Penelope Thompson was born in New Rochelle, New York and graduated from Mt. Holyoke College, New York University & the University of Massachusetts. She now lives in Los Angeles, a resident of the Zen Center of LA. She is a Buddhist hospital chaplain and former faculty member of Antioch University Graduate School. She is the mother of one beloved daughter, Ariadne. She is a member of the Paradigm Poetry Group and has published one book of poetry: Deconstructing the Nest and Other Poems. She has published several poems in poetry anthologies and was a featured poet on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac. Ms Thompson is fascinated by how life moments rise up and are constructed, how they fall away at the right time and are deconstructed, and how so many elements reconfigure in new and surprising ways.

So Still
                 Me gustas cuando callas-Pablo Neruda

Pues sí,
me gustas cuando callas,*
our bodies lined up like two i's,
every part touching the other,
our soft mouths open
and pressed together,
so when you breathe out,
I breathe in
and we keep exchanging
this moth air,
changing it in each mouth,
then giving it back,
again changed,
until we become nothing
but this invisible between.
In this stillness,
we recreate the world,
you and I.
                    * Oh yes, I like it when you are still.


It was his place,
where he knew himself most truly,
marching through hospital corridors,
sure of his mission,
nurses racing behind to match his pace.
Now suddenly small and frail beneath sterilized sheets.

Beach days, when he took his constitutional
along the sand, in father-huge strides.
I wanted to follow, leaped to land in his footprints.

Now he looks at me,
the air dense with old words:
never and disown and unwelcome.
We have not ever spoken of this.

He clutches my finger, the way a baby would,
yearning toward me.
Into that silence, I assure him,
promise him a tomorrow,
and so, close the possible door.
He dies in the blue dawn hour,
among hospital sounds as familiar
to him as his breath.

After the Rain

I look out on my patio after a soft rain.
The birds won't stop singing.
The geraniums are an impossible pink.
I want to swallow them, whole.

Every flower has a shine,
like a woman who has just been loved.
Her body glistens. She struts when she walks,
has time to be generous,
to spread that glow around a little.

Penelope Thompson Moonday poetry reading

© 2008 Penelope Thompson

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