An orange moon lists in the left corner
of the sky. Off to the right an ecstatic
blue ghost is dancing to the moon.
Waves of sound become visible,
like a dark rainbow. Dreams are not
of the mind, nor yet of the soul—
the dream in-between, becoming.
The blue ghost is made of air
and light from the moon.
Such is the power of moonlight.
STARING AT SUMMER
out in the dusty day where old dog sleeps
insects die against sunlight
I lie under lethargy like a rag
the mailbox holds up a metal red flag and
inside in the hot darkness
the letter regrets itself
nothing of summer is ready for
such distortion that drone in the air
takes so long to pass makes a
long dagger of blindness of its metal wing
turns to dark speck in wavery distance
but it takes all day
(first pub. in Poet News, 1990)
After Sunset at Etretat, 1987 by George Inness
Could it be fire
instead of sunset . . . ?
it’s hard to tell from
that fill with smoke and
and sniff the air.
HOT SUMMER VS. YOUNG MAPLE
What do I see of the red-leafed tree
but curling leaves as it grieves and grieves
in the summer sun—turning every leaf
to a tiny fist that cannot resist—
so they hang there dead,
red and red and red,
while the base of the tree
with a tiny clutch
of soft red leaves
I can barely see.
ONE SUMMER MORE
and the plum tree
weights its heavy branches down.
the plums too tight together,
and too high. Each year
another branch breaks
and the plums fall to the ground
Much is remembered and expected
of the taste of plums:
one sweet bite,
before the sour taste within.
These are not plums for the finicky;
these plums are meant for jam,
and have no further use
except for the birds.
A SEPIA DAY
It was a sepia day. We strolled downtown, toward a late
café that waited for us where we would claim the small
round window-table and be seen by our own reflections.
Moody again, not quite in love, we would waste another
hour touching hands by accident and offering a wounded
smile. Nothing else was real. We saw to that. The wait-
ress would come and go as frequent shadow.
The soft light did not change until we noticed dark around
the edges, and the distraction of the bell on the door as
someone came or left, and the way the day grew sudden
once again; and it was late; and we were outside, walking
down a boulevard of closing stores. And still we did not
speak, and were amused to see ourselves break up in all
slips through the hot city
stops at a railroad crossing
for their turn
first a few
the steel bones of the
skeletal train that doesn’t
hold anything and is in no hurry
RED AS ENACTMENT
Jodi Cobb ~ Geishas ~ 1995
from Tale of Geinji by Murasaki Shikibu
“When the colors of a robe do not
match the seasons, the flowers of
Spring and the autumn tints, then
the whole effort is futile as the dew.”
Red is the most disturbing color of the day,
the day intense with summer. Red sways
and sways in unison with the heat-shimmer
of a long glass window, where seven dancers,
in geisha-red, stare down a long enticing
hallway toward a glass audition door.
Or, they are seven sisters—born
at the same moment—out of your
imagination. You cannot change this.
Free this thought : red changes shape,
runs thick, like blood, runs thin
like water, is powerful in any light.
Other motion echoes this—blurs
and runs together in fascinations of red :
red in shadow, red in puddle,
red turned into a bleeding sunset.
Red in windows that reproduce
in windows, shifting and breaking
everything that hurries together,
lights, and sounds, old thermometers,
eyes that smoulder. Red is in rhythm with
the mind’s distortion. It is a pulse; an embolic
flow; a flash against silence; an affirmation;
a dark glow when you close your eyes.
It is the throbbing aftermath of memory.
THE RECONSTRUCTED MEMORY
After “Memory”, 1937 by Agnes Pelton
Let’s take this apart, discover it,
wonder is for wonder :
A pure white vase over-
spills with rose petals, floating off.
The vase gleams from within
with contained light.
A new-born sea erupts from its base,
teeming with new realities.
The white vase becomes white heat
no longer able to contain form.
Was it always meant to spew roses?
Create stars? Why is it familiar?
Memory: white flare, white burst
of energy taking shape,
fragile with illusion . . .
Memory: Needing to find you
in the swarm of thought, even now
able to define me.
Memory: Contrived image now,
talking on its own memory. . .
memories . . . on and on . . . beyond mine. . .
She is singing the high blues
in a low blue voice with a cat curled up on her lap.
The summer fan blows hot breezes through
the window. The room drips warm tones of light.
She is pleasantly real to herself—
in good voice—loving the blue words in her song.
The cat purrs under her hand
and flicks its tail. She leans her head back to let
the oscillating fan stream the air through her hair.
She closes her eyes and lets
the weight of herself resist the weight of the room.
She has a mood to feel and it is heavy and dense.
And the purring cat does not care for music—
or it does—and she, for one, is a damn good singer.
SUMMER’S CURFEW, BALBOA, 1941
“Long walk home”
the dusk tide-line,
the day going under—
a few gulls—the sea calm, taking
* * *
Tag-end of summer, with its wilt and drag.
Then rain. Soft. Brief. With its relief to see
the sky fill with clouds, a few inland gulls—
sense the renewal of energy—sweet.
Then back to summer, with its wilt and drag.
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for today’s fine poems and photos as she leads us through these deadly days of heat—as she says, summer’s “wilt and drag”—and that was last week’s Seed of the Week: Sudden Heat. Our new Seed of the Week is Freedom. Pull up those metaphors: not just political, but personal freedom, both physical and mental. First driver's license? Graduation? Divorce? Send your poems, photos and artwork about this (or any other) subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 plenty of others to choose from.
And be sure to check out last Sunday’s Medusa for Tom Goff’s fine poem about Joyce.
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