Tuesday, March 30, 2010

three new springtime poems

I was so happy to be reunited with Harold Hummel!
Happiest, sweetest, and most handsome cat ever.



At Home in Santa Barbara On a Spring Night, 03-26-2010

It is not only for the sake of nostalgia that there is one

maraschino cherry in my glass of soda

which until now was brimming and rolling with

too much Maker’s Mark.

Any more whisky and I’d need a petticoat too voluminous

to barter or buy,

and someone to carry me out, or to gallantly


Words come easy from a woman that’s easy, easy as

sleep in an old-thyme nightie, lace and lilac blossoms

from ruffled hem to buttoned bodice,

but no sleeves.

Words come easy to little girls gazing into their mamas’ rings.

They come easy to ladies suffused with spring

and all of the love that spring brings.

In the tub I was lithe as Godiva and with a back just as bare,

as bare as my body every night spent dreaming in my bed;

naked as a seal, with lavender ‘neath my head: strewn among my sheets

as I make love to me, sweetly in the language of my sleep.

When I drew the fancy razor up the swell of my calf

I smiled at its sensitivity. Steel-clad, made for a man,

designed to kiss the contours of another skin entirely,

to be drawn like a tongue along a cheek

(a recollection of your beard sets me bashfully aflame

but all the same--)

the jingle of my cat’s collar enraptures me

and a life is comprised of years, o’

ain’t it lovely?

time enough to draw you into my pale arms,

rose - tinged, longing to

sing. time enough your bell to ring, you

undulating young thing





A Muse and An Artist


For Hannah, 03-27-2010

To she who would never allege to be a mere purveyor of luxurious things:

Of all the museums we have seen, we can recall perhaps thirteen;

And not a spool, a seed, or a photograph is for sale.

Our hands are neither weighed nor bowed with rings.

A few simple spheres whisper our

Confidential creed.

Our azure path is silk unrolling--

Only Love knows where it leads.

Only succulents in earth-red pots can lean

In the direction of the blessings we shall see.

To she whose hair tumbles in a garnet stream.

To she whose smiling mother waited patiently.

To she who found a crescent, bone

And bleached.

On my family’s land, Hannah caressed a forested stretch

And uncovered a nest

To she who surveyed the lot, and hand-picked only the best:

To she who understands why I have swallowed my grandfather’s key--

To she who I have known long before the citrus trees

Stretched and sprawled their roots so languidly,

I need not tell her not to worry. I need not tell her not to weep.

I need not tell her that we are swaying cyprus beams

Never captive, never trapped. No taxidermic thing;

We are not new though we are young and are not glass

Although we gleam. Through the marbled green of

River-stones we see Every thing.

We push aside our petticoats and stumble

Into the stream. We do not fear, do not want--

We have no need.







On the Last Night of a Spring Weekend at Home in Santa Barbara, March 28th 2010

Here she arrived pale and lithe, a slender green stem

unencumbered by the calla lily in pure white bloom at its end

its end, you see, was not an end like the sort which

clips correspondences deliberately short (sometimes

starkly short, but never scrawled unseen by

the eyes more knowing than any Other’s could hope to be.)

Here she arrived without any plans of which to speak.

Driven through Hidden Valley past the placid beach, where

all wore their airy finery to languidly stroll State Street,

drink a cocktail, have a laugh with those that love them--

enjoy the easy pleasure of the Spring.

In the garden she sat ‘neath the citrus trees

and lay naked unabashed in the heat.

From under a bed she came upon an old box of keys,

Snapshots of Morocco and her grandfather’s cufflinks.

On sunday evening she was suffused with a want

not to leave, to stay safe with her mother and father

on the couches where they laid, propped on those familiar

tasseled pillows, watching the cats play

Only vaguely contemplating the horizon of the Bay.

Her shoulders grew sunburnt as cherry tomatoes to-day.

At brunch the waiter fell in love and let it suffuse his face

and she considered that, were she brave, she could

have asked his name--

Driven back in her own time and spoken of things gentle

for it was all so gently fey.

She might have said, your face is kind, your eyes soothe

my eyes like rain. And, Thank You for your smile for your

smile was not in vain. Your skin reminds me of the

dulce de leche candy I craved

From the bodega I would visit on lazy days

Across from the church in my home-town where the

little girls wore white, and knew that they were beautiful

and felt it, too.

we had such a lovely time in dutch flat, ca

Saturday, March 20, 2010


You were just a baby when you learned to smile that way; perhaps you never found it rather special. I'd call this the second day I opened my eyes to see what many only cough up and call a cliche; I don't mind a cliche.

And it was rather tragic, those shaky finger nights, when the whisky bottle was kept next to the bed; trounced by the tides of my tempestuous head. As I lay pinned by my bird-wrists the conductor swore, "If you give up now you're done for. An unadorned Lenore, sparks spitting fast from tracks, fragments flailing through the black smoke of a train wreck."

Sometimes divine, something beyond your control: When tried I came forth as gold.

