Ward Stories
(Column: Ward Stories)
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We have been captivated before by the poetry of Eileen McManus, a true poet
and friend of mine, and here she is again, gracing the summer issue with her
amazing words. Note how she deftly uses biblical and mythological references
to demonstrate her personal experience, and ties it up with bundles of hope.

Wooing the Genius, Wooing the Muse
By Eileen McManus

Sing for me, speak to me
I gave you flowers once, have they dried and died?
Have you pressed their petals among book pages
to keep alive winter wounded memories?

I activated musical notes in the blackness of my inner chambers
I water colored images of thousand year old children playing among
shepherds on pastures in eternal, vernal springs

Sing to me, speak to me
My inner world cool as marble, as swirled, as smooth and as hard
Hides like Moses did among the rushes and reeds of the Nile
Fearful of discovery

My inner world silent and spacious with
Rumbling echoes of footsteps and conversations

Like a tomb or sacred temple
Or the cavernous rooms of an ancient palace

Gardens wait outside and I kneel at their boxes like Pandora
Aching to free all the things I cannot see
Glittering priceless, awaiting me


Taste and See
By Eileen McManus

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends-
Is everybody in, is everybody in?
The show's about to begin

Taste and see, taste and see
Succor from something that is dry mystery
What is this song now, what is this dance?
How many poems do we pretend, can we pretend we write
in the quiet in the deadly quiet of the quiet room?

Hurry up now it's time!
Round and round the widening gyre-
Hurry up now it's time!
The falcon cannot hear the falconer-
Hurry up now it's time!
I thought that I heard you laughing-I thought that I heard you sing
Hurry up now, it's time!
I thought that I heard you cry
I am losing my religion I am-Trying to keep up with you

Oh no, Oh no now-These are my words now
This is from the screaming why
This is from my screaming why
Oh no now Oh no now
These are my words now
Taste and see taste and see
the goodness now the goodness now of the rooms
Oh no now Oh no now
Too much is said. Too much is being said. But we will dare to speak
When shall we speak? And when shall we sleep?
Oh, I have not spoken, and I have not slept, and it has been such a long,
long time

But tell me, tell me, tell me now
Who is she?
And what is she to you? Don't you know, can't you see?
She's me, She's me.
From the past from the past -- From the dreams from forever
From living in eternity from dreams, from the tears that fell from the dreams.
From the pickup of pieces from the whiteness and promises of the moon
From the dark night of dreamlessness. From the dark night of empty souls
From the dark night of empty eyes
From the dark night of empty sleep.
Who is she? Who is she to you?
Can I wear the mark of the world comfortably?
Can I transfer responsibility-from you to me?
Hush now Hush now in these rooms are you and what you shall be
Goddess of the hunt, Goddess of the household.
Helen on Trojan shores, hiding from her hunting, haunted, panting husband
Who is she? What is she to you?
I can ask this forever, of all the dinner guests
I can ask this of all the guests at the banquet
I can ask this of all the wedding guests.

Where shall I go, and who shall I ask but those in the desert
Where shall I go but to the barren desert
To collect the spirits exiled there
Have you seen the spirits there?
In the desert amid the sun-and the sky-and the brutal, brutal heat.
What flower shall you be? All you, you young ones, born in the desert, are
new flowers
Blooming amid dry barrenness.
Stealing succor from rocks
Nurtured on, thriving on, nursing on,
the fearsome reality of nothingness, emptiness,
of the rooms, these bare, milks breasts,
the quiet rooms the empty rooms
the gift of the gods to those abandoned,
exiled left to live or die,
Hear the voices of those crying alone in the desert,
left in the quiet rooms
left alone in the back rooms

More, more you shall ask for, you shall ask for more
When have words been so harsh and rough?
When have souls been so brutal?
Here, now we have a new thing-Here now is a new thing
Pulling water from a rock, milk gushing from a cleft of granite.
Taste and see, taste and see,
succor from something that is dry mystery.
Oh I have pulled water from a rock,
and it is a wonderful thing in our eyes.
Touch my eyes and the dryness around it
Touch my soul and its dehydration
Touch something created from the dryness and quietness and silence and
sterility and
deadliness of those rooms
Touch something that is not there
Can you?

Can you?
And so we call the goddess of the hunt
to find fertile ground in the mirage in the desert
Tenderness where none exists
Hear Oh Israel, hear oh Israel, hear John
This Voice crying in the wilderness
See the raging waters and flowing blood
Drink the new dark wine and smell the steaming bread,
Look at the soul drawing succor from a rock
hear the wounds of the rooms within
Watch as the souls learn to live in the wilderness
Souls are but flowers around which our worlds revolve
Out of Egypt I have called my Son.
Out of Hades I have called my children
Out of Bedlam I have called my little ones,
my little dying ones, my little starving ones,
my little crazy ones, my little mad ones,
my blessed ones, my chosen ones
We have learned to survive
We have learned to live
We have learned to draw water from a rock,
Taste and see, taste and see
We are nourished
from something that is dry mystery
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