Breathing Out the Dark, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Breathing Out the Dark

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Come, summer, the earth is opening for you.

Autumn is igniting secret, slow embers across

The hillside, and when they seize the air and blaze freely,

It will be for you as fireworks

In honor of the long afternoons

You spread—bee dappled—and seed-floating

For children to run through.

 

Come, summer, the streams and rivers

Are inviting your heat to rest in their many cool folds

And moving pockets of pebbles and stones.

Sink into their praising hands and laughter—

All in thanks of you and the shafts of light

You directed at their faces and the fronds of the ferns—

You established trails and made for us paused moments

Of birdsong-filled reflection.

 

Come, summer, hands and backs are readying

To gather the gifts spring spilled upwards from the ground

To be sun-fostered and breeze-held by you.

It is with this thought, this sense of knowing you

For the first time, having missed you

In the star-filled expanse of voice-filled evenings—

This feeling of settling and thanks,

That the earth offers you a place to recompose

Your light among the cool, falling asleep roots,

Until you are ready to rise again with the crickets

And cicadas, and strum for us another season

Of breathing out the dark.

 

 

 


 

 

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i Cannot Weep Among the Autumn Trees, by jennifer angelina petro

i Cannot Weep Among the Autumn Trees

 

by

 

jennifer angelina petro

 

 

 

i’ve tried,

and those

who know

a bit

about

the depth

of dark

that hovers

over my head

knows

how much

i weep.

 

Walking

amongst

the autumn

trees, tears

shed

into the wind,

but do not fall—

they sail golden

into the wind

which is

different

than weeping.

 

No. i am

not cured

of the illness

which i am

a carrier of.

No. i am

in autumn’s

reprieve.

 

Which begs

the question:

why not

go out and be

with the trees

everyday?

Because somedays

the dark hands

holding my ankles

have just

too strong

a grip.

 

Which begs,

of course,

another

question:

how did you

get free enough

today to walk

among the trees?

 

Look—

that leaf—

that piece

of gold lying

in the brittle,

browning grass—

those treetops

lit up

above the darkening

branches—somehow

lifted the shackles

away and kissed

my feet, and said:

There

are poems

and photographs

waiting

for you.

Go. You may

never have

the strength

again.  Go.

We will

hold off

the dark as long

as we can.

 

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Including You, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Including You

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Now that autumn is in full gear

And the air fills the lungs with letting go breaths,

The time has come once again

When the slant of light catches you off guard

And you find yourself weeping

Watching the precipitation from the trees

Vesturing the ground with red and gold.

 

There is nothing you can do.

The allegory of the leaves and change

Has been around as long as trees themselves.

You cannot get around letting go.

 

And there are times letting go turns

Into a flood of things sailing away

Just beyond your reach into a day full of cidered light–

And you can only watch, or try

 

To look away, nevertheless parts of your life

Will be draped on the ground like so many

Torn shards of shifts and shirts

And they will be there waiting for you

To witness their being caught down in unavoidable winds

And you will be left with either becoming

Hard, like a tree whose blood slows to frozen,

 

Or ebullient like a flower girl at a wedding, tossing

Rose petals along the aisle where death

Sits on one side and life on the other,

And your processional of letting go distracts everyone

Momentarily from the marriage about to happen

That will leave everyone, including you,

Searching frantically inside

For the one they used to love.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 





The Stone Ledge, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Stone Ledge

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

The slant of light upon the grass

Where tattered tapestries of autumn leaves

Rise and fall, reveals the bones

Of a long since dead bird.

 

How is it I never noticed it before?

How is it I never stopped to grieve the leaving

Of this winged being?

 

Oh, I am busy, I know, but I do

Almost always look down when I walk,

So why?  Why did I not see?

 

Perhaps before it died I could have

Done something to help it live, take

It to a sanctuary or aviary,

Perhaps, at very least, I could have given

It a proper burial.

 

Now its bones, brittle, air-gone,

Lie in a little heap, wings fanned out

Into forever.

 

There is no going back.

There is no back to go back to.

However, there is a point of no return.

