Lewiston, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Radiance Angelina Petro


What do we do after the orgy of violence?
Where do we run when the once hidden shadow
steps from the canvas and into the world,
and time collapses, and spider lightening
strikes from cloud to cloud
and the hairs
in the snail
of the ear
keep trembling
after the ringing
stops, and white moths
suddenly flutter
the room.

So many
stories stopped
so many
umbilical cords
severed from life’s

How will anyone
flesh out Christ from
any of this?

There is no passing over tonight,
no easy final causes.

Somehow, we must
try to shine a light,
collect the lost
moths, take them
to the sweet,
and free them
to find a greater light
they should have
never needed
to search for
so soon.



Trees, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Radiance Angelina Petro


Oak, magnolia, ash, willow–
such sensible names for trees.
They carry their vowels

in the breath of their leaves,
and their consonants live
in their biblical branches.

Their roots help bind the world
together, and their proportions
lead by example. Who else

would let hives live in their hair,
and let hornets hang paper nests
from their fingers? Who else

would welcome katydids and frogs,
woodpeckers and hawks
into their home? Who else

could change and let go
so effortlessly? Who else
would let cicadas climb

up their bodies to scream?
And who else could get birds
to sleep on their arms?

Each of their seeds
is a godling, each of their
sways helps move the wind,

and when the end comes who else
will open their bodies and let us live inside
until the sun shines again?






Last Chance, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Last Chance
Radiance Angelina Petro


In the dream the dark figure enters
the room where I’m half asleep,
places his cloaked hands
on my head, and whispers something–
something about my father
and his father—going back generations–
something I need to know—a secret
unutterable until now. My father,
aware someone is coming,
stirs in his bed.






Seven Little Poems of Desire, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Seven Little Poems of Desire
Radiance Angelina Petro



When beginning—sing. Testify
to a hidden residence. Let the sensibilities
of the imagination arrange the details, and join them.
It all necessitates a conscious start. Turn a little
to the side—it’s there. Narrow your focus. Rise and practice,
rise and practice, and never stop singing.


One must put up with risks.
But there are benefits—such as
paradise. Time awakens that
which sleeps, that which is born
of the sun, and light rises, goes
beyond the skin, and from then on
it is all forward–all breakthroughs,
all tender departures.


The moon reaches down, lifts the water,
scales of fish carry petals of the sun,
the frog has a jewel between its eyes,
deer move together leaving no hoof prints
in the grass, moths slip their orbit of longing
and their wings catch fire, the child paints circles
with her fingers and then follows them inside
towards home.


Love finds you just as morning finds you,
just as the sky finds the fledgling’s wings,
and every wave finds the shore,
and washes every shell, and collects them
in the infinite folds of its memory,
and returns them to the sea where they belong.


Try not to sleep against the day. The living
awakening will find you and carry you in its pockets.
The unavoidable storms will shake
the foundations of your life, and when all
is said and done, you will be placed
in the ground, like a seed in the sweetest
darkness of being eternally found.


The innermost is now outermost,
as the Great Imaginatrix brings
her absurdities of joy and a thousand
reassurances, and elaborations
of quickenings, and seeds of roses.
The intuitive swinging of branches
to-and-fro, says it all—this ecstasy,
this immediacy–is for you.


My soul rings cracked. Here is the marvel:
beyond the narrow cast of reason
there are no margins to love’s mercy,
there are no hidden meanings
when the necessary darkness says: “Follow me,
and your soul will ring true again.”






Nibbling a Grain of Barely, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Nibbling a Grain of Barely
Radiance Angelina Petro


I don’t want any clues.
OK. Maybe just one.

It doesn’t need to be the kind that resounds
in my head, but don’t make it the faintest echo
either. Don’t give it in a roundabout way,
and don’t make it come from the third
or fourth shout from a crow. And please, don’t
make it a gate with seven locks.

Is it the forgotten fishing line tangled in the tree
by the Wissahickon Creek? Is it the old woman sweeping
outside the restaurant that’s been in her family
for three generations? Will I know it
if it bumps up against me? Will it be succinct?
Will it have a mouth and claws?

You once told me you’ve seen grass swaying
in the sea, and I won’t bother asking
how you managed that since you live on land,
but is that somehow the clue?

You tell me the universe has never been veiled, yet
you tell me you’ve seen a hare leaping from cloud
to cloud, and that you’ve eaten brewer’s grain
and hops from a sealed, metal grain bin.
But where does that leave me?

I know you think silent sermons are best,
but I’m not interested in wisdom. Listen, it’s just
that my heart is swarmed with questions,
and I’m tired, my soul aches, my spirit
hasn’t gone out in days. Wait–

wait, wait, wait—that’s it, isn’t it? The longing–
the longing is the clue. I got it, didn’t I? I got it.
I see you smiling, nibbling a grain of barely, I see
the glint in your obsidian eyes, I see you twitch your ear,
I see you disappear again into the corn field.






Buddha’s Bones, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Buddha’s Bones
Radiance Angelina Petro


The old man quietly
puts on his clothes
as the morning loosens
from the night.

He goes outside,
sits on the porch,
eats some warm rice,
sips some warm tea,
then sets his bowl aside
for the deer to finish.

