Saturday, March 09, 2024

One Hand Clapping

 —Poetry by Michael H. Brownstein,
Jefferson City, MO
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy of
Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

It’s a rock day full of song erosion and then it rains,
the wind noise crisscrossed, cross-stitched,
glacier waters bleeding off-course, bumps and
stone and flesh, branch and burp. How easily bones
flush from the mountain after a storm, white-washed
like albino skin, the broken facade of stucco, the last
snow melting, and sometimes the singing is a Siren.
Great walls open and collide, stale and crusty. A tree
breaks at its waist and everyone hears it. In a rock day,
and yes, you can hear the sound of one hand clapping.


This is one of those nights you never dream,
the sky not on fire, but burning.
Falling ash and ember. An orange cantaloupe moon.

The volcano dome collapses, a sudden cloud, and
night is hyphenated.
A rain of black ash
And all of the stars drop from sight in bundles.

The people come out of their homes and stand on
their verandas,
A people of the long knife and volcanic dust,
Skin hard with ash, hair ash-poisoned, ash-sweat stew.

Spirits roam the roads and pathways, find life in
the old ones,
The village’s simple center crowded into the hill,
Welcomes the voices of the dead.

Later island rescue comes with breathing masks,
A church opens its doors early to pray for rain,
Goats come from their hiding places to shake them-
selves free.

All day dust clouds landscape and window.
The mountain sacrifices itself to lahars and spirit
Everything, every leaf, every iguana, every ghost
wrapped in ash.


The witch witch wakes hungry,
ice on her breath,
clouds in her hair,
underwear gray and red,
warts sprawled across her arms.
There are always people who are meant to harm
The witch witch is not one of them.
She can dig a shallow grave,
pray over a cat at play with a mouse,
squash a scorpion between thumb and forefinger.
The witch witch sees the dormant volcano
through an opening in her wall,
the sudden rise of steam, the push
of ash like wet sand,
the beautiful collapse of the dome.
She walks onto her veranda,
folds her small hands into a smile,
and watches the mountain catch fire.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Michael H. Brownstein

Winter's horizon
an orange line across snow—
cloud-light gathers wind.
a cloudy opera,
melody of leaf and limb,
a quality of falling snow.


—Medusa, with thanks to Michael Brownstein for today’s fine poetry! And don't forget to spring your clock ahead one hour tonight at midnight.


A reminder that Mosaic of Voices
takes place at the Lodi Public Library
today, 2pm; then tonight, 5-8pm,
Sacramento Poetry Center will hold an
Art Exhibit, Reception and Reading 
by Asantewaa Boykin.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
click on
in the links at the top of this page—
and keep an eye on this link and on
the daily Kitchen for happenings
that might pop up
—or get changed!—
 during the week.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
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LittleSnake as Witch Witch