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Poetry by Erie Chapman

All poetry Copyright © Erie Chapman 2004 et.seq


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Woman As Beauty - Loving Women in Pictures & Poetry (2010)

- By Dane Dakota (Erie Chapman)

                Back Cover    

Sample Poem from Woman as Beauty

You press your body

against the earth

the same way your skin

leans to your lover’s chest.

You soft-kiss  

the stiffened air,

the snow-wrapped trunk.

The forest lies quiet

until a circle of wind spins

an evergreen

fanning flakes

across your raised face.

Even now, in bed,

your eyes reach

beneath earth’s clothes

to check on her

just as a mother rises  

in a cold night

to stroke her warmth

against her child’s face.  

How the earth must

love your touch.

How I do.



Be A Lover

Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius


Be a lover.

Break free of the cold grasp

Of all the things that sap

Your life's best energy

Fly above the dragons

Of fear and restraint

Climb into the arms of Lincoln's

Better angels and

Be a lover.

All the voices of all the saints

Are calling this to you now.

There are passions burning in you

And there was a Passion just for you.

So ride the wings of angels and

Be a lover

©Erie Chapman, 2004



Your Blue


The sky was fading into a backlit blue

that captured far too many shades:

A mix-of-construction-papers-

from-the-third-grade blue.

A navy-blue-finger-paint blue

that began at the horizon and grew and grew smeared

bluer and bluer until it was so blue I felt I must tell  

you because you know so much about blue.

Below the blue (the now black blue) a patch of pansies in a concrete


So many shades of purple that I leaned over and plucked one and was


at how this purple resembled blood splattered by perhaps a monarch who, when stabbed, had said

to his Fools (and the triumphant assassin) “I hope, now that I am stabbed, my blood bleeds purple.”

And it did, him above the concrete bowl bleeding royal onto flower faces once pure


So I pressed my lips into this purple wound and felt nothing so much as


and marveled at the elegance of a monarch so far above me he bleeds purple softer even than the back of your


But all of this happened in the center of a hard evening when I drank so


that I saw the too many gradations of color in sky and flower and failed to see the shadings of your own lacerative




 ©Erie Chapman, 2005



Max Ernst Decides

on a summer Saturday night

to escape his show at the Met.

Slinking by the sleepy guard

he turns his sleek gray head

& tanned face to the right,

toddles toward The Great White Way.

He weaves past all the busy heads,

oddly beeping phones & familiar

horses clopping the Park.

He remembers the Lunt-

Fontaine & the Belasco,

chooses The Winter Garden,

shoves his way through

the side door & onto a center stage

lit like a Lautrec.

“It’s all a dream,” He tells the audience,

standing left half naked, right side clothed

in half a hand tailored suit made in Munich.

A fan of DH sitting in Aisle B Seat 4,

slides his hand up his partner’s skirt.

“It’s what I must do,’ he tells her.

My Dad is sitting in Aisle L Seat 7,

a spoon pasted to his nose & coins

behind his ears.

In Seat 12, aisle T, A vase of flowers

shoulders an orange kite that needs a longer tail.

The women start to applaud while

two men wearing three hats

weigh the propriety of shadowed things

& angels fly the green aureoles that ring

canisters of light.

“I was wrong,” Max says. ‘Life is not a blur

of reality and dreams. It is only dreams.”

“I like his suit,” a woman says.

“That guy should be framed & hung

in the Met,” her companion responds.


©Erie Chapman, 2005


Waiting Room


I wish the nurse would call me like my mother

did long ago. “Come, here, son.”  And I could

go to her and she would wrap me in her warmth.

I wish that the nurse would call my name

as if glad to see me.

Acknowledge my innocence,

that I might still be human.

©Erie Chapman, 2004, 2005



 Wild Animal


The soul is a wild animal…

              Parker Palmer


Does the fact my soul is a wild animal

explain why my heart is a tiger

& I survey life with lawyer’s eyes?

Why my jaws rip flesh

though my hands are soft?

Could I hunt down my soul,

tame her, train her,

teach her to obey?

Or will she always orbit on her own,

a lioness padding 

the surface of the Serengeti,

roaring if free,

growling if caged?

What if, one day, I found the courage

to lie down beside this animal

& I reached out,

stroked her underbelly,

whispered to her 

that I just want to 

listen to her breathe?

What if, one day, I did that?


 ©Erie Chapman, 2004


A Place For Us


A shipment of rain freight-trains into our back yard, 
disgorging its cargo in a ten-minute torrent,

After it whistles down the street, four
sparrows chasing on the breeze,

I moccasin out for a survey. Heads of peonies hang
defeated. Silver studs of water inch blades of grass.

The brown of the willow oak lies quiet.
Diamonds emerald shadows.
You & I should be watching this together,
listen to the green & the brown,

stuff our noses into the faces of defeated peonies,

lie on this ground,

love in the wet.


©Erie Chapman, 2005


Northern Passage

I know you know it:

the March/April moment when

muscle decides to relax?

At the door to the lake

the stiff river cracks

a smile.

Water hiding in nearby clouds

mulls a run to ground 

as rain.

At dawn, tulips try again

& forsythia


Air that last month

met your face hard

now leafs

& you don’t stop

the hand that reaches for your top



©Erie Chapman, 2005


My Soul Calls

My soul calls

to me

from some

uncertain place

Why would I not know where

since it is my own soul that calls,

the soul my body can’t own?

