Parthenos by Diane Di Prima

the black stone shines tho its
color / clarity     we cannot
do not      name            & the door
swings soundless           hingeless as the
panel in his skull
who enclosed
claimed the war goddess
she who was
Owl in Africk        before
Zeus came out of the ground

The black stone
clearness  /        we dare not
enter    emits          a light
& the door swings            soundless
inviting              its light
is golden
we know this tho the stone remains
inscrutable &

soft as the stone in
toad’s head
frog-goddess           in what
was later

She who heals            thru darkness.

He enclosed Durga, armed
maiden,          cast her forth          his
headache         whose armies march
chthonic             whose destruction
takes place under ground
& she rose
feathers on her shoulders, a shadow
long as the road:
“Athena. New beginnings”

Now death is in the light
it is
the light       golden         the door
soundless      the path       a silhouette
or outline of the Bird
the Owl,      Hawk          all those
whose beak curves downward

Storms are bred underground     the sky
Revealer,            the
Interpreter             of what moves
in the earth.                Our dead
in the light of day
lyke        before the sun
is created
rises          our Dead disperse
on the wind
as the hairs
of her feathers        move
her feathered shield.

First light is lightning              “worms”
dart thru the void     the arrows
before the storm
we aver / the Raveler
whose helmet
crests in plumes
a black wind
flows out of them
brings pestilence
the light
at her back
the male-born
woman,             outlined
black           definite

the path        she sd       is the body
of the god
The death
she carries    golden    suffused
inviting-her field is the
entrance point         the door
emits a mist

is the stone         it glints
green   /   golden   /   black
Her feathered skull       Athena


Deer Leap

Deer Leap by Diane Di Prima
  For Robert Duncan

High hart at deer leap, park
to forest, the Law
changes utterly, rupture
of plane. High hart moves sideways
across the path, her spoor
smells of fear,     wind leaps
the deer leap,     the law
in the park,     formal,     composed,
treacherous.               Who goes forth
to return?   Wind
from the quarters spirals
in on itself.         The hart
fox or wolf, the beast
of the forest, sacred wood
spirals or spins to a destiny
or brook, no hart can leap
over.               There drinks
reflecting.                      Still.

Wonder is light
at wood’s edge, falling
reflecting green, wonder
is open space where the forest
closes itself, and nothing
protects or shelters.
Outside the forest, no law
shelters the beast of the wood.
No law outside       where wonder
sings limpid, glances
sideways. Let us go then
love, where light
twinkles in the gap
between the Law
& ourselves

Darkling he follows.           It is as fox
or marten, his eyes are,
he has eyes
for the black green under leaves
in the small moon.             It shimmers
phosphorus,   fungus,        the low
shift in the grass.                Dark he goes
into the light,           a flat
bent shadow it is joy
to see on the grass.         Come
love, what slivers fall
like flakes of light from a burning
tower they catch
in yr hair yr smile.        Winter
slips between our clasping

Do we break cover,     break
thru the small grass,     bracken
is there light off the tall rocks
they stand far on the plain.     We slip
from plain to plane, not daring
to turn back, we are far
from the white stair
what yr words
cannot say,         my tears
do not buy,                    cuts a swathe
like the hare
in tall grass
under the moon
we totter
aside to leap again
that hedge
or pass thru gate,        same flat
plain on either side
but the Laws        are different.

sly as a marten,         evade
natural law         replace
one boundary w/another, we flow
to its edge, roll back
define       this pain as content
less as wind,    renew
ingathering,        to leap

sly as the shy
fox,    remember,     no law
protects the hare
from park
to wood to common
land he slips
always at risk
& always
kin to the moon

whisper my name, little Brother, whisper
across the Net that links the stars
where yr angel
buzzes like an insect, hovers,
the Rose
gives honey to the bees, not cunt
not heart or christ, rose
is the soul,                         yr soul
the angels suck at.                          Oh love
light        displaced         making room
where gaps in the old
flow like melting ice

let us be what we are,     mid leap
let us fall or rise
on the breath the Will
yields to.
there are eyes
under all the leaves,           there are
lynxes, yes
& the whisper
of passing shadow, but wonder
is there where boundary
breaks against itself
& the Law
shivers & bursts like diamonds
in the heart

Deer Leap


“Apparuit” by Diane Di Prima

There is some sweet woman
whose words I have never seen
who springs
fullblown into mind

It is as if she had printed a large book
& her work was full & satisfied
& she
satisfied in the loves of both sexes
not strung out

by the rappel á l’ordre
not straining
or excusing herself or defiant
strident angry
not pushed out of shape

She has moved gracefully from fleshly maidenhood
to the lean delights of the mother

she is serene
with the grace & gentleness of the warrior
the spear
the harp the book the butterfly
are equal
in her hands

There is a woman who is full of grace
her lap is ample & empty
she is not abstract or sheepish
there are no tendons
straining in her neck
her voice is not milk & honey
it is not harsh, it is a voice
her voice         she writes

whatever suits her         she moves
where she pleases          she casts
a variable shadow

There is a woman whose poems are bread & meat
hyacinth    nightmare         crêpe paper
crab nebula

I close a window, she is not reflected in it
but I see her silhouette against the glass

she is crisp as ice, is soft
as russian vowels

O sweet whore innocent
power my fiend
perfect fraud
you essence sniffing
my hand yr inner ear
is the acoustic chamber
of stars
you commit
this poem like a ripe plum
I devour here in a desert
whose fountain no caravans
stream toward

O shadow sister!


