Joy Harjo

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"There is something magical about the summer solstice…an equal amount of daylight and darkness with long, gentle periods of transition. It’s important to notice these transitions of nature. Now the days move on their journey to become shorter."

***********************************************************************
Inner Tube

On the warm July river
head back

upside down river
for a roof

slowly paddling
towards an estuary between trees

there's a dog
learning to swim near me
friends on shore

my head
dips
back to the eyebrow
I'm the prow
on an ancient vessel,
this afternoon
I'm going down to Peru
soul between my teeth

a blue heron
with its awkward
broken backed flap
upside down

one of us is wrong

he
his blue grey thud
thinking he knows
the blue way
out of here

or me

Michael Ondaatje

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Squash Under the Bed

There was always crooked-neck squash under our beds.
The space under the bed met the criteria of a cool, dark, dry place.
These large, hard-skinned squash with speckled, serrated,
green and yellow designs shared space under our beds
with new cowboy boots, lost socks, forgotten toys,
dust and little spiders.
The squash rested under there with our memory of summer.
Awaiting winter darkness.
With the cold weather, we split the hard skin and expose the
rich yellow meat inside, the bounty of large seeds entangled
in the wetness of their origin.
We saved the seeds for next summer.
We eat the soft, sweet meat of the winter squash.
We swallow the warmth of summer.

Ofelia Zepeda


Landscape, Dense with Trees

When you move away, you see how much depends
on the pace of the days—how much
depended on the haze we waded through
each summer, visible heat, wavy and discursive
as the lazy track of the snake in the dusty road;
and on the habit in town of porches thatched in vines,
and in the country long dense promenades, the way
we sacrificed the yards to shade.
It was partly the heat that made my father
plant so many trees—two maples marking the site
for the house, two elms on either side when it was done;
mimosa by the fence, and as it failed, fast-growing chestnuts,
loblolly pines; and dogwood, redbud, ornamental crab.
On the farm, everything else he grew
something could eat, but this
would be a permanent mark of his industry,
a glade established in the open field. Or so it seemed.
Looking back at the empty house from across the hill,
I see how well the house is camouflaged, see how
that porous fence of saplings, their later
scrim of foliage, thickened around it,
and still he chinked and mortared, planting more.
Last summer, although he’d lost all tolerance for heat,
he backed the truck in at the family grave
and stood in the truckbed all afternoon, pruning
the landmark oak, repairing recent damage by a wind;
then he came home and hung a swing
in one of the horse-chestnuts for my visit.
The heat was a hand at his throat,
a fist to his weak heart. But it made a triumph
of the cooler air inside, in the bedroom,
in the maple bedstead where he slept,
in the brick house nearly swamped by leaves.

Ellen Bryant Voigt


A Love Poem Written for Sterling Brown

(after reading a New York Times article re
a mummy kept preserved for about 300 years)

I'm gonna get me some mummy tape for your love
preserve it for 3000 years or more
I'm gonna let the world see you
tapping a blue shell dance of love
I'm gonna ride your love bareback
on totem poles
bear your image on mountains
turning in ocean sleep
string your sighs thru the rainbow
of old age.
In the midst of desert people and times
I'm gonna fly your red/eagle/laughter 'cross the sky.

Sonia Sanchez

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Doing Laundry on Sunday

So this is the Sabbath, the stillness
in the garden, magnolia
bells drying damp petticoats

over the porch rail, while bicycle
wheels thrum and the full-breasted tulips
open their pink blouses

for the hands that pressed them first
as bulbs into the earth.
Bread, too, cools on the sill,

and finches scatter bees
by the Shell Station where a boy
in blue denim watches oil

spread in phosphorescent scarves
over the cement. He dips
his brush into a bucket and begins

to scrub, making slow circles
and stopping to splash water on the children
who, hours before it opens,

juggle bean bags outside Gantsy’s
Ice Cream Parlor,
while they wait for color to drench their tongues,

as I wait for water to bloom
behind me—white foam, as of magnolias,
as of green and yellow

birds bathing in leaves—wait,
as always, for the day, like bread, to rise
and, with movement

imperceptible, accomplish everything.

Brigit Pegeen Kelly

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A cicada shell

A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

Basho

Translated by R.H. Blyth

*************************************

The Place Where Clouds Are Formed

I
Every day it is the same.
He comes home.
He tells her about it.
As he speaks, his breath condenses in front of his face.
She goes about her business;
every now and then she looks over.
She doesn’t hear his voice.
She sees the soft fog that continues to form a halo.
She knows he is still talking about that place.
He never tires of it like she does.
Only on summer days when the air is hot
and moisture is still a long time in coming,
she asks him to tell her about that place.
She sits facing him.
Waiting for the first vocalic, non-stops,
the push of air from his lips.
He tells her of the place where clouds are formed.
The cool dampness of his voice is rich.
Even on a dry June day
her face beads with wetness
as he talks directly to her.
Each aspirated sound a gentle burst of coolness.
“Tell me again, tell me again,” she teases.
If he knew she only wanted relief from the heat
and not the story, he would stop talking.
He begins, “The first time I saw the place
where clouds are formed was from
the window of a train . . .”
Another time was in a mirage
in the heat outside Tucson.
Once he thought he saw it
in the dry light of stars.
The place he remembers best
was when he saw it in the eyes
of a woman he spoke to.
When he first noticed it,
she hid it by lowering her gaze.
Soon she let him look freely.
There were times when she opened her eyes
wide, allowing an unobscured view.
Sometimes he saw her eyes smolder
with dryness on a summer day.
Other times she was rich with moisture.
Clouds came in succession.
The earth’s shadows muted.
“You know the forty days
and forty nights?
I was there.
I’ll be there when it happens again,”
she said with a slight smile.
Like a child, he rushed to look
into her eyes at every opportunity.
If he could, he would hang on her eye socket,
peering inside,
marveling at her displays.


II
An unusually cold December day right around Christmas;
clouds, mist find solace in the canyons of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
White moisture quietly moving amid the cactus.
Truly, clouds, wind, and rain are the few elements
that can touch the saguaro from head to foot.
Oblivious of spines, needles.
Rubbery hide surrounded, soothed by elements.
Contact triggers stored heat of remembered summers.
Moisture beads roll forward, unstoppable.
From the city below
we see mist rising, mist rising.

III
We sit close in the cab of the truck.
The weather is cold, wet outside.
Too messy to stand in
waiting for a school bus.
My father’s truck is warm inside,
having been at work since four a.m.
The sound of the engine is soothing,
heater working to capacity.
Inside the cab we are silent.
We don’t need language.
We listen to the regular hum of the engine,
rhythm of the windshield wipers,
soft rain on the hood.
Aware of the cold air
surrounding our temporary shelter.
We look out over the fields
where fog clings to the soil.
Every now and then
with the back of his gloved hand
he wipes the windshield.
“Is it coming yet?”
The three of us sit quietly,
breathing clouds.
Clouds condense as
they contact the coolness of the windows.
My father appears to breathe air
with temperature in balance.
He forms no clouds.
He watches us.
We continue to breathe
gray, soft mist, waiting for the school bus.

Ofelia Zepeda