At midnight

as Santa Claus crumbles cookies

& drinks glasses of milk

I am half awake, half aware

you are there somewhere in the dark

Moonlight melodies, absent


clocks with no hands,

you & I lying


each others

hearts no longer divided.

Why is my own soul so often shrouded,

hidden on the other side

of dreams?

Why is there no sense

in the tense life of my brief body

that my soul burns eternal?


©Erie Chapman, 2004


The Woman In Front Of Me


Piled high as ice cream,

fanning out and folding back on itself,

ribbons on a Christmas present.

The hair of the woman in front of me

tosses back a century or two

when women rose to gather

the million threads of their heads into their hands,

swept them into a queen’s crown,

wove the long strands neat as bird’s nests

cresting in a cloud of cotton candy.

My grandmother's hair

was arranged in such a way,  a few streaks

lightning from the cloud.

She showed me a photograph of herself at nineteen

on her honeymoon: "Mackinac Island, 1911."

Lake Huron inches up her feet.

Her left hand draws up her hem to keep it dry.

Her other rests in the nest on her head. She smiles,

glad to be young, pleased

to be posing for her husband,

all her youth & long luxuriance

right there in her right hand,

none of us yet born.



©Erie Chapman, 2004


The Comfort of Clouds

Someday (today would be good)

I would like the long-footed clouds

to stroll the earth instead of the sky,

to lay themselves on a sheet of ground,

like white comforters.

You and I could wander hand in hand

into the midst of one, & do

what we have always wanted to:

climb into warm bread,

   lie down in down

     draw the cloud around us

hear each others hearts.

I would smile into your eyes until the wind

lifted the white comforter and the two of us were carried

on that cloth beyond Arabia.



©Erie Chapman, 2004



Conference in the Clouds


When the gods gathered that spring for their regular

conference in the clouds, I wonder if some beams

of sunlight shaped themselves into twin arrows

& pointed them towards you & me.

What winds hummed through their airy

hands, tuned their holy ears to the harmony

of our hearts, our need for each other?

What comments from their research angels

advised them of the match of your body to mine,

the perfect fit? Or did they meet at midnight in moonlight,

sew epaulets of stars on their shoulders and laugh all night?

Was it the warm drafts of that eve that ordained them

with the wisdom to know that you and I must be combined

so they could rest easy, rise with us at dawn, smile over

their morning coffee at their genius in making such a match,

such a marriage of passion and joy, such full love?



©Erie Chapman, 2004




We could have argued on, tried to tear each other to shreds.

I could have proved (lawyer that I am) that I was right.

Or she was.

Instead, I read her Billy Collins

phrase by word

pausing at each line break to let the wet

words seep into the long cracks

that line our faces,

curve them

into smiles.


 ©Erie Chapman, 2005


Walking in the Rain


The sky deadpans ash.

A package of trees huddles

naked as November.

I walk from my car beneath

an umbrella whose synthetic sheen

reprints Monet's nineteenth century women

& their children clowning in a flowered

field. The sky dollops ice cream clouds

onto a blue plate.

Inside, I close the umbrella, place it in the

office corner where it lies, dries,

the eternal women and their immortal  

children folded in nylon.


 ©Erie Chapman, 2004


Old Men


Old men make me uncomfortable.

I don’t like these wrinkled mirrors telegraphing

my reward for surviving. I dislike their ambling,

their complaints of missing prostates & dead mates.

I don’t want to shuffle board my way to the end.

I want the bitter energy my sex still sends.

I want my mate to gaze across the table,

recognize me as the man she married.


 ©Erie Chapman, 2004



If I told you Jasmine was a tender plant

you might doubt me thinking how it survives

southern winters,

winds its neck around steel fence posts

to brace itself against winter gusts,

hides its flowers from the gaze

of seasons that do not understand

that Jasmine is a tender plant, fragile as a flame,

that will, in the embrace of spring,

open her skin, burst yellow stars

along her arms & legs.

Free God's fragrance

from her heart.


 ©Erie Chapman, 2005


January Thunder


Clouds wring rain onto my shoulders

as I edge down the steps to collect the morning paper. A river

slithers down its plastic sleeve, enters my slippers.

I marvel at Indians that hunted the nearby woods soaked.

I never saw a fly survive January cold. But on the way

up the steps, plastic wrapper soaking my wrist, I see his

life hugging a window sill. As I enter the frames of his windowed

eyes, he reads my plan to murder him with the morning paper. Vanishes.

I curve my hand around the front door brass, turn my head

to the lead sky, taste the weight of fog.

The sound unfolds the way a boulder rolls down the side of a sierra

ahead of an avalanche crashing a train bound for the coast.

I look to see who might have been crushed. Then all of the sky

surrenders all of itself to herds of rain that gallop the street

racing to escape

the January



©Erie Chapman, 2004





After I recovered,

my doctor warned me to take the pills 

every day for the rest of my life: We must stop

your body from attacking itself, keep you balanced.

As cell battles cell, I watch carbon coat the sky,

find myself standing near the peak of the tent,

an acrobat combing his hair,


in balance.



  ©Erie Chapman, 2005















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