I Broke The Spell That Held Me Long

William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant (1794 – 1878)

To him who in the love of Nature holds
Communion with her visible forms, she speaks
A various language; for his gayer hours
She has a voice of gladness, and a smile
And eloquence of beauty, and she glides
Into his darker musings, with a mild
And healing sympathy, that steals away
Their sharpness, ere he is aware….
William Cullen Bryant – Thanatoposis – Excerpt

Midsummer

by William Cullen Bryant

A power is on the earth and in the air
From which the vital spirit shrinks afraid,
And shelters him, in nooks of deepest shade,
From the hot steam and from the fiery glare.
Look forth upon the earth–her thousand plants
Are smitten; even the dark sun-loving maize
Faints in the field beneath the torrid blaze;
The herd beside the shaded fountain pants;
For life is driven from all the landscape brown;
The bird has sought his tree, the snake his den,
The trout floats dead in the hot stream, and men
Drop by the sun-stroke in the populous town;
As if the Day of Fire had dawned, and sent
Its deadly breath into the firmament.


William Cullen Bryant was a worthy tradesman in the business of letters as a journalist and writer, carving out a small place in American Literature. Not as celebrated or innovative as other poets of his generation like Wordsworth or Whitman, Bryant toiled at his craft. He worked as a journalist, then editor, then part owner of the New York Evening Post, a paper founded by Alexander Hamilton.  Bryant was a long time advocate for organized labor and a consistent critic of Thomas Jefferson, he would go on to be a fierce supporter of Abraham Lincoln and a progressive voice for change.

Bryant’s poetry is largely focused on the beauty of nature and our appreciation of our place in the natural world. I appreciate his rhyming schemes and word play, use of rhythm and the workmanship in some of  his shorter poems. Thanatoposis, his most famous poem, feels a bit outdated, but there are still some beautiful lines. Here’s a clever bit of animation to bring it to life.

 


I Broke The Spell That Held Me Long

by William Cullen Bryant

I broke the spell that held me long,
The dear, dear witchery of song.
I said, the poet’s idle lore
Shall waste my prime of years no more,
For Poetry, though heavenly born,
Consorts with poverty and scorn.

I broke the spell–nor deemed its power
Could fetter me another hour.
Ah, thoughtless! how could I forget
Its causes were around me yet?
For wheresoe’er I looked, the while,
Was Nature’s everlasting smile.

Still came and lingered on my sight
Of flowers and streams the bloom and light,
And glory of the stars and sun; –
And these and poetry are one.
They, ere the world had held me long,
Recalled me to the love of song.

Never Known So Fierce A Dancing

Hesse)
Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962)

There’s no reality except the one contained within us. That’s why so many people live an unreal life. They take images outside them for reality and never allow the world within them to assert itself.

Hermann Hesse

A Swarm Of Gnats

by Hermann Hesse

Translated by James Wright

Many thousand glittering motes
Crowd forward greedily together
In trembling circles.
Extravagantly carousing away
For a whole hour rapidly vanishing,
They rave, delirious, a shrill whir,
Shivering with joy against death.
While kingdoms, sunk into ruin,
Whose thrones, heavy with gold, instantly scattered
Into night and legend, without leaving a trace,
Have never known so fierce a dancing.


Having recently been set upon by hungry gnats, I jokingly did a google search to see if any poetry existed on the subject and found this wonderful gem written by Hermann Hesse, translated by a proud Minnesotan who understands biting insects – James Wright.  I remember reading a bit of Hesse back in college.  I think I would appreciate his writing more today then I did then. His most popular books are focused on spirituality and an individuals search of self knowledge. Hesse espoused the idea that authenticity of our true selves in how we think and act is what leads to a fully realized life. Hesse felt anxiety arouse by not being in harmony with ourselves, fear comes out of not owning up to our true identity.  Hesse believed our true selves was derived from the quality of our thinking.

Words do not express thoughts very well.  They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.

