Poetry Corner – Volume 17

Poetry Corner
May 2012 Silent Lotus’ Selected Poets’
Bill Carpenter
and his guest Kathleen O’Kula








My fist opens
in a blossom of fingers
palm exposed
its five petals
no longer a hammer
or a club
but a cup
or a bowl
or if joined
with another
a link
in a chain
of connectedness
that the fist
only wishes
it could break.






Antelope Canyon


The stocky Navajo collects his twenty dollars
and drives me the half mile to the site.
“I’ll be back in an hour to get you,” he says.

I’m left in a canyon of meandering walls
that never touch,
north male, south female,
its amber space sculpted by flash floods,
light falling in a curtain through the chink of sky
onto the image and its reflection,
one in light,
the other in shadow,
a topaz
split into a cubism of curved space.

Midway, I sit in a hollow,
between the halves of this petrified storm,
showered in a veil of sand
that chimes like an inverted rainstick,
as the wind whistles a serpentine song.

“Did you hear the walls talk?” my guide asks.
“I go to restore balance,” he says,
“the walls absorb the world’s ‘twisted’ energy,
and when enough of it is trapped,
the floods come and wash it away.”






The Milky Way


The Bushmen call it the
“the backbone of night,”
Native Americans believe it’s
a “spirit trail” to the afterlife.
I’ve pointed it out
on clear nights
when the sky rings
like a silent bell.
“Look,” I say, “you can see
the Milky Way tonight,
there trailing Cygnus.”
My son looks where
the sweeping arc of my arm points
out the ghostly rainbow.
“Cool,” he says.

The ancients had myths to tell its story,
the structure that holds up the sky
or where ancestral spirits rest,
while we know it
as the delicate fiber of our galaxy,
around which we spin
like ocean fish.

It might have more impact
if imagined within the framework
of a local legend,
but I can’t do that,
so I tell him
“think of a city
spread over a hundred thousand light-years,
the lights of our neighborhood
seen from a distance.”


My poetry has appeared in literary journals including: Runes, Blueline, Chest, Balancing the Tides, Syncopated City, July Literary Press, , The Providence Journal and the RI Writer’s Circle Anthology.  I’m a member of the Ocean State Poets whose mission is to bring poetry and give voice to underrepresented populations, such as prisoners and children at risk; as well as the Origami Poets Project.  I’m an award winning photographer and have recently begun to combine poetry with photographic imagery. My chapbooks include: Meanderings; Vestigial Wings; Desert Totems, and most recently Templates.  I have been a featured poet at The Mad Poets Café, the Stone and Plank Gallery and the Greenville Library where I’ve also displayed art and sculpture.  I’m retired, live in Chepachet with my partner Emily, have two adult and young adult children, one grandchild and look after my mother who will be ninety this year.

William A. Carpenter
PO Box 795
Chepachet, RI 02814




Do I Love Me?


This is what went on in my head
as I was jumping on the trampoline this morning:

I’m five years old, in the bedroom
of our old house,
parents out;
my sister and I
exorcise ourselves,
unfurling limbs
buried deep
in our penitential souls

laughing loonies
we throw pillows,
jump on the bed
— levitating it clear off the floor —
until mom’s face
appears at the doorway
and we know the party’s over.

So, this is what went on in my body
as I was jumping on the trampoline this morning:

I’m airborne again
launched into the memory of flying
before maturity clipped my wings
before conformity seduced me
before I volunteered for martyrdom.

This is where my spirit went
as I was jumping on the trampoline this morning:

I will jump on the trampoline until my legs give out;
I will boogie to Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
I will jump higher
kick my heels,
touch my toes front and back:
I can do the Mashed Potato, I can do the Twist
and I will love me, I will love me,
now that I can dance… dance,

watch me now!




Ever since Kate won the Eighth Grade English Award upon graduation from St. William’s School in Philadelphia, she knew she loved all things about literature and writing. Going on to advanced English at Cardinal Dougherty HS was delightful; then her life took a radical turn as she joined a religious community and spent the next fifteen and a half years working in the poorest sections of Albany, Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York, and with rural poor in Maryland and migrant workers in New Jersey.

Armed with a BSW from SUNY-Albany, an MSW from Fordham University and post-graduate work at Columbia University’s Institute for Non Profit Management and Administration, Kate began to work at administrative levels and later as a consultant for agencies, doing strategic planning, conducting board and management retreats, program development, training, and teaching at Hunter, Manhattanville and Iona Colleges. Her writing skills were devoted to creating successful proposals, achieving grants for services for children and families, helping to implement significant forward thinking changes in organizational structures and creating communications systems.

Kate has been part of writing groups in New York and Rhode Island for several years, and studied writing at the New School in New York City, New York University, participated in Gotham Writing workshops, Summer Session at Skidmore with International Women’s Writing Guild, RISD Writing for Children’s Picture Books, and twice attended Brown University’s Summer Workshop in Travel Writing and Memoir, in Brittany, France (2010) and Segovia, Spain (2011).

Currently an active member of the Ocean State Poets where, besides getting into the organizational issues (she can’t help herself!), Kate also contributes to the group’s mission of “providing poetry circles for underserved groups.” She does so as part of a team of poets who meet with Medium Security inmates at the ACI. She also leads workshops in memoir and poetry, belongs to Poets’ Voices at the North Kingstown Library and edited a chapbook, sold to help raise funds for the library.

Recording a book and reading the Providence Journal on Thursdays for Insight, an organization which does radio programming for the blind, is a treasured volunteer effort for Kate. She also enjoys sailing with her husband, Kevin, and is an active volunteer with Save the Bay, counting scallops, measuring Asian crabs and taking pictures of storm effects. Kate maintains a practice of engaged Buddhism, following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, and is a member of Clear Heart Sangha.

Email: ktokula@verizon.net



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