Monday, February 13, 2012

A February Of Ambivalence

—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

The first faint trace of passage into day from night
—must we call it the dawn’s shadowless foreshadowing?
Better to say, the dark’s farewell in strange forelight?
An omen false and real:

no one can now say, The night will deepen.
Yet what of these stains and streaks of the dawn?
Even the truth of the weather, still under seal.

This is Valentine’s weather:
a time of blossoms white and faint,
or like clear water pink with blood taint.
This is the martyrdom of that saint.

Our February comes ambivalent as this forelight:
it fools and teases the cherry boughs into bloom.
Green buds just break out in a fever blight

running along the stubs of the branch and twig.
The shame, the heat of this relentless fever!
Flowers should no more break out now than the ripe fig.

This is Valentine’s weather:
a time of blossoms white and faint,
or like clear water pink with blood taint.
This is the martyrdom of that saint.

What points the small nipples of these buds?
My own early ripeness comes green, and in pain.
Why do green leaves issue like milk from these buds?

This is the time for branches to bare, for leaves to pile deep:
Pray that my beehive skin, my slalom heart
may gracefully slow and age and be lost in sleep.
I would kneel blasphemously in a garden
to beg that the blood tears not weep, that I might sleep.

This is Valentine’s weather:
a time of blossoms white and faint,
or like clear water pink with blood taint.
This is the martyrdom of that saint.


—Tom Goff

I’m mourning today for a sage, soft-spoken man,
conductor of the Auburn Symphony,
who shaped the identity of this orchestra
testing it, turning it in the fires of great music,
for Beethoven, Sibelius, Mahler, Bruckner,
—the sublimely civilized (or greatly tame?) god Mozart—
all are ordeals, are tribunals, inquisitions.
But gently, firmly batoning down around us
his invisible net of beat and phrase and sonority,
his calm the one captaincy in the stage-fright cockpit,
he led us again and again through Mondavi’s dark flames
and brought us out bathed in ovation’s cooling waters.
But Michael is gone, killed in the wish to zip
from Oregon back to Auburn quick as arpeggios
in a quicksilver passage of Saint-Saëns:
this tragedy, of a musician road-tired in his sixties,
points a moral: we may mingle among, but are not, gods.
We hope we’re not brutally crushed in learning this lesson.
And of the gods (even the musician gods) we may ask:
what was your share in causing, permitting this loss,
this catastrophic loss of mortal greatness?
We don’t ask that you should assign Mercury
with little wing-flutters at his heels, to have service-dogged
Michael safe along Highway 20 to rehearsal haven.
But the signs all point one way. A rain-wet road,
the parting clouds, the arch of color touching earth
in two places—you god-bastards were up there,
saw it develop, and just let things go!


—Janet L. Pantoja, Woodinville, WA

Grand Pause:
Michael Goodwin’s* baton
is at rest—on hold—
in an eternal fermata . . .

Molto sostenuto.
Musicians, bereft, play on—
tragic program music—a long
symphonic lament for
their beloved Maestro

who now conducts
angelic melodies,
music of the spheres,
concerts in eternal harmony.

*Michael Goodwin (1946-2012), music director and conductor of the Auburn Symphony, Veridian and Apollo Orchestras, died tragically in an auto accident on February 8,2012 on his way to a rehearsal in Auburn, CA.


During chokecherry blossom time
the lilt of love
is astringent and sharp
diverting Derek from atomic studies
into a courtship
of dodge and gambol
with the just-right-lady
Zelda Esmeralda,
who sleeps between berkelium,
ruthenium, iridium and cadmium
as fusion and frisson
roll toward Jamaican
or Japanese shores.

—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA


—Michael Cluff

Calvina Asper
dwells in a delta
of cherry pink blossoms
and tiered time.
The rasp of the awl
tears nothing,
the felt is undetermined
waiting for petals
to cushion her stipples
from quoits
into a mangrove
along the natural canal
nearing amber and apricot.


February 12, 2012
—Michael Cluff

A life spent between dulcet
heavenly tones
and erratic bouts
of drugs;
yesterday she left
the latter behind
to refine,
the former
in a better clime.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Janet L. Pantoja

Shimmering lights at Fidalgo Bay*
illumine starless night,
cast long light-shadows over
darkened, still waters
like white accordion lanterns
strung up for a Chinese New Year’s

*Anacortes, WA



Fidalgo Lights
—Photo by Janet L. Pantoja