Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

Warrior III: The Arrow

Lunge forward, extend your torso over your knee.
Lift your back leg and balance on your front leg.
Parallel your body to the ground.
Gaze along your arms to the horizon,
a well-aimed arrow, sharp, steady, poised.
If you’ve ever dreamed of levitation,
try it. Hover there, on one leg.
Become the celestial arrow, Anjélica.

Launched from Árjuna’s bow, feel Krishna’s hand
guiding you through the wind, in through a chink
in Karna’s armor, through his skin, the flesh
between his ribs, and straight into his heart.
Had Árjuna known that Karna was his brother,
he never would have pulled you from his quiver.


Hánuman’s Leap

O Hánuman, son of wind god, Váyu,
warrior monkey, smaller than a speck
of dust, more massive than a mountain, skin
like harvest moon, face blood red, bedecked
with flowers flowing from your mane, why must
you tear your ribcage open? Ram and Sita
already see themselves reflected
in your throbbing heart. Why don’t you kneel
down on the ground, press your palms to lift
your hips, take one leg forward, one leg back,
stretch them till your buttocks touch the earth,
then bring your palms together overhead,
and take one giant leap across the sea?
Go. Seek beloved Sita, set her free.




John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is to be published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His poetry has appeared previously in Sparks of Calliope and numerous journals including The Lyric, The Orchards, and Road Not Taken. Born and raised in Toronto and Foot’s Bay, Ontario, John lives in Boulder, Colorado and enjoys hiking in the mountains. Visit his website @ http://johnwhitneysteelepoet.com.

Two Poems by John Whitney Steele

Drop 

In memory of B.K.S. Iyengar (12/14/1918-8/20/2014)

You’ve limbered up in backbends, lifted
into Upward Bow. You stand,
arc your spine, prepare to drop
back to the floor, land on your hands.

You stop. The ground is there, but you can’t see
quite where, and though you have been gifted
with strength and flexibility, you freeze,
afraid you’ll sprain your wrist, crack your skull.

Once BKS did Headstand on the edge
of the Grand Canyon. Not a show of courage
but steady mind, exuberance, a way
to wake up every cell, a celebration.

Standing on the edge you never know.
Something says it’s now or never. Go.


Posterity

She placed her palm on torchlit stone,
spit red ochre at her hand,
left her mark, her stenciled clone,
a work of art, Neanderthal,
a language we still understand.

The permafrost is melting now,
releasing long held secrets:
fifty-thousand-year-old wolf pups
perfectly preserved, reindeer
killed by anthrax, disinterred.

When human beings are no more
what will we have left behind?
What hope have I to leave a mark
some future race will find?




John Whitney Steele is a psychologist, yoga teacher, assistant editor of Think: A Journal of Poetry, Fiction and Essays, and graduate of the MFA Poetry Program at Western Colorado University, where he studied with Julie Kane, David Rothman, and Ernest Hilbert. His chapbook, The Stones Keep Watch, is to be published by Kelsay Books in 2021. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals including Blue Unicorn, The Lyric, The Orchards, and Road Not Taken. Born and raised in Toronto and Foot’s Bay, Ontario. John lives in Boulder, Colorado, and enjoys hiking in the mountains. Website: http://johnwhitneysteelepoet.com