A Poem for the Lunar New Year

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It’s now already almost 2 weeks into the Year of the Fire Rooster/Phoenix, and we’re almost into the Snow Moon/lunar eclipse/comet.  Still thinking about the new beginnings that any new moon, and perhaps especially the one of the Lunar New Year, heralds for us, and the new moon as a time of incubation and introspection as well. Here is a Lunar New Year poem that I wrote a few years ago.

CHINESE NEW YEAR

by Helen Iacovino

from present & past lives,
from inner lives & second chances
the music drifts like snowfall
through a cat’s closed eyes & nine lives,
going into everything, going deep, exploring –
there’s something the cat sees or senses,
a crescendo building in the world –

now the time is ripe for waiting –
the new moon a sliver in the evening sky,
as from the west a new year approaches
carried on the moon’s back
where Coyote’s eyes shine through it –

there is something the cat
knows but will not tell us.

incubating, holding back,
the waiting boat
drifts on the river,
gathering its energies,
seeking the right currents,
for the sleeping cat at daybreak,
for Coyote’s signal to the world.

something stirs in the west, a river, a cloudbreak,
something settles, a door
closes while nobody sees it,
as the old leaves of last autumn
swirl in a final eddy
across the day’s fresh snow.

© Helen Iacovino

First published in Trust the Dawning Future, a poetry chapbook published by the Canadian Unitarian Council

 

 

Tarot Poems – #19 – The Sun

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Here is the other companion piece – The Sun.

XIX      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.

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XIX       THE SUN II — LEAVING THE GARDEN

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 – # XI – Fortitude

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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.
XI FORTITUDE

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

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#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

FORTUNE’S WHEEL

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.

 
FORTUNE’S INTERLUDE
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.

 
FORTUNE’S CUP
I
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.
II
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

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

http://www.northwindpress.ca/nuggets/tarot/index.html

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 ( http://www.cuc.ca    http://www.uua.org)

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