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Poems, by Laynie Browne


Sekhmet Transcriptions


Rivers of red in Sekhmet waylaid thoughts waylaid only the voice hovers clouds hush not stop. Sign red not yield red not red grain or red dust of earth. But red thinking merrily intuited inside only vessels and slung and tangled and sworn Sekhmet red Sekhmet sung she ambled in vials and crystals and footsteps and whispers and never the hand waylaid never the hand but always voice entrusting heard sound read all of the memoirs of women women ruined in tethered those books we didn’t dare to touch contagion contagion ruins tatters read all the women who were not hung did not hang themselves but became became became red Sekhmet adorned by alchemy and absorbed into her and entrails released reversed unrehearsed and still not avoiding not explaining not waylaying nests in red red red Sekhmet red intuitive red intuitive intuitive she asked me for her rage thus diurnal lion daughter of Ra and drinking drinking red rivers mistaken for blood then then she slept and woke into a peace we did not imagine we did not imagine we did not imagine Sekhmet only voicing voicing threading touching enrobing embalming in resinous resinous red rubbed over the skin as curtains curtains red wrapped embalmed infrequently red voiced but never written this secret cult occult alert ink ink oxblood and sepia gold red raw sun day lion-headed Sekhmet.


Sekhmet Sekhmet borders red disc red red circle walks wakes Sekhmet blazing painted riven woven strung circles of knots suspended candles atop crown atop cobras atop cat inside flower inside crown red flying above red trees rows of foxes fox face bouquets Sekhmet walks atop drops of red ink leaves seasons seasons Sekhmet help assurance in bundles bundle and carve bundle and carve escort me down the coxcomb rose lionize and red mirrors and red rivers and red beneath the surface of streams and spines of books white rose and the red animals are nowhere everywhere Sekhmet blindly escorts me no hand no trailing articles of dust however step by further step by further step and each time she lifts her heel arise seeds red pointing their heads up up up in cabinets blisters seedpods red rose and rivers red fabrics spools of red stitched in amulet scents Sekhmet.


Sekhmet the air was like the cape or the cloak Sekhmet tugging my aura down past my wrists so it would again cloak beyond the edge of my fingertips and attach at heart chakra leaped in back of heart chakra pressed close against hips raining down over the body this invisible cloak is actual and also curtains parting curtains it isn’t just parting the curtains and rushing toward ones fear serrated yellow edges of leaves fallen departed purpose served face down decomposing not only parting the curtains but then also drawing the aura the cloak the curtain close so that it is again attached not detached from one’s fears as if they were other attached walking with this material cloak material garb cloak possibly is the title cloak made of flowers and balmy skin of air pressed close against invisible sheath of rippling aura ladysmantle cloaked protected is also in guarding pressing close what is beauty body purple purple purple berries on stalk berry beauty berry potion moving into the next season with undulating cloak of colors accompanying and detached from that caustic energy not mine unplugged given back draw the boundaries of my boundaries were always so apparently strong beneath clouds but then punctured worn down care assessed roots pulled from root chakra like so many untethered anchors tether me to the earth Sekhmet she is also red in the woods eye in the woods a blossom in search of protection with hood drawn up over iris proceed cautiously she spoke to herself and met the orange melting watery eyes endless chasms fall into that meeting of eyes will guard you gaze gaze gaze it was hers and it was hers and it was hers the gaze which held spell in gold arc cloud like motion of birds over my prone body as I lay on the table and the healer moved her hands and spun crystals and when she stepped back I could still feel the billowing billowing billowing of gold auric air.



Crown of the Solar Disc Uraeus Cobra of Protection


Eyes divine eyes, eyes in hands

Where is gaze

What am I not seeing

Keep expecting nothing

Outlive instead of outline

Marry self—also emptiness

Sleep in divine hands

Eyes cover hands

Every inch of skin

Visualize seeing

Takes strength

Colors behind eyes, islands

Red drapes and folds

How do we know we wake

What does it mean to see

Nothing can make this image right

Abandon image story

Mourn like a death

No longer for anyone but for story

I mourned the story and placed my

Self in hands covered in eyes

Slept comfortably there

To heal to gestate

I slept comfortably inside

The shell of a walnut, night after night

Toward birth fastens

A book may open and close and open

Place self in hand sewn enclosures

Sequester from certain stories

A type of bartering no human

Deserves to be abandoned

Place self in congenial place

Some questions have no place

Unwanted like limited form

I cannot think my way out or into

Future questions of eclipse

Take for example the power art couple

Arrogant alpha fear

Ego—is there a healthy

Fantasy of collaboration

Or is it only honesty

Intellect / emotion/ spirit

Success is an unnecessary object

Quest for a warm body isn’t—

Why have I asked / required so little

This habit of rushing on into speech

Resist the urge to write back

I don’t want to write that thought

Image of so and so’s hands

The point of recounting was noticing I lived in imaginary

That is my signal; if I see myself doing that

I thought thought was benign

And how to protect

Just be unflappable; don’t try to predict

Keep edifying: here, health, joy

Assuming one dead—instead

of hateful just the sentence

I have nothing to say to you

Maybe even less

What happens in the chrysalis of hands

Covered with eyes?

Akashic records, keep asking

The dropped stitch

Respond to whatever arises from

Within wholeness

Planning is for scoundrels / is it?

Calendars are for hooligans

Are they? It’s ok a little bit but don’t

Live your life inside tiny squares

Breathe now breathe and

Come into heart—chamber

Give that to oneself that thirst

Curl up on left side, just like

A hand cradles you, one hand

big enough to support an entire body

Does that mean I’m an infant?

No, held in trust

in the same way a child trusts

A hand cupped inside

Where we shelter wish

Writing is endless

Flashes of horizontal light like the waterfalls in paintings

What is sight? This is where I went

Beginning with a question, and a strategy

Of doing the work in one’s sleep

Constantly aware, in middle body

So many more eyes

Another image of middle body

Chrysalis in sleep

Write that into the novel

Sleep shift of spirit work

Sleep in hand and walk in cylinder

Learning to navigate unfamiliar landscapes

Internally and externally stay in middle body

What do I mean by covenant

And what do I know

Explore spirit through writing

Writing as ultimate unknowing

Yet it is impossible to be lost even

When lost visualize strands connecting

Even in abandonment re-center

Draw back into self subcutaneously

More cutting of cords more

Burning and redefining outlines

Blossoms, is blossoming, will blossom

Because reality is unfathomable

Not contingent—vaster

than thought, birthright

  • Laynie Browne is the author of thirteen collections of poems and three novels. Her most recent collections of poems include You Envelop Me, Practice, and Scorpyn Odes. Her honors include a 2014 Pew Fellowship; a National Poetry Series Award for The Scented Fox, selected by Alice Notley; a Contemporary Poetry Series Award for Drawing of a Swan Before Memory; and residencies at the MacDowell Colony. Her poetry has been translated into French, Spanish, Chinese, and Catalan. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies including Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology, Ecopoetry: A Contemporary American Anthology, Bay Poetics, and The Reality Street Book of Sonnets. Her critical writing has appeared in journals including Jacket2, Aufgabe, Open Letter, and Talisman. She co-edited I’ll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing by Women and is currently editing an anthology of original essays on the poet’s novel. She teaches at University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College.

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