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.


What Soamiji Said, by Radiance Angelina Petro

What Soamiji Said
Radiance Angelina Petro


There are contests in Alaska
to vote for the fattest bear,
and somehow people find a way
to rig the voting. People have been known
to cheat during fishing tournaments—
stealing fish from city aquariums
and pretending they caught them.
A man in New Jersey built a boat
in his house, and had to tear down
the wall to get it outside.
Garden warblers are finicky eaters.
Attar’s donkey went back and forth
the same journey over and over
getting nowhere. I meditate every day,
and it’s the only time thoughts about
cooking shows and people in Italy
lifting paintings and parading them in the streets
cross my mind. “Have some compassion
for your soul,” Soamiji said. I try to believe
this is all going somewhere. But I too
have a boat inside, and there’s even a snake
at my feet unable to unravel. I’m not going to give up.
I’m willing to tear down the wall
and lift the snake. I will find the right food
for the warblers, and feed Attar’s donkey
mouthfuls of grass for its efforts, and someday—
I will have compassion for my soul.







Your Capable Hands, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Your Capable Hands
Radiance Angelina Petro


Mr. Russell says we cannot
prove or disprove that we are
not being created at this very second.

The unembodied self, the little packets
of light, the bee’s patterned dances—the more
honey the more livelier the dance,

doesn’t seem to be too concerned.
The wind asks leading questions,
the bird’s mind is disguised as wings.

Whether or not Mr. Russell is right
there are crayfish under the rocks at the edge
of the lake, and the eastern gate to heaven

is always open. Whatever the truth is—
travel on light ground. There is are uncared for
gardens that need your capable hands.






Spirit of My Spirit, by Radiance Angelina Petro

Spirit of My Spirit
Radiance Angelina Petro


Spirit of my spirit—shadows of birds
move across my body. The hands of the sea

are reaching for you.
Working is the achievement, and words

must spill into the cup of application.
Lose your footprints moving through

fields of panic-grass, stopping to admire
the willow-catkins. There’s only so much

time. Spirit of my spirit—shadows of birds
moving across my body, I still cannot fly.






The Quietest Drumbeat by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Quietest Drumbeat
Radiance Angelina Petro



Someone once said Buddha
is seated on the seedpod of the lotus,
and Dante’s petal-people have much
to say about why you isolate yourself
from your own body. The day moth sleeps
on the tomato vine, and we can all hope for something
as extravagant as the future. The quietest
drumbeat is in our chest, and, in the long-run,
all the sudden-questions turn into breath,
and waking, or sleeping, we are always dreaming.