Praise autumn rain that mimics green young spring,
for California fall shoots up its green blades;
and even the sleeping bushes laboring
last blooms from branches drenched in Everglades.
All clarity, reeds rippling skimmed by air,
so, though the cold surpasses April chill,
October aisles lie leaf-strewn, rosily fair:
the flower girl flings, quick as her basket fills,
gold, red for the bride. We seem to know this time
scarcely or not at all—we style it dead,
ungrateful for fruit as ever folks mock rhyme;
insult the alive-dead goddess because ill-bred.
Seeing leaves take hangman’s drop, we call her vampire.
Yet feel her, subcutaneous—flame, under our dying desires…
Yet what if the autumn goddess now is lost?
I know not how to measure vacancy,
but go on evidence I have…so, crossed
by age and ills, a crow with difficulty
raised wings and lifted in the breezeless air
barely to the curved top bar of a streetlight.
This was a warm autumn morning, and the rare
freshness of that broad day still witnessed the wild
fight for grapple of talons with the iron
to perch above the angry traffic. How
will this bird, lofting open-mouthed in the mild
October, stay caloric clear to the environs
of stark December? Pity this old crow.
Yet can my own pensive human mind sustain
the lack of a goddess, warm lady of leaves and grain?
LEARNING THE NASTY
Such a nasty woman.
—Donald Trump, of Hillary Clinton
For always getting what she wants in the long run, commend me
to a nasty woman.
—Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
Perhaps a certain orange-skinned candidate
has not been given his due.
True, much 411 won’t stick in his corn-silk pate,
but, judgment, admit what’s true.
He must have read bigly at some time in his past:
impressed on him, a book or three.
One book he surely glanced at, destined to last,
seems partly lodged mid-skull, though skimmed at speed.
Yes, our The Donald ignores the Golden Rule.
But look! More ways than one, the fool
has gone—it’s a fact—to the Wharton School…
CLICHÉS FROM A COLLEGE
Look for dilated eyes, a glint or haze
revealing our pupils techno-victimized.
The young ones come more unprepared these days.
Our bodies of wisdom pulped to strews and strays,
we gaze unseen into young drug-glazed eyes.
To reach them, if at all, takes multiple ways,
modes we commend as if the very praise
could timber bridges across vast vacancies.
The young ones come more unprepared these days,
these days, these days, the eternal dirge to raise.
Old cohorts, we diss our young: indulgent sighs.
To reach them, if at all, takes multiple ways:
show me, cries one; no, let me hear you say,
another; no, my hands guide me to the surprise.
The young ones come more unprepared. These days,
we fixate on diversions and displays,
flipped classrooms, games to reward, offend no prides.
To reach them, if at all, takes multiple ways.
The young ones just come unprepared these days.
You read with us in a soft-lit room
of the Sac State library: the Multi-Cultural Room?
We of Poets Corner Press, David Humphreys
still alive, 2003, us uttering our words aloud
to students, not many, but upright listening,
through Josh McKinney’s good offices. Lovely
your words on the page, trailing the soft lights
of poetic science, auroras in a far northern mind, speeding
deep into a more conjoined realm of the humanities;
lovelier still to hear you speaking invoke
the slight faint Om that is also the ohm
of energies barely registering
where the breathed atmosphere leaves off,
yet which filter through
your audible glow of vocables amid
the downdrift of particles from that sheer far hem
of the Van Allen Belt, transmitting asteroid
sugars and lactic haze from our milky stars,
receiving like Alfred Wegener stray intellectual hints
you’d compose into fresh comprehensions,
yet leaving much for subsequent explorers to confirm,
helping us compose our warlike instincts
kinder to silence, readying us
even against our wills to profounder peace…
In the night of death, hope sees a star, and listening love can hear the rustle of a wing.
—Medusa, with thanks to Tom Goff and Taylor Graham for today’s fine contributions, and we're all sending thoughts toward Nancy Wahl’s friends and family. (Sacramento Poet Nancy Wahl passed away on October 23 of this year.)
Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back