July 25/26, 1999
Today it still is summer, last night cool enough
to think about the change of season still to come,
though not yet August, not yet those
unbearable days and nights that swelter
when we yearn
for rain, for rain, for rain,
like some denial that one must endure;
and last night’s moon, so full,
outside my window—
so full it seemed
seemed to move
in the mild night,
moon of midnight—
perfectly arranged for me
to blubber on and on about—
the full moon—window-framed—and I—
attuned to everything, not limp and weary,
but drifted down to one day’s closing hour,
yielding to it, like a comfort ritual, and then
this morning, groping for these words with
which to celebrate in simpler admiration.
THE BROWN HORSES
The horses come to drink in the quiet hour—
all sound hushed to fill the long moment
as the horses bend to the water—
beautiful to watch.
1am here with my midnight pen and paper
imagining them, though I don’t know
how many they are—if they are
only two. I settle on two.
The horses are brown and glossy
in the low summer light.
I make the shadows long
and the woods behind them deep.
I watch the water after they have
finished drinking, how undisturbed.
I watch a white butterfly insert itself
upon the scene, becoming translucent
and pure with its briefness. I hold my breath
as it drifts into a white moment that sparkles
like the light upon the water. But the butterfly
has startled the horses and they snort and quiver
and work their way across the field toward a fence.
I think I see a figure there... but no...
I choose not to. I will l leave them alone now.
I yawn and close my eyes. I am out of paper.
O silver moon on dark water,
make all this beautiful :
in its quiet
where you make a path
and dark churnings build
while the sky
sleeps on the horizon
and everything looks like
a black and white photograph
that one might send home
for the great silence
under the low sea sound
in the peculiar calm of loneliness . . .
the midnight cat slinks
through the yellow moonlight
trailing its enormous shadow
night smudges the dark,
rustles the leaves,
muffles the sounds that follow
the white fence gleams
the lane curves
the stars inspect the gravel
the late night warns
night sounds crunch
the slow moon loses its yellow
the hushed leaves listen
the cat returns
dragging its ragged shadow
Soft chirping on dark morning, barely listened,
only once, oh, sweet loss, barely owned by ear
and heart—and where is the lonely center,
entered and left, intrusive with exquisite
recognition, and why only once?
Was it a dreaming? Is it extinct, gift of nostalgia,
all else that is gone, gone like all else, a treasured
moment? I probe silence, hurt with haunting.
Once more the bird speaks, sweet return—safe
in the late summer tree—a dark green voice—
calling to itself, since there is no other.
Can it know where it reaches,
only to me, beyond its need—
it speaks and speaks through the under-
listening of other sounds, I isolate this one,
find the unknown language of its singing.
I IN MY LITTLE BLACK DRESS
i in my little black dress
down to the sand
went neon-griefed mourning
down to the city
took everybody’s hand
told them where
i was going tomorrow
when the sun came over the sky
told them where i had been today
with my deep-looking eye
then i winked when they
opened their mouth
for a pity
told them midnight was waiting
and i must run forth
to deathlessly marry
(prev. pub. in The Hearkeners [Chapbook], 1973, Charas Press
and Medusa’s Kitchen, 2015)
WHEN I GO VIOLET-MOTIONED
THROUGH THE HOUR
When I go
violet-motioned through the hour
I go alone
without your smile or kindness.
I am a century removed from here.
I feel my flesh sing cool
My tamed wild animals
step through the leaves.
I am not dangerous to them.
I cannot find the center
but there is no hurry.
I think I am in the mind of a
Green is born
and when I weep for it
my eyes are endless with
Somewhere the word I must learn
is drowning under silence.
When I come back to a sound
my poems are as heavy as trees,
but I put all the thoughts I have gathered
like perfect visions.
Under your sleeping
Deep in the water
a bird strange in its happiness
tells me what it has heard
in the dark of my mind.
(Ina Coolbrith Society Grand Prize, l972;
pub. in Wind Magazine, l975)
The poem has waited for you to grow into it,
to read it at a later time to learn its power,
what it says, and what depths it has.
Not just the words but the force
under the words, the life
that lights up darkness,
reveals the dimension—
the poem has waited for
you to listen—a sound—
time as the first time, what
is here that was always there,
this growth, this maturity, this
acceptance of sadness and love—
this readiness to accept your creativity.
Medusa’s latest Seed of the Week has been “Alleys at Midnight”, and our thanks go to Joyce Odam for taking us through the darkness with her poems and artwork! As she says, darkness is one of her specialties.
Our new Seed of the Week is Orange. O stands for October, and October stands for Orange—falling leaves, Halloween, soon-to-be Thanksgiving. 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.
Cold River Press is releasing another Voices anthology this Saturday, 1-5pm, in Locke at the Locke Community Gardens: VOICES: 2021: An Offering of Fruit. Poetry, music, BBQ, potluck, hosted by Sacramento Poetry Alliance (www.sacramentopoetryalliance.com)/. Here is the info; click once to enlarge:
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.