 

The way ahead is dark, empty

Of sky and wind, the way ahead

Is bones revealed in autumn,

The way ahead is wings spread

Without sky, without the holy

Uplifting.

 

I turn, bend close, go ahead

And lift the dead bird in my hands,

Carry it to the stone ledge, retrieve

A garden shovel, dig, let my nose run,

Place the skeleton down as gently

As I possibly can, return the earth,

Bless the leaving, cover the hope

Of ever flying again.

 


 

 

 

 


 




Stations, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

Stations

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

“Have a good one,”

the teller said,

and I wondered

as I carried my bags

to the car:

“Which one?  One what?

Why limit yourself

to only one?”

 

The autumn train

is pulling away from the station

leaving trails of red

and gold in her wake.

 

Having missed my stop

owing to worry

and a pull to end

my own life, I roam

the Philadelphia streets

looking for someone

to tell me there will be other

ways to get through

the winter stations,

there will be friends

at the end of the line

holding signs and flowers,

there will be an end

to the tears,

 

and spring will be there

waiting to the do the rest—

waiting to welcome

a good one home.

 

 


 

 

 





So Inclined, by Jennifer Angelina Pedro

graceful-autumn-tree

 

 

So Inclined

by

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

Standing by the gold-flecked stream

watching leaves plucked from the trees

in droves by the wind, one cannot help,

if one is so inclined as to reflect on these things,

but notice how much like death

autumn must be.

 

Perhaps, when the time is ripe,

and the soul is heavy with longing,

and the great wind comes,

it will pluck my soul and spirit

right from the branches of my body

and cast them into the gold-dappled stream

flowing towards the sea.

 

It’s strange, isn’t it, that during autumn

the air is crisp, fresh, clarifying;

and the light slants in such a way

as to ignite the trees with joy even

as the trees relinquish themselves

to the letting go.

 

Harvest me autumn,

for the chlorophyl of hope has drained

from my face and limbs,

and seeped into the ground

to nourish the roots and bones

of those who already gave their all,

collect me in your harvest-hands

and turn my despair into gold.

 

 


 

 

 





The Center of Your Soul, by Jennifer Angelina Petro

The Center of Your Soul

By

Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

You needn’t worry summer is stepping back;

You needn’t do the same; inside

Spirit has been gathering

Embers of the sun and the harvest moon

And placed them in the hearth of your soul;

As winter’s shift trundles over

The hillside and drapes itself

Over eaves and shutters, the space

Around the chimneys remains

Warm and where winter birds roost

To shake the frost from their wings;

Summer will always be there surrounded

By springtime in the center

Of who you are—there will always be warmth—

Now work—pretend you didn’t hear what I just said—

Go–collect the kindling of your desires,

Rake the dry leaves of your disappointments

And heap them together with whatever

Things you didn’t do this summer

And set them on fire; there is wood

A plenty in the forest of your worries—

It is there for a reason—you are

Not harming anyone or anything

When you illume the soul—winter silences

Autumn’s dazzling carnival, autumn

Diminishes summer’s return, and spring—

That fragrant season of dew-dappled light

Lives forever by the force of your own will

Coupled with mercy from heaven

In the center of your soul.

 

 

 

 





 


The Next Neighborhood Over, by Radiance Angelina Petro

The Next Neighborhood Over

By

Radiance Angelina Petro


Trying to follow the sound

Of the cicadas is what it’s like

Trying to follow the sound

Of god.

 

Cicadas throw their voices

And you can think one

Is right up in that tree over there,

When, in fact, it is actually

In a tree in the next neighborhood over.

 

Trying to trace the sound

Of god one finds oneself

Tracing figures in the air,

Or wishes on the shore.

 

 

Listening to the sound

Of god is much easier

Than asking the source

Of that sound questions.

 

When the cicada stops singing

And falls unseen

From its branch high up

In the tree, the silence

Signals us that change is here—

 

We realize waiting for answers

Is foolish and a waste–

Autumn is coming.

 

So we had better be prepared.

 

When we notice

There is no singing in the trees,

When we realize we have forgotten

Entirely about the sound—

We know winter is here.