Hermann Hesse

Although Hesse has fallen out of favor, I am inspired to find a used copy of Glass Bead Game and dig a little deeper. Hesse won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1946 for Glass Bead Game.  Hesse was a talented painter as well as writer, favoring water colors as his preferred media. Hesse was influential in his day and inspired other writers and artists. Richard Strauss set three of Hesse’s poems to music in his song cycle Four Last Songs; “Frühling” (“Spring”), “September”, and “Beim Schlafengehen” (“On Going to Sleep”).  This music was not performed until after Strauss’ death.    Here’s a link if you want to check it out.

 


In Secret We Thirst

by Hermann Hesse

Graceful, spiritual,
with the gentleness of arabesques
our life is similar
to the existence of fairies
that spin in soft cadence
around  nothingness
to which we sacrifice
the here and nowDreams of beauty, youthful joy
like a breath in pure harmony
with the depth of your young surface
where sparkles the longing for the night
for blood and barbarityIn the emptiness, spinning, without aims or needs
dance free our lives
always ready for the game
yet,  secretly, we thirst for reality
for the conceiving, for the birth
we are thirst for sorrows and death

 

Oh Cherry, Why Can’t My Poems Be As Beautiful

IMG_5822
Cherries in my Dad’s Garden

Why I Don’t Write About George Floyd

by Toi Derricotte – 1941-

Because there is too much to say
Because I have nothing to say
Because I don’t know what to say
Because everything has been said
Because it hurts too much to say
What can I say what can I say
Something is stuck in my throat
Something is stuck like an apple
Something is stuck like a knife
Something is stuffed like a foot
Something is stuffed like a body


It’s cherry picking time!  It is a short season in my Dad’s backyard coming on the heels of the 4th of the July every year.   No one associates cherries with Minnesota winters as they are too cold for sweet cherries.  But a pie cherry tree situated in the right spot where it gains a little protection from the side of a house can live around 20 years and produce an abundance of tart, wonderfully cherry, pie cherries, despite our harsh winters.   Pie cherries are smaller, little jewels hanging on the tree.  My sister and I love the tradition of coming over and picking with my father.  My father’s zeal to try and harvest every one isn’t like it used to be, but its a lovely July tradition to climb a short ladder and pick and pick and pick in the same spot and hardly seem to make a dent in the bounty of fruit hanging before your eyes.  It is particularly satisfying this year, picking cherries is a reminder of the importance of the simple traditions in our lives that give them context and enjoyment. My father is on the 3rd cherry tree in his current yard.  A reminder that life is short.  It is a reminder to honor beauty and the circle of life that sustains us.   It is a reminder of how fortunate I am.

In the past six weeks I have thought a lot about my good fortune and the word privilege. I have written before about how I realize I won the genetic lottery ticket of all time by growing up white, middle class, in the 1960’s suburban America.  I also agree with Derricotte’s poem above,  I am not sure I am the right person nor do I have the words to add to the discussion.  So what should be my participation in change?  I can add to the discussion by listening, learning, absorbing, reflecting. I can let the discussion lead me to ways that I can be better. And maybe if I commit to change and others do too, we can do better as a society and as a community. Despite the omnipresent reminders in the burned buildings of our failure in my community, cherry picking is a reminder that there is hope.  There is still an ancient beauty that is beyond me, that surrounds me,  that came before me and will last after I am gone.  I can appreciate it, I can savor it, I can honor it and taste its goodness with a grateful and regenerative tongue.  Time to make cherry jam this evening!


Cherry Blossoms

by Toi Derricotte

I went down to
mingle my breath
with the breath
of the cherry blossoms.

There were photographers:
Mothers arranging their
children against
gnarled old trees;
a couple, hugging,
asks a passerby
to snap them
like that,
so that their love
will always be caught
between two friendships:
ours & the friendship
of the cherry trees.

Oh Cherry,
why can’t my poems
be as beautiful?

A young woman in a fur-trimmed
coat sets a card table
with linens, candles,
a picnic basket & wine.
A father tips
a boy’s wheelchair back
so he can gaze
up at a branched
heaven.
 .                    .          All around us
the blossoms
flurry down
whispering,

.        .       Be patient
you have an ancient beauty.