When tried I came forth as gold. Creeping through the veins of river stones. My own heartbeat asleep under a blanket; I'm going to dive into the haystack. Because beauty above and beyond our own making

It has been resting as it has been waiting.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

california children

well here we have it. in my Walt Whitman course I have gotten to know a very dynamic man who was also a master of the long line, something rather beloved to me. we're clearly kin, and even as i acknowledge his poetry's shortcomings and sometimes annoying quirks i find that i will always intrinsically empathize with/ love him. i have been writing with a long line for a few years and i love it well, but reading so much Whitman has given me a sort of insatiable poetic urge which is really very beneficial for me... and crazy for me; i write so often, and every time i do i think that i've just written the best thing i've ever written. it is truly spring for my writing. i cannot emphasize enough the meditative ecstasy of reading a good Whitman poem. though it must be said that many of his poems are a bit of lengthy bore punctuated by sporadic total genius. if you enjoy poetry it couldn't hurt to take a swing at Whitman. he's such an odd character. i was struck immediately by how infinitely dimensional he is as a personality. one is inclined to love him, and hate him, find him racist and unschooled, or naive and simplistic. here as usual the work speaks for itself:

What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,

Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,

Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,

Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,

Scattering it freely forever.

california is my home and it offers endless imagery to any one who cares to look. when i feel moved to write a poem it is generally because i feel moved by my life in california. moved by the land and by the friends that i have met in my time here. i hereby declare that i have the best of california friends, children of california through and through. we have seen wild times, days and nights of nothing to do but get in trouble, 'going in for our chances, spending for vast returns.' i fondly look forward to many more years of by-the-beach laying, camping, river-swimming, road-tripping, land-exploring, laugh-sodden days and nights with all of you. hillary, nora, hannah, lorena, shana, celeste, shiva, chellsee:
i love you all with absolutely drunken abandon. i wrote this poem about it. don't forget the timeless words of john stewart, as sung with the help of lindsay and stevie:

california girls are the
greatest in the world;
each one a song in the making.

California Children

In the sun we are hot and young; we contain the craze and wisdom of our seasons. We kick off the sodden reeds and dank green mud of the wetland we have wandered through to arrive at the present-- covered in dust and free as coyotes. among the things we know is so much flora:

trees of all kinds, burned to the ground, untouched, river-side. Live oaks draw beaded threads of blood along our bare legs. Eyes as soft as a heart in a hand, sun-seeking.

Among the things we know: the drop of a needle on crackling dust, revolving record. The Beach Boys. The Twist. The swell and ebb of a storm in the night, the shifting black tides. The heavy sodden Summer Time.

Leaning into the backseat we could exhale for years. We never do stop. We could sleep as if enchanted infinitely. We never do stop. We long to be light as leaves. We carry weights in our chests, lead-cast, shaped like someone else's heart.

and among the things we have known are thousands of moments of light. some were unmistakable and some revealed in hindsight. the short, black tail of a lynx, the legend of gram parson's palm tree, shading the hot spring. the ones we found beautiful and their shoulders. skewed vision, starry sky, blurred color. succulents thriving in the sun.

whisky or dry red wine; what's mine is yours, what's yours is mine. air heavy with smoke, the things you don't shout about, all that we do admire:

Five gear clutches and room to dance! Young as the moment, seeking our land; our coast, creeks, our red river, our own vibrantly pigmented, fibrous and foliated time.

Monday, March 8, 2010

santa ynez river, santa barbara botanic gardens, route 246

Saturday, March 6, 2010

and it can have no bounds, you know
it can have no end.
you can take my hand in the darkness
darlin when you need a friend.
and it can change in shape or form but never
change in size. well the water ran
deep my darlin, where it don't run wide.
joanna newsom

and so,

all is and was and will be and still i am all right with it. a shade of blue and a lucid light have saturated this day. and being no one but myself i can only speak for myself; all the same i have a thing to say. put your ear to the ground. the cattails twitch and rustle. it is more than a sound. i can feel the pull, i have been up the path, (to the right, out of sight, and then all the way back,) i have known how it feels to want to be all things. a mountain, a stream; i have wished to know no feeling. i spent one year sweating and reeling and smiling sidelong through a haze at my impetuous self. i craved and contrived. dusty with orange chalk i sauntered a meandering path of dirt.i was shot with feathered arrows and struggled back to my cave to nurse my limp for several months. i was broken open and made new in the suffocating grasp of the truth.

i am all right with the woman i am. the indigo sky makes me ecstatic. it is all right if no one comprehends. i am an admirer of orchids, i am the poet of my own hand. put your own hand to the earth and tell me if it feels warm to you. it feels warm as blood to me.

i like my berkeley bedroom, it is a fine space for writing.
and for hanging my growing kimono collection.
the light is very pretty in this room almost all of the time.

Friday, March 5, 2010

young and wild 
like on a night long past you can 
lean on me. 
caught beneath a bleeding dark
sky by a fierce humidity
i speak as a soul 
that had to keep still as a stone 
to hear what was sweet and true
so young and so wild
always slipping out of view
bartering under the searing sun 
i won some and lost some too
acquiesced a bit of some essential
for a glimpse of you. And
i survived months underwater 
i survived on salt 
I survived on the dry dirt 
of the fault lines and 
I survived and when I spoke 
I spoke through the rustle of
the high yellow grass. I said:
young and wild.
I wear the laurel wreath of 
my profession,
and it is made of pages 
of leaves 
containing all i have seen
honeycomb and 
purple morning glories
i am a deliriant,
young and wild 

camille claudel 1864-1943

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