Two Poems by Joanne M. Clarkson

Atropos the Fate Dismantles Her Own Altar
Replicas of my shears rust in museums.  Thieves out-think
code to touch the blood of those blades.  As though memory
of war could make them brave. As though legend explains –
bad luck to say it – death.  In case

your myths are sketchy, I’m the Fate that snips, the ultimate
Fortune. Tarot card with an edge bent down.  I watch

another launch, private sector invading Space with a ship labeled
Youth Unlimited.  Better to re-seed the mountaintop.  Better
to sign on for the invisible circus of the brain.  My metal

is as illusory as the vision that hangs in the sky for a silver
tremor after the blast. When the pilot has two beats
to bank away.  No one hand could sabotage so many breaths

in a nano-second.  A city’s arteries under a mega-flower becoming
flame, the confounder of paper and scissors.  Don’t you realize
I took my own life eons ago? Fascinated by my power
but needing practice?  Scientist injecting herself with disease
so sure of her miracle cure.  All Fate

is collective.  The end disproved by one selfless citizen
or cell.  Ghosts are a comforting legend: sisters in an attic
mixing thread with destiny. Come, Children,

look at guns under glass.  At Oppenheimer and the Curies.
Then tell me if you believe in an old woman with a jackknife
in her pocket.  Each of you fingering the trigger up your sleeve.

South-south-west to north again
wind tonight batters hemlock,
the maples.  I listen
to old puzzle games: branch
to bone
and back, unveiling
faces: my miscarriage, my
least used Muse, the mask
of the thief
who kidnapped me young.  South-
south-east to west
again.  Firs bend.

Once at a Casino, I saw a Medium’s
show.  The billboard read: ‘Transmogrify.’
I was loaded
and lucky, looking from
the other side.  North to south
and back again when
I saw the cheekbones
of a just-past-middle-aged woman re-form
into the brow of a child,
drowning.  Astonished parents
wailed. The audience
moaned nooooo-waaayyyy.

I was struck
by how much we dare to re-assemble
each other: me and my
sister’s boyfriend kissing in the toolshed
that windless
summer re-creating not my worst sin
but the outline
of a gypsy in a head-scarf
whose profile might become
lovers or a do-over
dream, north-
north-west and back
again, one mutable

About the Poet
Joanne M. Clarkson’s fourth poetry collection, “Believing the Body,” was published in 2014 by Gribble Press. Poems have appeared recently in Rhino, The Baltimore Review, The Healing Muse and Fjords Review.  She was awarded first place in Northern Colorado Writers Annual Competition in 2015. Joanne has  Master’s Degrees in English and Library Science. She has taught and worked as a professional librarian.  Her life-long hobby has been reading Palms and Tarot, taught by her psychic Grandmother.  See more at