I watch a white, sky-feather
slowly falling through ache of light—
far from morning.
Somewhere there is rain
where wet streets shine.
Why am I afraid?
Of what am I afraid?
Vague cloud-drifts feather
across the sky and darkly shine.
Tinges of sharp light
glint like first stingings of rain.
this long-ago morning—
I was not afraid;
the air smelled of rain.
gulls came crying through the heavy gray light.
The air did not shine—
and you know how air can always shine
through the grayest of mornings—
that struggle that dark makes under light.
Something that makes me afraid
is brushing like a boa feather
across my face. There is the dark feel of rain
in the gathering air—a slow-motioned rain
with a dull air-shine,
and I am still watching the feather
that began falling this morning.
Is that why I am afraid—
this feather falling so slowly through wet gray light;
this ominous wet light
that feels like rain?
Is it the slowness of the falling that makes me afraid—
this dry feather drifting with a curious shine,
leaving its long slow streak on the morning?
And how can this heavy feel of rain not wet the feather?
In this tedious ache of old light my old tears shine
and become the rain. I am so far from morning.
Why am I afraid? I watch the falling feather.
THE MOTH AND THE TEAR
(After Poem: "Loboscraspis Griseifusa" by Ted Kooser)
There is something about a moth and a tear that I try to recall—
something about sleep—with a strange dream—with a message
that was not clear : to rend or to weep.
I wish I could remember, although the tear was blue, and the
moth was gray. There was nothing real about it, yet I believed
what I both felt and knew for a moment.
The moth was old and was the keeper of the tear. The tear
could not heal the grief that had such need of it. The moth is
the subject of this story—the tear is the sympathizer.
What is more useful for diversion, when everything unbeliev-
able depends on this?
the difference between
page turning upon startle
Go back to be sure:
two words take on a likeness:
I see shadow over meadow,
long distortion of one
upon the other:
I see meadow under shadow—
sustaining the vision:
except for trochaic sound
and word endings.
Why pull back to refine the difference:
word is word, each to itself, allowed.
THE ADVANCING MIRROR
Now is the hour of tight arms holding on to the falling.
Nothing is plumb. There is no direction to consider.
The floor is far away. The ceiling even farther. The
dream is urging you to step inside. But you are reeling
inward. There is no one looking to prove this. Time is
about to non-exist though it owns the dark. The clock
opens its face to meet your cry. The room tilts ac-
cordingly and every instinct resists. You are replicated
where you meet the advancing mirror. Escape here,
says the glass. Your image steps inside—turns—and
helps you through. This is not possible, you think, but
a long hallway leads you to a door—a slowly opening
door—where someone inside is turning toward you
with open arms, urging you to remember.
PARIS STREET SCENE, IN THE RAIN, 1882
(After Fernand Lungren, Paris Street Scene, 1882)
I promise not to use the word huddle when I speak of
these black umbrellas, imposing under rain, each taking
up all the space it can, grouped and bobbing like so many
parachutes in the sea of air . . . the wet streets shining back
at them . . . the huddled people blurring in the rain . . .
funny how I
just now remember
those small blue
that used to gleam
on dime store
exotic with reference:
in the evening—
pubescent dreamings . . .
funny how I never imagined Paris in the rain—if so—
I would have imagined umbrellas of midnight blue,
reflecting blue-lit cobblestones, with melancholy
music floating all around—blurry and sad—and me,
in there somewhere, under a streaming blue umbrella.
POET AND MUSE, AN EXPLANATION
(After Rousseau, Poet and His Muse)
The pose of seven purple flowers at the hem
and trouser legs of Apollinaire, his Muse—
Marie Laurencin in 1909—her gown
a pleated forest green— a garland at
her throat, but it is the purple-headed
flowers that instruct my mind
to pursue the vision as Muse :
huge of body—waving her hand,
to me…? what else did I expect…?
untouchable beauty, I suspect :
Apollinaire holding a pen and scroll
and glowering beside her—
the perfection and the flaw.
The exact position of the flowers
suggests a diversion I cannot resist.
I stare at them, stealing the scene
of her power, overshadowing
even the exotic background trees,
lush-leaved and perfect,
the dense and brooding light.
But Apollinaire’s Muse does not flinch
from my depiction. She keeps her hand
waving and her eye in a relentless gaze
that keeps pulling me back to her.
THE FRUSTRATED POET
“According to early Icelandic law it was a serious offense to address a love poem to a woman, even an unmarried one.”
—from “Shall I compare Thee” by T. Alan Broughton
How will I hide this, and you not know, not fear my ardor,
suspected or not; not know by my glance or certain silences
(filled with pending). How can I not offend you with my
love poem made of guarded words, or made of outpourings.
I must speak—must overwhelm you with my longing. How
else can I disobey the old taboos. Will love kill me? Cause
rumor and shame? Must I write this on silence—hoping
you’ll find it—lower your eyes in my direction and make
some sign? O Lady, dare I risk this poem for you?
WE HOLD ON
Diving into light,
a scatter of outgrown darkness.
We are breaking on the shore
eager to drown.
We are the brilliance of love,
apart and together
in tenderness and rage.
How long will we suffer the bliss
of self at surrender?
How dare we love?
We will never regret—
we will only remember.
Days are long now. We become slow,
winding through the hours
The sea-light is everywhere.
The whiteness of gulls.
Let us steal this light.
Keep it forever.
We hold onto the memory
of this, our first and only
We follow the old path.
You limp—I hurry.
Hare and tortoise.
Time goes backwards.
A mirror returns it.
I watch myself at the
edge of this story—
(first pub. in Brevities, 2010)
Many thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos! Our new Seed of the Week is Edgier Nights, as we slip into Autumn. Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for more SOWs than you can shake a pencil at.
Speaking of Placerville, save Sun., Oct. 9, 1-3pm for the Capturing Wakamatsu poetry workshop to be facilitated by Taylor Graham & Katy Brown. Explore the first Japanese Colony in North America, and then write a poem about it (and maybe send that poem to Medusa...?). Wakamatsu Farm (Green Gate Entrance) is at 941 Cold Springs Rd., Placerville. Suggested donation: $5/members, $10/non-members. Contact Julie@ARConservancy.org to sign up or call 530-621-1224.
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