By Alice Jones:

Parting the grass to find snakes

We wanted up and they went down
                  wandering into the core
                  they always wanted
to go there, it’s the journey
                  you never pretended to take
                                inward, fruitful
        and winding

Cradle the moon on your belly

Held like a baby, a basket
                  of bruisable fruits
                  unpronounced ones
sweeter than you imagined
                           indefensible rind
                                we like peeling
                  we like thinking of eating

Black dragon swishes tail

Time catches up
                  and he’s bruising
keep dancing, you’ll charm him
                                he’ll watch

Lion shakes head

                  Are you sorry or hungry?
we gather whatever
finds us, gazelles
                  stronger than they look
                           sudden, the nightfall around here

Wild horse leaps the creek

Fly along and somebody
                  won’t catch you, skyborn
                            going out
the ears curved pathways
                           have you heard this before
                                a fairy tale
                  is always retold

(Today’s poems originally appeared in Extreme Directions: The 54 moves of Tai Chi Sword (Omnidawn, 2002), and appears here today with permission from the poet.)

Alice Jones’ books include The Knot and Isthmus from Alice James Books, Extreme Directions from Omnidawn, and Gorgeous Mourning from Apogee Press. Poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Volt, Boston Review, Colorado Review, and Denver Quarterly. She is a co-editor of Apogee Press.

Editor’s Note: Intimate, simple, and elegant, the poems in Alice Jones’ Extreme Directions: The 54 moves of Tai Chi Sword are reflections on the practice of Tai Chi Sword, Chinese brushstroke painting, and human experience. Reminiscent of the peaceful quiet of Haiku, Jones’ poetry contemplates large ideas from a meditative space, asking questions such as “Are you sorry or hungry?” and breathing through answers with a Zen-like acceptance; “we gather whatever / finds us.”

A Note About the Omnidawn Series: Recently I attended a reading of Omnidawn-published poets at New York’s Poets House. The evening was filled with incredible talent and a palpable dedication to the craft of poetry that I wanted to share with you. I am honored that Omnidawn was willing to partner with me for this series, and am thankful to the poets who have agreed to share their work here so that I may help spread the word both about Omnidawn Publishing and about the talented writers they support.

Want to see more by and about Alice Jones?
Buy Extreme Directions from Omnidawn
“Spell” in Narrativce Magazine
Interim Magazine
Excerpt from Gorgeous Mourning (Apogee Press)
Buy Gorgeous Mourning from Apogee
“Idyll” in Boston Review
“Vault” in Boston Review
Alice James Books

About Sivan Butler-Rotholz

Sivan is the Managing Editor of the Saturday Poetry Series on As It Ought To Be and holds an MFA from Brooklyn College. She is a professor, writer, editor, comic artist, and attorney emerita. She is also the founder of Reviving Herstory. Sivan welcomes feedback, poetry submissions, and solicitations of her writing via email at sivan.sf [at] gmail [dot] com.
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  1. Maya Elashi says:

    very haiku-Yes! and the contemplative questions-pithy pieces of profundity!

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