What of the white pallor of the sky
this day—this day without mercy—this
dimensionless day—this white-fog morning.
I test the skies with my gray look. How thin:
they could not hold me. I shall not fly
nor flex a dreary wing in agitation.
I may just sift against this day until I fit—
somewhere far or near—
it does not matter. I am in a drift.
Some wet bird lets a cry cut through.
I feel it reach and offer back my silence.
Nowhere does sensation end—
I am all of it—the monotonous pale light,
the few shapes wavering. The same bird
cries again. I open myself. I let it through.
(first pub. in Poetry Now)
Come to the hawk land.
Wear necklaces of teeth.
Watch for the slippery shadows.
You will become as one of those
who have always lived here.
When you hear wings,
till you reach the nest.
Lie on the dreams.
The children you own
will thrive here.
They will be wild and hungry.
They will choose their own names.
They will live precariously
on the cliffs of your fear.
Whoever loves you
will never undo your power.
The shadow is your love.
The nest is your land.
The hawk is your mother.
(first pub. in The Bridge, 1998)
BLUE TEA RITUAL
(Whitby, Ontario, Canada)
It was not there, as you describe it, but elsewhere. It was
Canada. A small tea shop. I learned to love Blue Lady tea,
took some home with me, even bought a blue cup.
My windows turned blue with rain that winter. All my
words were blue, the things I meant to say.
Later, it snowed. I walked away into a predictable blue
loneliness. Time was a new measurement, different for
both of us. Time was the key.
(first pub. in Peripherals: Prose Poem Anthology,
Rattlesnake Press, 2009)
HOME AS ONLY THE WISH
This house is dream—
loud with strangeness.
Its rooms shift and re-
connect in different houses.
I am outside of them.
Inside is something I terribly want
but can’t remember what it is.
My tears offend a cruel face
with a mouth that curls in silent
words. The house shifts again—
will not let me in until I
remember what it is I want.
The cruel face at a window stares
until I cringe away and ask
another set of rooms where I belong.
I borrow grief for these old journeys.
Grief is heavy but will sustain me
with experience and advice
for slow cold nights ahead
when there is none to know
that I am going anywhere.
Yes, grief is what I need
to take along
as offering to each new place
where nothing can
assuage this loneliness
for somewhere that is home.
PALE BLUE SQUARE
After Ledger by Robert Ryman, 1982
a limitation of blue
a square of sky
only an abstract wall
to hold the disappearance
THE WHITE WALL
After A Wall by Winslow Homer
White painted over white
thick as shadow
texturing the scars
shadow as thick?
white over painted white
So where we go is all pale again
as if the landscapes were done by
a dim artist with no love for color.
When we go to those places
our bright clothing fades and
and we blend against the softness
All that was harsh of our minds
is mended and forgiven—we would
but words are forbidden.
Are we less happy now?
No. We are serene.
We love looking, though we
close our eyes to save this pleasure.
We will not come home, you know;
we have become the new providers
for all other distance:
We bring it our sweet nature—
our small adventures—
which we tell in the night
as dreams we pass among each other.
(first pub. in Famous Last Words, 1988)
PLAYING WITH PALE AND PAL
everything sounds pale
even the silent voice
from a pale distance
of anything that pale
let’s take the “e” away
and add an L” —
(a lower-case “l” )
pale, now, has a pal
or else add one more “l”,
change the vowel sound
(—a pun for fun—a)
Pall—for Pale, and Pal.
(We could even climb an alp.)
SUMMER’S CURFEW, BALBOA, 1941
“Long walk home”
the dusk tide-line,
the day going under—
a few gulls—the sea calm, taking
Thank you, SnakePAL Joyce Odam, for playing with “pals” from our Seed of the Week and turning it into pale and pall… Such is poetry, that you can always have your way with words. Want to be a SnakePal? Send poems, photos, artwork (anything but your REAL household pals) to firstname.lastname@example.org. A SnakePal is, after all, anyone whose work has appeared in the Kitchen…ever…
For more about Ledger by Robert Ryman, see www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/robert-ryman-1888/. For A Wall by Winslow Homer, go to www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/11147/.
Our new Seed of the Week is Homesick. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to email@example.com. 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.
Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets today at the El Dorado Hills Library in El Dorado Hills, 5-7pm. 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 clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.