—Andrew Kerr, Davis
Horses clop down a country lane,
pulling a polished wooden cart
full of beer. Up ahead, old friends
smile uncertainly, restlessly arrange
buffet plates, waiting under
the long bands of afternoon sun for
something dawn-like to start the fun.
In the courtyard the cart wheels
make a flourish of a circle, and I unhitch
the horses, leaving the cart tongue hanging.
But the lead mare I saddle up and ride
up over the slow grin of hills,
across a field of winter wheat, sorry,
and into the sweet relief of forest. Most
of the trees are still leafless,
the sunlight is sharp off the bare branches.
Far below, figures gather around the cart,
bend with jolly laughter, stirring the group-glue.
Already the soft tool-taps of voices
are constructing moments
as golden as the bottles being passed
from hand to hand. Conga lines of laughter
spiral up in the clear air, but they don't reach here.
My eyes point like the ears of a horse,
up here where the crest opens out
to a view: hills, with the vibrant space between them.
Thanks, Andrew! Andrew Kerr has been a Peace Corps Volunteer in Africa, an administrator, a teaching assistant, and done agricultural research. He also has been a stay-at-home dad with his two daughters, who have introduced him to the worlds of soccer and horses. He plays the recorder and practices martial arts. Although he grew up in New York state, he has lived in Davis for many years with his family and dogs and too many books.
Going to be in the Bay Area this weekend? Drop in on Bay Area Poets Coalition open mic Saturday from 3-5pm at Strawberry Creek Lodge, 1320 Addison St., Berkeley between Acton & Bonar Streets (park on street, not in SCL parking lot). Open reading will be held in the 4th floor Movie Room or backyard garden; please check in at the front desk when you arrive. All ages welcome, 3-5 min. per poet: www.bayareapoetscoalition.org
Then on Saturday at 7:30pm, Sacramentans Lee Foust, Rachel Leibrock, Ruben Reveles, and frank andrick will be featured at the Make-Out Room across the Bay in SF ($5): www.makeoutroom.com/. Or head the other way on Saturday, up to Grass Valley for the Nevada County Poetry Series Rent Party featuring Neeli Cherkovski and David Meltzer. See b-board for details.
As for next week, Red Night Poetry, the new 2nd-Weds. reading series at Beatnik Studios hosted by Genelle Chaconas, will skip the month of August and start up again in September.
CHASING A BREEZE
It is somewhere
in the house, I think.
I was up too late last night,
feeling the heat radiate in the relentless stillness.
Now, trying to get myself going,
breakfast eaten but not impelling,
I hear the sandy whisper of leaves outside,
see the moving shadows inside, the blinds sway
at the open window—it is inside.
I follow it up the hall.
It was not just the fly, I hope,
startled in the kitchen.
Newspapers on the floor—it was here.
There are more corners than you'd expect
in such a small house, boxes of
accumulated stuff, tables once belonging to grandmothers.
Strange how something unseen stirs me
like a scrap of paper in a shopping cart.
There it is again at the window.
Where the path ended
they stood and stared at me
in the afternoon haze.
with the hot glower
of sun behind them.
Both were slender, unmoving.
There was hostility in their stillness.
Either continue or turn
back—I went on.
Tried to saunter.
the cracked furrows,
spoke to my dog.
They despised me, I could tell
by their pose, that sofaspring slouch.
Defiantly I lifted
my chest and
pumped my arms.
Something was odd, but they made
no threatening move. Finally
a tree's long shadow
was like a cool washcloth
on my face,
and I could see clearly
the two fence posts.
THE LAST DAY OF AUGUST
The last day of August
should be a holiday.
The geese fly in, exclaiming,
the flushing pipes in the houses
wail high in return,
in the morning blueness the
air conditioners have all shut off.
The treasure box of autumn
is soon to open.
On the dirt road, the scattered knobs
of horse poop
turn into plump brown birds
and fly away.
I built on the sand
And it tumbled down.
I built on a rock
And it tumbled down.
Now when I build, I shall begin
With the smoke from the chimney.
(Translated from the Polish by Czeslaw Milosz)