Clear as Day
Jennifer Angelina Petro
One never knows until never is up,
And then you know whatever it was
You didn’t know before never ran out.
It’s kind of like this: A firefly
Turns its own light on and off
In an effort to get your attention.
Certain questions act the same way—
Bobbing up and down, elusive—
Hints flashing among the dark trees;
Every so often, and often again—
Someplace different—a little to the left,
A little higher, and sometimes, seemingly,
Rising to the moon, all in an effort
To be followed.
Trick is—and it is a trick—keep watching
For the lights—they can bloom anywhere
In the fields of summer darkness;
When you see one, follow its green-tinted
Ribbon where ever it goes, as best you can,
And if you lose sight of it—disappointment,
Frustration—are perfectly valid responses.
Try and remember this:
When you fall asleep, and answers
Lift through the trees—out of reach—
Do your best to not give up.
Your dreams–along with a gathering of angels
And shadows—will ponder the questions for you,
And when morning comes, and the dawning sun shines,
It will all be clear as day.
An Angel and Child Story
Jennifer Angelina Petro
“Good morning little one,” said the Angel.
“Morning Angel,” said the child.
“You look like you have a question,” said the Angel.
After a short moment thinking, the child said: “Yes, I do.”
“You’re welcome to share it with me, although I cannot guarantee I have the right answer.”
“You always have the right answer.”
“I try. Now what is your question, dear one?”
“Well,” began the child, “I keep thinking this nasty thought—about some of my friends getting hurt—not that I am the one hurting them or even want them hurt—it’s just that this thought keeps coming out of nowhere of them getting hurt somehow, and I don’t like it.”
“I see,” said the Angel.
“And I feel like I can’t stop that thought from being in my mind, and I don’t want it there. What can I do?”
“Well,” offered the Angel, “You could think a different thought.”
“No, I can’t,” said the child, “It’s just there. I can’t help it.”
“You could try,” said the angel.
“Every time the nasty thought comes, catch it, like a fly in a web, and then tuck it over and away, and then, think a different thought.”
“What do you mean?”
“Just what I said.”
“How do I catch a thought?”
“As soon as you realize it’s in your mind catch it, stop the tape, hold the phone, freeze the frame—whatever you want to call it—just notice there’s the thought in your mind you don’t like.”
“And then think a different one—one you do like.”
“That’s impossible,” said the child sitting down defeated on her bed.
“It takes practice,” said the Angel, “You see, we’re so used to believing we have no say, no control, no intentions for what goes through our heads, that we believe we’re helpless to choose thoughts we like.”
“It feels helpless,” said the child, “That thought goes through my mind a million times a day.”
“Some people are helpless,” said the Angel, “they have illnesses that makes it so they need support from outside to help them order their thoughts.”
“What if I am one of the helpless ones?” asked the child.
“Then we get you help,” said the angel, “For now, try it. After all, a thought is just a picture zooping around your mind’s eye. When a picture comes you don’t like, freeze it right there in its tracks, and then pick a different picture to look at.”
“That sounds hard,” said the child.
“It might be,” said the Angel, “and often difficult things are the most rewarding. And besides, it can also be fun—a new adventure in thinking. Think of it like that—an adventure.”
“So, when I think of my friends getting hurt, I catch that picture—like a fly in a web, and then think of a happy picture? Does it have to be about my friends?”
“That’s a good idea,” said the Angel, “That way you’ll still be thinking about your friends but instead of focusing on a picture of them being hurt you can focus on a picture of them being happy, healthy, surrounded by Light.”
“Will you help me?” asked the child.
“Of course,” said the Angel.
“OK,” said the child, “here goes.”
And as the image of her friends getting hurt raced across the screen of her mind, the child stopped it—froze it right where it was, and then, after taking a deep breath, and asking the Angel’s help, created a different picture—one in which her friends were happy, playing, and dancing.
“I did it!” shouted the child.