 .                                     .      Be patient,
.                                .  you have an ancient beauty.

Once More I Were A Careless Child

IMG_2754
The Careless Child

Sonnet: To the River Otter

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Dear native Brook! wild Streamlet of the West!
How many various-fated years have past,
What happy and what mournful hours, since last
I skimm’d the smooth thin stone along thy breast,
Numbering its light leaps! yet so deep imprest
Sink the sweet scenes of childhood, that mine eyes
I never shut amid the sunny ray,
But straight with all their tints thy waters rise,
Thy crossing plank, thy marge with willows grey,
And bedded sand that vein’d with various dyes
Gleam’d through thy bright transparence! On my way,
Visions of Childhood! oft have ye beguil’d
Lone manhood’s cares, yet waking fondest sighs:
Ah! that once more I were a careless Child.


A canoe has a bi-polar personality depending on how many people are in it,  the cooperative nature of those paddling it and the amount of wind you are contending with and the direction from which it is blowing. It can be the most gentle cooperative vessel ever invented, or it can be the most unruly of crafts.  In short a canoe is not for amateurs in rough, cold waters and rapids and yet it can be the best of all possible boats in the hands of competent paddlers and conditions.

Most canoes are not designed to be paddled by one person, except on those mornings and evenings in which there is not even a puff of wind and the lake or stream is a mirror.   One person seated in the back of a canoe lifts the bow out of the water enough that the keel lacks some of its grip and it makes it easily influenced by even the slightest wind.

Enough about describing canoes, get out there and experience a canoe!  And if you are fortunate to tip it over, while wearing your life jacket, be sure to enjoy the adventure of getting it back to shore, the water bailed out and a lesson learned about what you don’t want to do the next time.  There is a certain zen like quality to paddling a canoe. Each person must keep their weight centered over the keel and relaxed. You have to keep your weight low, you need to slow down and be centered and present. As children at camp we were taught how to deal with a tipped canoe by tipping them on purpose in water close to shore under supervision and with life jackets on. I recommend if you have children or teenagers or adults who are first time in a canoe that you teach them those skills sometime in shallow warm summer waters, before attempting cold, fast moving water where you don’t want to tip, and if you do, everyone knows what to do.  But its tippiness is what is part of the fun of a canoe, you have to treat it with respect, know its capability, acquire skill and agility with a pinch of  bravery required.

I have been fortunate to canoe upon and alongside river otters several times in my life.  A huge thrill and a connection with the wilderness that takes your breath away.  Coleridge’s poem brings back pleasant memories.  Since in the last blog entry I mentioned my fondness for the short film Paddle To The Sea, I thought I would share a link and make it easy to find if you remember it as well from 3rd grade.

The poem The Canoe Speaks by Stevenson below is one of those examples of  rhyming poetry where the poet intentionally drops the rhyme for stunning emphasis and clarity at the end.  Some of my best sonnets that I have written drop the rhyme in a spot because the exact word I want doesn’t fit the rhyming scheme and because it improved the flow and meaning of the poem. Remember rules are made to be broken with poetry. Dickinson is a master of going in and out of rhyme with devastating precision.  Do you have a favorite poem that leaves a lasting impression because it is unpredictably changes course, like an eddy in a river in a canoe where the next stanza or couplet is unexpectedly different?


