that you dropped religion into the river and
wept for salvation...
that you fed words to your children...
that you sing in the memory of the old house...
that you remember the child of water...
that you gather birds from want and describe
their calling and give them a season...
that you have a hawk who guards your dreams...
that you keep the dolls for love...
that you breathe poems onto every day...
I would write of you...
—Robin Gale Odam
Thank you, Robin Gale, and our other contributors, for sharing your fine, fine poems. And thanks to all those who are wishing me happy birthday! Actually, it isn’t until this coming Sunday (Feb. 6), but who cares! The more partying, the better—right?
Every birthday is a mini-milestone, but 65 is a biggie—at least Medicarally speaking, it is. Our Seed of the Week is Milestones: big ones, middle-sized ones—or tiny ones, like the return of the goldfinches after a long winter. This is also an appropriate SOW for New Year’s—including Chinese New Year’s, which is this coming Thursday, the Year of the Rabbit. (Believe you-me, at 65 those milestones are passing quick-like-a… ) In any case, send your goodies to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs. Or send rabbit poems/pix if you don’t want to do Milestones. Or send anything else! (Medusa is so eezeee………….)
ONE KIND OF POEM
—Trina Drotar, Sacramento
If I could write a poem, I might not be trying to write a
story about something that happens or doesn’t happen.
If I could write a poem, I might play with language and
syntax and images and write with the finest pen.
If I could write a poem, it would be in neither heroic
couplets nor in couplets of any form.
If I could write a poem, I would toss aside the rhyming
dictionary and the thesaurus and use the words of nature.
If I could write a poem, I would not be sitting in front of
a desk, a computer screen, typing these lines.
I would write a poem that breathes, that places life into
each image, whether of a bee or skyscraper or child.
I would write a poem that touches each person who
listens to the words, who envisions the images.
I would write a poem that is fun, free-spirited, and can
be enjoyed by old and young alike.
I would write a poem not in the manner of Emily or Walt
or H.D. or even Milton, but in my own manner.
I would write a poem that I would recite to tellers and
baristas and cashiers and sales clerks and janitors.
maple leaves fall upward
in an Italian Neoromantic show
of cabins and iguanas
done in a md-sepia period
of cloying Carl Dryer and Benjamin Britten
he was gay you know.
Halos swallow seedlings
on borders of tollways
sinking in New Jersey or Ohio gloomings
factor VIII runs thinking
a foot is never lifted
since good fillers are hard
to manufacture on the spot.
It's just a shame
to dribble Irish whiskey
out of an uncle
a tad too far from Ulm or Antwerp
mayfly-fashion around a garish pole.
Sixteen ropes hang in the square
no one home on a vapid Thursday
a cardinal fishes for a melon
bullets blanch the eggs
a mongrel rests his horned head
on a shoe soiled in blood-notched rings
on the knots above.
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
on a dying winter hour
dozing over snowflakes
blinded by twilight
of a long lost March
a cardinal chimes
along a deserted shore line
you follow the bird
on a salty hedge grove
dropping tunes and bread
from an open mouth
in the trembling air
you explore a declining fog
where a singing creature
flies over a dizziness of fields
longing to befriend its hunger
shyly catch a glimpse
of the bare trees
where the gulf's shining wind
offers you both shelter.
Sleepless by the piano
remembering your first etude
and dizzy adolescence
a murdered blood orange
in the cool air
trying to capture
you imagine leaves
from beds of dandelions
in slaked fields
with a nightfall quiver
absorbed in sunshine
on the bluest rivers
trembling for the dawn
expecting endless proverbs
to outlast your disarray
in the perennial darkness.
Winter has come,
over two frail hours
in the waiting room,
dried plants bend
in a Dali green vase,
on an empty amrchair,
a strange absence alone
by a frozen mirror,
my faceless shadow follows
down endless corridors
doctored with whiteness
covering staircase walls,
a cat on the windowpane
drinks in the snow,
sweeps along corners,
now lost and motionless
with coppery exhaustion,
wishing to escape
on any trolley,
with an apple croissant
when my initials are called.
about cannibals and headhunters and circus
clowns, about the red spade leaning against
the barn. Write, even though your pen runs
dry/jams up/spits out big blobs of bluey-
purple ink and the cat won't stay off your lap
and it's 'way past breakfast time. . . Write
about that deer staring against old snow, about
the mole over your mother's left eye, about
brave children never born, chances grabbed
and missed, regrets tossed away like worn-
out party hats. . . Write, write! Don't let
there be space between pen and paper, air
after the periods, blank spots on yellow pads.
—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines
—Sandy Thomas, Sacramento
If I could write a poem
it would be a sea shanty
a song sung at sea
where rhythm is in sync
with the sailors' oars
the shantyman would
call out singing a line
and the chorus of sailors
would respond in kind.