Wanda Phipps

Response to “if I am not being killed”
by Ukrainian poet Iryna Shuvalova

what right do I have to speak
to you when your homes
are being bombed
when I am safe and warm

what right do I have
to speak to you
when I see the photos
and the footage on TV
of buildings blown apart
of women and children
covered in blood
lying in rubble
carried on stretchers
and I feel a heavy boot
stomping on my chest
my hands going numb
my throat tightening
so much I couldn’t
speak if I wanted to

I’m not in danger
but it feels like we all are
we all will be
the threat
the pain
the loss
seeps through
all the cracks
of complacency

we speak the same language
as sure as blood is red
and hearts can break

a list on a far-off planet

heading towards the end
what do I say?
towards the great conjunction
how do I say this?
saturn and jupiter collide
sometimes I can’t believe
an aquarian wet dream
my foolishness
head aching
the easy way I slip
insides churning
tears come
a sad donut
as I count losses
tilting my head
into caring
to read the rational spines
into fear
saw that silver knife
into guilt
in the box shaped heart
saw her batting her
over the internet
what rules?
if it’s out of synch
the mind?
then starts
the body?
wanna watch it
the hermit tattoo
shop is closed
it is a soft Irish day
and the mind wants
what the mind wants
what’s hiding in the crevices
in the creases
in the shadowy places
on civilization’s
fatted calf
the silver duke
sparkles on the neck
think to the marrow
of the bones
sink to the place
where thoughts
are gone
now I want
the flaming lotus girls
and all the ten thousand
facets of music

The Pendulum

she said “I have to get my
pendulum away from my kids
no one’s supposed to touch
your pendulum but you—
now I have to re-purify it
with either
sunlight or moonlight
and invest it with
my energy”
she held up the little
inverted golden pyramid
with a cone shaped golden
spiral flowing up from it
all dangling from a gold chain
it swayed back and forth
“for divinations that require
yes or no answers” she said
as I watched the swaying
golden spiral bringing to mind
the golden ratio and
the fibonacci sequence
appearing so often in nature
a conch shell expanding
and multiplying
into infinity
she pulled the oracle card
called mama killa
the incan goddess of the moon
who governs all cycles
the seasons, cycles in life
projects, relationship
the message: know your intentions
wait for the divine cycle
to play out
until the swaying

Wanda Phipps is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her books include Mind Honey (Autonomedia), Field of Wanting: Poems of Desire (BlazeVOX [books]), and Wake-Up Calls: 66 Morning Poems (Soft Skull Press). Her poems are widely anthologized and translated into Ukrainian, Hungarian, Arabic, Galician and Bangla. She has received awards from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Theater Translation Fund, and others. Wanda is a founding member of Yara Arts Group. She's curated reading series at the Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church and written about the arts for Boog City, Time Out New York, Paper Magazine, and others.