Monday, September 09, 2013

Life Without Warranties

Portland Hotel
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

We are going to hear Seamus Heaney
the poet. Meg Withers, Adam David Miller,
Elise Peeples, Nora Laila Staklis and me,

we are going to hear the Nobel Laureate
speak. Redwood City’s Fox Theater
wears Irish lightly draped

over its Art Deco seventy-four years
of twisted stems. We join the people
clothing the foyer’s dark-forest floor:

Like Gaelic-thick fallen leaves, we carpet
the crimson carpet-swirls autumn brown,
Erin green. On the landing atop the grand

staircase, a Celtic music crew plows
the stars for mad jigs, wild reels, whirls.
We will hear Seamus Heaney’s poetry,

but here first we stop. St. Patrick’s Dean
Swift dubbed Handel’s Dublin Messiah
orchestra “a wretched band of fiddlers.”

If these fiddlers be wretched, make
the most of it. On, you flying violin,
mandolin, guitar and bodhrán. Keep

the pit of the stomach’s pulse, tap
the drum in the heart of the hearer’s heart.
We are going to hear Seamus Heaney.

As we cluster, bees stuck in song-syrup,
out of our throng bursts a lean white-haired
man, seized by dance. Short green sleeves,

olive trousers. The only formal thing’s his
right straight back, all spine. And he jigs
a proud jig full of flat skips and high shoetip

taps; crosses a black shoepoint back
and around either calf and then down
to the floor in a reaper’s arc. His legs

make the mosquito’s knitting needles
in quick midair hover-and-dart.
His face commits not one smile, not one

snort or sweatdrop or breath
misplaced, as he joys in the joy
that only the legs know directly. His

deadpan hears talk of the great
glee down in the shins, and is happy
for them, in an abstract way. The foot’s

hilarity’s flung to our standaround ring
through the hole in the air we have cleared.
And just as we’re sorely clapping and stamping

out time to the tune, he morphs clean away,
this Michael Collins of mirth. A great saint
long since called to God,

he melts in the throng. This is Ireland.
This is not the Fox Theater
in Redwood City. We are not about

to hear Seamus Heaney the poet. We’re going
to hear Seamus Heaney the poem,
as we’ve witnessed this man the dance.

i.m. Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

(First pub. in
Tiger’s Eye, 2003, and in truenature, 2006)


—Seamus Heaney

in memory of Ted Hughes

“And what was it like,” I asked him,
“Meeting Eliot?”
                          “When he looked at you,”
He said, “it was like standing on a quay
Watching the prow of the Queen Mary
Come towards you, very slowly.”

                                                Now it seems
I’m standing on a pierhead watching him
All the while watching me as he rows out
And a wooden end-stopped stern
Labours and shimmers and dips,
Making no real headway.

(first pub. in District and Circle, 2006)


Rose Garden, Portland
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Caschwa, Sacramento

(Prompted by Sunday’s poem “JOY” by D.R. Wagner)

Let’s start with Joy
Which is my wife’s nickname
What I write on the wrappers
When I save her food in the fridge

And then we reach the point where
We “meet old friends on the road”
Of course the Underground Railroad
comes directly to mind

“Stars open the great holes”
That could easily be potholes,
My dear friends, adept at
Tripping up unwary star gazers

“Do not keep them to yourselves”
Describes boom boxes and
People who chew garlicky food
With their mouths open

“Kiss …full upon the mouth” is innocent
Enough on the stroll D.R. depicts
But would translate to a handheld
Cell phone on my daily drive


—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I’m following my dog into the woods.
We’ve never been here before,
the end of this gravel road where someone
left his car and disappeared. Silence
of questions. Without words my dog says,
this way, into the woods. So I follow
through trees speechless as the dark.
Sound of surging water
as a creek at flood-stage, tearing
out of its banks. Somewhere, a twig snaps,
the delight of things unseen
breaking silence into questions,
a kind of storm. Where are we
going? I don’t know, I’m just following
my dog following the scent
of whoever left his car at the end
of the road and didn’t come home by night-
fall. Maybe he fell into a runaway
creek. Maybe he plunged off a cliff-top,
thousand-foot drop to river-rocks.
Maybe he walked into quicksand. My old
dogs have led me to those
places, following scent of other losses.
Someone lost, never found again.
Does my young dog consider edges?
Do they slow her down? This is
adventure at a flying trot. This is life
without warranties.


Today's LittleNip(s):

Life is a race,
and I'm trying like hell
to catch up,
before my legs break


If you're feeling cracked,
find some good glue


Whenever I fail miserably
I don't give up
I find something else
and fail again


I'd like to think
I'm much more
than a forgettable writer
then forgot
who I was talking about

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento



Japanese Garden, Portland
—Photo by Cynthia Linville