The Canoe Speaks

by Robert Louis Stevenson

On the great streams the ships may go
About men’s business to and fro.
But I, the egg-shell pinnace, sleep
On crystal waters ankle-deep:
I, whose diminutive design,
Of sweeter cedar, pithier pine,
Is fashioned on so frail a mould,
A hand may launch, a hand withhold:
I, rather, with the leaping trout
Wind, among lilies, in and out;
I, the unnamed, inviolate,
Green, rustic rivers, navigate;
My dripping paddle scarcely shakes
The berry in the bramble-brakes;
Still forth on my green way I wend
Beside the cottage garden-end;
And by the nested angler fare,
And take the lovers unaware.
By willow wood and water-wheel
Speedily fleets my touching keel;
By all retired and shady spots
Where prosper dim forget-me-nots;
By meadows where at afternoon
The growing maidens tropp in June
To loose their girldes on the grass.
Ah! speedier than before the glass
The backward toilet goes; and swift
As swallows quiver, robe and shift,
And the rough country stockings lie
Around each young divinity
When, following the recondite brook,
Sudden upon this scene I look.
And light with unfamiliar face
On chaste Diana’s bathing-place,
Loud ring the hills about and all
The shallows are abandoned.

How Shall I Be Taught?

lampman
Archibald Lampman (1861 – 1899)

A Thunderstorm

by Archibald Lampman

A moment the wild swallows like a flight
Of withered gust-caught leaves, serenely high,
Toss in the windrack up the muttering sky.
The leaves hang still. Above the weird twilight,
The hurrying centres of the storm unite
And spreading with huge trunk and rolling fringe,
Each wheeled upon its own tremendous hinge,
Tower darkening on. And now from heaven’s height,
With the long roar of elm trees swept and swayed,
And pelted waters, on the vanished plain
Plunges the blast. Behind the wild white flash
That splits abroad the pealing thunder-crash,
Over bleared fields and gardens disarrayed,
Column on column comes the drenching rain.


Archibald Lampman was a Canadian poet briefly popular in the early 19th century.  He died young of complications from cardiac issues as the result of childhood illnesses that was compounded by depression from the deaths of several of his children.

One of his most famous poems, Morning on the Liever, was made into a short film.  It has a nostalgic quality for me. It reminds me of some of the slightly corny environmental movies that were popular in grade school in the early 1970’s, like “Paddle to the Sea” that were trying to raise  awareness around environmental degradation and the need for conservation.

What’s the connection between those two movies?  Canoes!  One real, one a little wood carving.  I am a lover of canoes and paddling rivers.  A canoe or a kayak is the simplest and most thrilling way to see a river, gliding along silently, making pace with the current, looking ahead to see what’s around the next bend.  Every summer in July I go paddle a short day trip on the St. Croix, starting at Taylors Falls and floating down 8 or 9 miles. The St. Croix is the river that separates a portion of Minnesota and Wisconsin before it enters the Mississippi.  It is a clean, sandy bottom river that heats up in July to be a perfect place to float, picnic and swim, with only a few horse flies to fend off for the pleasure of it. If you are ever visiting the Twin Cities and have a day for adventure that’s sunny and warm, head to the State Park just south of Taylor’s Falls on the Minnesota side.  There are canoe and kayak rentals there with round trip passage back to your car waiting for you at the take out point.  Wear your swim suit, pack a hat, sun screen and a picnic in a zip lock bag and enjoy one of the great scenic rivers that is easily accessible in the upper Midwest.

Here’s a link to the short movie with a narration of Lampman’s poem.  His description of the thrill of canoeing and his favorite river is spot on from my perspective.

 

Love-Wonder

by Archibald Lampman

Or whether sad or joyous be her hours,
Yet ever is she good and ever fair.
If she be glad, ’tis like a child’s wild air,
Who claps her hands above a heap of flowers;
And if she’s sad, it is no cloud that lowers,
Rather a saint’s pale grace, whose golden hair
Gleams like a crown, whose eyes are like a prayer
From some quiet window under minister towers.

But ah, Beloved, how shall I be taught
To tell this truth in any rhymed line?
For words and woven phrases fall to naught,
Lost in the silence of one dream divine,
Wrapped in the beating wonder of this thought:
Even thou, who art so precious, thou art mine!

The World Is Too Much With Us

williamwordsworth
William Wordsworth (1770 – 1850)

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

William Wordsworth

The World is Too Much With Us

by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;—
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

The world has felt too much of late, this year’s mid summer holiday not even registering as a holiday in my mind, it was so completely removed from traditional rituals and celebrations.  I stayed home and social distanced and worked on projects.

