The Jewel


“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Prov.31.10

For Julie

You will find so few in a lifetime that
When you meet her she shines.
At first you may not see her light
for she does not glitter, but rather glows.
Her calm concern radiating myriad colors;
she inspires trust naturally.
She abides by her heart; follows her beliefs;
dedicates her service to her destiny.
You see the mirth of youth in her bright eyes;
The memory of her smile illuminates a dark night.
She bestows grace in her gestures.
Her manner implies,
“What can I do?”
“How may I help?”
“I’ll be there for you.”

She takes care; she’s generous.
She searches for meaning in small gestures.
She grieves each loss and celebrates every delight.
She marks the journey with a trail of friends.
She counsels patience, temperance, appreciation.
By her light we can find the way.

© Gay Reiser Cannon * All Rights Reserved


“She moves,…she’s got one thing on her mind”

steel strong and sign determined
stealthing through revenge alleys
stinging streets on stiletto heels
spied secrets drawn from shades

“she’ll wear you out like a pair of shoes”

bringing heat that’s streamlined
slipped beneath her trench
shadows straight and to the right
she has her aim, and sets her sights

“she looks like a flower but she stings like a bee”

no dread or anger resides
in her, instead a killer chill
blown to ice – she will fight
she lays, all for all, on the line

“She bangs, she bangs, she’s got one thing on her mind”

target ahead under a light
promises broken, jagged crazy
moving with a piercing gaze
she stays clear as she resigns


(with apologies to Ricky Martin with lyrics from “She Bangs”)

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 2012 * All Rights Reserved

Balanchine’s Ballade Ballade

Merrill Ashley, Ib Andersen – Balanchine’s Ballade, illustration courtesy of The George Balanchine Trust

Balanchine, Russian as the Ballet Russe,
defected with friends yearning for Paris
where Stravinsky and his Firebird seduced
him to choreograph for the genius
Diaghilev. There he joined the restless
musicians, artists, composers who whirled
through the bars, and cafes of Montparnasse–
each one returning to a private world.

Fauré a gentleman who’d paid his dues
read Villon, taught Ravel, and sought justice
for the avant-garde’s dance with modern muse.
Influenced Stravinsky, Ravel, for less
fame and fortune perhaps, yet still he stressed
elegance and composed while he unfurled
a truce between new wave and staid ensconced–
each one returning to a private world.

With “Ballade” Balanchine would introduce
Fauré through his acclaimed Ballade Opus
Nineteen in a series of pas de deux.
Ballerina and Cavalier express
through their fleeting encounters love’s distress,
exquisitely wound in figures that twirled
en pointeen dehors or through pirouettes
each one returning to a private world.

Formal and modern merge and coalesce;
in a surreal attitude shapes swirled
New York and Paris in artistic dress–
each one returning to a private world.

I don’t usually talk about or try to explain my poems. I think you should be able to take them at their face value, serious or silly, plain or incomprehensible, pretty or poignant — it’s yours as you read it to decide. But considering I wrote the articles, I needed one ballade to do the work of two. So I’m breaking my own rules.

This French Ballade, I think, ideally represents the point where the classic merges with the modern as it did in Paris in the early 20th century. In that period the painter who was on this cusp was Cezanne, the composer was Fauré, the maestro/impresario was Diaghelev, the dancer was Nijinsky. After them it was all modern. As I stated in Luminous Cows, taking the cow as a symbol was a point of change from the bucolic to something lit from within by the truly modern artists. Likewise the ballade which started as a dance, then turned into a poetry form, became a serious subject with the compositions of Chopin only to be “modernized” by Fauré. And through Balanchine who had come late to the Ballet Russe, who knew Fauré, who left Paris for New York, was funded, and initiated serious dance in the US, we have a choreographer who reassembled the Ballade in a completely modern way as dance again. Like mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors, the French Ballade changes to something different in the hands of modern artists.

I felt as though my poem too, was on the cusp – both old in its form and its relation to the dance, but new in the way it feels like free verse, the rhymes somewhat slanted, the history almost prosaic. Yet it rhymes, it conforms to syllabic count and the refrain describes the actions of Balanchine’s Ballade. I hope you like it.

i, working cat


              as suspicious
                   as curious
             paint myself fence
           disguise myself leaves
         shade myself branches
            in stealth
              real wealth
                  the long tails,
                  the scissor-tails,
                   the bushy tails
           arrogance that flaunts
              those nut-eaters
          tree bug-eaters
     i, meat eater will feast
         fine, feed mine, divine
   repast, caught from behind
    or more fun, when done
            on the wing
                that's the thing

© Gay Reiser Cannon * 2012

Posted for dVersePoets Poetics hosted by Mark Kerstetter – “through the eyes of the other” 2/4/2012