The Terrifying Now, by Radiance Angelina Petro


The Terrifying Now
Radiance Angelina Petro


It’s impossible to explore the celestial regions in a badger’s head.
No one can stop November leaves from curling their brown hands.
Programs at funerals are like unanswered letters to immortality.

Who hasn’t found a feather-headed moth dried up on the windowsill?
Winter’s ingathering starts after swarms of snowflakes baffle the traffic.
Bright faces of sunflowers track the sun in a wide-arc, only to end by looking at the ground.

What we go around guarding everyday will eventually fall from our hands.
Go ahead and try, but no one can outrun the following dawn.
The silent teachers will always come down from the mountains to beg for food.

Radiance, what I’m trying to say is–the age of the trinity is gone.
Azrael’s near, offering you the blade he’s brought for your wrists.
It’s OK if you use it because those upstart daffodils will still rise from the snowy ground.






We All Know, by Radiance Angelina Petro


We All Know
Radiance Angelina Petro


Maybe the scales that fell from Saul’s eyes
coalesced into a fish and leapt into the sea.
Maybe they were snakes that fell forming one snake
that sidewinded its way back to Mira’s tent.
I’m guessing they were ashes that rose into the sky
to become a murder of crows on the gates to Damascus.
But once he became Paul—we all know he rode his horse
triumphantly, madly into the future, trampling
generations of women into the dust.






Hölderlin, by Radiance Angelina Petro


Radiance Angelina Petro


Wind dabbles in the trees making it snow
a second time. Steiner said there are twelve
senses, and the phrase, sine qua non, is silly.

Nothing is essential—not even the air. Ask
the dead if you don’t believe me. Everything
is the sound of one hand clapping, even wild applause.

I don’t know about you, but I have so many
sudden attachments and it’s the night that reveals
my intentions for each, and every one.

Do centuries pronounce vowels like we do?
I’m guessing they draw them out a little longer,
and their consonant sounds are probably a bit muddied.

Radiance, Hölderlin spent his life in a tower,
your foot resting in the shoe feels nice,
and even chimney smoke casts shadows over the snow.






The Ghosts We Love, by Radiance Angelina Petro


The Ghosts We Love
Radiance Angelina Petro


Swaying ghosts of sea kelp, on this
unconcerned day, in this wholly mythological time,
say to us:

“The sea is not restless–it’s dreaming

of ribbon eels and anglerfish, as you would
if you were the sea.”

Jellyfish, already ghosts,
imbued with an ancient kind of embodiment—even
Taoistically inclined—all senses go—say to us:

“We are everywhere.

Don’t wait for us to come to you. Search us out—
carry your temerity, like a banner. We release you

into the currents of things pertaining to heaven, like,
ribbon eels and anglerfish. All the hidden things

are for you—the ghosts we love.”






Snow Day, December 19th, 2024, by Radiance Angelina Petro


Snow Day, December 19th, 2024
Radiance Angelina Petro


Having devoted so much of their lives
to contemplation, sometimes trees fall on houses.
The person who maps out graveyards

goes home each night to his candles and books of Rilke.
How many of our meanderings have been
under the buzzard’s gaze?

The grandfather’s headstone absorbs so much
stillness it becomes it’s own winter.
Who among us carries an unruffled heart?

And how long can the wear and tear of the mountains
go on? There’s no locking the door to regrets,
and no guarding secrets from the ceiling, the kitchen table,

or the refrigerator’s hum. Listen, Radiance, there’s nothing
to attain, and why shut the gates to desire?
One day the envelope of your body will open

sending unfinished love letters into the sky. Why not
finish them now, and send them winging
to their rightful owner’s door?







Doors, by Radiance Angelina Petro


Radiance Angelina Petro



In the bathroom downstairs, there was a section
of wood grain on the dark door that looked like a shark.
I used to stare at it while I sat on the toilet.

And, from then on, I searched for shapes on doors—
faces, animals, monsters–just as I searched the clouds
for the same.

