—Casey Robb, Sacramento
East of Wheatland, western stretch
Wyoming, straight as time, and flat,
the engine sputtered, slowed, then halted,
ground to empty silence. There among
your sighs, you tinkered, hunched beneath
the hood, the metal maw, while back
behind you, hovered muted mauves
and blues, and dusty grays of dusk. I held
the swaying lantern, twisted, got a glimpse
of distant knoll. A farmhouse flickered on
first light. The hush… the silence… God,
the hollow still. The holy. But for clicking
wrenches, muffled moans, and back contorted
over chrome, city time unfolded… letting out
its breath. Over the graying yellow ground it came—
a cry, a coyote call… from marshy reeds, a flush
of ruddy duck. She glided, floating low, a sliding
to horizon and horizon, then a circling, winding
back, a specter, lilting side-to-side, and landed
in the reeds—to fade as final purple light
was pulled… was reeled… was sucked
to the edge and gone.
(first pub. in The Sacramento City College Literary Journal, 1999)
A WALK OUTSIDE THE CITY
The last of the light is trailing a colored sky.
The air is sucking in its breath. It seems
an ever darkening brush. Standing by
in rows are silhouettes of evergreens.
A bird nest falls at my feet in the evening wind,
empty of eggs. The summer crickets hush
in the hollow autumn bite. Around the bend
a solitary car sounds a distant whoosh.
A broken tire swing, a rusty bike,
an empty bucket by an empty well
appear along the road. The city lights
flicker, then dim against the deepening chill.
I turn and wander off from the barren lane.
I feel a hunger for something I cannot name.
WOLF IN THE BASEMENT (A villanelle)
The wolf is in the basement on a chain.
A bounty hunter, rancher, put her there.
The sky is blue, but thunder threatens rain.
Owl awakens, visioning arcane
Omens, whispers softly to beware:
The wolf in the basement paces on her chain.
He washes at the sink. A bloody stain
Is on his arm, his face, and in his hair.
The sky is gray, and thunder threatens rain
In distant hills, the hunter hears inflame
A thousand voices, howling from the lair.
The wolf’s in the basement pulling on her chain,
And, twitching nose, can smell and taste the pain
Of hunter-trapper, twisting in his snare.
The sky is dark, and thunder threatens rain.
The owl, screaming, calls the hunter’s name.
He cannot hide—he is the rightful heir.
The wolf in the basement’s loosening her chain.
The sky is black, and thunder crashes rain.
Hold a micro-mirror to a cell
To secret universe, almost unfurled,
Where quiet innermost enigmas dwell
In microcosm, in a secret world.
The outer membrane-harbor holds the brine
Where, in the nucleus, the DNA
Untwists, untwirls like puppet strings divine
To kindle life, Dear Life!, from lump of clay.
In tiny mitochondria, behold
A power plant that dwarfs the grandest dam.
So small, it’s true, and yet a trillion fold—
That much, and more, it takes to make a man.
And we… each one of us through time is hurled,
Another microcosm of the world.
(first pub. in The Lyric, 1998)
THIS WINTER NIGHT
This winter night
let the winds howl their
let the rain streak sideways
scratching at the black
This winter night
let the raven run to shelter
and the mule deer limp
its line of fading footprints in the mud
let a thousand spirits whine
the dying of the earth
This winter night
your arms make a circle around me
and in this one small room
the air is thick with blossoms
Our thanks to today's contributors, including featured poet Casey Robb. Casey is a civil engineer, and a lover (and sometimes writer) of poetry and stories. Her long-time passion for history, archeology, and science has flowed into her poems, and now into a website called Pika Paw Press (www.pikapawpress.com), "an outlet for poetry, stories and essays that rock"—mostly about science and history. Check it out!
Got a poem in your pocket? It's Poem In Your Pocket Day!
Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson