There is music in the air,
I hear it there—
beyond the trees,
through scented breeze.
I’ve listened hard of course
to learn the source—
its plaintive sound.
I turn around,
and it is near and far
where echoes are—
And then it’s gone.
And then it’s dawn.
(first pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)
batting its toy across the floor
in my neighbor’s sleep
-light is hung
like a star
in his dark green tree
in a farther tree
the first crow-
on a yonder street
(first pub. in One Dog Press, 1998)
ABSENCES (OUTSIDE OF THE PAINTING)
“I’ll get them to delay the train for Rouen
half an hour. The light will be better then.”
“You’re mad,” said Renoir.
—Monet (Gare St Lazarre)
train silhouette at dawn,
passenger silhouettes in cold huddle . . .
the turbulence of time—
its railway tracks—its flurry . . .
night-fog dispersing its heaviness,
impatience of the hour . . .
long thread of excitement—anxious for
the ‘all aboard’—the long ride to here . . . .
After “Whiteness” by Stephen Dunn
it is the way of white
with its wound of miracles
its purity and calm
the way it resembles
a cold dawn at winter
with its thin cold layer
that has nowhere new to go
and is slow
a dazzle of pain
or like the white center
in a certain way
past a lighted window
or the curtain drawn back
to let some dark
before the dark
there is always a white illusion
like a pull or a calling toward
something like an answer
white is something
to reflect against
a sidelight for shadow
or a feeling for dusk to lean against
LISTENING TO BLUE
Blue is a dawn word
and a twilight word; at dawn
it sounds like the moment just before
birdsong; at dusk it sounds like a shadow.
Blue is sometimes an alto saxophone
and sometimes a flute sound in the rain.
Blue moves in slow motion to hear itself
move. Blue is heavy with saturation.
Blue is a kind of prayer spoken
by loves who have lost each other.
Blue can dance to its own blue music
to which reunited lovers are slowly dancing.
(prev. pub. in What Is It About Blue Mini-chap,
2002, and Medusa’s Kitchen, 2011)
THE RARE BIRD
I love the bird in its safe cage
whose song is sweeter than dawn-light,
who never seems to have an age.
I cover him with silk at night
and never close his unlocked door.
He lives on nothing humans bring
so has no need to beg for more.
His only purpose is to sing
what only longing minds can hear—
the song of absence and goodbye.
You want to see? Don’t go too near
else life-long you will wonder why
the mind’s most-rare and valued bird
cannot be seen—cannot be heard.
all night the bell
cold and melancholy
tones the stretching hours,
the ghost distances…
through window after window
the old light finds the way,
touches the bed
where you lie
in abject sleeplessness,
passes over you
up the wall
searching for a way through…
the birds of sleep
in their deep trees,
and the watchful movement of leaves,
the nudging breezes,
the shadows of thought,
the little perfections of dreams
perfect the dark…
a dawn rises
brings its white cloth
shakes it free
spreads it over everything,
the sad world,
the pale reunions
where sound and silence meet…
you are not the one,
you must know that,
you have been unchosen,
it’s not what you thought,
not that at all….
WORD BY WORD
I felt the time turn in the distance, and the glow wait to be
dawn, and I heard the drone of the first plane fly over the
day, and I felt a connection. And I stopped in the middle
of a word to say another word, and I felt a whole scenario
change in my head, and I felt a distance gather me, and I
gave up my poem to the distance. And I thought I heard a
rustle of rain, and though I listened as hard as I could, it
was not the rain, but my listening that I heard, and I felt
the moment—like a power that I had—to know its moment.
And I grew greedy, and looked around for more, but I had
to pay for that with a loss. And I want to tell you about that,
too, but I looked up at the clock, and the thin scrap of paper
under my pen was coming to its own end. And I guess what
I want to say is not to be said—not now, and maybe never—
but I’ll take what I can of it and be thankful for all this aware-
ness that lets me grope on, word by word.
EDGE OF DAWN
the silent time
when dawn is crisp and new
and the first sound that starts the day
(prev. published in Oakland Tribune, 1960
and Listenings Mini-chap, 2002)
Our thanks to Joyce Odam for singing to us about dawn and the Seed of the Week, Dawn Chorus!
Our new Seed of the Week is in honor of National Poetry Month, and it’s a broad one: Poetry. Of course you don’t need to take the subject literally; there’s poetry without words all around us, yes? Send your poems, photos & 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.
Tonight from 6-7pm, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in El Dorado Hills at the Library on Silva Valley Parkway. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this 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