Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Fire-Fangled Feathers

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Wallace Stevens

Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.


—Wallace Stevens

The lines are straight and swift between the stars.
The night is not the cradle that they cry,
The criers, undulating the deep-oceaned phrase.
The lines are much too dark and much too sharp.

The mind herein attains simplicity.
There is no moon, on single, silvered leaf.
The body is no body to be seen
But is an eye that studies its black lid.

Let these be your delight, secretive hunter,
Wading the sea-lines, moist and ever-mingling,
Mounting the earth-lines, long and lax, lethargic.
These lines are swift and fall without diverging.

The melon-flower nor dew nor web of either
Is like to these.  But in yourself is like:
A sheaf of brilliant arrows flying straight,
Flying and falling straightway for their pleasure,

Their pleasure that is all bright-edged and cold,
Or, if not arrows, then the nimblest motions,
Making recoveries of young nakedness
And the lost vehemence the midnights hold.


—Wallace Stevens

The palm at the end of the mind,
Beyond the last thought, rises
In the bronze distance,

A gold-feathered bird
Sings in the palm without human meaning,
Without human feeling, a foreign song.

You know then that it is not the reason
That makes us happy or unhappy.
The bird sings.  Its feathers shine.

The palm stands on the edge of space.
The wind moves slowly in the branches.
The birds' fire-fangled feathers dangle down.

—Photo by Katy Brown

—William Carlos Williams

We cannot go to the country
for the country will bring us no peace
What can the small violets tell us
that grow on furry stem in
the long grass among lance-shaped leaves?

Though you praise us
and call to mind the poets
who sung of our loveliness
it was long ago!
long ago! when country people
would plow and sow with
flowering minds and pockets at ease—
if ever this were true.

Not now.  Love itself a flower
with roots in a parched ground.
Empty pockets make empty heads.
Cure it if you can but
do not believe that we can live
today in the country
for the country will bring us no peace.


—William Carlos Williams

Let the snake wait under
his weed
and the writing
be of words, slow and quick, sharp
to strike, quiet to wait,
—through metaphor to reconcile
the people and the stones.
Compose. (No ideas
but in things.) Invent!
Saxifrage is my flower that splits
the rocks.


—William Carlos Williams

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks,
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?


Today's LittleNips:

Sipping persian tea,
toes buried in warm white sand,
balmy winds abound.

Little blue pillow
teeters by the tall bed post
as we play footsies.

Swift fingers now slow,
frostbitten in the snowy
sunless evening.

Cold blue-green waves curl
softly break through the pinkish
pastel horizon.

—Samira R. Noorali, Houston, TX



Watch for more of former Sacramentan Samira's work to be coming soon. She has a new book, A Simple Rebirth (see and will be reading at the Sacramento Poetry Center in June.

Update: Joyce Odam is home from the hospital! That was quick! She broke her hip Friday, surgery Saturday, and now home—with a child-sized walker.

—Photo by Katy Brown