The doors to the examination rooms in Dr. Ozil’s office
had many ghosts. And as I sat—legs swinging—
waiting for the nurse to come give me what my mother said

were allergy shots–which I learned much later,
were really testosterone shots–the elongated faces
stared back.

And, to this day, most doors still have frozen faces—
except for the doors to the rooms at the clinic
where I received my first prescription for estrogen.

Those faces loved me, and those doors turned into trees,
and the forests they opened to were wonderful–
and still are, and the archways I walk beneath, still let in the sun.







Mowgli, by Radiance Angelina Petro


Radiance Angelina Petro



There are eight cat toys on the floor.
Three balls with bells inside, three knitted
mice with catnip inside, one feathery thing
that looks like a sex toy, and one stuffed cucumber
that looks even more like a sex toy.

And still Mowgli wants the pen in my hand.

When I go to sit down in my poetry chair
he’s waiting, and when I begin to write
he pounces for the pen, trying to wrestle it from my hand
with his kitten claws and kitten teeth,
and, of course I wave it like a conductor’s wand

and he follows it with his face and he stands
up to grab it down. But then, I need to get to work,
so, he settles on my journal and watches
words emerge from my pen as I nudge him
further and further off the page as I go.

This is every morning.

And sometimes I am reminded of–and I’m sure
the Muse remembers this too—when, long before
I rescued Mowgli from the streets–I’d try to wrestle
the pen–with my kitten claws and kitten’s teeth–
from the Muse’s patient hand.






The Occasional Whale, by Radiance Angelina Petro


The Occasional Whale
Radiance Angelina Petro



Some say there’s sound coming from black holes.
A kind of ancient groaning that’s nearly a song.
Maybe there’s an old woman in there singing to a black dog?
Maybe something being formed already has a voice

and is already praising? Maybe it’s a school of seeds
breaking new ground, or a baker kneading bread (someone
has to make the communion wafers that turn into Christ)? Maybe
they’re laying down train tracks, or sculpting dragons that turn

into fish? Maybe they’re discussing new places to hide light?
I don’t believe they make shadows. We do that. Maybe they’re busy
placing bullfrog tadpoles on rocks near the edges of ponds, and making
manta rays leaping from a midnight blue sea, or the occasional whale

that also sings? Whatever the case may be, I should really be composing
an ode to the chair that holds me every morning when I write, or to my pen.
So many nearer things churn in my dark, almost singing mind,
and black ink is already spreading over white, dreamy waves.







Inadvertent Doorways, by Radiance Angelina Petro


Inadvertent Doorways
Radiance Angelina Petro


The fledgling’s ruffled, stubby wings,
the spathes of skunk cabbages holding
baby Buddhas in their purple hands,
Miriam breathing on the tambourine
and then starting to dance, spring Gabrielling
into winter’s womb, ghosts walking
through our little aversions, the fallen tree
tied down by brambles and tangled grass.

Sitting by the creek, nibbling flakes of mica,
shadows identify themselves with us—the light
bearing night, the hidden graves of babies
in the church yard—all these inadvertent
doorways to the soul, to tears, and the loosening

The surprised eyes of the old woman
with dementia, the moon’s mirror over
the pond’s still waters, turtles falling
off logs shattering it all, the gliding
owl you will never see again, the bundled
yarrow stalks ready for the fortune teller’s hands.

OK—I’ll stop. Remember Elijah, who was taken
up to heaven fiery chariot and all?
That won’t be us. We go down with the turtles
only to poke our painted faces out of the water,
pretending nothing happened.





Mined, by Radiance Angelina Petro




Radiance Angelina Petro


I met a teacher once with silkworms in his soul.  I know

this because every time he spoke moths fluttered

out, and his breath smelled of mulberry leaves.


Everyone is animal-headed, and everyone can draw

down stars if they look at them long enough.


In heaven, Swedenborg said a married couple appears as one child

such was their innocence.  But I am not interested in that.

Let me walk fields of cinnabar, let me write my eight-legged

poems, and let us say no more about it.