MAY HE WHO BEATS THE BUSH IN YOUTH
YET CATCH THE BIRD WHEN OLD
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
I live my life in widening circles
that drift out over the things.
—Rilke (tr. Edward Snow)
How all things circle away from me and return.
First venture of mine with pen is for Shakespeare,
the true Shakespeare, the wayward courtier
whose true life and true stature we’ve yet to learn.
Exposure to his great drama and hidden story
steeps me in poetry; little poems of mine
come complementing the music that was my line.
So does everything in youthfulness touch glory?
Ah, hopes that the sheen rubs off on my poor skin.
Music demands: composer Arnold Bax
inflects my late-in-life poems, masculine Muse.
Now I find Arnold’s brother, poet Clifford Bax,
as publisher gave space to those very views
of Shakespeare* that comprise my early sin.
* * *
Or, as Shakespeare, Earl of Oxford, might put it,
if, beating the bush in spring, I did not catch
the wished-for bird, I find still holding the mesh
with winter’s patient quiet, I may chance to net it…
Yet how many birds to every one I’d capture
flee every direction, so many ways fly raptures.
Is life all consolidating of early springs?
Give me a few more years to reconnect things.
(Bax and a fellow editor published an article by John Thomas Looney (pronounced LONE-y), originator of the Oxford theory of Shakespeare’s authorship, in the first issue of The Golden Hind, a literary magazine, in 1922.)
A LETTER ON OXFORD FROM CLIFFORD
To his friend “Gustave,” poet Clifford Bax
writes of the Shakespeare author-controversy:
he takes it up, with interest in the facts
altogether uncommon in these pursy
and lean times of Stratford trolls and meanness.
Begs to dispute John Thomas Looney’s contention
that Shakespeare’s Tempest, breaking rules of scansion,
outside the Earl of Oxford’s life, his keenness
of poet’s wit, won’t in the canon fit,
an argument Bax refutes. Details unknown,
must Stratford Will lack education? It
might be we’d claim “ghost” Lord Elgin shone
behind Keats’ Parthenon, those Odes Greek-themed,
as soon as tear down Will whose life shows seams…
Yet Bax is always gracious in debate;
would he, not Stephen Greenblatt, were our fate.
Here in an old jacket pocket is a book,
a little book you handled once, of Sappho,
now battered, in your hands or mine, just look.
Yet something of Sappho, fragmentary too
in your brief poem inside that book, still rings
with light percussion as might her sung Greek
have rippled the air; struck finger cymbals cling
to the ear that cannot release but seeks
her note of torture, wrenched from an amorous life.
You could not live with me: I hold this hurt
which rays from long-ago lines, delirium knife
among your flower petals, sharp moon-spurt
that slices the dark and fills it with night-motes.
Moths beat at lanterns: lighthouses to winged lost boats.
Santa Rosa keeps burning; the sun weeps rose.
An ashes-of-roses hue tinges dewpoint dawn.
Blacker come shadows over the walk, the lawn.
If not even my lady phoenix from cinders grows,
what wonder the birds are silent, disappear?
Red are all suns in leaden weather; lead
might run from molten cathedral roofs, such dread
stalks crowds like death once in London, fire to sear
plague’s not quite extinguished multitudes. From heights
not unlike Las Vegas windows at Mandalay Bay,
yet higher than all the skies, higher than spheres
of stars, fatal batteries shoot at us arrays
of weaponry. Reprisal for what we’ve started.
Our toolkit fell open long since. Just count the departed.
—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH
Cleveland Haiku #381
of the dandelion
* * *
Cleveland Haiku #382
a gem hidden
in plain sight
* * *
Cleveland Haiku #383
whispered words about how
to mistreat your employees
looks at The Donald
with tender concern;
what starts as partnership
reddens her face with
becoming slow burn.
Our thanks to Tom Goff, Michael Ceraolo, and Maria Rosales for today’s fine Monday brunch in the Kitchen! Poetry readings in our area begin tonight at 5pm in Placerville with the open mic for poets and musicians at Poetry on Main Street (at The Wine Smith), then continue at 7:30pm at Sac. Poetry Center, featuring the release of The Way Back by Mike Owens (Random Lane Press).
Thursday at noon, Third Thursdays in the Central Library, a read-around hosted by Mary Zeppa and Lawrence Dinkins, meets at the Sac. Public Library main branch on I St. in Sacramento. Then on Thursday night, Poetry in Davis presents Traci Gourdine and Sacramento Poet Laureate Emeritus Viola Weinberg (plus open mic) at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, 8pm.
Also in Davis, this time on Friday at the Unitarian Universalist Church on Patwin Lane, The Other Voice presents Carlena Wike and Davis Poet Laureate Emeritus Allegra Silberstein (plus open mic), 8pm. On that same Friday, Manzanita Press presents Story Roundup, a day of storytelling tips and performances at Manzanita Arts Emporium on Main Street in Angels Camp, beginning at 9am.
Saturday will be a book release/reading for Strangeland by A.J. Thomas at Sac. Poetry Center, hosted by Bill Gainer and Red Alice’s Poetry Emporium, 7pm. 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.
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