In the event, there was little for them to say

Childs_flowers_and_sun

In the event, there was little for them to say,
The flowers, so they stood still, swaying,
Not even murmuring amongst themselves.
Meanwhile my mother’s funeral rose up in me
Like a volcano.

They clung to the soil and the rock
For dear life, the flowers, while far below
Suspended like a miracle in infinite space
The sun, too, clung on for dear life—
So small, hot, and bright!

Each flower, surely, had its petaled meaning:
Bridal and Christmas Rose, Red and White Clover,
Meadow Saffron, varieties of Geranium and Thrift.
But on that day, as I recall, they said
Nothing to the point.

A poem could have stopped then and there
Like a cut flower, like a vase
For cut flowers, like a cut glass vase
Glittering—the human element—
In the hot, bright light.

But from the garden where we stood, I participated
In a greater miracle: the earth, all flowers
And volcanoes, was whipping the sun
Around and around in circles, around, around,
Like a child’s toy.

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The stampede of History

Radioactivity_of_a_Thorite_mineral_seen_in_a_cloud_chamber

The stampede of History
occurred on this site in 1872
on this prairie—flat, enduring,
tasting of noon sunshine
and its black, black shade—
where the dusk-blue flowers of History
previously blossomed.

We have been living backwards
toward that day ever since–
forgetting that first giant step,
the big blue marble the color of History,
and the light of a thousand atoms
that smelled as black as History
and roared in our sovereign bones.

On that day in 1872, which was a day
like any other, the cicada chant
of History will be heard in the land
where lately the lightning blossomed
and the concomitant thunder rolled
like enormous cannonballs
across a flattening plain of History.

On that day, you’ll put on a beaded shirt
and ride through the fusillade
of soldiers—Sitting Bull
will be with you, and Jack Wilson,
as you ride, and the blue flowers
will part before you, the land
will rise up before you, and everything
will go down in History.

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Nothing happens fast

Carl Sandburg on the Beach - 637b557

Nothing happens fast

first the Sun rises and
then it’s night time
and Carl Sandburg is
alive and
children playing horseshoes
and during that slow expanse
the mortgage came due
the elves lay down under
the hill and I

awoke thinking
Oh hell not again.

 

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In my dream I was gravity.

Subsidence by seriykotik1970 - Flickr

In my dream I was gravity.
The pilings of the towers humored me
and the muscular calves
of the youths,
the repose and occasional slump

of exhausted hillsides,
and the sea’s endless susurrus
as it trailed the moon forever falling,
were my dance and my devotion,
my music and my mystery.

In my dream I have been gravity
and well pleased with the world.

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And I lay down in mirth

Mirth_and_metre_(1855)_(14778448445)

And I lay down in mirth
like a bed. Later I stood
surveying the good
and the spreading earth.

Then the woods were alive
with invisible birds
and it was good, good.

I stood at my birth
and was wishing the dead
could still hear the music I heard.

Then I pictured the dead
in their cold earthen beds
and the sound of them rose.
And the woods were alive.

And I lay down in mirth
in the grass, in the dirt
and the dead in their earths
raised their voices in song.

The invisible birds
sang along, sang along, sang along,
and it was good, good.

 

 

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I took the post-ultimate step

Detail Stairs to Nowhere

I took the post-ultimate step
The one at the top of the stair
That you take when you know there’s a step yet to go
When really, no step’s there.

Somewhere between plan and forget
I planted a foot in mid-air
Then I stepped up and stood. Now I’m stuck here for good,
On the step past the top of the stair.

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Reading Keats’ Ode to a Nightingale in California, March 31, 2020

nightingale_pixabay

I.

Blithe nightingale, to this far shore unknown—
Who did so flit
In forest shadows knit
Of Lincoln green, in Keats’ day gone by—
Decorously, yet still as wild
As any bird could be in that domestic isle;

So sweetly singing ‘neath the rain-rinsed sky
And in the mottled shade of trees and sheepish clouds,
To conjure reminisces not my own—

Elusive creature! Present now,
Then, in one melancholy moment, gone;
Evocative, allusive and high-flown, eschewing crowds—
One glimpse of thee
I fain would see,
O bird most suitable for poetry!

II.

Here in California, meantime,
it’s the 21st century.
The crows and bluejays and us
have all been shoved
to the jagged edges
of the furthest continent from home.

Outside my door, I hear
the birds debating who’s
going to be the first
one up against the wall

come the revolution.

 

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Could you see it

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Could you see it
if I asked you to accept mere words for visions
and said there were all
the colors of a salt marsh?

If I told you, the sea presses
her white mouth to the earth

where the green of saltgrass
is a thousand yellows
the yellow of the sedge a million greens

and the black small flies revel in the muck
that lies at the roots
while each dragonfly stitches its portion
of the moment?

I am not arguing for or against God
my only revelation is
the blowing fog
the smoking sun.

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