Poems by Sally Mansfield Abbott

The dream was a journey,
And the espionage consummated the mission
To a heart’s plan.

Let us go then, my love
To Rio.

Perhaps we will meet death there
On the waters,
Or marriage with a myth.

The statue on the hill will embrace us
Surely in circles.

Lingering truths
Like birds beating the air,
Will astound our tired eyes.

I tell you,
It is never too late.


Pay me with the sky, sunbacked
Wheat rising at a steady pace
Over the eaten land.

The stride comes later
Atop a raven’s back, my pay
Is sufficient

I will ask no more from the clouds
Than a bird’s eye view

I am the salt’s sweet home
And a factory for modes
That will fly from the bellows like bullets

Forever prey to my innocence
And hungry
A hawk circling the dusk.

But grant me a god
To lay my table.


If I were to embark on the flesh journey
How would I do it?

In the morning?
Peeling the green leaves from
My eyes of rampant yesterdays?

the arrangement of birds
differs but slightly

one or two has flown home
flocking in my mouth
letting out the strange startled cries
of the discovered

The rain went back this time
but will come again

It’s how it would be done over
always as a promise

like age
coming from nowhere


It always comes to this.
Crying at midnight,
And banging on one another’s doors.

Begging for love.

And then it’s time for laundry.

Way beyond us,
The boulder is rolled back,
And the tomb on the hillside empty.

Tit for tat,
I can’t tell if I’m the victim
Or the thief.
Can’t see enough to let it go.
Two dogs tearing apart this
Worthless piece of meat.

Regret that lingers in the joints
Of crouched haunches,
Gifts that spring
Back quickly in retaliation,
The ones we give and take
And call love.

Making sacrifices at all the wrong times,
We are still searching for feet that lead
Down the one true road to Calvary,
Wondering which thief
Will be forgiven.


Tallow burned down to the quick,
I was still holding the flame
In my hand.

Went out to meet the night
With that strange light.

All the horses had crossed
The finish-line at once,
From Greece to Pakistan.

Saying the same things
In different tongues.

Linked together like boxcars,
Bumping each other,

I had always been carrying them,
the angels,
The times the talons were not
Growing from my feet.

And when I got that far,
I said, this is far enough
To push it farther.

This is close to
All the way.

Boxcar doors flying open
All at once along
the Jordan River.

Now the fire’s out,
The engine dead,
No more stolen, borrowed fire.

It’s time to cut
Limb from limb.

I trudge along
Dead tracks,
Fueling now with flesh
And blood and bone

Trying to transform myself
Into a pillar of fire.


When I knew it was starting over,
And they had come for him
A second time,
I said, No

Not this way again,
You bastards.
I’ll go.

Because if it’s blood you want,
I am already bleeding.
I’m the one
Who can do it without dying.

I am anyways
the longsuffering one,
And taboo.

I wasn’t sure how it would happen,
Didn’t really think they’d follow through.

But now
I know it has begun

Hear the squealing of the pig,
See the foot of the hare.

Feet stripped from the ground,
My neck in a noose

The blood drips down my thighs,
Falls in a slow
Replenishing pool.

purple hyacinth
iris in bloom

It’s not sacrifice;
Just reclaiming my own
Blood rite.

Taking on the
Passion of Judas
With the passion of Christ

When I become thrice whole,
I will know the voice of
The burgeoning spring.


Above the church upon the hill,
I saw the radiation lab, the arsenal,
and weapons still. The place they
Study war as though Mumbo Jumbo
Had them in his grip.

And I saw no intelligence at all,
Despite technology, and science,
Art, and Newton’s law,

I saw their intellects were
Dark and dull as though
No light shone from within.

It dared to call itself a mind
Yet did not know or see.

A Brontosaurus stood and reared;
A Pteradactyl spread its wings.

Their great unblinking eyes were blind
Just as their mandibles were dumb.

The armored tanks,
The armies clashing in the night,
The antediluvian thing of war,
The remnant of reptilian mind.

And in a flash I saw them already as extinct.
As something that will pass away.
Just as the dark gives way to light at dawn.

And what I saw this time
Was not the thing I’d seen before
An evil to fight blow for blow.

I saw I must not fight at all
But lay down sword and shield.


I am the Mother
of the Father,
Grandmother to the son.

In the dog-toothed night
I come.
In the liquor-lost night,
In the Arapaho night.

Swift moccasin-foot,
I come.

Gilded scalp
Flaps at my thigh.

Blood screams like light,
Night whispers like blood:

Enter the tent
And take up your sword.

Holofernes waits
To be undone.


Venus sits on the boss’s lap

Demeter is on welfare with the kids.

Artemis from that gay bar
Beckons to me.
She fritters away her valuable
Healing energy in playing pool
And other games that she’s
Been tricked into.

Persephone still underground
Shrieks out her madness from
A doctor’s lair.
She is asylum bound.

These are the prisons
We’ve been squeezed into
Now breathe but once
And claim your due.

Pharoah has had his day.
His wrath is great
But might shall fail.
His fate lies sealed in a Red Sea.

Sister, come be prophetess with me.

© 1974 - 2020 Sally Mansfield Abbott