“I knew you could,” said the angel.
“Wait,” the child said, sinking down into the bed, “the nasty thought is back. It didn’t work.”
“It did work,” said the Angel, “It’s just you might need to do it several times, or a hundred times to get the chosen thought to stick. After all, you said you’ve been thinking the nasty thought a million times a day. It’s like you’ve created a groove or an easy pathway for it to be there. Now it’s time to create another path. You can do it.”
And so, the child did it again.
“It worked,” said the child.
“And it will work over and over, especially the more you feed your mind happy, loving, healthy, positive images. And,” said the Angel, “this will help too.” Suddenly the Angel drew a golden sword from out of the blue. The sword was long, brilliantly shining like the sun, and gleaming with sharpness and power. She laid the sword across her hands and offered it to the child.
“What?!” The child said, her eyes like saucers, her heart racing, her mind afire with wonder, “A sword?!”
“This will help too,” said the Angel, “use it wisely.”
“But, I’m just a kid. I can’t use a sword like that!”
“I wouldn’t share it with you if I thought you couldn’t use. It is alright. It will fit in your hand, and maybe seem heavy, but it will always swing light as a feather and more powerful than lightening when you need it.”
“Wow,” the child said, standing up to take the mighty sword into her hands. She felt its weight, its power. “Does it have a name?” she asked.
“Yes,” said the Angel, “It does. It is called, Truth. Use it when the lies come.”
“Thank you, Angel,” said the child, raising the sword in front of her, “I think this will help. I think this will help indeed.”
I Want You to Know
Radiance Angelina Petro
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. ——Second Timothy 1:7
I want you to know
I believe in spirits.
I don’t believe there is some god
Sitting around somewhere doling out spirits—of any kind.
Spirits are not things to be given
Spirits do the giving (and yes, the taking).
Spirits move and live and have
Their being in, around, above, below, and through
Us. They travel looking for places
To stay—sometimes forever, other times
They just want to stop by, check out
How things are going, and then move on.
Other times they come to stay awhile
And live in your hostel mind.
Most are pretty unassuming and quiet,
Whispering only now and again
Via the wind in the trees above your head
Or in some other such manner.
Other times they can be a bit testy,
Especially when you hook one
With your emotions.
Then they can become like angry fish
And do their best to snap your line.
And yes, there are ones that mean you harm.
The main thing I want you to know though is this:
I believe in spirits.
It is important to me
That you know that.
Keep in mind: spirits
Are not ghosts.
Spirits are spirits.
Ghosts are ghosts.
Spirits wander freely.
Ghosts stay stuck in one place, screaming
Or weeping, or running up and down the hallway,
Sometimes they sit behind chairs or in walls laughing—but not
Easy laughing—more like trapped, misunderstood laughing—
The kind one might hear in an asylum.
Spirits are not angels either.
Angels are angels.
Spirits are spirits.
Several of them (spirits)
Live in me. I used to think
There were just two—a male and a female.
Now I know my soul and body and mind
Are a city of spirits. Sometimes
Things thin out a bit and I am more
A house of spirits, or a garden of spirits—
Like I said though—the main thing
I want you to take away from this poem is:
I believe in spirits. I think you
Get that now, and whether or not
You believe me, or whether or not
You believe in spirits, does not matter to me.
I told the truth.
That is the best I can do.
