Friday, July 06, 2012

Orange Moons, Purple Sparrows

Carolyn Steinhoff

—Carlyn Steinhoff, Brooklyn, NY

My own desires
and everyone’s for me
mixed up together seem
to constitute the very world,
a trackless sea
subject to so much whipping up.
I’m so tired of heaving in it
that I’m bottling mine up
right now in pretend glass
of uniform size in every color
and shape—blue fish, brown mermaids,
yellow trees, green bathtubs,
orange moons, purple sparrows—
and arranging them
on my dresser, in space, or in my ribs.
Instead of leaving my efforts
splintered like timbers,
that hurricane of words someone said
will make no more wreckage
of second guesses tossing in me
all wrong and pointless.
My purple sparrow-shaped
Deadly Night Terrors
might temporarily dissolve,
the orange moon labeled
My Unbearable Losses,
but I will form them again,
no one can stop me. I love all of them,
but my favorites are the red one,
Forgetting All About Time,
shaped like a clock with no hands,
and the clear one labeled
Overwhelmingly Intense
Desperate Love, shaped like me.

—Carolyn Steinhoff

…the  prehistoric Baltic Cormorant,
spanning a time period of perhaps 8000 years…
has remained constant [since] the Holocene .
P.G.P. Ericcson & F. H. Carrasquilla
Many animals, including human beings,
are…running…an incredibly archaic neural
operating system.
–Dean Buonomano

There, while we’re force-feeding lakes,
rivers and seas to the sky until it’s so swollen
with clouds,
so out of sorts and sullen
that it pins us to an equally sullen, fed-up earth,
the body swims through the silence
that absorbs its offerings, its wants,
its press against space,
as primitive in the air of our time
as a waterbird under a river.
Words by the thousands are held in it,
like breath. The art of a life—to bear invisibility—
is a lost art. The new big thing is to be seen.

While the ear strains for meanings
only the dead remember how to convey,
while the body, trespasser at edges—
of seas, of photographs, of other people’s families—
burns to give speeches directly to someone,
is parched in water, drowned in space,
taking to wandering theme park cities
looking for a home, while the art of today
—a primordial art—is to be alive,
it’s considered most stylish to have.
Though the art of our time
is to get cut and bleed, though the body
is a lovely holder of ashes,
there in their little room,
appearing like a cormorant on the surface,
or like a drift-mine, in an instant,
out of nowhere,
between two who exist for each other:
world without end. 


—Carolyn Steinhoff

With all the people dazed to find that time
is only a carpet of moonlight on waves,
I put into the wide sea of your body;
I should keep my eye on our one star,
because your smile is as close to me
as mist,
your looking at my looking at
you the most enthralling song,
our sex our element; I’m taken by this
New York we kiss in, this backdrop
for the sweet-faced moon, Irish,
showing herself to us feeling too
the sorrow
for the men, the days America
the ghosts of failed loves saying
“Don’t you want us back”
into our ears,
our minds like birds in grass,
us standing upright under buds
light, dark pink, white
frothing faith-filled into the aching blue
in the garden on the one life-long
day of its flowering.

—Carolyn Steinhoff

One day months ago,
at the corner in front of the bank
at Church and McDonald Avenues,
a dirtpit apeared. 
Around and between corroded pipes
big enough for someone to live in,
men in orange hard-hats and neon vests
were busy working. 
A fence of orange plastic netting
stapled to plywood posts,
draped with CAUTION tape,
was all that protected them
from the public’s gaze. 
Today the fence has vanished. 
The sidewalk is as it was,
except the cement is grey and raw,
not darkened with spit,
urine, blood, vomit, bags,
leaflets or footprints. 
The new white PVC pipe sections
we saw the men installing
are gone from our minds. 
The new surface’s only opening
is one perfectly circular manhole.
Its cover lies next to it
shiny as a huge dime. 
The last hard-hatted men
stand around it, looking down into it.  


EASTERN QUAKE 5.8, 8/23/11 
—Carolyn Steinhoff

Among rocks, dirt and plants
instead of buildings, crowds and traffic,
through cold shade and hot sun,
past ferns velvet and young
spreading like hands
over a lichen patch,
left halves mirroring right
like another kind of bronchi
giving us air ours soak in,
taking air ours are sending,
we climb Vroman’s Nose
to a jutting shelf of stone
from where we see
that the whole Scoharie Valley
is given to Monsanto
corn. Green-blond rows
stretch up slopes and around
bends and barns and towns
in and out of our sight.
The last dark tall wild
trees allowed to stand
are uneven along the black
looping river, right bank
mirroring left, like a band
of fur trim on a private
lonely wet cut. I
with my privacy, boyfriend,
and you with your loneliness
are happy because we’re touching,
and don’t feel the earth shuddering.


Thanks to Carolyn Steinhoff of New York for sending us some poems. Carolyn has published poems, articles and some stories in various magazines and journals over the years, most recently in Dark Matter, And Then, and Liiliput Review. Always good to hear from people on the Other Coast! Carolyn can be found on Facebook.

We have a new Facebook album; check the Medusa's Kitchen page for Hot Poetry in the Park by Michelle Kunert. And thanks to Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) for riffing on my comments yesterday about fuchsia—did he spell it right? I've added more poets to the Sounds for Sore Ears page in our FUCHSIA LINKS at the top of the post. Such a joy to hear and see all our friends! 


Today's LittleNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

I will never afford a
New hybrid Lexus
So I’ll just make the most of
My old solar plexus.

Malibu lights
Rainbows all day
Neapolitan ice cream
Fuschia hair spray

New hybrid Lexus
Malibu lights
I will never afford a
Fuschia hair spray

My old solar plexus
Rainbows all day
So I’ll just make the most of
Neapolitan ice cream



 Michelle Kunert of Sacramento reads
at SPC's Hot Poetry in the Park 
Monday, July 2.
Check out her new photo album on
Medusa's Facebook page!