Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Where is Your Whiteness Headed?

—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
—Anonymous Photos of Egrets

seen above Palladio, in Folsom

So elegant your glide, the eye forgets.
Where is your whiteness headed?
Your from-above-gaze must detect
only buildings, freeways, road-nets,
save where breeze-rustling grasses
susurrus of their own dryness.
You must have known somehow, and dreaded.
The too-tall
much-too-sere grasses adjacent to a mall.
In that mall might you find a fountain,
waft down to it by mistake,
misconstrue it for pond or lake
in which to fish?
I undervalue your slyness,
how adroitly you select
your watering places.
My blithe yet intent
with William Shakespeare I wish
your heart’s content
may answer your own wish:
that your glide
soon self-orient,
come to terms with faint instinct-traces,
know to turn down-dart, turn stride,
plunge feet
in a watery bed of reeds
to answer your stomach’s needs.


Nora’s and my thanks, Sadaf, for your
gift of a delicate, resplendent orchid,
this flower connoting marshland wild and pure,
of subtle lavender veined with near-arachnid
webs etched in violet, spidery maroon
streaks, tinting those petals’ oblong satin lobes
lit from within to resemble risen moons
taking their glow from multiple solar globes.

Under such infant moons as any of these
as eyelid-slender as a new lunar sliver,
dreams and wishes ripen to a fresh breeze,
and boat sails belly favorable to lovers.
Four buds not open as yet, sheathed in light green.
So rich a display, the propping stem must lean.

BBC Young Artists’ Award performance, 2004

Nicola Benedetti, teenager,
bows with utter control the E string eerie:
single-oared ship, Odyssean voyager,
she glides past Sirens, confident, not wary.
Glides past pebble-fall keyboard splash, through string-
mosquito murmurs. Menace turns lyric-soft.
Lyricism reverts again to sting.
Bees buzz in this petaled Scottish garden croft.
Brief time-suspension breaks off in double stops.
Our voyeur camera caresses her smooth face.
She, raptly focused, soft-skinned, sloe-eyed, strops
those rosined horsehairs with knife’s-edge grace.
Her habanera lightly, darkly kissed:
What just escaped my eyes, more Szymanowski mist?


Ursula K. Le Guin, how you’d deplore
this anti-immigrant upsurge, bigotry
allowed to barricade, barbed-wire our shore
as surely as if we fought for Germany
in hardened, thickened bunkers even now
a Nazi legacy no bombs destroy.
Fortress Europe? Fortress Amerika; how
the hate swells as poured concrete once employed

the starved, the beaten, truly skeleton crew.
By drug-lord strangleholds on farmland forced
to flee for asylum, murmuration-pulse
their epic shape, their “caravan” we view
as aliens, foes. Rumor-fed, revulsed,
we cage them in lice, in filth—no remorse—

the children you would embrace in their sweet flesh 
as wanderers, culture-bearers like your Kesh.
In your poem, a merlin’s shadow freezes mice:
What instinct-fright as with that “dragon’s” flight
    shapes ICE?

In memoriam Marie Ponsot, 1921-2019

Marie Ponsot, you barbequed with jazz,
if ever a poet whose first wine was French,
whose pulse weighed each rule opposite its whereas
before the law within you could entrench,
whose each intent, quite meek-faced question, sly
clandestine hedge against each mansplained answer
served up glib with a sunny side of lie,
found you confirmed all saxophone, night-glider,

poem-purposed improviser. At first glance,
for us your divorce translated copacetic.
What deep-dish blues of yours got missed? What allowed
eight seconds’ worth of film* that chance-caught dance
a N’Orleans newsboy danced, first glimpsed kinetic
Louis Armstrong strut? Your grin, his grin. Shout proud!

* random street footage in which a smiling young newsboy bears a certain resemblance to the teenaged Armstrong, who was then working in that trade at about that location.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Tom Goff

Bottled water, sun
on scalloped contour, vibrates.
Nymph insect, wriggling.

* * *

Your neighbor’s breath: be
conscious of it. I’d as soon
sneak drinks from her cup.

* * *

One dozen snuggle
in an egg carton. Tight fit.
None break. Apricots.

* * *

Brothers Grimm. Seven
versions. Fresh young Rapunzels
hairlift each prince up.

* * *

To Catch a Thief: Grant,
wary of Kelly. Hitchcock
touch, night-vision green.


Our thanks to Tom Goff for this morning’s smooth sailing, both with the egret and on the page! He sent us haiku: don’t forget next Tuesday’s visit to Sacramento’s American Haiku Archives, the largest haiku collection outside of Japan, with guide Dr. Judy Halebsky, formerly of Sacramento and now Director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Dominican University. That’s next Tuesday from 12-1:30pm at 900 N St. in the Calif. History Room, Ste. 200. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating the flight of poetry!

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.