The Second Daughter: Li (Brightness)

The Second Daughter: Li (Brightness) by Diane Di Prima

You enter power, but I am here before you
standing in what’s left of grace on this planet
the bits shored up, to form a circle of light
I cannot abdicate, even for you
come, join us!

You enter womanhood, I am a woman
to greet you, invest you, praise you
(there are oils for your skin, your hair)
I have not grown old suddenly before yr eyes
have not the courtesy to be decrepit
in the wind at my back & yrs
I have dances still to dance-do you dance?
how the lights
dance in you, eyes & skin
& brights of yr hair
How yr anger dances!

See how my skin
like yrs
takes on its sheen
after lovemaking
see how we glow!

The circle which is a spiral
stretches out
to the star of Isis
it is the stair of Light
in the upper parts glow
the Grandmothers

The Ancestress reaches her hand
to draw us up.
She is white vulture
w/ spiral neck

These years are the windings
of Light
our flesh flickers & changes
like flame.
Like flame, it holds us fast.

The Second Daughter: Li (Brightness)

The Loba Addresses the Goddess / Or The Poet As Priestess Adresses The Loba-Goddess

The Loba Addresses the Goddess / Or The Poet As Priestess Adresses The Loba-Goddess by Diane Di Prima

Is it not in yr service that I wear myself out
running ragged among these hills, driving children
to forgotten movies? In yr service
broom & pen. The monstrous feasts
we serve the others on the outer porch
(within the house there is only rice & salt)
And we wear exhaustion like a painted robe
I & my sisters
wresting the goods from the niggardly
dying fathers
healing each other w / water & bitter herbs

that when we stand naked in the circle of lamps
(beside the small water, in the inner grove)
we show
no blemish, but also no superfluous beauty.
It has burned off in watches of the night.
O Nut, O mantle of stars, we catch at you
lean               mournful
ragged           triumphant
shaggy as grass
our skins ache of emergence / dark o’ the moon

The Loba Addresses the Goddess / Or The Poet As Priestess Adresses The Loba-Goddess

The Loba Recovers the Memory of a Mare

The Loba Recovers the Memory of a Mare by Diane Di Prima

small hooves
the ankles fragile
not rooted here

the eyes
eyes of a doe
who has been hunted
but not w/ in recent

who walked across America behind gaunt violent yogis
& died o-d’ing in methadone jail
scarfing the evidence

or destitute in Fiji wiring home for comfort
destroyed among oil lamps Morocco seeking dead fingers
old man in Afghani jail / pregnant barefoot & whoring
who did we pray
who did we pray to then

laid out flowerless in abandoned basement
blue stiff & salt injection
just out of reach

wrote lipstick “save yourself” on tin rail of furnished
room bed
eloped w/ white slaver & died Indiana of unmentioned griefs
or in love again peaceful scrawled candlesmoke “there is
salvation” triumphant on borrowed ceiling
while friends coughed in the kitchen

who left tapestries, evidence, baby bottle behind in Vancouver
& hitched to Seattle for the mushroom season
trailing welfare checks & stolen money orders
Chicago gangster in earrings who minded the baby

who gathered reed grass for the wicki-up, eating
horsemeat steaks in Colorado dusk
the painted hills bucking & neighing, it was her ankles

were slender
it was her eyes
were tired

oatmeal & grits while the old man
naked in bed / read Bible / jerked off
& who was the whore of Babylon in the
kerosene lamp of yr childhood?

it was her skirt
was greasy
it was her skirt
was graceful
it was her skirt
you clung to, till she fell
you fell

& who now remembers her hands
working dye into cotton
slant of her green eyes / Sagamore cafeteria

who has tears for girls now on Route One, the babies
wrapped in a scarf / the green
always further north
further than you can walk

her ankles fragile
unrooted, she walks
into the Wind

The Loba Recovers the Memory of a Mare

Song of Heloise

Song of Heloise by Diane Di Prima

from out of the body of fire,
the body of light
out of the wind, virtù

the light that is in the mind
these essences
pale color
al fresco
a homecoming (clarities
from out of the passion
crystal, spiralling

books open within the Word
small windows
light within light
“space is a

from the body of light
like dayspring
ineffable breath

& out of the crystal,
the fountain
jets like sperm

how the flesh
in its

Song of Heloise