—Patricia A. Pashby, Dec. 2015
Deprived of a future, she has no plans
for tomorrow, next week, next year.
She wonders what is around the bend,
down that road and beyond.
Would it be better not to know
how long or when the end will come?
Everyone knows their day will arrive
but not when the final bell will sound.
Philosophers say to look ahead,
add sparkle to our lives. Then the words,
six months puts long range plans aside.
But what of the New Year—
April birthday party plans—
the joy of spring planting season . . .
—Don Feliz, Fairfield, CA
I gave you your first love,
compassion and appreciation
for a life's struggles and achievements.
You stood in the kitchen;
held young, tender artichokes
grown in my garden.
Will you stay to eat them?
We stepped together
into a kiss and a question,
You know what this means?
She committed for life, One of us
will finally have to care for the other.
Her poem that day closed with…
You brought me artichokes
and left with my heart.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
Our church is famous for a stained-glass Window.
Rouault-thick swipes of border black-frame each pane
of glory turquoise, halo orange, bliss azure;
black circles and stingray directional stabs background
a slender-sturdy angular burnt-orange cross.
Today the minister’s Nine-Eleven speech
acknowledges tolerance as a genuine point
his nonbeliever friends bring up in their chats.
A point? More like an obstacle to truth:
only one God, only one way, the Others
to be counted slackers, bad as Islamic fanatics
(of course we’re not fanatics here). The Way,
the Light, all arrows lead straight back to Dogma:
surrender adulthood, let yourself be led
by the One Rescuer. My eyes wander to Window,
but that’s blocked by the retractable video screen
that just now supertitled the choral introit.
The screen displays the computer home page image,
from the laptop secretly tucked behind the altar.
And what’s that display? A replica of the Window…
Redundant window, screening over the Window,
simulacrum cross shielding the Cross
as dogma cuddles and cradles Bethlehem thought,
Gethsemane thought in swaddling clothes of Truth,
though always some infidels will favor day
sweet-colored through pane poured, no interfering screen,
still others of us—but this is apostasy—
prefer the central dogma with no filter,
let alone an added retractable filter,
loving that naked consolation, sunlight.
WHAT SKAIDRA KNOWS
My beagle Skaidra, whenever I’m civilized
by my sharp morning razor, wants the most
to lap my face, as if a champagne-toast
aroma clung thereabouts. And I reflect: devised
by certain Hungarian scientists, proof shows
that with her supposed paltry means of nose
my Skaidra can surmise all I disclose.
Knowing each one thing fully as does the hedgehog,
but wielding the CGI plenitude of dog,
how is it that Skaidra confronts my selfsame fate,
but whereas I flinch, she laps faces, sweet life elate?
STAVING IT OFF
When mind is all, and that slowly begins to go,
—as just this morning my cats almost ate
food meant for my dogs, and only not too late
I switched out their rations—at such times I know
why free verse is no longer my instrument,
no more my vehicle for rational thought
poured in the emotional mold red- or white-hot,
but poetry forged must be rolled, shaped, paid out, spent
just so. If form, rhyme, scansion weren’t native to me,
I’d still be here, fingers hooked to my formalist cliff,
or shoring my mind’s retaining wall by force,
as my demented someone would puzzle crosswordly
desperate, discipline her lone recourse
—was it sandbagging dirt crumbs around the core slippage of If?
When you leap from an airplane’s tumbling stomach,
sustained by the life-giving silk placenta,
you’re a born baby by virtue of its birthmark
thirty-two umbilicals, descender
into this life—into my life—just as
the stuggling fig must bottom wriggling through
its own downslipping stem into its vase
shape, or say bulb, of seeds and juicy glue.
My downward plummet loving you’s more dire,
not easing by dangle toward soft impact angle
and hit of forgiving dirt or softened marsh.
My downfall dances umbilical less by wire,
more weave: this prayerless parturition-wrangle,
noose segmenting my neck, at its capstone of arch.
How can I overly keenly feel
the big extravagant despair
you swing me upon, if I can still sway and reel
hanging and clinging to you? I mean: to air.
BAX, SYMPHONY FOUR
[F]or the only time in the symphonies [Arnold Bax] publicly
admitted that he had been inspired by the sea, and that the
beginning of the first movement meant to him ‘a rough sea
at flood-tide on a sunny day…'
—Lewis Foreman, Bax: A Composer and His Times
Jagged thrashing brasses press out sheets
of opening, coils and fragments. Is this floodtide?
Oceanic, yet somehow abstract, Chapman’s wide-
shouldering whales in Homer, noticed by Keats.
Yet nature is fully here—say, natural speech.
Could it be Mary’s directness, voice and stride,
her gait, her cadence, rendered thousand-eyed
in sweet and salt translucences lashing beach?
Sea chanteys assure us we won’t deviate
surmising seas and tidal undertow,
siren seduction ululant in song
meant to wreck and remake us threefold strong.
Intensely real tides turn eerie in sundown glow;
here’s dulcet fiddle, celesta, to romance fate.
Yet by Movement Three, is it in triumph we bathe?
We’re dashed and reshaped, sea-glass on an ancient lathe.
Writing more and more to the sound of music, writing more and more like music. Sitting in my studio tonight, playing record after record, writing, music a stimulant of the highest order, far more potent than wine.
—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff for his fine poetry today, and to Don Feliz for sending us this poem by Patricia Pashby, who passed away recently, as well as a poem he wrote to her. Thanks for sharing your mizpah with us, Don.
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