A Clown To Entertain You…


I am crude among the artists
Petal fallen from the bloom
Neo-con amongst the Libs
The elephant in the room


With the skeptics I am Jesus
A thorn in both their sides
I am the whore among the Fundies
The beldam with the bride


I am stained among the sainted
On a cross of my own making
A believer with the atheist
A martyr at the staking


I doubt among the certain
My finger’s in the wound
My stammer’s in the speaking
I’m a lyric with no tune


I am the black sheep in the barn
I know where I belong
A clown to entertain you
With a poem and a song


photo/artwork by Vanessa Lemen

Underneath Him


Self conscious underneath him
Aware of the woman who came before
Long-legged, hollow-hipped
A stinging work of art – painted, framed,
and hung where I can see her
from the corner of my eye


She’s all but gone, and I am here
open, aching, breathless
underneath him.


I’ve dreamt of his eyes for so long and, finally, fixing mine on them, I see
I see what I am.
Second, third, fourth, fifth,
I am anything, but not the one.
I am not her.
I will never be her.


I shut my eyes and wish the stars would die
so I won’t be seen as not some other, dying
underneath him


The dam breaks and he surges from me –
a river forming tributaries mapping my thighs,
trickling to an empty death.
And here I lie in the ruins of his unrealized civilizations,
but underneath him.


True Beauty

True Beauty
lyric by Kay Bess
music by Toby Petrie
 1997

I aspire for acceptance in an artificial world
I search in stacks of magazines
And wish I was the cover girl
As if somehow my happiness lies in what I wear
In the perfect shade of shadow
In straight or waving hair

True Beauty
True Beauty
Waiting here inside of me
True Beauty
True Beauty
Waiting to be free

I’m the judge of my own body
My sentence is so cruel
I set myself against myself
A never ending duel
Every day another struggle
As the mirror stares at me
How do I look beyond the image
When will I see?

All that glitters
All that’s gold
Leaves me lifeless
Leaves me cold
Holy wisdom
Touch my eyes
One day I will realize

Prayer at Ecclesia

Prayer at Ecclesia

i can’t give myself

Not my heart, not my soul

Not to You

You are Love, Perfection, Goodness


i am a cynic

a liar

a fake

a traitor

the worst kind

all sweet and self-possessed

i am oil

You are water

And we will never mix

No matter how i am shaken

By the tremors in Your house

Past Ara

Past Ara*

April 2009


I have always known I was tied to the sky by some invisible umbilical

through the clouds to an immeasurable somewhere with no boundaries

where my voice is singing much larger than myself.

I’ve had moments of remembering, echoes in my chaos,

glimpses of daring where I couldn’t help but let go.

I’d find myself soaring and suddenly

I knew more and saw more and had more in my heart to give.

Flashes, glances, brief and still

faded photographs from a childhood lived a million years over,

a million years past.


But someone, something, wants me grounded,

on the earth, in the dirt,

planted and packed hard in a garden of their choosing.

But I don’t want my feet planted, I say,

and I don’t care how dark and lovely with minerals your mud may be.

I don’t want to grow your life. I want to grow mine.

I want to grow back to where I came from:

suspended by stars,

breathing blameless air,

flying the silky-stringed trapeze of my highest hunger,

lapping up raindrops before they ever fell to slake your dusty earth,

chanting songs in my native tongue before music ever reached your recollection,

leaping one beam to the next, past Ara, drenched in the mist of my own curiosity,

back to rope swings by star light and hula-hooping Saturn’s rings,

Laughing again in the glow of my once lost moon



*Latin: altar. A southern constellation. In ancient greek mythology, it was thought that the Cyclopes orginally built the altar as a place to sacrifice to the Olympian gods. The altar was identified as the altar of Lycaon. Lycaon sacrificed a child to Zeus on the altar on mount Lycaeus, and immediately after the sacrifice was turned into a wolf. In other greek tales, Ara was identified with the altar of the god of wine, Dionysus.