ALIVE JUST ONE WEEK
—Donal Mahoney, Belleville, IL
Alive just one week,
the Luna moth plastered
to my screen door
under porch light is
pale green and beautiful.
It has no mouth and lives
just a week so it can mate.
The female calls the male
in the middle of the night
silently with pheromones.
Keep your porch light on
from April through August
and open the door slowly
just after dawn when you
step out to get the paper.
She may still be there.
That’s not unusual at dawn.
The male has done his part
and like so many males
his role’s complete
so he moves on.
Luna moths must work fast.
Alive just one week, they
have no mouth and never eat.
—Robert Lee Haycock
We're both of us in this boat
And our dowsing rods are useless
Over dawning mountains
And dying rivers
Sun can not pierce
The dark authority of these vines
The silkworms spun
In the mulberry orchards
And we are all so thirsty
What promised the day
A dead end road
This little lake
Among these trees
Slowly down night's sinking street
In a boat
Out on the lake
Along this opulence of forgotten highways
I was drowning
I was dying on her lips
Wheeling the day away in great smiling circles
Woke up next to Venus
All morning a madrigal of monotonous monosyllables
The wind carried your words away
Before my ears could taste them
Such strange music
That no one danced
I pray before I have time to be afraid
Crowded into my dreams
A sky of bloody stars
DEEPER THAN THE NEWS GOES
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
(in response to reading "Riot Act" by Ai Ogawa)
I was there by the TV
Or even closer
A part of the living, breathing, zany
Greater Los Angeles community
A last minute shopping decision
Put my family safely distant from
The Baldwin Hills Dam Collapse
JFK assassinated in Dallas
Expert opinions conflict
The Watts Riots
But oh, so ripe and ready
I almost died
Not on TV
1979 - 1980
I taught 7th grade at
John Muir Jr. High
South Central, Los Angeles
1980 - 1984
Raiders football came to
Let the journey begin
Not on TV
Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster
All deadlines were met
For 73 seconds
My father died of leukemia
WWII SeaBee’s vet
No more wars
The Los Angeles Riots
Unleashes more of the same
We are blessed with
To solve old problems
At opposite ends of the park bench—
with so much spring air between them—
is he looking for the waiter with a tray
of artisan croissants? or just studiously
not looking at her? Is she looking for
the bridegroom who didn’t show? or
just not looking at that young man
at the other end of the bench? So much
space between tuxedo black and bridal
white—so much gray—and that
cantankerous squirrel asking
what are you going to do now?
And inside the open doors, an enclave
of family and friends, with the extra
unspoken question of this morning.
So much sky between two ends
of a park bench, so many possibilities.
So much life as yet unlived.
CUTTING THE GORGE
A gold-rush river still runs through the park
where weekend tourists stop to pan for flakes
of color that outshine a dredger-dark.
The old-time store is closed like smithy’s forge.
What drove the ‘49er boom still shakes
the very granite of the river gorge
where boulders send their messages for free,
and April’s birdsong still can not sold,
nor lilac bloom its fragrance for a fee.
The hills are silent; the Natoman plays
its grace of snowmelt. Fortune’s rush for gold
erodes in centuries of yesterdays.
A gold-rush river still runs through the park
where boulders send their messages for free.
A load of rock for cornerstone
to the new shopping center—great
boulders from who knows where—as if
the wordless speech of stones
would stir a hunger in people driving by,
to walk fluorescent corridors and see
a thing they longed for, and shop,
and buy. Stone dumped on level sand
and then let lie.
I dreamed the stones singing
in my sleep. It was no shopping-poem.
Nor were the stones rooted
in new ground—not grazing, just a herd
of stony sheep. And yet they sang,
as stone native to our peaks and canyons
might, if hauled to some far
exile place. A song impacted deep
in granite, pulled out. Broken bedrock.
Still they keep the memory
of their mountain and their streams,
singing in my dream.
In the gallery, a photograph of the bear
you dreamed. The edges of dream were gray silk,
the light of morning surrounding black bear,
and the dream wandered as if into the waking
mind of the animal. In this photo,
the eyes of bear are a door to her mind.
Forepaws crossed under her muzzle,
a grandmother praying. Eye uncomplaining,
accepting the world’s indifference.
I read of a bear who wandered into someone’s
backyard. Did they tranquilize it, relocate it
to faraway forest?
The bear in the photo safe in the moment
of your dream. What kind of karmic
web, the dream, this gallery, you and the bear?
Many thanks to today’s poets for their fine words and pictures! (See yesterday's post for "Riot Act" by Ai Ogawa.) Poetry in our area this week begins at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 7:30pm, with Bethanie Humphreys and Heather Judy. On Tuesday, Poetry Off-the-Shelves will take place in El Dorado Hills at the Library, 5-7pm. Thursday is, as always, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm. And Saturday, Sac. Poetry Center’s Gallery will presents a Second Saturday Reception for its monthly showing, this month’s theme being Ekphrasis: Poetry-Themed Art, and Art-themed Poetry, curated by Bethanie Humphreys. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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