The Third Lesson, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Third Lesson
Radiance Angelina Petro


I have a place in the air. My liminal life
rarely asks how. Marked by depressions,
it is safe to say my soul follows angles of separation,

and what aliveness I have slopes inwards. Beyond
the look of the world, and the vastness of the sea,
I still search for stages of widening.

The great imaginer has stopped wanting
to be known. Trapped in a circle of sorrow
the midnight sun has some to rest in tendrils of smoke.

The felling wedge is driven, and the third lesson
is the one about free thinking being surrounded
by devils.

The night metabolizes the light, and I sleep
it all away. There are eight million strikes of lightning
a day, and each one eaten by the ground.






The Kaleidoscopic Day, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Kaleidoscopic Day
Radiance Angelina Petro

“The future is possibilized.”


The turtle follows a plain and quiet path
as it drags its tail in the mud.
The dragonfly skims the water and lifts
the minnow away. The owl knows each feather.
Storms follow the eyes of the wind.
The Andaman Islanders tell time by the scent
of flowers.

This is no time for indifference. Keep track
of your shadows. Return to amazement.
The world needs you, and there are no small
doings. Our tongues have been snugged to the roof
of our mouths long enough. Stand on tiptoes again,
and reach for something—anything higher.
Our first conversations are when we can look
each other in the eye and see the kaleidoscopic day.

The Day it All Ends, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Day it All Ends
Radiance Angelina Petro



The cotoneaster tree lives only a few years,
and dragonfly nymphs stalk tadpoles
in the underwater grass.

Uncramp yourself. The swing and sway
of life—the undiscoverable. So many possible

The mutual aid of time and motion,
the wobbly electrons, the miracle of identity—
let something else be the custodian of the calendar.

Time is alive and well—maintained comfortably
in the acorn. Look at us—spread every which way—
full of no longer moments and not just yet moments.

Shadows bend into light, light bends into shadow.
The exaggerated now is drawing you on. The day
you outrun the tortoise is the day it all ends.







Wishing for Nothing, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Wishing for Nothing
Radiance Angelina Petro


Sitting on the other side of the room,
in my favorite chair, I listen to her
play Mendelson on the piano–
creating audible time and giving texture
to eternity–two hands passing melodies back
and forth, notes waving at one another. I’ve heard
that some patients in the operating room
hear orchestras playing their favorite symphonies
as they count down from ten.
I look up from my morning reading of Machado’s poems,
and see outside the window so much green,
I follow a leaf-hopper with my eyes,
the rainmaker has left town, and there are
strawberries ready for picking, I hear the light
of the sun coming down through the trees,
the density of my worries has lifted,
and the remembered self awakens, and thoughts
escape me, and that’s all to the good.
I am in the Pure Land wishing for nothing.








The Second Kind, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Second Kind
Radiance Angelina Petro


It’s morning.
Only adjectives
float through the sky.
We’ve woken
from Ascension Island,
and the stretching
moments of the morning
are collecting, like
strings of nucleotides.
We’ve dreamt
our way through
gill clefts
that gave way
to buds of wings
and reptile hands,
to vestigial tails,
to fingers and spines,
to our day bodies,
ready for a second kind
of dreaming.






Something About Light, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Something About Light
Radiance Angelina Petro


No one is truly self-contained.
Light elongates the arms of the starfish,
leaves hold themselves in angles to the light,
mushrooms shoot their spores in the direction
of the sun. Stickleback fish prefer mating in sunlight.
Even amoebas take each other by the hand—such as they are—
and move towards the light.

We are all movers of light. The emergence of forms
is light. Beams of excitation reveals everything
is painted light, and the child’s eyes are surprised
by the colors of light.

Memories modify the body, and in the general slowing
down of the day, and the perfect calligraphy
of the evening trees, we know we are sentient light.
And a day will come when the characteristics
of remembering darkens, giving way to morning
as we fold inwards towards the light beginning it all.





The Free Energy of the Sun, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Free Energy of the Sun
Radiance Angelina Petro


Eating cereal on the porch, I feel the soft wind
of the wings of the honeybee as it flies near my hand.

There is a moment when sound turns into light,
and we are swept along by guesses.
The free energy of the sun touches the horns on our spine.

Imagination’s laws don’t follow the will. Thinking
and doing are the same in the bee. Somehow birds
have geographical memory stored in their wind-filled bones.

Paul Valery said: “In the beginning was the fable.”
Montaigne said: “Grasp the present good, and rest there.”

The shelling of beans by my grandmother in the afternoon sun,
is built into my hands. The swinging of the hammer
my grandfather did for the railroad still rings in my arms.
The flowering barley is the remembrance of bread.
Who isn’t a bee traveling miles away on missions of light,
searching through thousands of flowers, looking for nectar
for the good of us all?






Belly of the Whale, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Belly of the Whale
Radiance Angelina Petro


Pope Innocent the VIII drank the blood
of three ten-year olds to attain everlasting
life. He had slaves nurse him to sleep.

The one-to-one correspondences
of letter to spirit mean nothing when children
die that way, when women are used that way.

The great breath of the universe keeps no clay vessels
assembled for long. And when the angel came,
the pope, and those who sat watching by his bedside,

frantically waved their thin ribbons of faith, like krill
whipping their antenna to avoid the lunging whale–sifting
them into its dark, eternal belly.