is a wife
– Gary Snyder (”Regarding Wave”)
Light rides on a wave
in a dream from space
connecting all things,
especially the architecture
of man floating
in the bigger picture:
endings become beginnings
of new things
like shadows hooked
to a bare oak trees—
or the reflection
of a space station
come alive in a black
ocean of stars,
if far enough away—
if we stay small enough
to listen, if we stay still
and wake slowly
to both sides
like a bell.
“Freebird” by Walter Piehl, Jr.
And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you?
Matthew 6:30 (New Living Translation)
After the last two strange little poems, I thought we were due for some photos. Perhaps it was Linda Hussa’s email that instilled the wonder and worry of an image of the Mercy Planes that fly low over their ranch house near Fort Bidwell, or at my desk this past week accounting to Uncle Sam. Words and math conflict in my head, come from different sides of the brain, for there are no shades of gray with numbers, no room for possibility or supposition.
As a special treat to myself and quite weary with spreadsheets, I took my camera and macro lens along to change my irrigation water yesterday afternoon until the light had all but disappeared. I’ve also included more photographs in ‘March Bloom 2013’ under the ‘Wildflowers’ tab above.
Bird’s Foot Trefoil
A house, a short-way up the road
on the canyon’s curve, looks abandoned
but it is warm and comfortable inside
where I head afoot, noticing sign.
Around the bend, some kind of vehicle
is crunched into a rock pile,
upside down, broken glass—I look
for life but there is no one, dead or alive.
I look inside the house for a dent
in the couch, a butt in the ashtray,
then relax to contemplate
what I don’t understand.
I hear voices out back and see three
young men reclined around a rocked-in
fire for cooking. The yard is immaculate
without debris of weeds and leaves
as they look up to greet me, offering
the best they have, when I wake up.
Flashing red lights scream upcanyon,
set dogs and coyotes howling,
startle cattle and the horses to look
afraid of what we don’t know. Road
too narrow for the eyes of tourists
to leave, too many curves for speeding
motorcycles, too many steep places
to meet a tour bus or a neighbor
hauling cattle, or someone with
too much to drink—we never know.
But back slow and easy, the ambulance
was either not needed, or just too late.
for Linda Hussa
Back when energy was cheap,
we lit smudgepots—ten cents/gallon
to keep from freezing an orange crop.
hour-weeks bent to wooden handles
shoveling, hoeing weeks, or harnessing
a Cornbinder’s horsepower
when damn-near any Mom and Pop
could make a dollar from the earth
farming—a young man horseback
could ride all-day for almost free
and old cowboys worked for nothing.
We had lots of energy in the old days,
lots of hands we can’t afford
to hire anymore, water going deeper
and pump bills higher, we suck
the planet dry for expensive things
we never used to need
when energy was cheap.
With the sun on my face
and wind at my back,
I thought I would last forever
like the Eveready Bunny—
back when energy was cheap.
Antistrophe of desolation to the strophe multitude.
– Robinson Jeffers (“Still the Mind Smiles”)
Either by design or to assuage the monotony of heaven,
the gods decide the course of storms to start the play,
set a season’s stage in motion with the belly-crawl
of bugs and snakes, those players closest to the earth.
Most of the birds wait in the wings—a finch flits
in the roof beams, a lone Killdeer surveys the sand
along a receding creek, movement without dialogue
or song, a slow and solitary dance unfolds
to envelop us, the audience, and we are helpless.
On the other side of the mountain, the river will not
run long enough to feed the ridiculous, the excesses
of the madding throng. Two opposing worlds exist
and the gods sit balanced on the ridges between
extremes. But it is the nature of cows to graze
the flats rather than the steep. Only a few
will forsake the bunch until the grass grows short.
I thumb through the American Poetry Review
looking for a poet to like, scanning newsprint
for shape and size, open space, shorter lines—
for that brave twist of perception that strums
a new chord, but most of my contemporaries
are busy with how they imagine the details
ought to be, or try to shock me with profanity
I used loosely at seven not knowing why.
But there’s always one or two to focus on
and big ads for MFA programs, poets-
in-residence I never heard of, faculty
just like me, learning how to write.
But a poet arrives when listed as visiting—
the name that draws tuition for a stipend
like lecture tours for retired politicians,
but far more inspiring. This is the end
of the rainbow in a great poet’s life,
shuffling words to a roomful facing fame
before it slumps at its desk, or luckier
to wander off into demented landscapes
to suppose it penned its own prize.
And boys, be in nothing so moderate as in the love of man,
a clever servant, insufferable master.
There is the trap that catches noblest spirits, that caught—
they say—God, when he walked on earth.
– Robinson Jeffers (“Shine, Perishing Republic”)
How yet we cycle back to see the love of man bloom,
time and again, trapped on this planet spinning in space
with all its wars and ricochets, its plagues and tragedies—
that wonderful yearning to please like good dogs!
How the angels must envy us and sigh, especially in spring.
They have escaped and hate their detachment, cannot feel
rivers run through flesh, and they will suffer everlasting
life without needs, without winter’s frozen ground.
What clever genius, I suppose, to repopulate our space
to crowd us inward, to speculate in safe repose
and say, write poetry or paint a rose to give away—
time and again, trapped on this planet spinning in space.