Five of Wands — La Corte dei Tarocchi

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Artist: Anna Maria D’OnofrioAnna Maria D’Onofrio


The father of a nineteen-forties dollhouse family
left long languishing in my mother’s attic asks,
“Is this all there is?”—


Is this all there is, these separate beds
with plastic quilts draped neatly down the sides
and pillows firmer than my head?


The children’s toys went from popular
to out of date to vintage to antique
as the twins stood, unable to kneel,
trapped in a childhood of white lace dresses and pressed pants.


Our other, an infant, tied to Nanny’s apron with a thread
has neither wet nor cried through all these years.
Mother never held the stiff thing in her slender, hollow arms.


The toilet in the bathroom never flushed—
tho I do recall the year my daughter sat there,
skirt hiked up for all to see
as we took turns sleeping in the bathtub.


The living room never saw a mess of toys or spilled tea.
The piano never sang a note. The hearth never roared and
the mantle clock has told the same time
going on three-quarters of a century.


For one brief flash of of time
I watched my wife in the kitchen
as she cranked the wringer on the washer almost daily
and swiveled the sink handle.


But the basin is dry. There is no drain.
The icebox, the oven, the cupboards all are sealed.
Here we sit, legs out straight for over thirty years,
chairs pushed back from the empty table.
I wonder upon what it is that others dine
and Nanny, always standing, holds the baby.


La Corte dei Tarocchi answers with the Five of Wands—


A punctuated equilibrium of dust
rejoices in the chaos of chubby hands
three times a century.


One day your house’s pressboard walls will crumble
into something-that-has-never-been.
Only in that moment will you know
these days of waiting came
not because you were put aside
but because you were loved.

La Torre di Babele — La Corte dei Tarocchi

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

Anna Maria D’OnofrioArtist: Anna Maria D’Onofrio


sudden upheaval—
plans disrupted—
surprise! crisis! chaos!


release! explosion! outburst!
eruption of anger—
crash through defenses—
break through pretenses—


fall down humbled.
topple from height.
fortune wrecked.
ego blown.


revelation— the truth—
a burst of insight

through illusions—

the answer—

—in a flash!



Architecture strives toward infinity; but more than any other art … remains bound to tangible materials. For this reason it cannot carry itself off into spheres of a transcendental world in which it metamorphoses into an idea. It remains … tied to the earth.

—Peter Behrens in Tilmann Buddensieg and Hennig Rogge, Industriekultur: Peter Behrens and the AEG, trans. I.B. White (1984), p. 223.



But who can give soul to an image, life to stone, metal, wood or wax? And who can make children of Abraham come out of stones? Truly this secret is not known to the thick-witted worker … and no one has such powers as he who has cohabited with the elements, vanquished nature, and mounted higher than the heavens, elevating himself above the angels to the archetype itself, with whom he then becomes co-operator and can do all things.

—Cornelius Agrippa, De occulta philosophia (1533) as quoted in Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964, p. 136.



Who knows when some slight shock, disturbing the delicate balance between the social order and thirsty aspiration, shall send the skyscrapers in our cities toppling?

—Richard Wright, Native Son



The savaging sea piles its fears

on the shores of the world
no tower can deliver us now

from the enemy wave.

—Pablo Neruda, excerpted from “Bomb (II)” from Fin de mundo

Three of Swords — La Corte dei Tarocchi

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011


Artist: Anna Maria D’Onofrio


[I didn’t really want to draw this card. I wanted the one above it, but this one fell out of the deck so I felt obliged to take it.]


The three of swords is
that normal-sort of heartbreak—
when you live and things hurt
because you are willing to feel them.


If you aren’t willing to feel
nothing hurts
but that is not living.


It is very difficult to stay not-living
while walking on this earth.
Not even people-hating people are non-living.
People-hating people hurt and hate
and maybe live in heartache more
than you or I with broken hearts.


Zombie-people are the sort
who never draw the three of swords.
I do not know what sort of cards they draw—
they have no future and no past because
they are not present.


Maybe, soul-less, they draw the devil every time
and devils only devils.
Maybe I am wrong— perhaps
they draw threes of swords one after another—
threes and threes of swords that scream—
feel something! feel something!— but—
they cannot hear because
they are not present. Silence.


Zombie is a state of deep, near-death addiction
where times of lucidity are so few or never that
no light comes in and then there is no point
and then there is no living— real death—
beyond which there cannot be feeling like we feel—
feeling that makes us alive.
Feeling makes us alive. Be thankful and
be thankful for the three of swords.