Dickinson does have a way of coming up with phrases that register as strangely optimistic in my thoughts;

“Unconcern so sovereign To Universe, or me – Infects my simple spirit with Taints of Majesty, till I take vaster attitudes and strut upon my stem, disdaining Men and Oxygen for Arrogance of them.”

Arrogance was in full regalia this past weekend by Trump in his usual narcissistic ramblings with his absolute lack of empathy for the impact that COVID-19 is having on families, individuals and communities.  I am still energized by the moment that change is happening and pleased to see emblems of white privilege and worse white supremacy under scrutiny, like the names of pro sports teams, finally coming to a reckoning for change.  Let’s hope that it is more than talk and action follows to eliminate symbols of injustice and bias with new emphasis on inclusion and crafting a legacy all can be proud and embrace.  I am hopeful being a patriot is supporting a better, more just path forward.


Of Bronze—and Blaze—

by Emily Dickinson

Of Bronze—and Blaze—
The North—Tonight—
So adequate—it forms—
So preconcerted with itself—
So distant—to alarms—
And Unconcern so sovereign
To Universe, or me—
Infects my simple spirit
With Taints of Majesty—
Till I take vaster attitudes—
And strut upon my stem—
Disdaining Men, and Oxygen,
For Arrogance of them—

My Splendors, are Menagerie—
But their Competeless Show
Will entertain the Centuries
When I, am long ago,
An Island in dishonored Grass—
Whom none but Daisies, know.

The Child Is Father of the Man

Lake Harriet Band shell Minneapolis
Rainbow over Lake Harriet Band Shell in Minneapolis

My Heart Leaps Up

by William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold 
   A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began; 
So is it now I am a man; 
So be it when I shall grow old, 
   Or let me die!
The Child is father of the Man;
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety


The magic of rainbows is one of the delights of summer.   In Minnesota the best ones are generally in the early evening after a brief shower, the clouds moving west to east so that as the storm passes by you get a glimpse at a rainbow for a few brief minutes in the eastern sky. I don’t believe that rainbows can be explained only by physics.  Physics doesn’t take into account the wonder it casts.  When I was a child and conditions were right we would run outside after the rain had passed over, grab our bikes and see if we could find a rainbow.

I have some amazing memories of rainbows, a particularly glorious one recently with my daughter in Scotland that went on and on and on across the Scottish countryside.  If ever there was going to a pot of gold hidden, it was there. The treasure was the adventure with my daughter.  Do you have a particularly vivid memory of a rainbow?  What was your hidden treasure?


The Green Mountains

by James Lowell

Ye mountains, that far off lift up your heads,
Seen dimly through their canopies of blue,
The shade of my unrestful spirit sheds
Distance-created beauty over you;
I am not well content with this far view;
How many I know what foot of loved one treads
Your rocks moss-grown and sun-dried torrent beds?
We should love all things better, if we knew
What claims the meanest have upon our hearts;
Perchance even now some eye, that would be bright
To meet my own, looks on your mist-robed forms;
Perchance your grandeur a deep joy imparts
To souls that have encircled mine with light, –
O brother- heart, with thee my spirit warms.

 

The Golden Apples Of The Sun

yosemite-firefall-glacier-point

Ulysses

by James Joyce (1882 – 1941)

Excerpt from Molly Bloom’s final soliloquy

…..O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down Jo me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.


When my Mother and Father were in their early 20’s, over 60 years ago, they would go on long car camping trips each summer.  The kind of trips most people only dream about today taking 2 or 3 weeks and traveling all over the west.  To define how different those days were is nearly impossible. There was no working remotely back then, vacations were a vacation, you couldn’t be reached. My mother had several favorite memories of Yosemite;  My Mother and Father met her sister and husband.  They had corresponded by mail, lining up the date and time and approximate camping spot they would rendezvous.  That might seem archaic in this age of hyper connectivity.  For two adults to simply agree to meet months in advance at a spot on a map, and then without any further communication both arrive within hours of each other at that spot. How glorious it would be to return to those days!  For all the convenience of a cell phone it is also a curse.  We are never out of reach of our everyday life.   We are constantly at the mercy of the next teleconference.  We have relinquished the peace and rejuvenation that a vacation afforded the generations before under the banner of productivity.