Rising Up to Meet the Road
Jennifer Angelina Petro
There are poems unfinished
Waiting in the woods beneath roots of trees
And hovering, like horsetail clouds behind the moon;
There are songs unwritten
Following beside me as I walk,
Their melodies coming in snippets, like
Distant birdcalls or pieces
Of dreams, and soundbites
Of conversations overheard
In used bookstores, classrooms, and coffee shops,
Their rhythms blossoming
From the muse and the soul touching all night, all day,
Every day, when I am not able to dance
Either asleep or awake;
There is work undone
Waiting in the universe, making its way
Towards my door, opportunities
Growing, like flower gardens
Planted when no one is looking,
But they are coming, they are revealing
Themselves little by little, like
Spring in the coldest of winters;
There are people unloved
Waiting in the wings for me to release the spirits
That bind me–to make my way
Towards the light, to open
The hands of my heart
And let in those who see
And feel and know my name,
And for me to step through
The fourth wall and into their arms and lives;
There are answered prayers
Unprayed, waiting to be let loose
Into the world, like
So many fireflies, like a carnival
Of children, like a collection
Of songs and poems
Published on the wings
Of pain and healing and lifting their way
Into moonlit clouds and sunlit days,
And alighting back down as angels and
Moonbeams, sunbeams and ends of rainbows,
Petals of cherry blossoms,
Dragonflies, and cries of cicadas
And morning doves, and beings
Of all the elements, and all of this, all of this
Swirling into one, worthy to be lived
Life of one woman rising up
To meet the road.
When There is Nowhere to Turn
I Find Myself Surrounded by the Moon and Her Messengers of Light
Jennifer Angelina Petro
One morning, walking through the January forest,
I watched the path double back on itself and disappear.
One evening, sailing on an indigo ocean of questions,
I saw the horizon swallow itself whole, like a monster all stomach and mouth.
I too searched for brains, a heart, and a home,
And the yellow-brick road turned into rust.
Heaven has fallen from the sky like so many shot-down stars.
There is nowhere to turn that doesn’t lead to ghost towns and empty silos.
My aspirations get stuck in the trees, like shreds of shawls.
Angels’ wings have folded.
Smiles are rimmed in blood.
Embraces reach for me and miss, grasping themselves.
The time has come for whirlwinds and blizzards,
The time has come for floods, and bone-rattling thunder,
Look—the sun was just swallowed by a wolf—
Look—the bridges have all burst into flame–
The moon is growing fuller,
Taking over the darkness—
Look—she is pulling the sun from the belly of the wolf–
Look—she is stilling the thunder and plucking my prayers from the trees—
Look-she is unfolding the path and shaking out the horizon and spreading it afar, anew—
Look—she is picking up the fallen stars and hanging them back in their places—
Look—she is brushing the angels’ wings and rubbing their shoulders—
Look—she is wiping the bloody mouths, like
A mother wiping a child’s face—rough and tender, all at once–
Look—she is steadying me so I don’t duck or fall when the embraces come—
Look-she is gently scolding me to listen better to her messengers of Light called:
Look—she is lifting me, rocking me in the softest of breezes, singing,
And whispering runes and spells, affirmations, and ways through the dark,
And treasure maps and secret passageways through mountains and dungeons–
Her tears fall down her breasts, mixing with her milk as she lets me suckle
For as long as I need in the cradle of her light-filled, infinite arms.
All donations go towards my transition. Thank you. <3
The Gift of Seeing Our Breath
Jennifer Angelina Petro
As a child, as summer slipped into fall,
And the first frost shrouded the grass in little, dissolvable crystals,
I would go outside first thing in the morning
And make my mouth into a wonder-filled O,
And breathe. And when I saw my breath
Spill wispy veils upwards into the air, like so many unfurling ghosts,
I rejoiced and ran in my footy pajamas back to my bed and covers,
To contemplate this most marvelous thing.
My friends and I walked to school back then,
And on the first day it was cold enough
To see your breath, every few steps
One of us would say: “Look! I can see my breath!”
And we would stop and we would see and we would say:
“That’s so cool!”
This morning I saw a little girl step from her front door,
Make her mouth into a wonder-filled O, and breathe.
I just caught the look of amazement in her eyes as I drove past.
What a gift this being alive, this being able to see our breath,
This casting of feathery nets that needn’t catch anything into an invisible sea of blue,
This gentle launching of ships of clouds—
What a gift to live in amazement,
What a gift to be able, on the coldest of days,
To be reminded we are alive, we are warm in here,
We are message bearers sharing silken signals,
“This is mine,” we say, “and I share it with you.”
