Hava Arden (a.k.a. Arden Tice), retired psychology instructor at El Paso Community College and social activist on the border from the 1960s to the 1990s, has five chapbooks of poetry and has recently published
co-authored by Nichols Sands, on post traumatic
Three Women Take Tea
The painted cornice trompe l’oeil
colors the photograph at Santa Margherita Ligure
to fool your eyes.
You did not see just a corner
or know the green shutters lied.
Our voices float around this photo
as we talk of herbs, of wild grass and simmering
roots from a Russian cellar diced in soup.
How we chat and laugh drinking tea
clanking our spoons on glass,
waiting for babushka’s repast.
Irini says eons ago we were ancient
connections flow in calling back our past,
the original love
the original hurt as we
share our fathers’ love gone awry not knowing
that it was mother’s love denied.
We women are no longer deceived
yet you cannot see
the terror behind our masks.
Our eyes shine while you
search for your Dream.
If a thousand words are written,
if a thousand kisses given,
remember the building painted
to fool your eye.
Remember the solid stone that lies,
as we women smile,
What will you see?
I asked, "Do you think me an intellectual?"
She replied, "Why, yes, sort of. . ."
I thought myself a wanderer, a
collector of a little of this
a little of that.
Systems, facts, aliens.
My travels gathered sparkling bits of broken glass.
"What of Beijing?"
The old sweeper woman on the steps of
the Emperor’s Palace,
closed her eyes,
sat mid the
sea of feet,
a sleeping relief.
The airport toilet overflowed, on the
seat, the floor, the street, a pungency
We the people queued, filing past Mao’s
waxen face at rest under glass,
in his hand The Little Red Book,
fragment from our past.
Why was I there? Doing this?
"Didn't you learn anything?"
"There was Greece."
Syntagma Square at midnight.
The jeweler a Greek with burr haircut,
shorts and shower shoes.
Taking my arm
he pulled me through silent
tenement streets to
His hotel with a creaky elevator
I felt fear.
Did he really have a treasure chest?
Were there jewels up there?
Door open. I found the room bare –
a cot, a couch, a safe in the corner
Later, at the top of Benaki Street,
inside the back-packer hotel, he
bid me "good-bye," invited me to tea.
Young Demetrious behind the desk
scornfully observed, "He’s not for you,"
meaning he hoped to keep me for
Too much of this and too much of that
frilled and overfull
too much oysterwine candycars
Consume it all one can but
trail flot sam jet sam
Affluent offal sucks
the mucked mind
Not an age of poetry
not an age of pretty
It's flash dash dead dada
all sequined up
Settling for the glitter
On an empty stage
what we are
Hands at rest
I cup my breasts
fingers at ease
strange I feel so fulfilled
I muse on the wetness
on my satin gown
it reminds me my
nipples still seep milk
walking in cuernavaca in the borda gardens
paths strewn with uneaten fruit
I wondered why all the poor and starving didn't eat
the perfumed rotting mangoes neath their feet
later on a sunday afternoon high above the street
the music boomed from los mangoes
and the survivors from saturday night moved
moved their feet moved their hips moved their arms
moved with the beat
a man in a wheelchair danced too
he and his partner moved round the room
she twirling shaking moving in and moving out
he turning that wheelchair all about
and everyone moved
now on a sunday evening high above the street
the couples move to the beat
one has grown thin one has grown fat
some are missing from the dance
a woman with a beautiful back rippling fluidly to el
moves on delicate feet
turning her mask face shows two great holes where
her mouth a broken gash
but never does she miss the beat
her partner moves her round the room
el mambo booms
all the couples move continuing the dance
All summer sparkled long,
the ice plant bloomed.
Like stardaisies flourished bright,
all the summer remained true.
Its promise of perpetual bloom,
reluctant to go into autumn,
dragged the summer days.
Filtered into November grey,
remained a flower or two.
Remained but changed to shades of grey
tho’ shivering winds sang,
silent night o holy silence.
How could I not have known,
gone were the daisies of desire.
Withered, barbed succulents stabbed the breeze,
but rived in the winds of March.
The icy plant not yet dead,
some stems sucked up the grey dew.
Bent with pain in June,
I grabbed the leaden leaves, the withered stems.
Tugged, pulled, yanked the rotted roots
from out the silent stone.
All fell apart, all gave way,
leaving only a trail of dirt.
An awareness of no blooms.
An awareness of new space.
The written Poem woke me up.
GO title at the top.
Below strange ideograms flowed,
inscriptions from ancient Persia,
characters from Babylon,
Greek Isles scattered on the page?
Perhaps a Rorschach test I refused
to give first impressions of
I begin to read my finished MS,
but this was not my title,
nor the words I wrote.
I begin to read, stumbling
I decorate the page.
Bosch symbols behind,
aspens yellow strike the rind
leaves lop the air.
I blatt derring do, derring do,
pretend I don’t care but
plead poets all,
We don’t know.
FORTY MILLION DOLLARS OF FIDDLE FADDLE
the president denied
any acts that fell within
that was for that deposition
that sexual relations occur
when person engages in
or causes contact with
ms. said she performed nine times
oral sex on him
said he by receiving he could not engage in
or cause contact with
said he before the grand jurors
if the deponent is the person
who has oral sex performed on him
then the contact is
NOT WITH ANYTHING ON THAT LIST
but with the lips
so attend gentlemen
indeed mature older men
sitting there on your hanky panky
how you seem to squirm
wiggling around your little worm
he said oral sex is not IT
not with any person plant animal
don’t you concur
don’t you confirm
oral sex is not IT
i know you must explain the DNA stain
but oh no
what is stiffening then
doddering dicky dicky dock
careful you’ll get IT in the end
the apple tree immobile tilts its branches
waiting for the sun
winter captures the heart stills the flow
this winter wait is not a death
the tree knows
apple blossoms in its soul
opening the wooden gate of winter
stepping up and out into a rural warmth
trampling the weedy lined path beside cowlaid pastures
smelling dung and dirt
wavering by the muddy ditch
hearing a rooster crowing
seeing a denuded blackened apple tree
its limbs lifted to the snowcapped backdrop
I stopped amazed at the pink profusion of a cherry tree
and marveled at feathery green
I wanted to remain here forever not leave
merge into this time warped blackened spring
breaking off three blossoming sprigs
carrying them back through the gate
I hoped whoever saw this deed would understand
I had to take them home with me this hint of spring
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