My Mother also fondly remembered an earlier visit, when she went alone by train 10 years prior and  visited Yosemite with her sister and then boyfriend.  Yosemite still had the nightly performance of what was called Firefall.   Firefall consisted of a large bonfire set ablaze before sunset on top of the canyon wall with a sheer face that overlooked the central valley. And then shortly after sunset the park rangers would push the fire, embers and aover the ledge, to create a stream of fire falling all the way to the canyon below.  It is impossible to contemplate something like that today.  First the fire danger would be out of this world and second, having park rangers set fires for the enjoyment of campers entertainment is not the education message the national park service espouses today around conservation.  But it was incredibly beautiful and strangely safe in its day.  It was nightly ritual during certain times of the year for decades, enjoyed by millions who visited.   It was a celebration of our connection to something visceral about fire and nature and lighting up the night.  It is something that will never return again except in the memories of those who tell the story from long ago.

My girlfriend is off on an old fashioned wander; car camping and hiking in the west.  She has that need of connection with nature, with the mountains, with the west.  It is an ancient calling that rings in many of our hearts, the primal need to connect with the beauty of nature and the connection that we have with the wilderness.

Safe travels for all who are headed out on a car camping trip this summer.  What are the stories your parents or grand parents tell about their experiences in National Parks over the years?


The Song of Wandering Aengus

by W. B. Yeats (1865 – 1939)

I went out to the hazel wood,  
Because a fire was in my head,  
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,  
And hooked a berry to a thread;  
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,  
I dropped the berry in a stream  
And caught a little silver trout.  

When I had laid it on the floor  
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,  
And someone called me by my name:  
It had become a glimmering girl  
With apple blossom in her hair  
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.  

Though I am old with wandering  
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,  
I will find out where she has gone,  
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,  
And pluck till time and times are done,  
The silver apples of the moon,  
The golden apples of the sun.

Waves Lie Still And Gleaming

Sunset ocean
Florida Sunset

Stanzas for Music

by Lord Byron

There be none of Beauty’s daughters
With a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
Is thy sweet voice to me:
When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean’s pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming,
And the lull’d winds seem dreaming:

And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o’er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant’s asleep:
So the spirit bows before thee,
To listen and adore thee;
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of Summer’s ocean.


Darkness (Excerpt)

by Lord Byron

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires—and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings—the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consum’d,
And men were gather’d round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;

Leave Me Like This Night

 

George Inness Moonlight
George Inness, Moonlight,  Weisman Art Museum

When Night Saved My Life

by Ruben Quesada

After “Moonlight” (1893) by George Inness

Come! Come and draw your loose lines
of light against and into my open mouth
like the fine lines of a web being built
along my heavy face; led bellied, blood
clotted clouds of night’s sleep borne
brooding of your bright breast keeping me
from rest while you lay onto my chest—
the weight of your body spread,
your coarse beard presses into my neck.
Give me leave. Leave me like this night
of my marriage to the moon’s urgent flight;
leave me outright for the day’s light—I can’t
bear to close my eyes tonight because
I may not wake to see the end of this night.


 

The Riots

by Ruben Quesada

We were given a curfew on the second day.
Clouds filling windows were replaced by soot
and ash from the burned out market on the corner.
We lost the smell of buttered beetroot, Wissotzky tea
and kishke; a tendril of root infiltrated a crack
in the floorboards. We kept our distance and let it grow
in disbelief. Someone said we should kill it
before it gets too strong. Hours, maybe even days,
went by as we hid waiting for attacks and looting
to end. At times, when the door opened, a waft of wind
made its way to those unfolding leaves
waving like the curtains out of blown out windows.