Saturday, July 29, 2006

What Loads My Hands Down?

For those of you on the road:

—Philip Larkin

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.


—Philip Larkin

How distant, the departure of young men
Down valleys, or watching
The green shore past the salt-white cordage
Rising and falling,

Cattlemen, or carpenters, or keen
Simply to get away
From married villages before morning,
Melodeons play

On tiny decks past fraying cliffs of water
Or late at night
Sweet under the differently-swung stars,
When the chance sight

Of a girl doing her laundry in the steerage
Ramifies endlessly.
This is being young,
Assumption of the startled century

Like new store clothes,
The huge decisions printed out by feet
Inventing where they tread,
The random windows conjuring a street.


—Philip Larkin

The widest prairies have electric fences,
For though old cattle know they must not stray
Young steers are always scenting purer water
Not here but anywhere. Beyond the wires

Leads them to blunder up against the wires
Whose muscle-shredding violence gives no quarter.
Young steers become old cattle from that day,
Electric limits to their widest senses.


—Philip Larkin

Since we agreed to let the road between us
Fall to disuse,
And bricked our gates up, planted trees to screen us,
And turned all time's eroding agents loose,
Silence, and space, and stranger—our neglect
Has not had much effect.

Leaves drift unswept, perhaps; grass creeps unmown;
No other change.
So clear it stands, so little overgrown,
Walking that way tonight would not seem strange,
And still would be allowed. A little longer,
And time will be the stronger,

Drafting a world where no such road will run
From you to me;
To watch that world come up like a cold sun,
Rewarding others, is my liberty.
Not to prevent it is my will's fulfillment.
Willing it, my ailment.


—Philip Larkin

There is an evening coming in
Across the fields, one never seen before,
That lights no lamps.

Silken it seems at a distance, yet
When it is drawn up over the knees and breast
It brings no comfort.

Where has the tree gone, that locked
Earth to the sky? What is under my hands,
That I cannot feel?

What loads my hands down?


A couple (or three) program notes:

The 72-hour Java City Poetry Marathon continues through today (Sat.) and tomorrow (Sun.) at Java City, 18th & Capitol, Sac., ending at noon on Monday, July 31. There will be no Sacramento Poetry Center reading this Monday (7/31), due to mass exhaustion from the Marathon [which I checked out yesterday: lots of shade (thanks be that it's this weekend and not last!) and, as advertised, folks reading poetry 24/3. The PA system makes it easy to hear, even indoors in the air conditioning.].

•••While you're downtown tonight (Sat., 7/29), head over to 35th and Broadway from
7-9 PM: “The Show” Poetry Series features Michelle Ala Chappelle, Lee Knight Jr. from Palo Alto (2005 King of the Mic Champion), Claudia Epperson from Modesto. Wo’se Community Center, 2863 35th St., Sac. (off 35th & Broadway). $5. Info: 916-455-POET.

•••Headed up to the Lake this week? Ray Hadley of South Lake Tahoe writes: Lake Tahoe Writing Club is having an open mic Wed., August 2 at the Grand Hall at Valhalla Estates, right on the water. Bring poems and a bathing suit. Take Hwy 50 to the Y; take 89 north about 5 miles to Valhalla Estates, which are on the right, just past Camp Richardson. Reading starts at 7:30 PM. While you're there, visit Ray's Keynote Bookstore in South Lake Tahoe. Jeanine Stevens reports that she got two used poetry books there earlier this month. And check out the June Rattlesnake Review (Snake 10) for more on the Tahoe poetry scene.


Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their poetry and announcements of Northern California poetry events to for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)