Campbell Corner Language Exchange

The Poetry of Jan Lee Ande

Preponderance of the Small

After Completion

Before Completion

from Pigs & Fishes, a manuscript in submission, based on the I Ching

Preponderance of the Small

Out on the brick patio, the small get by. A pair of gray
doves murmur and strut.

They peck at nothing I can see--something between
the loose bricks, or under the asparagus fern.

I have heard they are stupid birds. Why say such a thing
about birds that mate for life?

So they are not the white doves of the holy ghost
descending before the multitude.

When I walk, doves flutter from palm fronds,
or bob like little old men, davening among the bushes.

Doves, murmuring and turning, a velvety taupe
along their supple necks, that delicate face.

They do not reach high like the wild geese flying
south, or crook footed vultures soaring on wide wings.

When I walk I say: left foot, right foot. My eyes look
down at the ground. Wandering mind, returning.

This is the practice of humility, even though my long hair
shimmers in wind, even though my dark glasses hide

dilated eyes. Left foot, right foot. What would I want
besides all that I have? One insignificant thing:

that the sauntering doves not be thought stupid
with their long tails and mindless stroll.

After Completion

At last everything in its place. The books
on oak shelves, alphabetized from alpha
to omega in their dust jackets.

Dog in the moon groomed, cat purring
in dreams, a tiger. One husband after a decade
still faithful, the one gold ring.

One son on his way out of the house
(music spinning on his turntable heart).
Two frail parents in their eighties --

after thirty years of divorce: reconciled.
Poems loop the earth, calling to the scribe,
outcaste, revolutionary.

On the stove in the white kitchen a kettle
whistles, spitting water onto blue flames,
the brass glowing like red embers.

The place of perfection fleeting---a moment
of eyes closed, palms raised, body swaying.
Already entropy moves toward a state

of decay: loss of the transmitted message.
Already the dead rise from their graves
and march toward a new life, tiny eggs

about to be seeded. Lingam in the yoni,
lotus on the lily pad of the world, thick stick
in wet lake: the inevitable roots of decline.

Before Completion

No one believes me when I say I was born on the day
of the daffodil parade, floats swaddled in gold crowns,
and my mother almost named me for that flower.

This is apocryphal, of course, even though I am here
telling you this story. Half a century has gone by,
trekking from Kathmandu through the Kosmos,

St. Mary's Seminary to the Green Tara Initiation,
opium dens and dusty shops selling temple balls
and tankas, biker bars and mattresses with no sheets,

firing white rocks to enter a place of holy mystery
where algorithms lead, step by step, recursive,
to reveal the grandest of cosmological problems.

Not one thing is blunder or muddle, I hear myself say.
How hard it is to shush the ecstasy of my voice
that wants to exalt, even as the world seems to be saying

goodbye, even as the animals mutate and vanish. I say
in the secret language of the vanquished: tulip bulbs
in lavender turbans thrust into a newfangled earth, and yes,

here I stand in all my imperfection, daft utopian saying
soon gods and goddesses rise to rebirth, soon the world
will tremble with poets and sublime transmissions.