The air inhales
the tender pulsing
of the birds.
They leave the sky
and carve the dirt,
digging into the place
where the sprinkler leaks.
The steaming, invisible air
has taken the lips from dew's child
and is breathing upon an apple leaf.
I can hear the brittle voice
of the curled tree
from the cleft of its shadow
where the cat's listless tongue hangs loose.
Time has ticked the water off,
to keep it safe
until the sun squeezes its last harvest
and falls off the edge.
I cannot write of falling backwards,
only of the roots of trees
pushing the sidewalk up with their strong ties.
I hide from crumpled newspaper
that takes hold of the wind
and blows it with words, words that cry
into the streets of everywhere.
The circumference of my neighborhood has changed.
Each face is new now,
changed with a bag of avocados at the doorstep,
and the words, I’m sorry.
With a harvest of apples it spreads
sweet pie and bakes the crust just right this time
and everyone gets a bite.
I cannot write of empty spaces
that were once filled with communities,
and the thought of the water cooler and paper cups
where laughter spread at ten and two.
I look for something to grasp with words,
but it is all so big, so huge, so monstrously cold,
that I have to look down
to my foot where the dog sleeps
with one eye open, waiting for me to explain why
the ball lays quiet on the teal carpet.
SHAKE YOUR HEAD
He will ride on cape that twists the road
away from the sulk of afternoon
into the steady healing flow of river’s turn
a fish a day to earn and slippery
to pull from mouth the hook of bravery
hunger will release the fill
then drown in water anyway up hill
I am falling up to land within his net
the sky is scattered dun of blue
my whim is to fly of course but wings forget
wings where have you gone to reed and river’s force
the tide of air has made a road in sky to ride
the cattails grim turn aside their load and I
look for the smudge of some creek begone now
loaded with the heavy weight of it I sink not fly
Shake your pretty head release the dead
walk the rocky hill across the nape of twilight
she tells me from the other side
coming now to fish the outcrop of rock for gold
a child will see a reflection crosses the deep
and sways this rhythm of water’s keep
to love like jumping rocks is not forgotten
the bounty of a sweet clasped foot
naked cannot slip within the torrent past
for the trickle of a summer shower still remains
singing the quiet hours of day away
I AM MELTING
The sky is a slate
and I am drowning in air,
the cement cries
a soprano whale song
from my water of the wilt
into dry dirt tears.
The nectarines are hiding
under green umbrellas,
the gold fish are down
in the dark belly of the pond,
the sunflower is bent and broken,
the birds are panting,
poetry even melts
like last night's candle
it folds and splays
and slithers across the table
as the sun burns white
and the clouds billow around the mountain
waiting for upheaval.
I am melting,
the words slide in my mind
I am to slippery to hold their flame,
it burns holes in my quiet space
as I dangle over the still lake
and so I am undefined hot wax
I hold no form
and the sun taunts my need to write
with a lethargy of spirit
that refuses to sing.
Let me be the finger of a child
on fogged-up window
or the sky as it turns
from blue to indigo.
Let me be the scent of rain
on freshly planted soil,
the smile of pride that emerges on a face
after all that toil.
I’d like to be vibration from thunder
in the clouds,
or the sound of violins
falling on a listening crowd.
I could be giggles of children
in pool’s hot summer stay,
the cry of seagulls from the pier
on a fisherman’s lucky day.
If I was the boat’s anchor
pushed by ocean's sway,
I could see the splash that glistens
in the water as dolphins play.
I think I’ll be the bursting bubbles
from the champagne tray
shared by newlyweds and friends
on a wedding day.
I love the fragrant perfume
that lingers on your hair,
so during a shampoo let me be
the fingers there.
Let me be whispered words of love
on a park bench,
the pride of a farmer viewing
his harvest from the fence.
Let me be the constant snap
in the bubble gum
of a boy who just made
his very first home run.
Let me be the skin
under fingertips' caress,
the crinkling sound of taffeta
on a daughter’s dress.
Let me be the fluttering heartbeat
after a first kiss,
the liquid in the straw
that everyone calls chocolate bliss.
Let me be the pause between
will you marry me and yes,
the glowing love in eyes
behind the veil in wedding dress.
Let me be a message in a bottle
or the first word of a baby
that makes a daddy smile.
Let me be words, "Love me tender"
from an Elvis Presley song
or lead me in a dance around the room,
I’ll be the gown.
Let me stop this, let me now
before I do succumb
to becoming almost everything
I never could become.
In the place past midnight
I listen for the pale opening of a dream
I ask the moon for the sound
like a footfall
in the growing spring around
while past the thick street
the sky begins a harvest of clouds
—Medusa, with thanks to Martie Odell-Ingebretsen, who is one of the poets pictured in Medusa's current Facebook album, Poeming Pigeons at SPC by Michelle Kunert. Check it out! And note also that tonight will be the final reading in the Red Alice's Poetry Emporium series at Shine on 14th & E Sts. in Sacramento (7:30pm), with an all-star line-up of poets. Take advantage of this last opportunity to see and hear (and participate in the open mic) at Bill Gainer's fine Emporium of delights!