—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento, CA
I went about picking a few
grass blades green and supple,
and laid them on my porch to dry
as the sun had chased the rain away.
Soon, I observed… ah…
there, a little sword
there, a compass needle
and there, a tiny bookmark.
And there, a pointer for which
to point out hapless ants
struggling across the porch.
Life had not granted me
what I had longed for.
—Carol Louise Moon
Blue-capped school girls in mud
whose upturned boots disclose
bleach white petticoats, squeal
as earthworms cluster in nests
among twig-strangled shells.
Wood-winged hawks soar skyward.
Shimmering sunbeams skillfully
paint whitewash on brown tweed
school boy vests and trousers,
as valiant hands reach to raise
mud-flung maidens from dark
earth of bright spring morning.
Somewhere in Pisgah National Forest
is a very misty
Looking Glass Falls
among steep rocks
and green, green
ferns. It is cut through
with wooden railing
to hold onto
to keep themselves
and dashing their heads
on a stone
or falling headlong
into the falls
and drowning outright.
The falls were
created by nature
thousands of years ago,
but the railing
was man-made just a few
to keep people from
slipping and dashing their heads
on a stone
or falling headlong into the falls
and drowning outright.
So, if you’re traveling with your family in the family car
between Georgia and North Carolina
you may want to see this beautiful waterfall
called Looking Glass Falls.
Just be sure to hold onto the railing to keep yourselves
from slipping and dashing your heads against a stone.
You and your family should be able to
enjoy yourselves outright.
—Carol Louise Moon
—Carol Louise Moon
It was a county fair-type theatre ticket
etched on the judge’s mind by way of a
heavily inked wood carving,
and a wax cylinder of watermelon flavor
pre-molded phallicticly which swirled and
slid out, smearing the inside satchel;
and the gray belly-button lint found flattened
against the grosgrain navy blue silk wall
next to the encasement zipper;
and the twin safety pins intertwined
contortionistically, among other things
I finders-keepered while cleaning out
When I say I love California Romantics,
George Sterling, Ashton Smith come first to mind.
When I say I love them, not when they find
but seek is when my mind with theirs most clicks.
They apostrophize the Sierras under snow,
they pen their passionate odes to dancing feet
they readily seduce; but also greet
verse lords beneath whose tutelage they grow.
But this is not what I prize in all their verse.
It’s when they become their sinister asteroids,
transmute themselves to comet flame and speed,
pierce innermost to outermost black voids,
impelled light-years by necromantic curse:
fierce hunters of stars they are, and I must heed.
Trace their far-flung incendiary wake:
such fires won’t die, plunged deepest in cosmic lake,
however that lake’s deep black offsets the white fire.
Flame trysts with shadow: vacuum-silent desire.
We prize Clark Ashton Smith, George Sterling since
they have about them that poetry which imprints:
not Baudelairisms, Poe-isms, the faux-infernal,
but how their humanity touches the cosmic supernal…
The convention delegates were organizing for order, not Utopia.
—Carl Van Doren
Those long-agos who shaped the Constitution,
intent on repairing the infant fabric: ardent,
harnessing sharp divisions into Union.
Slaveholders some, most reasoning beings if mordant,
those fallibles we honor, by and large,
who placed hope in what citizens would emerge
to build up, less by their goods than by Good Faith,
this ghost the Ideal State, wraiths crafting a Wraith.
THOMAS CHATTERTON’S DEATH
(painting by Henry Wallis)
He sprawls, a Werther Young without the gun.
One side of the window’s open for his soul.
No notion of what’s wrong; so springtime air,
a trifle warm, has led him to this loll
across a nicely laid bed. One shoe on,
one off; nursery rhyme he’s diddle-dumpling-down.
Disquiet rests in the drooping arm. The bolster
relinquishes the head to the bed’s edge.
No candle in the bedside sconce. The lodge
he’s lodged in, not the worst garret: life’s not gone
from that potted plant green on the window ledge.
Thus much aside, the heart’s in the color scheme.
The youth’s drained poet face, blackened by shadow
wherever not white, draws notice to the red
short crop of hair. Red is for blood; the dread
continues its fugal motive, constant theme
in those bright purple trousers, purple is red
spells blood and shadow black means blood congealed.
Think backwards empty boot, think vacant holster.
Where is it written all must be revealed?
The boy poet’s shade flits…in what umber meadow?
WHAT ONCE WAS SAID
Words spoken, mine to you, can’t be unsaid.
Thank all the goddesses, no ugly words.
Your thoughts can’t vanish the instant I am dead.
They live on tagged, scrawled, elegant to be read,
on astral scrolls, on anklets tied to birds.
Words uttered, you to me, can’t be unsaid.
Nothing you’ve written or spoken can be fled;
I have proof, for all who think it absurd,
your thoughts can’t vanish the instant I am dead,
bled of the inner blue that turns to red,
drained of your touch, your DNA transferred;
words, you to me and back, can’t be unsaid.
Oh think me not ungainly or ill-bred
to tell, remind you, what you spoke, I heard.
Your thoughts can’t vanish. The instant I am dead,
those precious symbols, ink at first but bled
transparent, may stay clear, may turn obscure.
Can all we’ve told each other come unsaid?
Will thoughts, heart, disappear, one instant and dead?
BAX: SYMPHONY TWO, REVISITED
In Bryden Thomson’s unfolding, the passion swells
phrase-lengths their longest, musical shapes contort.
This legend in architectural sound outwells,
brimming with fury, quivering, bruised, hurt.
Yes, the Expressionistic tendency,
the raw inflamed sense of the world’s denial
of dreams and visions brings on stridency;
clearly the man intends we share his trial.
Yet I prefer Tod Handley’s measured take
on Symphony Two: the same as to Bax in anguish.
But that Fate-motive, as constant, yet more clear:
constricting hopes, yet organizing what’s near.
The man, Tod says, jots opening notes and makes
his symphony from them; lets not one thing languish.
He adds: the man has called it, Symphony.
By which he signals a synchronicity
with all who’ve ever written in that great form.
Nor is this a simple conforming to a norm.
But what Tod Handley urges here is bustle:
ferocious no less, the organ-suffused peak moment,
rhapsodically bursting, subsiding to a last rustle
of that dark Question beneath, presiding in ferment.
Musical voicing, symphonic structure, complete
in Handley’s interpretation. Yet in Thomson,
the deep-dyed living desire that issues crimson.
We wish our knowledge of Symphony Two replete
with stirrings of underdemon, undercurrent;
for who is our lightning Bax without thundercurrent?
Temple bells die out.
The fragrant blossoms remain.
A perfect evening!
Many thanks to today's fine contributors for today's poems and pix! Tom's "Thomas Chatterton's Death" is an ekphrastic poem (see www.preraphaelites.org/the-collection/1918p43/chatterton-the-death-of-chatterton/), and Sac. Poetry Center’s Art Gallery is celebrating National Poetry Month by presenting a showing called, Ekphrasis: Poetry-Themed Art, and Art-Themed Poetry. They’re asking for submissions to be dropped off on April 1—yes, that’s tomorrow. For questions and guidelines, email Bethanie Humphreys at email@example.com/.
Speaking of Ekphrastic poetry, the latest edition of the Sacramento-based journal, Ekphrasis, edited by Laverne and Carol Frith for the past 20 years, is now available at ekphrasisjournal.com/.
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