cards revolve around these. The wheel is also reminiscent of the Wheel of the Year, continually turning, and we are more conscious of it now as we approach not only the Solstice but also the end of yet another calendar year – the wheel just keeps on turning. Here is the series of poems I wrote for #10, the Wheel of Fortune.The image is from the Barbara Walker deck, my preferred deck.

X     WHEEL OF FORTUNE – 3 Poems
by Helen Iacovino


To capture spring’s young poplars in first bud,
fearless green leaves amid a sea of brown,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel.

To catch the fleeing cricket in mid leap,
to snap the picture time can never fade,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

To escape the click & turn of heavy doors
of each day of every completed year,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel.

To finally swing in tune, in perfect step,
to swim with the current in this endless stream,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

To sing the rhythm coursing from the sun,
To chant the water, happy as a seal,
to live forever beyond Fortune’s wheel,
to learn what she refuses to reveal.

My wheel none escape;
None their fortune make.

All of your house
I usher in,
come ride my wheel,
come gyre & spin,
& for your pleasure
I’ll make fair trade –
I’ll weave you a fine yarn
with the thread I’ve made.

All beings spin
through the air, get dragged in
to my lovely blue stream
& are spun faster still:
I have lion’s claws
& powerful jaws –
if you escape I will pounce
with my merciless paws.

To drink forever from Fortune’s cup,
to feel the river of stars that floats
between the spokes, to feel the wheel
as the paddles lift the water up.

To drink forever from Fortune’s cup
to climb forever the dark castle stairs —
at the top she stands in priestly robes,
the cup in her extended hand —
it’s like groping through the awesome land
of the tunnel formed by facing mirrors,
where stairs climb to the stars forever,
& Fortune’s hand is extended ever,
& ever receding with that mighty tunnel.

Fortune’s wheel in sunlight swims
among her flowers by the stream —
to see birds circling overhead
& the robin land & pluck the worm
from the bottom of the lowest rung
while frogs and crickets chirp their songs,
all part of her enchanted ring.
Once on such banks the fairies danced,
sang magic songs to appease the wheel,
& lit the night like fireflies –

but we have chased the fairies from their haunts,
left autumn’s pall upon the land,
& left the night pierced by the pour
of that rolling & relentless wheel.

Tarot Collection – Published by North Wind Press


jester-office-MB900290560Here is a link to my collection, “Poems From the Tarot,” as published by North Wind Press on their website:

The site also features Tarot artwork by Mary Bennett.  One day Mary and I were talking, and when she discovered that I had written Tarot poetry and I discovered she had created Tarot artwork, we decided to collaborate, and this web publication was the result.

Also from the site, here is my statement about this poetry collection:

Tarot is a way of knowing, and a way of seeing and understanding the world. The 22 Major Arcana represent cards represent a journey towards self-realization, starting and ending with the same card, The Fool – after which the journey can begin all over again.

My interest in the Tarot began some years ago.  After participating in a Jung Society workshop on Tarot, I decided to begin meditating on the Major Arcana cards, and then to write a poem about each one.  In a fascinating and unexpected way, each card opened itself up to me and led me on a path into its world.  Some were more difficult to approach than others – but this is to be expected.

I favour Jungian interpretations of Tarot as a rich symbolic system, a system of images, and a springboard towards being more in touch with the unconscious and the collective unconscious – where a wealth of images and archetypes reside and float up.   This realm is also accessed through dreams, myth and folk tales.  In a world without fixed answers, where, in fact, none are expected and we are responsible for discovering our own truths, Tarot is a part of that search and reflects that search.  It is non-linear and non-rational; it is open to interpretation and cannot be pinned down, but this quality is what makes it dance. It is a pathway to the unconscious, and provides glimpses of the inner wellsprings that we all look for and gives us a sense of the unity of the cosmos.

Currently the cards I am most drawn to are The Hermit, The Star and The Moon.  These cards are about inner knowing, focusing on the internal life.  This, too, will change – at different points in time, different things speak most ardently to us.  In writing the poems, I allowed the characters or images on the cards to speak and to reveal themselves; many of the poems are written from the point of view of the character on the card.  This collection has at least one poem on each of the Major Arcana cards, and a few cards have two or three.  It also reflects my Unitarian Universalist world view (

Poetry is a calling.  I recognized many years ago that I feel called to crystallize the explorations of the spirit in words and images, and offer this as my contribution to the world. What I am attempting in all my poetry is to explore these realms, let it resonate with the reader or listener, and to communicate through symbols and images things that everyday language cannot easily express.

© Helen Iacovino

A Taste of Tarot


This poem is from my series of poems inspired by the Major Arcana of the Tarot deck. It is an invocation of sorts – the second invocation of the series.  The Magician is Card #1; however, the deck begins with Card 0, The Fool.

                   (Card #1 of the Tarot pack)
I am the world in the fire of my knowledge                                  

O holy white pentangle
show me your points;
do not hide from me
your true & awesome power,

but let me blaze
in this dry air
through my tools & brains
with all your spirit’s fire.

Red & white – above & below
the table I unite
these colours to run as one
in a never-ending moebius strip –

moon & sun quiver together,
blood & soul this instant are one –
& I – I am catalyst, Maker –

greenhearted, I hold
this knowledge emptied into me,

I am an overflowing vessel,
I am paper about to ignite,
I am the flaming salamander
sprouting wings
before the opening of the golden door,

& I am
renaissance man
spreadeagled in the doorway –

& I know I will never
walk this world the same.

© Helen Iacovino