Coming of Age
I groan under the weight of
Shiny expectations banged out
Smooth edges, sharp fear
singles triples doubles
the tally of uncertainties
I cloth myself in angry gold
Try to cover
Melinda studied English literature in her undergraduate degree and applied language studies in her graduate degree. She teaches first year composition, multi-cultural literature, English grammar, and multi-disciplinary courses at Trinity Western University. She lives in Langley, B.C., Canada with her husband, three sons, and puggle.
The golden one. Over time,
it was recognized as a mythical place.
'El Dorado' only lived in the imagination
of Europeans, giddy with the prospect
of instant wealth picked up by the handful
in a mythical city of gold.
The ‘Guatavita’ one of the ceremonies
of sacrifice conducted by priests.
A new ruler, covered
in mud and gold,
placed on a raft with a great amount
of golden items at his feet:
nose rings, pectorals, diadems, pendants,
bracelets, ear rings…
Thousands gathered at the shore.
At the centre of the lagoon, El Dorado
threw the gold overboard, letting it sink
to the bottom.
There were flutes and pipes,
much singing and dancing.
The indigenous peoples
never attached monetary value
to the shiny metal,
its value symbolic of the brilliance
and constancy of the sun.
Most graves have been looted
by now. Found in the mud at the
bottom of lagoons the highly stylized
works by the master goldsmiths
Rose Mary Boehm
A German-born UK national, Rose Mary Boehm lives and works in Lima, Peru. Author of Tangents, a poetry collection published in the UK in 2010/2011, her work has been widely published in US poetry journals (online and print). She was three times winner of the Goodreads monthly competition, a new poetry collection (From the Ruhr to Somewhere Near Dresden 1939-1949 : A Child’s Journey) has been published by Aldrich Press in May 2016, and a new collection (Peru Blues or Lady Gaga Won’t Be Back) has been published (January 2018) by Kelsay Books.
Like all families, we have many beautiful ornaments. I love my own pendant, so small that it fits in my hand and does not tug on my neck. A bat made of sunshine. I wear it at home and sometimes when we visit others, but not when working with my sisters. Some days, at home, Mother lets us wear one of her many small pendants as a reward for a good day. At family meals, Father might let us wear one of his, even one with many feathers spreading outward—but they tug on my neck. Our brothers always want to wear those and act very solemn and brave when they do, but sometimes they fight over one so father scolds them and puts it away.
We treasure them for their beauty; how they release bright sunlight during the day, deep reds and yellows by the evening firepot, and pure white like the moon when we all share in lesser feasts. Mother says they were created for beauty, to be enjoyed, to brighten our lives, although some also please our gods to favor us with crops, health, and children, and others keep evil smoke from our thoughts. Father says his largest ones protect us from dangerous spirits in the forests; wolves, great cats, and bears who once people but can no longer dwell in the open and enjoy our village live.
We also have a Great Pendant which we only see at home before the Great Feast. It has many fine lines like the delicate weave of a blanket, like the beautiful feathered robes that the rulers, shamen, and prophets wear at the Great Feast. The Great Pendant is always wrapped up again and hidden away before we leave, but when her year comes, our oldest sister will wear it to the Feast, then all the oldest sisters will join the gods to sing and dance before them forever. Then the Great Pendant will be given to our oldest brother for his oldest daughter to wear when her year comes.
It seems silly and terribly sad, almost unbelievable, that someday men from mountains across the Great River will arrive and take away all our ornaments. They’ll kill or enslave many fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers; spread demons who will destroy our minds and bodies; make us sacrifice to their gods; and tear down our temples, villages, and homes—all because they have an unquenchable thirst for these lovely pieces. But that is what our prophets tell us at the Great Feast, so it must be true. They say our oldest sisters will help protect us in the meantime, but that someday, our Final Year will come.
A Proverb of Wealth: D’oh-Raymese of Tolima
Don’t put all your faith in gold,
Raising all your hopes on earth.
Meekness is the stronger hold;
Folly’s glitter has no worth.
Sewing kindness brings you joy
Lots of true wealth to employ,
Teaching love, be its envoy,
And you’ll have much more than gold.