 

And if we don’t do something

Outlandish and daring

In order to try making the sound

Ourselves,

Our ears will freeze over with regret,

Our hearts will harden from lack of use.

And our dreams—the ones

We used to use as compasses

To follow the sound

Of god, will be carried away, like

The shell of a cicada,

Like the shell of a sound,

Like the shell of a god

That used to play

Hide and seek with us

From the next neighborhood over.



 

 




Thank you for supporting my transition.  Radiance <3

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Prayers of the Ghosts

Prayers of the Ghosts
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 
Inside of this forest of skin and bone
The autumn sun shines through the branches,
Evening breathes through the leaves,
Deer step from the center to the edges, silent as sunset,
A stream sculpts a pathway through the trees drawn by a waiting sea,
An owl spreads her wings and glides over the marsh of my fears,
A mountain, full of sleeping momma bears, stands behind me, sturdy and steady,
The moon sings through the crisp air spilling its song through the dancing ferns and whirling leaves,
Ghosts pray in the darkness, spreading ancient hopes and beckoning for light,
While dreams rest on the ground, languished on the cushioned earth and tangled in roots,
Waiting for me to answer the prayers of the ghosts, and set them free, like
Handfuls of butterflies on a newly realized morning in a newly realized spring.

 

 


 

 

 





This Being Transgender

This Being Transgender
By
Jennifer Angelina Petro

 

 

 

Dear Autumn,
This being transgender reminds me of what you must face;
People who haven’t thought of you for ages
Suddenly find themselves thinking of you and lamenting your arrival,
Others find you a fascinating anomaly in an otherwise endless summer
Of sameness and dreamy afternoons;
Others force themselves to stop thinking of you
With hopes of postponing an imaginary, apocalyptic winter,
Still others think about you so much they stop talking to you
And pretend you no longer exist, they fear
Your blazing changes will rub off on them,
They think your very appearance signals a heresy
That will send summer reeling—
Which it does–but not in distress does summer
Go tumbling through the leaves and out of town, it rolls on
Joyous of your presence and relieved
To finally be able to breathe fully and see spring’s children
For who they really are. And the heresy? It is there–
It signals the living fully what love stands for–
And that means comfort zones expanded,
Walls removed, and doors opened into the reality
Of the here and now, 2015.

 

Dear Autumn,
I see your graceful letting go,
I see you casting gold with trembling fingers,
I see your swaying vulnerability against a stark blue sky,
And I know I let go far less gracefully,
I cling to what must be tossed away,
I flail about believing
There is nothing gold about me
To even bother sharing;
I begin believing those who can longer look at me
Or who dread how I will influence their children—
I know better though, I know they only fear
How I will influence them—how I will magically
Nudge them away from the summer
Of their inner, thinly-hidden discontent
And out into the blazing colors of enlightenment,
I know better, but I cling to brittle branches
Of self-loathing.

 

Dear Autumn,
So many people tell me they need time to be able to just see me,
Some still believe a death has occurred, and yet, here I stand in my autumnal truth.
You and I both know nothing dies when you arrive;
Summer cartwheels over the hills and warms
Another place happy to be free to think new thoughts,
The leaves you share feed the soil and fertilize the seeds of spring,
The harvest of apples feeds many with mulled sweetness,
And if they could only see you in my soul
And be awed at the revelation of color and the arrival
Of gold and my ability to finally stand in the fifth direction
Of my journey, with all of the certainty of wonder and hope
Of voyaging further into the sky, the streams, the purple mountains,
The heart of love, and the ground of being;
If they would only look in the mirror of their deepest fears—
And see love looking back at them,
And how the faces of spring infants and angels of flamenco
Gather around the edges of their vision, then maybe they would get it—
Their reflection looks like us and them—it looks like every single tree
To ever wave in the wind and sleep bathed in moonlight,
And just rest easy knowing we are not signaling the end
Of all that is warm and held sacred,
We are heralding the beginning of freedom,
We are taking the leaves of sacredness
And casting them where they truly belong–
Into an infinite sky of infinite variety.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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