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Ars Poetica: A Zodiac for Poets 

by Shari Zollinger
Illustrations by Holli Zollinger


March 21 to April 19


A poem, for Aries initiates origin stories, sentences that begin as symbols that refer to prime language, prime touch, prime memory, prime word. Less interested in the firsts of the world; more in tune with the world of firsts. At play with intimacy. At one with personal evolution. Hot house flowers planted year-round. 


April 20 to May 20


A poem, for Taurus decants vintage words: intimation, muddle, burnish, beset. Unable to imagine without touching the thing, word-hands of Taurus reach incessantly for texture, text, context. When a true vintage is found, why mess with a good thing? Drink here. Eat from this plate. Fullness culminates in the red wine stain on the white windowsill. 


May 21 to June 20


A poem, for Gemini travels along old trade routes, under overpasses, down abandoned dirt roads, along cobblestone paths near known rivers. Unwilling to linger very long, Gemini carries a leather satchel and gathers necessary bits, unexpected pieces. All to unload, and to reassemble as poems of the Found. 


June 21 to July 22


A poem, for Cancer intuits the past. Is intuiting the past a thing? Is pulling the past forward an exercise? Never one for the glare of the present, Cancer spends each evening lighting candles, sharpening pencils, brewing tea; stepping between worlds. Maestro, conductress, shapeshifter. Liminal symbols apace. 


July 23 to August 22


A poem, for Leo performs or rather outperforms all counterparts. The wooden floorboards of the stage, familiar down to the grain. Word and action blocked for comedic timing, deep feeling, relatability. Yet, one never breaks the fourth wall. Iambic monologues leap from hot, stage lights into seated laps. The sun opens amidst the stilled audience. 


August 23 to September 22


A poem, for Virgo dissects, diagrams and visualizes before anything is put to paper, before anything is spoken. Sometimes, when the word is finally set to paper, it is a sadness. Without the background of gray matter, the word feels naked. Yet, in the touchdown of gravity and open air, and transformation, the word becomes real. This is good. 


September 23 to October 22


A poem, for Libra harmonizes. Be congruous, be consonant, they will say and yet, they do not fear discord. All symmetry, in rhyme with asymmetry, is a tension of opposites. Can a line of poetry act like an asana? Two arms stretched in two different directions, yet striking an exquisite balance. Where did that emerald hourglass come from? 


October 23 to November 21


A poem, for Scorpio possesses the password-keys to cryptic code. Words as incantation, chant, invocation, conjuration, magic, spell, rune. A star pyramid, hexagram, a coin toss with pentacles, shrewd manifester of destiny. Why do we make so much of sibilants? Is it because of the friction of consonants hot against the tongue? 


November 22 to December 21


A poem, for Sagittarius activates a buffet of adjectives doing the good work of enhancing real world things. What better role is there? To intensify what at first looks mundane? Unafraid of growth, there stands a pair of boots at the ready, scuffed leather, primed to march for the glory of nouns. 


December 22 to January 19

A poem, for Capricorn builds in the golden light of fall aspens, that thing of beauty that is often referred to as simple. The poem is set upon the tree, love poems speaking of who loves who. Carved hearts. Plus-signs. Bark tattoos. Why do we ignore the poetry set into trees? Here lies the quaking map of love. 



January 20 to February 18


A poem, for Aquarius revolutionizes any hope to speak in formed verse. It is not the sonnets’ fault that it is boxed in. The sonnet has its charms. It’s just that, verse should be free. How else can you ride the wild voice, that sits at the base of the spine, or at the top of the skull, or in the arch of one's left foot, all places where inspiration begins? 


February 19 to March 20


A poem, for Pisces swims upon the wake of whales. Grand tales. Echolocation. Clicks that cannot translate to air. It is only underwater that we communicate. Opaque mirror. Salty dissolution. What is the measure of a wavelength? What does it feel like to hold water-laden sentences? Is the dream of breathing underwater only for the unawake? 

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