—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
You’ve brought me where the nearly solstice sun
Junes it over the granite-bearing red
wilds above Folsom Lake whose waters are one
with this night’s necromancy, where rapids, instead
of spill, turn saltimbanque salmon leaps up heights.
Dusk, nuzzling the mane of the river, paints the breast
of mountain-holdfast orange, and though twilight
hums russet notes, the rapture spreads unrest
wherever prevailing orange strikes vibrancy.
The monkeyflowers ring crystal insurgency.
See, love, how clouds connive in your solstice theme.
Their salmon and rose commingle in a vast stream
pebbled with silver and purple cloud-gravel tones.
Look at what rises: round moon, among sister stones.
Take me with you next climb up-pyramid;
you’ve clambered those steps, enthralling thin perils,
up both Sun and Moon, oh justified fear amid
the dizziness, sweet mysticism’s small fee.
My ascent, three decades ago, mere days ago
for you: and bravo the young, of a lither timber.
I fancy—no, rather I know—you rose alone
in fineness of frame. Your topmost fitmost limber
rapture scramble outdoes what I did those days.
At summits of mudbrick sheathed with tezontle surface
crumbling, and mica and mercury in the glaze,
did you find vendors on top? What might you purchase?
Here’s my lost turtle-shaped vessel, a sacred clay flute;
I pass it to sprites on heights. To all beauty, from brute.
for Michael Endres on his Bax piano sonata cycle
A sympathetic tic, insistent, throbs
in my right player-piano hand while you
brushfire clean through these masterworks like Bob’s
your uncle. Nor are you simply burning through.
Oh yes, the end-to-end breathspending sprints
that leave no keystone key untapped: the racing
scales, Bax triplet-against-duplet handprints,
counterpoint brimming to climax, beyond bracing.
But also those agonized languors, delicate
tinges. Masterful pedal sustains, erases
dream subtleties. White-shouldered Tania, tasting of fate,
dissolves upon Mary of Marlow waters, leaf-traces…
Your Bax might be Ravel elegance running parkour,
all obstacles whimsical. Lightning tongues oddly darker.
for pianist Margaret Fingerhut
Bax’s best Enigmatic, his most Elgar
obsequy for the profoundly lost:
for Easter Rising clangors known to bell far
through twilit Ireland ravines? For Robert Frost’s
emerging poet friend, kind Edward Thomas,
or for all those scythed by windrows at the Somme,
those Pals and Pals in pursuit of glorious prowess
ambling as howitzers drowned the Doomsday shawm
—some lads kicked footballs—into barbed wire and fire?
Bax burns into this score conviction that transcends
even these “deep matters,” ivories, gut strings
made agents of inquirings, answerings
to echo down decades not yet lived, in blends
of ecstatically anguished, earthly Miserere
to foreshadow Rachmaninoff’s every Dies Irae.
for Gerald H. Thomas (1945-2016)
Whenever Eric Hoffer comes to mind,
the longshoreman philosopher I read
in my teen years, I think of Jerry. Blind
to just what I’d picked up, better-dead-than-Red
John Birch bumper-sticker wisdoms proud,
I needed Jerry’s book about the fanatic
mind, The True Believer, to uncloud
my cerebellum, rainy from its dogmatic
soak in the brain basin. Hoffer worked:
since what did I know then? That President Dwight
D. was a secret Communist who’d lurked
years recruiting the world’s best sleeper cell
—the United States Army? Someone had to tell
me I was a tad off key, to flash a light
on mental cockroach eggs. Hoffer, the very
remedy—and for that cure, thank you, Jerry.
—Michael Estabrook, Acton, MA
He married his high school sweetheart
40 years ago. Yet whenever
an old classmate wants
to “friend” her on Facebook
and not him
his hackles rise concerning
this guy’s motives and suddenly
he’s 17 again
insecure jealous possessive protective
making sure he walks her
to class carrying her books
so all the other guys
can see that she
belongs to him.
having to take down
the splendid giant maple reigning over
the corner of their front yard
but the carpenter ants
have gotten to it so if he
doesn’t take it down
Mother Nature will along with
the telephone poll and power lines
a fence and half the house next door.
Even He’s had enough finally
and decides to intercede directly
in our affairs
by setting up a system whereby
thunderbolts strike from the Firmament
instantly killing whoever
touches any gun
for any reason whatsoever
in order to once-and-for-all
the relentless insane bloodshed
but it doesn’t.
“Now that you’re retired
I’d counsel you to change the overall mix
of stocks and bonds
in your portfolio from 70/30
to a more conservative 60/40
in order to help ameliorate
the vicissitudes of an ever more unpredictable
stock market” Danielle
my pretty young
financial advisor advises me adding
“You’re in that season
of your life after all.”
It could have all
played out differently he thinks
while waiting for the grandchildren
to get ready for school.
She could have said no,
no I don’t want to go steady with you
turned and sauntered away
or dumped him on his ass
when they went off to college
or when she found someone better
while dating in college or . . .
And then he wouldn’t
be sitting here waiting
for the grandchildren to get ready
for school at least not these
Our thanks to today’s contributors to the Kitchen, including Stacey Morgan for her gorgeous "Solstice" cycle of photos, and prodigal poet Michael Estabrook, who returns to us after a long hiatus. Michael was featured on Medusa on 7/10/07.
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