Friday, October 05, 2018

The Choreography of Shadows

—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA


Friends, there's the dance
and, watch closely,
shadows of the dance
as instantaneous outlines
go charismatic,
shadows inventing
their own choreography—
a two-for-one display,
a presentation's double magic!

Shadows are patient.
When awaiting enough movement
for spirited activation, they
might sip coffee, stretch extremities,
practice yoga, study illusion.
All serious shadows have taken
courses in the art of etching
and silhouette....

Under spotlights on a stage
or bright sun in San Francisco
or Barcelona, a shadow's
talent for spontaneity is a
masterpiece of mimicry and timing!

Folks, there's the dance
and shadows of the dance....

(Grand Prize, Dancing Poetry Festival,
San Francisco, CA, Sept. 2018)


Imagine a truce called over
made-to-order coffee—
mean words surrendering
to flags of coffee fragrance,
dreaming in humidity of steam.

Envision conflicts replaced
by slurping sounds,
the ahs of reason
and relaxation
coupling over a cup of Joe.
She pours. And makes it so.


She sips gingerly
from the cup of
"try again,"
life's lemon wedge
on teacup's rim.

She tells us the wedge
is a yellow sail
on her spunky craft—
sail aspiring with wind
of her will to propel her,
however smoothly or

(Above two poems from Street Spirit, Berkeley, CA)


I wander about in your library,
remember how books held you,
reinforced your esoteric ideas
whereas I had failed.

Your washer and dryer
take my small load, while
your clothes lie scattered
around your house.

Pretending you care what I do,
I turn off the furnace,
switch on porch light,
close the gap in living room drapes,
cancel magazines, disconnect
your phone, set out garbage
for Thursday pickup: some things
not even your death can change.

(first pub. in Blue Unicorn)


We locate Anne Frank's refuge—
now a tall thin museum on a clean
quiet street near painted canal waters.

We gaze upward, toward the room
of closeted words. Red and golden
leaves cover our feet.

Snow approaches in a winter preamble.
Slowly gathering flakes and denser air
muffle sounds . . . Anne, it is safe,
you can come out now.

(Blank Verse)

A far-off stranger saw me climb the mountain,
admired the moving speck I made against
the clear Caribbean sky. And she believed
my chancy footing sure and light as love.
A distant caring eased my shallow breath,
released me from a tightened throat until
I gained a taste for rarer heights—this gem
of history which led me slowly forward.

And, for no other reason I can guess
somehow I had the will, sufficient water;
the humid island did not enervate.
From streets below me someone judged my age
as ageless, and sent the lovely compliment
billowing up the barren rock, much like
a perfumed trade wind whispering my name.


We congregants suspend
cares, meditate
in the hum of silence.

Suddenly a toddler's
jars serenity!

A young mother
hurries him away,
his little prayer stays.


Today’s LittleNip:

(a cinquain)
—Claire J. Baker

Tree moss—
a green compass.
If lost, hey, remember
moss often grows on a tree's
north side.


Thanks to Claire Baker for today’s fine poetry, including her grand-prize-winning “Shadow Dancers” (she also won a third prize with another poem) in this year’s Dancing Poetry Contest ( Also at Dancing Poetry, Allegra Silberstein won a grand prize; Katy Brown won a first; and Laverne and Carol Frith each won third prizes. Plus, Laverne Frith’s latest book,
Estuaries Of The Mind, was awarded the Artists Embassy International Golden Seal Book Award this year at Dancing Poetry. For the complete 2018 winners’ list, go to Congratulations, poets!


 Celebrate poetry—and dance!

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.