Thursday, July 17, 2014

Like A Prince

Jane Blue, with Annie Menebroker

—Jane Blue, Sacramento


In July's long heat wave we felt
we were dead, or we were the living dead.
We had no hunger, no hungers.
We couldn't wail. We couldn't smell
or even taste. But now, the aroma of coffee,
the door open, traffic shushing by.
A phone ringing, jazz, blues, gospel in the air.
A fly examines my flesh
for rottenness––grease, dirt, any way in.
It's cold enough in the morning now
to change the trees quickly
like adolescence.

I like the way the sky opens in winter––
another month or two; I expect to live
to see it. But who knows? Who ever knows?


The Rose of Sharon, the crape myrtle, opulent
fat and messy at the end of their season.
I love them. They are a part of my life.

I have lived in this place longer than anywhere,
even childhood.

I am planted here, yet every day I think about moving.

(first pub. Blood Moon, FutureCycle Press 2014)

  Rose of Sharon

—Jane Blue

A squirrel walks from the top of a bare sycamore
into a green magnolia.

The little phalluses of daffodils push up out of the cold earth.

When I walked out to get the paper,
I was surprised by the sun in the East
and to the West hanging curtains of fog in the trees.

Later, a man across the street
stood on the limb of an ash tree, sawing off the end.

The cold haze falls upward, out of the trees.

And now the full moon with its face on
rises in a lilac sky.

What courage to show one’s self to everyone this way!

(first pub. Blood Moon, FutureCycle Press 2014)

—Jane Blue

The day starts out hot. Someone is talking
about wine. It’s cool in here.
A little girl with a yellow balloon
and a shirt to match, a pink bow and an aqua
gauze skirt, reminds my friend
of her childhood. The yellow shirt reminds me
of the maillot jaune, the yellow jersey
that appears on different cyclists
in the Tour de France, zipped up the back
to slip quickly on at the podium.
Muscles pump the differently colored jerseys
and ribs show through hunched backs, straining
through the Pyrenees, the riders focused, blind
to the beauty of the mountains; people
and motorcycles swerve into the narrow road
and Basque sheep, bewildered, clamber
up out of the precipitous canyon,
out of the thick mist settling. My latte
contains a leaf stamped in milk. I don’t want
to disturb it. My friend says, “bizarre,” and
“gentrification.” The leaf slides down
to the bottom of the cup, intact, as I sip.
The woman talking about wine laughs.
She has perfect teeth.

(first pub. Blood Moon, FutureCycle Press 2014)

Blown Rose

—Jane Blue

She comes in suffering, keening,
huffing and sobbing, won't
lie down docile
but crouches on old
hospital linoleum rocking
barefoot in an ancient
African way, and a visitor
watches, feeling
viscerally her pain. Her cousin
waiting on the bed. All night
she wails until near dawn
lies flat in the bed and sleeps––
then she and her cousin
leave back to the streets
from where they have come.

In the morning a crow, quiet
and oblivious, rides air
outside the window
from somewhere above the eighth floor
an escalator
made of down draft that I would
plummet, gravity-bound. Its goal
not suicide like my father
from his hotel
on the same length of sky, but life, food
it sharp-eyed sees, rodent
in its talons, or dove-egg in its beak.

Dogwood, Early Spring

—Jane Blue


Dawn-struck trees and the windows of office buildings shine out of the morning commute; clouds splay in rays from the dark north. A ragged half-moon shows in the pale sky, blurred by day. In the evening, children ride their little bicycles home from school and the dogs walk. Sparrows flit in the papery native matilaja poppies landscaping the grocery store. The new leaves of autumn roses on a thorny stem fan out like gulls or crows in flight. A baby, like a prince, has come from Japan.


A fire rages in the hills, touching Ansel Adams' Yosemite. Elsewhere in this vast country floods wash lives and possessions away. Here we can barely understand the destruction. Dogwood leaves fly out of the tree like red diving birds and the pink roses are all blown and fallen down but they still smell sweet. Sparrows chirp and a veteran has asked to paint my house number on the curb. It's the least I can do. 


Our thanks to Jane Blue for today's poems and pix. Jane will be reading from, among other things, her new book, Blood Moon, at Sacramento Voices at Sac. Poetry Center this Saturday, 4:30pm. (For more info about her, see What that bio does not say is that, among other Sacramento contributions to poetry, Jane was responsible for resurrecting SPC's Tule Review back in the late '90's. It was there that I met her, helping her with production for a few issues, and that experience was one of those which enabled me to see how Rattlesnake Press might be born, and later the Snake published her Turf Daisies and Dandelions. Thanks, Jane, for all that you've done for Sacramento poetry!


Today's LittleNip:

I'm no angel, but I've spread my wings a bit.

—Mae West



A Baby Like a Prince