March 5, 2017

Three Poems by Jo Barbara Taylor: "Inauguration," "Cultivating Words," and "Higher Order Operations"

Jo Barbara Taylor lives near Raleigh, NC. Her poems have appeared in journals, anthologies and online; she leads poetry writing workshops through Duke Continuing Education, chairs the workshop committee for the North Carolina Poetry Society, and coordinates the poetry reading series for Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh. Of five poetry books, the most recent is How to Come and Go, published by Chatter House Press, 2016.


Friend, welcome to this house.
The mistress here is Compassion,      
and once she knows your habits,
your needs, she will give you comfort.

The man who lives in this house
is Tolerance. When he learns
your language and you learn his,
he will help you find your way.

Freedom, their son, rebellion
and commonwealth his path.
He breathes citizenry and speaks,
his right, law of the house.

Daughters, Harmony and Hope,
greet and bid you rest here till you
found your home, where you will
stow your burdens, shelter your dreams.

The farmhouse shivers,
a dog howls away the lonely cold.
The hardened plainsman, his steady wife
layered on the flat farmland.

There's something about reading Ted Kooser
late at night, sleep flying across Nebraska.
Image plowed deep in fertile furrows,
promises a reaping.  

I mark insights and sounds, draw
smiling faces by words, perfect
in their fields, lean into
the next line, glean.

After a while my eyelids lapse, and
I dream of wispy clouds
lucent like old lace
gracing the prairie under saturn moons.


Don't speak to me of maths, the x, y, z's
of grizzly algebra, its polynomial paths
to exponential anxieties,

formal operations, a flimsy lath
of factors. No thanks to Omar Khayyam
for cubic equations and conic sections, the craft

of Fibonacci's sequence, Napier's logarithm,
cankers handed down from ancient days,
function, cosine, quotient, theorem.  

Pythagoras, I can barely say  
hypotenuse, but paint a rainbow arc
across the mossy Hibernian lay

and many-a-mile I will steadfast march
to see the prism in that poem, not
a line or angle to untangle. This to Omar:

I wish you had stayed with rubaiyats,
avoided equations and linear plots.

© Jo Barbara Taylor

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