S&R Literature

S&R Poetry: Two Poems, by Luke Powers


Painting on Papyrus

 The blue feathered ibis
	is a symbol of immortality;
the crescent-shaped lotus flowers,
	symbols of immortality;
even the goggle-eyed asp
	who sheds his skin,
		symbol
			of immortality.


Surely the redskinned priest
	or honeybrown priestess
	striding in silhouette
		know this;
And the painted hieroglyphs—
	owl, vulture, eye of Horus—
	make it clear.

The only ones who
do not seem
to understand
are a long-tailed civet cat
			beautifully striped,
caught in the act of bagging
		a bluebilled goose
with red head and
		downy yellow belly,
beautifully dying.
Le Loi

I cross the red bridge
over the sleeping waters
of the Lake
of the Returned Sword

Here Le Loi
	went fishing
and reeled in
a magic sword

With it he drove the Ming
	out of Viet land
		and beheaded
their general;

he said: “better to win
people’s hearts
		than break down
castle walls”

The red bridge
	“soaks up sunlight”
		and leads
to the Moonlit tower.

After the war
	Le Loi went fishing--
		a giant turtle
	 of pure gold surfaced--

an immortal, it’s said,
	who seized the sword
		and dove back
	into the green depths

where it remains to this day
	in the shadow of
		the red bridge
and the moonlit tower.

_____

Luke Powers teaches English and Folklore at Tennessee State University, an historically black university in Nashville, TN. He moonlights as a songwriter and has recorded with Garth Hudson of The Band and Richard Lloyd of Television.

 

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