for the 33 miners from Chile, 2010
Down in the sleeper's darkness
it is so deep, that above, the weather
can be any kind at all, any season—
but down here, it's too dark to matter.
If he had one wish, what would it be?
There are so many wishes
and so little need. But the human mind
is an odd one, and he asks
for someone to send down a picture
of the sun. Let him remember.
Let him realize the memory of light.
—Trina Drotar, Sacramento
On the morning after the night before Little Orange crossed
the street to play with Rascal, the cat who finally grew into
his ears and paws, and to run and tumble with Mouse, that
blue Russian who always went on road trips and walked
beside me on the beach, and to share a meal with Larry,
a ragdoll of a cat with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen, and
to discuss street life with Bob, the gray and white known
formerly as Homeless Bob, and with Lady, the orange
tabby with paws larger than Bob’s who should have been
named Laddy, I planted a hummingbird.
BLACK SAILS IN MOONLIGHT
A dream-catcher hangs
wordless to ease you out of the clock-
work revolving cage of thought.
You could drown in a drained koi pond.
Last night in dream,
a graveyard ancient as moss. No
markers, names or dates.
Only the stones
tall as masts of sailing-ships, statues
toppled to sleep
without identity or sequence.
But who was the girl who kept asking?
You rocked her to sleep
in your sleep as if she were
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
On this street most of the lights are broken.
As we stroll from pool to pool the night
Has dances for us and moves the wind across our clothes,
Tosses our hair, throws some rain and touches us
Quietly, as if we could understand what it says.
I am broken this cold evening. I can
Understand little, grab your hand and put
It inside the jacket pocket with mine for a while.
Let the fingers talk to each other. Words have gone.
I would like to tell you about how beautiful
The lights are at Niagara Falls, when they
Illuminate the water at night, but you would
Not understand. The low and constant moaning
Of the water, day and night for over 12,000 years
Now is its own kind of music, locked in Dolomite
And the collapse of shale from irregular cliffs.
I can hear the sound of our footsteps in the
Pools of the dark. Small rainbows circle the streetlights
As we near them. I wish that they had voices.
It has been so long since we spoke to each other
Like this, where words were everything and everything
Was truth and your fingers against mine were small
Songs that used our hearts to keep the time.
“You got here too late,” I tell you.
Now I am blessed with longing only and you
Are blessed with a desire to know the dawn
As it has never been known before.
You laugh and tell me not to worry. “Listen,”
I say. “Can you hear time making sweeps, up
And down the deep gorge, hovering just above the rapids?”
“No, I can hear only singing, it’s like someone
Was trying to tell me something important. Can you
Hear it too?” I answer ‘yes’ but that it is spoken
In a different language. “Say something in that language,”
You say. “Okay, I squeeze your hand and kiss you.
“It’s like that,” I say. “I understand,” you say,
“I really do.” I believe you until we reach the
Next streetlight and the conversation changes.
I did not know Jackson Pollock
But I know that he liked baseball
And he could throw from far left field
And stop the run at home.
He could stand in for a shortstop
And make the game look easy
But he was always waiting
To stop the run at home.
I saw him playing first base,
Stretch and cover second,
Come running in for bunted balls
And stop the run at home.
He may have been a painter
But the man sure knew his baseball.
Just looking at the paintings
Still stops the run at home.
PURSUING THE LADY: autumn
“In that cool and radiant empire
That was too much for our eyes.”
The slender sleeves all silvered,
Her fingers twirled with rings.
She ran before the morning
But of her, the morning sings.
She swirled down like milkweed seeds
Drifted cross the river, tossed
Her messages like blossoms
And they sparkled touched with glass.
You’ll not find her on the fairways
You’ll not find her, she’s arranged that.
You’ll just chase horizon’s lightning,
You’ll think, of every horse, a map.
From this glowing ridge we see her
It’s a fire, then it’s not.
It’s just a flash on the horizon
It’s made of ice, then hot.
Promise us we will not go there.
We’ve been there once, won’t go again
Though the path seems made of diamond,
It is all reflections, engravings made of tin.
LISTENING TO ATMOSPHERES
Tonight ten thousand geese
Will fill the sky, like choruses
Of saxophones and trumpets.
A tireless beating of wings
Transforming energy from grasses,
Muck and water, into thunder,
Till it’s lost and such a silence
We have not heard before. Then from
Far away, kalimbas, tumbling to the ear
And we forget the flocks of birds
And dance, we dance, we dance, to hear.
Thanks to today's heavy hitters, all of whom "stop the run at home". Be sure to catch Dave Boles at Shine tonight, where Poetry With Legs presents more heavy hitters—Neeli Cherkovski, legendary poet who is over from the Bay Area, and frank andrick, legendary poet who is, well, over from 10th Street. Or catch Taylor Graham at Poetry Off-the-Shelves in Placerville tonight. All details may be had on the green board at the right of this column. You can also see info about our Seed of the Week there, which explains all this pond and moonlight stuff that's starting to appear—though Annie Menebroker actually went for the opposite—sunlight.
About her poem, Annie says: When this extraordinary accident happened, the world held its breath. The wait for rescue was unbearably long. I remember when they reached through the earth to the miners, and asked them what they most wanted that could be transported to them, and one man asked for a picture of the sun, which gave me this completely chilling feeling of the human spirit when it's at its lowest.
This little poem is my simple tribute to that man and his peers.
He was sipping moonshine
when she lifted off this mountain,
hair spread like wings, geese
another skein headed south
as the pond drifts into moonlight.
They're gone by morning.
Did she find a flyway?
Instinct brought her to this water,
fingers reaching for
air where she could breathe.