in alley light, how
their delicate colors
intensify to an eeriness
from tenuous window light—
how they envy themselves . . .
the loneliness of alleys, except for
the flowers by the end house
where the sidewalk begins,
how they lean, glowing
back toward the one
at them . . .
THE CLIMBING FLOWERS
This is a steep city; the sunlight
darkens down into blue sidewalks.
Windows catch what of it they
can, and take it thinly into
windowsill flower pots
and window reflections.
And the flowers
And those who live here think the flowers
are murals on their buildings—think that
someone paints them in the night to make
them seem taller each morning—or, they
don’t even notice
flowers . . .
shouting . . . fluttering . . . exalted
one certain day when they reach the
last window and lift above it into the
wide golden breezes where the sunlight is.
I WILL GIVE YOU THAT BUTTERFLY
shall I give you:
I will give you
that takes its rest on the flower.
The butterfly is not mine
but I will give it to you.
I will give you the flower too.
And the sweet air around it.
And the earth I pull it from.
These are not mine to give,
I will put all this in your hand
or in your pocket
or in your eyes.
I will give you anything
in the name of love.
(first pub. in YES A MAGAZINE OF POETRY, 1971)
Here is a gift for you, oh sky, two trees
atop a mountain of sheer stone,
with many white birds circling by,
and low gray clouds—and
far away—in distant scale,
(first pub. in Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry, 2001)
WHERE I AM SECRET
Now you reside
where I am secret.
Heart is not word for it,
but shrine of being.
I beat within me
that I live
and you not perish—
gift of home.
I tell no one where you are.
My eyes are watchers
where lips move,
Some chide me:
What have you done with man!
I do not tell them.
They do not seem
to see my children
sitting in the dirt,
I have so much earth
where I am secret—
for growing love
and its constant terror.
I am silent
and ever listening
for what is danger.
I am so quiet
that you call out from me:
Are you there?
And I answer;
Yes, Love. I am here.
(first pub. in Renaissance, 1969)
SOMEBODY’S EMPTY GARDEN
World without pity,
buy my flowers.
I stole them from life
to sell to you.
I cannot speak the price,
my mind is too much shaking . . .
voice won’t come . . . though my hand
can take your money . . .
I will buy
World without pity,
buy my stemless flowers.
(first pub. in The University Review, 1967)
THE WAY YOU LINGER
It is this gift of loneliness I send you, long after
your demise. Somewhere you will receive it
and know who thought this much of you.
You float—as all things float—in distant thought,
no longer real or found in designed distance.
How can you not realize where you are?
You call me, weeping. I am closed to your voice,
cannot grant a solace to your tears, which pour
through the phone and burn my ear, my cruel mouth.
Somewhere in sleep, you dream my life again.
I cannot make out the dream from here. My mind
is a white line on a white page. It becomes a road.
You are walking toward me.
THE LIGHT AS GIFT
“flowers were dressed in nothing but light.”
as if the light
gave itself away to
(first pub. in Poets' Forum Magazine)
Also: The Sacramento Bee has a nice partial-article about the Tough Old Broads poetry reading coming up this Sunday. Scroll down to the blue box (below the green box at the right) next to this column for details about the reading.