Archive for the ‘Tarot’ Category


Tarot Nine – The Hermit

September 22, 2006

Alone, but not lonely
the Hermit, the Wild One
advances the knowledge
he gains through strange means. He

alone, and he only,
the wizened ascetic
withdraws from the world with
the power he owns. So

imagine, if only,
this Merlin / Morgana
inspired us all to this
same inner search, then

what wisdom, what holy
and mystical power could
solitude, quiet
inspire within us. So

take from this only
the need to withdraw and to
ponder the options you
have at your hand. Be

alone, but don’t only
remain in that solitude
take the time needed,
return, then return…

Another in the Tarot series, this one began with the phrase in my mind of “Alone, but not lonely” as the perfect way to describe the character of the Hermit. I also “heard” the beat of “da-DUM da-da-da-da da-DUM” repeating in my ear, so thought I would try to get the rhythmic beat as another part of the piece.

Much of this was written this morning waiting in line to purchase round challah for Rosh Hashanah. The holiday also has me thinking introspectively. This is that time of year where Jews are supposed to look within and examine themselves. In many ways, this is the essential paradox: tomorrow I will sit in a synagogue with over 1200 people and try to create an intimate space where I can come face to face with myself and my God. I need the power of the Hermit at this time more than ever!


Tarot Eight – Strength

September 20, 2006

The lion opens wide, its tempered jaws
like sentinels stand ready to acclaim
her majesty. Within her pregnant pause
a reservoir of strength and pow’r remain.
Self-confidence and certainty her mane,
though subject still to the Eternal Law,
she holds her force in readiness, remains
with calm and smooth exterior, because
she knows were she to free this lion’s maw
the Kingdoms of the world, her fire can tame.

This poem is written in Iambic Pentameter (as long as you allow for the one-syllable reading of “power” in line four). Each line has ten syllables, and the poem itself is in ten lines. The result, I hope, is a strong beat and a matching solidity of function and form to correspond with the meaning of the card itself.


Tarot Seven – The Chariot

September 18, 2006

We race, our wheels so fast they touch sky
obstinate, confident, triumphant
our laurels are richly earned, conquest

of those who would seek to bar our
salvation: disciplined creation.
This triumph shows ego as power.

Its dark side: to win, and at all cost,
Subjugate, dominate, overwhelms
those without strength enough to resist

the Chariot.

Back to the Tarot theme. This poem speaks about the seventh major arcana (or trump card), The Chariot. The poem is written as a nine-square: the first line has nine monosyllables, the second has three words with three syllables each, and the last line in each stanza has a one-two, one-two, one-two rhythm. Thanks to Jo for the idea!


Tarot Six – The Lovers

September 17, 2005

The Lovers exult
surrendering their free will
blind they choose to choose
receiving the card I pause
do I follow my heart, or …

Back to the Tarot theme. In this case, the Lovers poem is written as a tanka, a Japanese poetry form much older than the haiku. In Japanese, the poem is written as thirty one syllables with breaks in the following pattern: 5/7/5/7/7. In cuneiform, the poem would be written without a line break, but for English purposes the stanza works better.

I wanted to leave the ending “unended”, implying that the decision is clear, that with this card following the heart is the choice of logic (sort of an inherent contradiction).


Tarot: Five – The Hierophant

August 8, 2005

he is a man
of mysteries he sits
upon a throne, ministering

are his servants
as they seek to know what
mysteries initiates can

this, acolytes,
now may be the time for
orthodoxy, to look inside
for more.”

In more
and more ways, the
Hierophant calls us to
apply spiritual knowledge
each day.

Each day
we seek meaning
in our daily lives is
a commitment to what this card

This is a series of linked cinquains, used to describe the sixth card in the Tarot series, the Hierophant. Cinquains seemed the right form for this poem, since they are fixed in form and present a sort-of new American poetry tradition.


Tarot: Four – The Emperor

July 30, 2005

Ever-present in my life, you are the
Madrigal and I, a single voice your
Poetry defined. You are the master,
Ever stern and solid. When I need you,
Rough protector, you are there. But why can’t
Others see your weakness? Show your fears and
Ready heart! They are not faults, my father.

The next in the Tarot series, this poem is written as an acrostic (where the initial letter of each line spells the subject of the poem). Additionally, the lines are trochaic pentameter, to give a suggestion of classical poetry.


Tarot: Three – The Empress

July 25, 2005
Dear Mom,

Did I ever tell you?
Did I?
That my world was more complete
when you were in it?
That I know I owe my very existence
to your patient breath and willing heart?

The creation you underwent to create me
is awe-inspiring. Gestation, feeding me
and encompassing my every need.
Your self-sacrifice and giving overwhelm me.

What act of my creation can compare?
My petty concerns pale in comparison
to life-giving. Nurturer, source of my life,
I honor you as mother and creator.

Dear Son,

Did I ever tell you?
Did I?
That my world was more complete
once you were in it?
That you redefined my very existence
with your quiet breath and fragile beating heart?

The creation I underwent to create you
filled me with awe as well. Inspiration, feeding me,
intuition saw to my every need.
I sacrificed nothing, and only gained from

this act of creation. I compare
you to a pale tree, born out of
life-giving, nurturing mother’s milk.
I honor you, my creation, as your mother.

Another entry in the Tarot series, this is conceived as two letters which sit as mirrors of each other. I tried particularly to have the language echo from one to the other. This was also written as a letter to my own mother who passed away before I could say these words to her.


Tarot: Two – The High Priestess

July 20, 2005

Come, dead humanitarian, meet your unconscious.
It knows extra-ordinary things,
there’s enough inside, appearing in colors.
Secret-telling, keeping the veil.

Confident people read the arcane card,
their powerful existence tries to perservere.
But the feminine subtlety hides behind the curtain.
Goddess! Priestess! Show me your intuitive secrets.

There is so much significance in poetry.
Your fears teach you that you need to
unwillingly uncover the uncanny.
The card reveals your secrets. the scroll too.

She is the Priestess, and the Fool reveals her.
She is the water, the ‘true’ life leader,
yet Tora is the path. Her crescent crown shows her grace.
She sits high, like Tarot, to remind us she is ready,

Solomon learned his job from her.
She is intuition, dreams, your guide.
She is just. She is control.
She is the quandary.

She is success revealed.
“Finally,” she whispers, “I am the Yin.”
Shrouded, the goddess reveals her profound knowledge.
Listen to her, she is your subconscious.

This is a web poem. I took the text from the first 10 web pages I Googled with the search phrase “High Priestess Tarot” and copied the text into a text editor. I then alphabetized the words from the 10 web pages and removed the most common ones (“I”, “the”, “in”, “and”, etc.). The words that were left were reordered in random order, and I searched through the resulting text to find phrases I liked which I then ordered to make this poem (after adding back some of those common words for syntax and sense). Do you think it is a coherent piece? Does it tell you much about the card itself?


Tarot: One – The Magician

July 18, 2005

Within the Mage’s hands great powers flow.
His wand and finger join both earth and sky.
The card reads: as above then so below.

The magick he possesses comes aglow
from knowledge gained which others did descry:
within the Mage’s hands great powers flow.

His knowledge freely there for those who know
that mastery exists as will’s ally,
the card reads: as above then so below.

Infinity the sign upon his brow.
Upon his table, the four symbols lie.
Within the Mage’s hands great powers flow.

To see this strength within you start to grow –
Observe – there lies a path in you to try.
The card reads: as above then so below.

And now your road laid bare, depart and go!
Your power and determined thought apply!
Within the Mage’s hands great powers flow,
the card reads: as above then so below.

The second poem in the Tarot series, this one is focused on the Magician. The poem is written as a villanelle. Information on the Magician may be found here.


Tarot: Zero – The Fool

July 13, 2005

Pregnant with possibility.
Ambassador of the naive.

Windswept, at the cliff’s edge,
looking out at a rugged landscape
where the sheer end of the path
tumbles down a ragged mountainside

to land, broken and bruised, at the bottom.
But i, I look ever toward
a world of apex and zenith
never focused on failing

(or falling), but on flight.
Isn’t this what potential feels like?
The giddy rush of anticipation?
The limitless extending before you?

I thrill in the untaken journey, the travel
not yet begun. I pause at the precipice,
cares carelessly thrown over my shoulder,
traveling companion – anxious to go – by my side.

Let’s make a deal, you say. Choose a door.
Make a decision, move forward.
But I delight in the door unopened, the atom
unsplit, the way unexplored.

Join me on my journey —
A journey that will never end
and never begin.

I am the Fool, but you may call me Wise.

The first in what I hope will be an ongoing series on the Tarot. This card focuses on the first card, numbered 0, The Fool.

The photo comes from my sister’s collection of Tarot themed drawings which she has started as a basis of stained-glass images of the cards. Her name is Edith Crouch, and she lives in Charlotte, NC where she is a well-known Stained Glass artisan.

(revised thanks to some suggestions from The Critical Poet’s Forum)