Ken Gosse prefers writing light verse with traditional metre and rhyme filled with whimsy and humour. First published in The First Literary Review–East in November 2016, his poems are also in The Offbeat, Pure Slush, Parody, The Ekphrastic Review, and others. Raised in the Chicago suburbs, now retired, he and his wife have lived in Mesa, AZ, over twenty years, usually with a herd of cats and dogs underfoot.
to protect a sacred torso en oro
pre-hispanic goldsmith's good-luck gato
pancaked by rival speculative metallurgist
taken home taxidermised en oro
to shield his sacred torso
on battlefield of commodity futures
in a return to mineral wealth
melted down into weapons
with sharp edges and in bars
behind which self-made man
always finds himself
Jordan Trethewey is a writer and editor living in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. His work has been featured in many online and print publications, and has been translated in Vietnamese and Farsi. To see more of his work go to: https://jordantretheweywriter.wordpress.com
A Dead Tolima Woman Speaks
to Her Shaman Husband
Time shuts its door, keeps us
from knowing the future, the future
from knowing us. Only after passing
can I see the ghost-coloured men
who will assault Tolima, dig
through the dust of our children’s
children’s children. They will find
many treasures, but not the truth.
Your gold breastplate, born of the sun,
will wink at them. Here lies
a leader, a man of power, they
will think, just as I did when the glint
off your chest first pierced my heart.
A warrior, they will say, never
understanding our people prefer
making music to bearing arms
or that the power in your hands
was healing. What will they think
of me? Nothing. Like countless
women before me, I leave the world,
and history will speak not a word.
Alarie’s latest poetry book, Waking on the Moon, contains many poems first published by The Ekphrastic Review. Please visit her at alariepoet.com.
Tolima Hymn (The Breastplate Song)
Beneath your breast we hear the drum
that sounds the dance we must become.
Shaman, your powers we behold
enduring in the precious gold
now passed to you through those before
to celebrate forevermore.
You are the eyes that stalk the night.
You are the wings of sacred flight.
You are the hands of healing touch.
You are the hope your talons clutch.
You are the strength of rooted tree.
You are the course of rain to sea.
You are the ear through which we hear
the love transcending all we fear.
You are these seven signs you wear --
our future you were born to bear.
Author's Note: Sometimes the beauty of art is believing in it.
Portly Bard: Old man. Ekphrastic fan.
Prefers to craft with sole intent
of verse becoming complement...
...and by such homage being lent...
ideally also compliment
Tolima-Region Gold Breastplate
Bunny ears! The lustrous breastplate
so like my once-children wrapped
in costumery, buckets tipped over
their heads for legionnaires helmets,
lifting from spell-thick water
on stuffed mermaid tails, fabric-
winged eagles testing wingspan,
fearsome tigers, wide eyed, teeth
bared, with the pleasure of scaring.
You scared me! I reassure the snarl
of them, eager to keep away
the truer terror, their lower lips
pooching and quivering, the dark
storm-clouds of thwarted plot
threatening from their eyes.
Devon Balwit's ekphrastic poems have appeared here as well as in The Light Ekphrastic, The Front Porch, Long Exposure, The Wild Word, Counterclock, Cordite, and Rattle among others. For more about her work, see her website: https://pelapdx.wixsite.com/devonbalwitpoet
It matters what burnishes the solid spread
or where the design cuts and curls on chest.
I splay my hands at any vulnerability
certain that wings cover my breasts.
Spear pierces above what nourishes child.
Pectorals take the brunt of thrust
so I no longer lift more weight than my own
appease doctors sure no woman boasts
muscle that hard. I lower expectations
bow to the bottom of the golden plate
touch what curls across the gut
as if protecting the not-yet-born.
But first they have to pass the fury
of my throat.
Kyle Laws is based out of the Arts Alliance Studios Community in Pueblo, CO where she directs Line/Circle: Women Poets in Performance. Her collections include Faces of Fishing Creek (Middle Creek Publishing), So Bright to Blind (Five Oaks Press), and Wildwood (Lummox Press). Ride the Pink Horse is forthcoming from Spartan Press. With six nominations for a Pushcart Prize, her poems and essays have appeared in magazines and anthologies in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. She is the editor and publisher of Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press.
A golden, first century breastplate --
mythic protection in battle. Mortals
have sought aegis from the gods
since time began, it seems.
When my youngest was three,
he wore an Incredible Hulk T-shirt
every day for a year, certain his kinship
with the angry green goliath
could transmogrify a toddler
to a Titan older kids would fear.
I hope the Columbian warrior
with a flying deity on his chest
found more success than my guileless,
doomed boy, whose brother and sister
held him down and made him smell
the lint in their belly buttons.
Bio: Sarah Russell’s poetry has been published in Kentucky Review, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine, Psaltery and Lyre, Ekphrastic Review and many other journals and anthologies. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and blogs at SarahRussellPoetry.net.
