I. Rock Harlequin

Born from volcanic fallout, basalt wedges,
loaves of bread, sliced upright, clay red,
iron dusted, framed by hemlock and chestnut oak,
a fern and trillium floor; on an outcrop,
tucked beneath a broken boulder, a long-stemmed flower,
its petals, hovering wands,
tubular, yellow-tipped,
their body, lightly pink,
each leaf, a three-lobed fan, blue green,
I later learned the flower’s name – rock harlequin,
learned of its persistence
in face of fire and destruction,
of its renewal
in a disassembled wood.


II. Arlecchino

Born of the devil’s horsemen,
Helle kin, kindred of hell,
morphing to the fairies’ king,
lover of Morgan le Fay,
spirit of air, messenger of mischief
wings his way through French passion plays,
black mask, red, yellow checkered suit;
how the mighty fall, from king to zanni jester,
Arlecchino of the Commedia dell’Arte,
servant, clown, eager suitor,
always hungry, agile, acrobatic,
finally in the English pantomime, a fool for love,
more restrained, but still in rhombus checkered suit,
still renewed by dogged pursuit of lovely Columbine.


III. Harley Quinn

Born a second time in Coney Island terror night,
torn from her father by a savage police state,
shorn of all love for law, her best day ever
stolen by cops in a cyclone of violence, a fun house free-for-all,
what’s a girl to do, cartwheel through childhood,
handstand with hatred in her heart,
play the good girl part from high school to med school
till she sticks her landing at Arkham Asylum
and love hits her like a ton of bricks,
the grinning green-haired guy who lives for kicks,
born a third time as Harley Quinn,
bells on her hat, costume of red and black,
later not fooled, but fueled by hatred for Gotham’s dark knight,
yet renewed by botanic love for her fellow woman warrior.


IV, One Bloom

Don’t we always begin in darkness,
sundered from warmth to purchase life’s first cry;
what carries us forward?
Though we’d wish it, it’s not always love,
not always kindness,
sometimes we grow on anger, shame, or sudden loss,
sometimes we rise in fractured worlds; sometimes we live
to please the others who live outside of us,
please with beauty, brains, as the butt of jokes,
and bury the shoots of our most intimate selves,
until we thrust our colors toward love’s light
and find our foolishness, our fragile wish
that we be seen for what we are,
one life renewed, one brief breath, one bloom.