Friday, June 29, 2018

Like Peace

—Poems by Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
—Anonymous photos of Strelitzia (Bird of Paradise)

(for Shukriya, in memoriam)

When swung in circles, arcs
dancing swords facet spaces
into gems.
Swords balanced on heads
reflect sharp ideas. Turning
half-circle on cushions of hair,
swords tend to lead, then
fascinatingly follow dancers' leads.

The blade curves slightly
like the first bend of a crescent moon.
Musical rhythms enter the steel
reverberating in ways
the sensitive can hear.
Never weapons, these steel props
reap dazzle and light
no one need fear.

Dancing swords mirror firm grips
on life, the courage of chance-taking,
beatitudes of care and careful.
Swung in circles, arcs,
horizontally and vertically,
swords facet spaces into gems
we hold dear, like peace,
like peace.


Someone knocks at my door.
Expecting no one, yet sensing
no threat, I open wide, welcome in
a long-ago friend I never
thought to see again.
Smiling in unison, we hug, hold.

Inhaling the tea I had brewed
my friend suggests we mend
our rift by sipping tea
from the same cup...
Movements melded, we choose
from kitchen shelf a porcelain cup
pure white like powdered sugar.

When I pour the steaming jasmine
a song trickles into the cup.
Alternating, we sip from the SAME spot,
laughter circling the kitchen as light
reflected from white porcelain.


Leaned against a haystack
a migrant worker inhales
in unison with gentle
pastoral creatures.
She can't read English—how
world regimes play chess games
which transform people
into pawns of war.

The long day over, she nestles
into fragrant hay; rubs sore feet;
sips warm sugar-water
from a Mason jar; plans to
manipulate no one, nothing.
When insects unmercifully tickle
her cheek, she simply offers
the dustier one.


A young carpenter
is building our stairs.
He's diligent,
clever with nails,
considerate with wood.

The steps are smooth,
their tilt not too steep.
He measures, saws, planes,
pounds; wears overalls
and sandals. For energy
as he works, we offer
almonds and apricots
from our trees.

We notice a scar
on each palm: happened
long ago he shrugs.

Sometimes he looks sad,
lowers his head,
then goes back to work

He's almost on the top step.
An apprentice, he requests
no pay; says he was only
passing through our village
by the lake.

Soon he will descend
the sturdy flight
and journey on his way.


Wish I could reclaim
the summer wind
held in my palm
as a kid
arm far out car window

like a silken scarf
a whimsical game
my hand

closing over
wind enough to hope
that one far day
like today,
I'd want to back...


Artist, please paint
each orange bloom
of the tropical plant
(botanically genus strelitzia)
as a bird in flight—

make a large painting
the sky lapis lazuli
flower birds dipping wings
before melding
beautifully into sunset...



I am not afraid to die
but hope for time enough to say
something unique, like:

envision me romping
over a poppy-and-clover meadow
near a restful stop for spring
water tasting of rain;

time to declare that my life
has been a roller-coaster
heck-of-a-ride; time to describe
that where I wait for you

Saint Francis wears songbirds
on his shoulders, bees sip honey
from his lips, fawns pause
when he strolls by
and all greetings begin with

           Ah, Hello.

(first pub. in Marin Poetry Center Anthology, 2011
The Ina Coolbrith Circle Anthology, 2018)

Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker

I will tilt
a rosebud
pour dewdrops
into our tea.


A big thank-you to Claire Baker for her fine poetry today! Poets in our area are reminded of the James Humphrey Tribute Reading at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 6pm. Also tonight, 7pm, Speak Up presents poets and storytellers on the theme of "Taking Stock" at The Avid Reader in Sacramento. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


 Pour dewdrops into our tea...
Celebrate poetry!

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