Friday, February 05, 2016

Dreamers of Better

—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento


Elongated gray and purple clouds.
These lengths of cloud wind-sculpted sideways.
Despite some ragged edges, hideaway
sleeper cells of spattering rain,
these thrawn shapes can’t be timber, sawn
in replica draperies, wood saints;
more like El Greco’s mannerist plaints,
the racked laments, the outstretched martyrs
at swim alongside their long tears, their long shrouds.



By river in January: the new green.
You and I pace the paths in Ireland:
that’s what we call these two months, and should. Serene
uptufts of grass, since drought took hold, unseen.
Our little dogs nose the freshness:
we too think we might. Green the grass, soft the light.
Countless rain-nourished spears of soaproot,
spiking already alert noses hopeful,
as befits each swordblade hope-shoot,
growing by glows and glows up from mireland,
These omens of sharpened freshness, clean
in the already rinsed without lye
in the no more lean, in the no longer dry,
this lovely length, this Erin ribbon, New Ireland…

  Albuquerque, NM


I’ll keep a little tavern
Below the high hill’s crest,
Wherein all grey-eyed people
May sit them down and rest.
              —Edna St. Vincent Millay 

As the sensually acrobatic wing
relies for balance on the finial
blaze of crest and gracile flare of tail,
so figs and thistles lie just now awakening,
need balancing, shaping, steadying,

as did those first shoots you tended, filial
in a Maine seaside town—that densely-grown garden.
And grey eyes? Lest we forget: grey-eyed Athena.
A tavern, yes, where sensual, ardent
carouser as any, she incognito among Millays might cavort.

For all that it serves no retsina,
perfect American Greek: not far to seek,
but near at hand, Grecian as Eros. Yet unlike many,

you, Vincent, envision it, since you remember. What one resort
for impoverished girls but to climb up,
as you, from that seagazing garth and on

to your own high Parthenon,
your Steepletop Parnassus, not erected as is a metropolis
but formed from that saltbreathing bowl, from that meager swell
    of Camden acropolis
(one woman Mentor to teach you your letters): a shallow bowl,
but replete with grey-eyed, grey-faced dreamers of better…

  El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, NM

(Bax, 1945)

You’d written so much music in your time,
the time hot swords are tempered cold for young hands.
No stoppage of mind, your irregular heart withstands:
but somehow outside the blood-warm core, a rime
has crusted and thickened toughly to a rind.
Less and less permeable from beyond the skin,
nothing the delicate, kind shyness could thin
more malleable from down deep. Was it the guilt?
Why has no storm come to renew November,
your young November, beech-branch-whistling wildwind?
(My river’s of four years’ current. When will it silt,
as every conceivable mud came drenching your embers?)



I wish, my muse, you’d come somehow with us
to see DiCaprio in The Revenant,
me wedged between you and her: so when the onrush
of grizzly mauled Leo’s path-deviant
trapper, raked him to icebreak skin, dark blood,
your hands could’ve bandaged my eyes from that assault.
With you, there’d be no shock I could not have withstood
—to wish this on immortal you can’t be a fault.
Forever young, nonetheless, what hurts inside
chafe strangely against your tenderness and care
for people and creatures? As if you could almost die;
don’t you, muse, need palms across your gaze at times?
No bear should paw one lone man, nor no man hurt one bear
—yet goddess and man-beast can touch.
They may pair like rhymes.

  El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, NM


Fresh-from-the-mating turns aftermath;
the spell subsides in afterglow.
Highest of highs unspeakably low,
lovers still laved in so radiant a bath.

What right have you, just having passed
this sweet ordeal, superbest rite,
to let fall upon you this mood, this night?

Think what you’ve both undergone,
Platonic king mated with poet,
bringing fire by disk by dawn
to an interior pink with glow lit,
shades cast out of the shadow play;
She is pure day.

Why would you mourn? Or even suppose
midnight’s husk scraped down to shadows?
Lovely the strain, lilting the thrust,

she urging the renewal of motion,
tidally meeting, joining ocean
to rivertide, filling arrow with quiver:

One spirit, two bodies in blind trust,
you repeat all pressures of pleasuring entrance,
tantalus-teasing near-withdrawals.
Again and again, spin wheel, spin rowel:
is kinesthesia not pleonasm?

Wings levitate you to that last feather-
float atop the brief-wafting spasm.
Memory promises to pleasure
you both long after this last orgasm.

What brings this sadness? Have you no choice,
is she not driftingly, meltingly sensuous silk
still naked and radiant?
Why, this moment sleepy as milk,
must you echo, inner voice,
these stony thoughts, all gradient
crestfallen into ravine and chasm?

Rise light as you can, my sad diving bell,
but no sudden changes of lover, of pleasure:
too-quick alterations inflicting the bends.

You’re joined soul and soul:
all heliocenter.
Twin rainbows blend
in one refulgence,
glowing mister, lambent mistress…

All this tristesse is—sheer indulgence.

 El Santuario de Chimayo, Chimayo, NM

Today’s LittleNip:

It’s not true that life is one damn thing after another; it’s one damn thing over and over.

—Edna St. Vincent Millay


—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff and Cynthia Linville for today’s fine Friday repast in the Kitchen! For more about El Santuario de Chamayo, see (and hear)

 Fox Theater, Martinez, CA