A Poet's Kiss

Albuquerque poet Mary Oishi puts poems, pictures, and thoughts here for her family and friends, and for lovers of poetry everywhere.

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States

Saturday, February 14, 2015

you are here

                        you are here

yes, others get unearned advantages
you are advantaged too:
ancestor to ancestor
goblet to goblet
poured strength to strength
through generations
centuries-tested, multiplied
strength to strength to strength
poured into you
that's how you squeezed into this life equipped

yes, others get unearned accolades but
what reward is higher than
that you are here
when so many times you should have died
in that dark room alone
in that dark room with someone
who should have never been
in charge

you are here, hearing these words
so listen well:

what gold-trophied glory can match
the fact that you are here?
less-equipped, you would have died
when that crazy man grabbed you in the street
when waters rose
when fevers raged
when you got that shocking news
when you were completely betrayed
when your heart was utterly broken

not even priest or wizard could
take such blood red sorrow
paint this day in blues and turn it
royal purple

you should have died
you should have died so many times
i cannot count them all
you should have died but

here you are
still here
still here
still dancing

-mary oishi

Wednesday, February 04, 2015


are you out there in the stealth night on the edge of blue?   listening.
are you loving me for sending you this fix of heartbreak
slid down metal, taut and wound. electric. are you?
are you dancing with the spirits of those who left us
forty fifty sixty eighty years ago? dancing. in a jukejoint.
in R.L.’s living room. are you in the field picking cotton in the broiling sun?
wishing for shade. any shade. a toothpick. anything.
can you feel it? the sweat. the thirst. blur between slave and sharecropper.
slave and chain gang. can you? are you out there in the stealth night?  listening.
understanding. coming closer in. becoming. blues surging through?

mary oishi

Ghosts of Penn's Woods


waterways were named after them:
Susquehanna River, Conestoga Creek,
Conewago Creek, Swatara Creek,
creeks so wide they'd be
rivers of legend in the Southwest

soil rich and dark and humus
feeding forests dense with raspberries,
wineberries, teaberries, huckleberries,
strawberries, honeysuckle
sassafras, pawpaws, birch
plenty of fish and pheasants
rabbits and white-tailed deer

well into the Twentieth Century
farmers on the banks of the
Susquehanna plowed up
shoeboxes full of arrowheads
carved by Susquehannocks
abundant proof in an abundant land

after Penn's deed from the king
(to a land that was not his to give)
those who lived easily and peacefully
in Penn's Woods, with Penn's Woods
were themselves massacred
the band of 14 escapees
including 7 children
were housed in the Lancaster jail
for their own safety
but a mob stormed the jail
finished them off

nobody talks seriously about
the Lancaster Massacre:
before this poem it never
had a name

it's all idyllic farms, cows
on green hills
the simple life
shoofly pie

a Lancaster County blog from the
Convention and Visitors Bureau boasts:
    The Fulton House was built
    partially over the foundation of
    the old Lancaster jail...

    It's said you can still hear the screams
    of the Conestogans...

    So next time you're looking for
    a spooky place to visit, head on over
    to the Fulton Opera House!
    Happy Halloween!

wonder if the ghosts
of the original inhabitants
ever sit by the water that
carries their names
that carries their memories
that carries their lives
down to the forgotten sea

two-and-a-half centuries later
it's doubtful they scream.

perhaps they look
    and look...
        and look...
    and quietly sigh

                            -mary oishi