—Michael H. Brownstein, Chicago, IL
After awhile every cell in your body is used up.
You begin to erode into unnecessary thought.
Even the simple gesture of looking into a mirror fills you with surprise.
It's a birthday party and you're the guest of honor who has yet to arrive.
When you walk through the door,
you do not understand.
A FOREST ALIVE WITH LIGHT
—Michael H. Brownstein
and then I saw a picture-book turkey in a Cinderella forest,
the sun beginning to set its hair for the night,
every other ash tree breathing, their skin scraped away,
white as room paint and copier paper, groundhogs
everywhere big and small, the day's heat alive and well,
foxes in the woods waiting as the groundhogs huddle
over their burrows, their young, and watch.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
T.S. Eliot mentions
the tinfoil sound of autumn leaves
crisped and blown across pavement.
Connoisseur of sawdust alleys
and elegantly graveled walks, he should know.
But when I miss my love, what of
these deads, yellows, browns, reds,
grinding along the paths whose cobbles
they excite to echo? Swordblade songs,
musical saws, grindstone noises,
whetstone sufferings, clangs
of shields let fall from the fingers
of stabbed soldiers, window-tossed
paving-stone clashes evoking
all the busted shards
in all the archaeological digs
Let me magnify your sweet name
if only to diminish or banish these oversharp sounds…
So a poem goes forth with your name there.
Coincidental, she, you, share that name.
No clues here of what color her / your hair.
Evasive, is it? Verse turned brazen shame
slips from the grasp of culpable sweet blame.
I’ll not let on to you / her, here, anywhere,
at whom this paper missile thins its aim,
not trace one feature in it dark or fair.
[Strange: rainforests of syllables to spare,
far-ranging fates dealt singly, claim by claim,
sufficient namestakes to afford unique,
distinct call-signs in Urdu, Hmong, or Greek,
we appellate this girl, this girl, the same.
How else do we beat differences down tame?]
DANCE IN THE SUN
(from Four Orchestral Pieces, Arnold Bax, 1912)
Whether Bax means a real dance or some
vigorous activity in the spring sunshine (one
remembers that Bax was an enthusiastic cyclist)
does not matter.
—Biographer Lewis Foreman
I write, Bax, praising your Dance in the Sun:
off-kilter rhythmic starts accent the play,
the glee, you & the Irish making hay,
your bicycling through Donegal for fun.
This morning’s light and sweet, there’s nothing dun
or dour about this icicle-chill day.
The noon sun, not quite centered, holds an array
of white-robed heats and points, aroused to stun.
A friend posts Facebook pictures: pangolins.
Pangolins with St. George armor scales
at play: if they had laughter, there’d be gales.
Up to their wee small heads in kaolin clay
made mud by rain, these pangolins at play.
Their roughhouse beastly merriment nor thins
nor dulls (pluck, pizzicato mandolins
you make of orchestral fiddles!) Romping done?
I can repeat the video at will,
these mammal-rolls recycling silly thrills
as you made bicycle wheels dance in the sun.
Of knightly pangolins I dub thee one.
(And You, remote past dreams of Ireland,
far beyond Bax, or pranksters bathed in mire and
mud that clothes them most ceramically:
I conjure you, but never comically,
steeped in life deep as a pangolin,
your skin awash in perfect kaolin,
surviving whitefire in your finest clay…)
In honor of Arnold Bax’s birthday, 11/8/17
—Michael H. Brownstein
in the distance the night ghost
drops its long hair over the city
its fog a blurring of sunlight,
a shadow shaking off its skin.
Thank-you to Michael Brownstein and Tom Goff for this morning’s fine poems, as Tom works on his up-coming chapbook about composer Arnold Bax, soon to be published by Tiger’s Eye.
Speak Up Storytelling and Poetry meets at The Avid Reader in Sacramento on Broadway tonight, 7pm, or head over the causeway to Davis to The Other Voice, hosted by James Lee Jobe and featuring Davis Poet Laureate Andy Jones, plus Traci Gourdine and open mic. That’s at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis tonight, 7:30pm. 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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