Tolima-Region Gold Breastplate, Colombia, 1 B.C. to 700 A.D. (Middle Period)
“They removed all of the heir’s clothing, smeared him with sticky earth, and sprinkled him
with gold dust. Thus he embarked on the raft completely enrobed in this metal.”
Juan Rodríguez Freyle, 1636
Carapace of the one body
Two-pronged body of spine
The sight that fills
The sight that sweeps out
The chitinous shell
The three-pronged mind
Gold dusted body
rinsed of its sun
I am thorax. I am armour.
I am emptied in
to holes in the eye-souls of gods
Body of plate, arachnid tines
The inverse body of crustacean skin
Creatrix of insect body
Three-winged body of sky
The sight that structures
The sight that declines
Myth of the one body
Gold dusted body of shine
Ferral Willcox is a U.S. born poet and musician currently living in Pokhara, Nepal. Ferral's work can be found in Per Contra, Peacock Journal, concis, Rat's Ass Review, and elsewhere. Ferral's work was featured in the Q-Street venue of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and she is a regular contributor to the Plath Poetry Project.
one ferocious angel
might be enough
all wings and teeth
and eyes wide open
no mouth to smile or curse
or swallow you whole
no soft hands reaching
out to pull you in
no bleeding heart no tears
no thorns and roses
just this hard bright sheet
of beaten gold
without shadow or reflection
as the desert sun
all her edges
sharp enough to cut
Mary McCarthy has always been a writer but spent most of her working life as a Registered Nurse. She has had work published in many print and on line journals, and has an electronic chapbook, “Things I Was Told Not To Think About,” available as a free download from Praxis Magazine.
No Cover for the Heart
Smiling out at us
the chief's gold protection
he is sovereign.
But I note, the wings, arms,
smiling face would not
reach his heart--his wealth
does not stand between
him and his people.
Midas at the Doctor
"Open wide, your majesty."
Wooden tongue depressor
touches the royal mouth.
Doctor drops it
just in time
to prevent the gold enveloping
his hand and more.
Doctor leaves and moody Midas
picks up a golden knife and
carves the oval into his own
likeness, spreading out wings
so he can fly above his curse,
giving him self legs to outrun the curse
hoping that he can will the curse
upon this totem and
return to the joy of human touch.
Joan Leotta is a writer and story performer who lives and works by the beach in North Carolina. Her first collection of poems is out for Finishing Line press--Languid Lusciousness with Lemon
Imagine what it was like for the new chieftain of the Muisca the day he must plunge into the sacred Lake as the people watched. The sun rose early, and he prayed for courage. His people needed protection from tribes in the mountains. Elders appeared with bowls of gold dust and feathers from the sacred eagle. A healing gel was rubbed on his back and chest and then on his arms and neck. They started to brush and dust him, and he slowly changed, gilded into a man of dazzling beauty, almost surreal. His body was dusted in sunlight and brilliant gold. His face was last to be covered. The shaman gave him a drink of herbs and mushrooms, and he started taking long, deep breaths as he slipped into another world only he could enter.
The head shaman performed rituals learned from the ancestors. Pan-pipes and drums began. The different flutes seemed to speak to the stars, the birds, the winds and together they walked from the hut to the lake. All of the Muisca were there, standing around the water. The water gently lapped at the banks, and people began to hum. No words were needed. No words could express what they felt when they first saw him appear--the Golden One, the El Dorado, their new chieftain. He had gone to bed as an ordinary man, but now he appeared to be a creature that could have had wings. On his chest lay a beautiful breastplate of gold that had been pounded so thin, its feathered edges might take flight. He walked to the raft and was paddled to the centre of Lake Guatavita. Everyone began to sing a song to the skies, a song to the sun, a song to the gods that gifted them this land. The Golden One stood alone ready to take the sacred plunge. In his hands were precious gems that he held up to the sun, and he murmured some words only the sun could hear. He suddenly threw open his arms and flung the jewels into the middle of the Lake and then, with one deep breath, he plunged into the cold water. The people became silent. The music stopped. In the deep lake, the man was transformed. The gold dust had washed into the lake, but his heart had changed. He would be the fierce protector of his people, their guardian, their leader, their link with those that could fly to the heavens and speak to the sun. He emerged and gasped for air, now ready to lead his people.
birth & rebirth
this precious air
shows the way
Mary Kendall lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of two books of poetry and has had many poems published in journals. For the past two years, she has focused on Japanese short-form poetry in English, particularly haiku, senryu and tanka.
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