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Location: California, United States

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Some poems ....

Shelley's Guitar - Michael Collier

How much more beautiful it is
because it's Shelley's guitar—
a coffin of trapped song
in a body like a grave.

Because it's Shelley's guitar
it's been put on display,
a case within a case,
a wooden hand inside a velvet glove.

And nearby, the copy of Adonais
that held his heart for thirty years.
Next to it, other incomparable relics:
his baby-rattle, a watch, the plate

off which he ate the beautiful
raisins of his diet. Everything
encased, preserved, though
the heart now is only a stain, a watermark

on pages his widow used to save it.
Never mind the guitar was given to his friend,
Jane, as if it were the heart
unauctioned, a neck

with tuning pegs, gut strings, arabesque
filigree. And never mind the guitar
was meant to be a pedal harp
he couldn't afford. "Take this slave

of music," the poem says, "for the sake
of him who is the slave of thee."
Whose heart is it but Shelley's?
Whose grave, whose book, and glove and raisins?

All those things that have been given
either by "action or by suffering,"
left behind, collected, to prove
the dead have substance.

Augury - Ellen Wehle

Laugh if you want, when the fortune teller
told me to "take a new road" I took
her at her word, turned
a block from home and found it
waiting: gabled night, the secret trees
spilling darkness around streetlights, blown roses
singing hosannas over a fence.

Don't get me wrong, nothing was solved.

I walked, a cat cried at my passing,
grave old oaks
watched. I knew myself
not. Say, How can we help it—this waterwheel
of our days, each day a bucket
bound in copper rings and dripping, each
bucket a hand, cupping sky?
Who knows what

I knew. Moon open as a gate.

As Close as Breathing - Mark Jarman

Called or not called, God is present.
Delphic oracle

The flicker doesn't know his call's not needed,
But he's not calling God. He lifts his beak
To show his black bib, as the females chuckle
Off in the oaks somewhere. They hear him all right.
The metal gutters make a fine percussion.

If God is present, why then aren't we talking?

The sugar water feeder stews in the sunshine.
The mud daubers fall asleep there, suckling.
The hummingbirds blur past. Last summer
One came with a ruby wart on her neck,
An imperfection that was almost perfect.

Does God assume our silence is a call?

If I write down the day I see the first swift
(Never the same day but always April),
It's not a prayer, though it may count as one.
They like grade schools where one cold chimney stands,
An obelisk in a cloud of darting hieroglyphs.

Words too can be as close to us as breathing.

A spider's dragline, glinting like a thought,
Trolls through the depths of shade and morning light.
The hemlock limbs bob as if at anchor.
And a pair of downy woodpeckers swoops up
To the seed bell at my study window. Everything answers.

Everything says back, "I am present, too."

Two Poems - Michalle Gould

I. When I Was Big

I was the dune in the Mexican desert a pilot mistook
for a replica of the Pyramids, the wind brushing ripples
across my surface, as if I were not sand but water.
I was the lake birthed by the intercourse of five rivers.
A forgotten king named me the palm and these rivers
the fingers of god. An outstretched hand of water.
I was the plane brought up from the sea, bearing no evidence
of human remains. Two days later, a fisherman pried a glass eye
from an oyster. Blue, like water. I was the Mississippi,
when I burst my banks. The clouds mistook the roofs
of submerged houses for barges floating on the river. A pilot
took the clouds for lily pads. The sky for water.
I was a watercolor of lilies painted by a retired fisherman
in New Mexico. One day someone asked him, who is like god?
His only answer was water.

II. When I Was Strange

What is this place? Where are my mops, my mice,
my sisters, those big-footed women? This bed
is too soft for my bad back. When the man
claiming to be a prince made his entrance,
I would rather have been elsewhere. His ear,
almost muscular in its thickness, contracted
abruptly into a cavern, resembling the knothole I saw once
in a tree neighboring my mother's grave.
Where is your wand now that I actually need you
to save me? What will he think of my rags,
my pumpkin, my bare and dirty legs? I have stayed
too long in a place I never wanted to visit.
Where is that door, a window, here is that closet
I was told never to open. Whose are these slippers!
Six pairs of discarded glass slippers, exactly like mine?
But still wearing their bloody feet.


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