He stands, takes the shawl
and staff that wait by the door,
and goes in search
of the Buddha’s bones.

He walks as the fog
slowly lifts, he walks
as far as the pond
where a heron stands
on one leg, snow falling
on its hunched shoulders.

He watches a long time.
He watches until a white deer
walks passed him, snapping
a twig, jolting him awake.
He shakes his head, he watches
his breath carry his whispered
words to the heron, to the deer,
and then is on his way.

He walks until his feet
are just the right amount of cold,
he walks until the moon
emerges from its cave
in the clouds, he walks until
he is sure the deer ate the rest
of the rice.

And when he arrives back home
he turns and stands for a long,
still moment, snow falling
on his shoulders and the branches,
the rocks, and the logs. He smiles.
Buddha’s bones are everywhere.




Seven Little Poems in the Light, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Seven Little Poems in the Light
Radiance Angelina Petro


I am not interested in the pretense
of respectability. I see no reason
to put away childish things. Everything
is incubation anyway, and even Dionysus
played with toys.


Go ahead, look for what leaves the body
at death. You’ll find a child in a sun-lit field
singing, making flower crowns
for lions and lambs.


The masts of the trees guide the turning
of the earth. Follow the edge of the night.
The absence of shoreline creates something
immense, like a celestial agriculture
of countless stars.


The doctrines of the day are no longer
needed. Everything is a cipher anyways,
and you cannot flatter death by trying
to sort them out. Every child is a bird,
and unlike the deer, the soul wants to be found.


The crow lifted suddenly from the side of the road,
looking as if it was going to fly in front of my car,
but, instead, it banked left, and flew back into the field.


All heartbeats are given, and everything is the source
of everything, and everything is amenable to desire,
and the magic of farming, the magic of bridges,
and every pelican and salamander, every manta ray,
and cuttlefish amazes even the angels.


When we met, you broke the hour-glass
of my life and gently poured the sand
onto the center of a Chladni plate.
Then you took the violin bow, drew it along the edge,
and the sand suddenly began to lift
and dance and quiver, and all at once–
rush towards the edges, forming visible
sound-shapes, and then it settled back
in a restful sigh of bliss.






It’s Getting Closer, by Radiance Angelina Petro

It’s Getting Closer
Radiance Angelina Petro


Did you hear that?
It wasn’t the wind.
Hand me the lantern.
Something’s out there.
Pull the curtains aside just a little.
Do you see that?
It’s just standing there in the storm.
It looks like it has wings.
I want to say I’m sorry.
I want to ask your forgiveness.
You taught me there are no forbidden thoughts.
You taught me to buy lemonade
from every lemonade stand.
You taught me to pick up the worms
that wandered onto the sidewalk
and to put them back in the grass.
And what have I done for you?
Complained, hidden, complained some more.
If I taught you anything, it was to never give up.
Which, come to think of it, you taught me.
Here—you take the lantern–
you’ve always held the lantern.
It’s getting closer.
I didn’t expect it to be so magnificent, so majestic.
Why is it staring at you?
It seems to know you.
Why are you moving to the door?
Why are you opening the door?
Where did the storm go?
Why is the sun out at midnight?
Why are you looking at me like that?
Why are you smiling?
Why do you want me to take your hand?
Where are we going?
Why are we going?
What’s happening?
Wait. Have you always had wings?
I have so many questions.
Why are you bringing your finger to your lips?
How is it we are suddenly three?
How is it the ground is falling away?
How is there a city in the sky?
Have you always had the moon and the stars
in your hair? Yes–I’ll be quiet now.





It’s All Good, by Radiance Angelina Petro

It’s All Good
Radiance Angelina Petro


Everything is charged with magic,
dervishes trace enneagrams on the ground in Konya,
the central stem of the Y holds the point
where the path to heaven divides.

And here I am in bed—a poultice of lavender flowers
on my heart. I can barely move. I am sweating my soul
right out of my body, and last night I dreamt
I was a skeleton climbing Jacob’s Ladder.

It’s all good though—as they say—whoever they are
who have everything good. Their point is
no matter how sick I become, birds descend and ascend,
and peacocks will always quiver-fan their feathers open
revealing the eyes of god. There are outlines
of crystals and crossroads, animals and rivers,
triangles and constellations on the palms of my hands.
And on a mountain ledge a cricket watches over us all.

Yet, I am keenly aware the eye of my eternity
has begun to blink, the dodecahedron of my brain
has turned into a seed, and the wind
is a pack of lions coming my way, and my soul
has turned into a fish looking for the sea.





Find Your Bearings, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Find Your Bearings
Radiance Angelina Petro



It’s time to pack your belongings—such as
they are–and drop the skull of god.
Flee from yourself—there is so much
everything to see, and each grain of sand has a name.

Be greedy for light, put the impossible
to the test, the scaffold of the night
needs climbing, and the day is large-hearted,
and astonishment isn’t made to be limited.

It doesn’t matter who put the roses on the cross.
Find your bearings, accept the gold each day
places in your hand, and go. Move forward
from joy to joy, remembering you can only evade turbulence
for so long, but there are dragons swift and strong at your side,
and dance expands time and space,
and you cannot stop to help every staggering man.