That was an apple-throwing day. Impulsive episode.
We left our usual selves in the role and leapt into one
another. Daylight uncivilized us—orchard defilers—
our laughter broke about the trees and rung the old,
hard branches lyrical. The air hung thin and clear
within those scented trees. The rock-hard apples
smacked against our target selves, bruising us, and
them, as we cavorted—children caught in a game
made real by living it. It was an apple-world that
giddied our senses, until, un-warred by happy weari-
ness, we did our looting then of sagging limbs and
brought those apples home.
Sorrowful in boxed containment, quickly browned
and soft, garage-interred, forgotten, and only the
ravenous worms partook of them.
this new line
these typewritten pages
these published books
until the table is
covered with coffee cups and
soft gray ashes—
no place for food,
just after night’s blue rain.
Winds of no color
break through the night,
sending the dark green trees
and leaves into a flurry.
small chirping sounds
of softest yellow
burst here and there.
A squirrel scampers
along a frail board fence
outside the listening window.
I hear all this through
a slow, reluctant waking,
gray threads of
dream-fragments tearing away.
the soft gray blue
of morning : 6:00 a.m.
Just like the clock dial said.
(prev. pub. in Song of the San Joaquin, Fall 2017)
THE FIRST TIME I SEE YOUR GARDEN
In your small back yard and tiny garden
I find peace for a heavy day.
Such perfect designing—
your talent everywhere.
Let me grow into your landscape—
it is your shell-pocked stones I love.
How can I leave it now,
I am a statue here,
spellbound by mood and twilight.
I have shrunk to fit.
I have altered my tonal qualities
Go back into your house and continue
I am listening, and feeling, everything
that is gathered here for my tired discovery
that is cool and green, and small enough
for prayer. It has touched me with reverence
and I want to stay.
IN YOUR GARDEN
In your garden, I am lost soil.
I am unplanted flower.
I am pressed stone.
. . .
I am in the side shadow of light
waiting for you to turn and say, “Oh”.
But you are bending and looking
into the discovery that is everywhere.
. . .
The grapes that you hold are beautiful.
The tiny tomatoes are sweet.
The lemons are full of sunlight.
. . .
I move through the spaces after you
but they close around me even as I speak.
. . .
You move toward the dogs,
laughing and calling their names.
Each of them in turn runs up to you
for the rough touch of your affection.
(prev. pub. in Chaminade Literary Review, 1990
and CFCP, Inc., 1988)
After Beware of Red by Paul Klee)
It might be blood.
It might be madness in the eye.
It might be the buttons on the door.
The windows hide among themselves.
The walls disguise.
The red intensifies.
It might be shades of love.
It might be sorrow in the stone.
It might be claw marks on the floor.
The walls misplace themselves.
The black lines slide.
The red intensifies.
We are half hungry
all the time,
not for the food, but for
the unknown taste.
The peach is in
the orchard of the mind.
We cannot find that
dark, unreachable tree;
but if we could,
that gathered ripeness
for our taste
taste the way
we thought it should.
(prev. pub. in The Third Leaf Has Fallen,
Mini Chapbook, 1968)
THE HARVEST WE ARE TIRED OF
Mygod, you talk of Christmas
and the sun upon the land
shrivels the harvest we are tired of.
Buckets of pithy squash and soft tomatoes
stand useless for our energy.
The beans swell in themselves
and dry upon the pole.
This day we must consider what we lose
for we are sick with lethargy
and turn instead to talk of winter.
But rain-threat from the mountains
will not come
though thunder almost sounds
where we are looking.
The air is dusty.
Birds are shrill and restless as
the rumors that we feel.
We should be gleaning,
saving more of our investment
than we do.
(prev. pub. in One Dog, 1996)
PICKING UP AFTER SILENCE
it was then that we
grew long and terrible arms
for the tight holding, the long let-go
now we know we were wrong
we couldn’t be
when you smiled that way I knew
you would look out the window
for a word I would remember
it was then that we went on little picnics
of lies to fill up the summer
lying under the trees after sandwiches
and beer, reciting ourselves to each other
it was then it was then
that you disassembled
under the light
in all those directions with a golden scream
I waited till all was silent again
then gathered up all the maps and arrows
and walked over all those endings
little sounds of sunlight drifting all around me . . .
After “Poem” by Teresa Torres (Argentina)*
Here is a table full of words. Flesh and wine.
Gorge yourself. Never be hungry. Even the
crumbs are precious. Ask for more.
Fill your mouth and eyes.
Push your chair back. Fall asleep.
It’s all useless language. Do not speak.
(prev. pub. in Brevities)
Merry Tuesday, and many thanks to Joyce Odam for astonishing poetry and astounding artwork as she circles skillfully around our previous Seed of the Week, “Big red, juicy tomatoes”. She has broadened her poetry choices from food to gardens and, as always, the taste of love.
Our new Seed of the Week is “Those Good Old Days”. 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.
*Here is the poem that Joyce’s LittleNip, “Nourishment”, is modeled after:
—Teresa Torres (Argentina)
What is hidden in the fruit of summer?
Everything is dying in the flames
of early morning.
A moment of shadows
has settled in the serving dish on the table.
and even the bread is bitter.
Translated from the Spanish by James Tipton
from The Other Voice (20th Century
Women’s Poetry in Translation, p. 111)
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