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'Carry the Light' Excerpt: flaming inspiration

This poem draws inspiration from a famous work of Victorian art, and it appears in the "Carry the Light" anthology.

Editor's Note: For the first time in the history of the San Mateo County Fair, a 300-page anthology has been published that includes more than 100 stories, poems and essays from writers who submitted award-winning work for the fair's literary contest. The idea was the brainchild of Bardi Rosman Koodrin, a San Bruno resident who runs the fair's literary contest, and the anthology, titled "Carry the Light," features work from many Peninsula writers.

This piece is an ekphrastic poem about Frederic Leighton’s "Flaming June." It won first place and Best of Show at this year's San Mateo County Fair for free-style poetry.

From p. 284, "flaming inspiration"

oh, june, you are a figment of imagination
your billowing ripples beckoning
slumber sex and labial impressions
i want to be lost in your folds

lovely june, you are a Christmas fire in summer
glazing the eyes of hot toddies with caribbean sunsets
i can feel your heat from here
i want to crawl into your swallow, float my palm along your orange drapes
dissolve in your marigold madness
and caress the island of your third eye

you sat down for him
issued that suffering moan
then deep pocketed your eyes
and melted into his chariot of fire

you arbitrarily give us your flame
and we blaze in your fire
the poet writes, the artist draws, the actor delivers
and the musician plays

oh june, your paint is only skin deep
but your superficial love burns eternal in our desire
a classic player of tricks
your hearth is burning
illusive

did you hide from him, you clementine, you citrus Tart?
the way you play hide and seek with the rest?

you held the power
to rise from the chair of fantasy
step onto your own
and leave empty his marble throne
escaping in your sleep
sweeping away in your oleander boat
and dreaming of the blazing sea
until you dreamed yourself awake
and flamed the fire
of the artist’s desire

you opened your world to him
spread your oasis wide
and let him drink
your orange flame …

without you
just the echo of color
on a store-bought canvas

without you
a poem ill-worded, an idea gone nowhere, a play unfinished
music is discord

capricious muse, for however much time you stay with us
we will swim in our creative passions
climax in our love affair with art
express the artist’s craft
and burn in your retractable flame

Excerpted from "Carry the Light" with the permission of Sand Hill Review Press, the publisher. The book is available for purchase for $12 on Amazon.com.

To delve more into the work of Maurine Killough, a San Mateo-based poet, take a look at her blog at iwritemyself.wordpress.com.

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