This handout is for Monday, Oct. 8th. Hope you enjoy the reading, it's a noticeable deviation from the poetry we've been reading from Indie authors. :)
Becoming a Redwood
BY DANA GIOIA
Stand in a field long enough, and the sounds
start up again. The crickets, the invisible
toad who claims that change is possible,
And all the other life too small to name.
First one, then another, until innumerable
they merge into the single voice of a summer hill.
Yes, it’s hard to stand still, hour after hour,
fixed as a fencepost, hearing the steers
snort in the dark pasture, smelling the manure.
And paralyzed by the mystery of how a stone
can bear to be a stone, the pain
the grass endures breaking through the earth’s crust.
Unimaginable the redwoods on the far hill,
rooted for centuries, the living wood grown tall
and thickened with a hundred thousand days of light.
The old windmill creaks in perfect time
to the wind shaking the miles of pasture grass,
and the last farmhouse light goes off.
Something moves nearby. Coyotes hunt
these hills and packs of feral dogs.
But standing here at night accepts all that.
You are your own pale shadow in the quarter moon,
moving more slowly than the crippled stars,
part of the moonlight as the moonlight falls,
Part of the grass that answers the wind,
part of the midnight’s watchfulness that knows
there is no silence but when danger comes.
BY GARY SNYDER
One granite ridge
A tree, would be enough
Or even a rock, a small creek,
A bark shred in a pool.
Hill beyond hill, folded and twisted
Tough trees crammed
In thin stone fractures
A huge moon on it all, is too much.
The mind wanders. A million
Summers, night air still and the rocks
Warm. Sky over endless mountains.
All the junk that goes with being human
Drops away, hard rock wavers
Even the heavy present seems to fail
This bubble of a heart.
Words and books
Like a small creek off a high ledge
Gone in the dry air.
A clear, attentive mind
Has no meaning but that
Which sees is truly seen.
No one loves rock, yet we are here.
Night chills. A flick
In the moonlight
Slips into Juniper shadow:
Back there unseen
Cold proud eyes
Of Cougar or Coyote
Watch me rise and go.
BY LYNNE ELSON
As if retrieving pebbles
Filmed with shine
from the curbed spine of a beach,
our faces stung with salt, our
talk fresh with
discovery, we carried
to our door: catskins, first snow
the flotsam of our journeys,
porcupines, pectorals of
varied textures in our hands,
touched by their strangeness, subtly
the outside in, so the house
swam in its
wider rhythms, the flow of
moraine, the shuttling arc
of the sun.
BY GEORGE SZIRTES
It was the shade of grass—no, something greener
We touched on shortly before sleep, so soft, so bright,
No metaphor could touch or scumble it,
I cannot speak it though my mouth is green.
In a dream following a cobra nestled
Against my chest- we wrestled as in play
Then I lay poisoned in the open air,
I was nothing and the grass was nothing,
Only my fingers were aware and moved
In search of feeling, but they found
Nothing except a tongue and it was yours
Speaking of something in a foreign language
And I being your tongue’s interpreter
Understood the word you spoke as grass.