We are makers of clouds and shepherds of little flocks of adventurous sheep,
And not a single one of us breathes alone,
We share the breath of those we fear
And those we love, as summer slips into fall
And the world becomes shrouded in frost,
And coldness touches everything—pause,
Let us make our heart into a wonder-filled O
And breathe, letting our warmth spread defiantly into the cold.
And one day when we breathe our last
Our spirits will spill upwards in feathery spirals
And be carried on the shoulders of the breath
Of the living, and we will rise, our souls shaped like
Wonder-filled O’s, and we will slip into the arms of angels
Who will bear us back to a bed of softest down,
Tuck us in to rest, kiss our forehead
And whisper, “Rest now. Tomorrow is a new day and there is much to do,
And many people to fill with amazement. ”
Awakening to the Dream
Joseph Anthony Petro
When I awoke
From a deep,
Another dream awaited me
In the form of a door
That was never there before
In the eastern wall of my room.
Whatever light was behind it
Framed the door and filled the room
With blinding brilliance.
I rose from the bed,
Wiped my eyes,
Remembered I was wearing
Phillies shorts and a t-shirt
And thought: Whoever
Wants me to enter
Or Whoever wants
To enter here might just be
A goddess or an angel.
And so I changed
Into my most flowing,
A light green, silken blouse
From India, and tan,
Billowy pants—light as air
That looked like a dress
The legs were so wide.
I brushed my hair.
Did my best to look beautiful,
All the while the door waited
With tender, illuminated patience,
And when I was ready
It opened, flooding my feet
With mountain mist, and the room
With clear, dew-soaked air—
Morning air, comfortable air—
Fresher than spring, crisper
Than autumn air—air kissed
I stood, bathed in radiance,
Breathing in deep freedom,
Allowing the light to drape its fragrant,
Satin shawl around my shoulders.
“Ready?” came the voice.
“I think so,” I replied.
After a pause the voice
Asked again: “Ready?”
“Yes,” I smiled, smoothing
My pants, raising my head high,
Opening my chest,
Straightening my back,
Settling my shoulders: “Yes, yes I am.”
And when the soft hand
Took mine and I stepped over
The threshold I knew
There was no turning back–
I was my true self—embraced by light,
And I was entering a living dream–
A dream to end all dreams.
I Cannot Say I Loved Him
Joseph Anthony Petro
He’s been with me since the beginning.
I’d look in the mirror and he would be there
Staring blankly at my chest or arms,
I’d slip into my pajamas and he would be waiting
To chase me in my dreams,
He would mock me from the corners
Of rock star posters and porn magazines,
I’d see him in the backgrounds of cigarette ads
And truck commercials shaking his head and frowning,
He would stand looking over my shoulder
When I drew pictures or wrote in my diary
Whispering the words or tracing the lines
He felt were out of place or too sensitive,
And yet I stuck with him–following him
Just as much as he followed me,
I would carry his shoes and try to fill them,
I based my carriage on how he walked,
I built up a story of what he expected of me,
How he thought I should look, speak, and move,
I noticed how other people saw him
And tried to be him in their eyes;
And even though he lied and shamed
He was there when no one else was—
He never left me, never tired of offering
Advice on how I could better myself—
His lies were loyal, his sarcasm tinged with fraternal care.
Yet I cannot say I loved him
Even though he led me this far,
Even though in certain respects
I chose him as my shadow.
All I know is the more the truth is revealed
Of why I am here and who I am meant to be
The more he fades away in the illuminated fog,
The more I listen to the angel calling my name
The more he grows distant and small,
The more I move towards her voice
The more he vanishes in the light of her song,
The more I adopt her freedom and beauty
The closer he comes to scattering into a thousand drops of ink
And finding himself being absorbed into the fabric
Of the merciful, moon-swept night.