Friday, September 11, 2020

19 Ways of Looking at a Pandemic

Poetry for our time. What can I say, pandemics, wildfires, ash and soot and particulate matter of all sorts rain down upon us. And of course all this in the time of tRump and BLM. What next, a plague of locusts, floods of Biblical proportions?

Here is my offering for today, up at the International site Poetry and Covid: 19 Ways of Looking at a Pandemic, with due respect and apologies to Wallace Stevens:  

 Nineteen Ways of Looking at a Pandemic

By Dotty LeMieux


the sound a boulder makes
before beginning
its deadly downhill


in their art deco vase
track time by the sun
so well you can set
your watch by it


hush, don’t wake
the old man sleeping
on the park bench


one purple crocus
in my weedy front yard


hey, what do you think
you’re doing?
don’t you know
you can’t play basketball
without touching?


I’m calling the police!


rain in spurts
taunting us between
the times of quiet


why does standing in line at Safeway
for an hour and a half
remind me of the drought years?


they loosened EPA regulations
so people can get back to work
polluting again


the police are too busy
confirming deaths
on park benches
to answer calls
about unsanctioned basketball
games in the park


Presidential Press briefing —
I told him — don’t return
her phone call; she’s not
nice to me


the boy in California
who died
when the clinic
refused him entry
no insurance


in New York the first buds
of April break through
hoping for someone
to admire them


They’re not doing the tests;
they said to come back later —
blind man in the park smoking


I can smell his smoke

  1. if you wonder where the homeless went
    when they kicked them
    out of the park
    just check the far side
    of the closed-down Community Center

winter has been its own very long year
this year


woman into phone, slumped
on the top step of her front porch —
they say the test won’t come back
for at least a week


after all this,


Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Wild Roof poems up now

 My poems now up at Wild Roof. Go to the link here.    

Here are the poems: (with slightly weird spacing.)

Rite of Return                       

Right into the city come the coyotes. The neighbor to the east calls in his cat. The neighbor to the west watches as one lone coyote slinks past Safeway, storefront church and gastro-pub. Follows dogs down my cul de sac, then turns and skitters into the oleander, pursued by sharp-hooved does. I see him at the very end of the driveway, scruffy long-jowled dog hunkered under the brush. Waiting.

first one Coyote

Then two; then multiple, time

before time, earth before earth

 Before there were people say the Miwok, there were “First People.” Coyote on hind legs, looking for a wife chooses Frog Women. Woos her with infinite patience; lingers on her stream beds; plays his paws among her lily pads; stalks her through water’s murk, plucking her out, long tongue lapping. 

 Coyote and Frog weave Earth

from burned-out stars and broken crockery

sky’s open border

After cocktails, the neighbor to the east says — The coyotes are killing the cats. And Animal Control won’t come for wildlife unless it is injured! You can tell he wants them injured. He wants their carcasses between his car wheels, he wants their hides scarred with pellets from his (legal) gun; he will do none of this though. Instead he says — I can trap them and carry them away into the hills where they came from. They do not belong in the city.

 Cats kill birds — says the neighbor to the west, the naturalist — The cats are killing the songbirds; soon there won’t be any left in North America. Keep your cat indoors! 

The neighbor to the east shakes his head — No! The coyotes have to go. I have never seen this cat loving man so angry. Out my window, Coyote smiles a sad smile slipping down the streambank.

all night from hill to hill

crossing canyons; rattling windows

Coyote’s dirge; Frog’s lament  

Animals Don’t Know They Have a Name


birds for instance, don’t care

that we call them thrushes

or Steller’s jay


or white crowned sparrow or Nuttal’s woodpecker — 

that sound they rat-a-tat-tat late

into the afternoon

creating granaries

against the winter


that season whose name they don’t know,

or summer, or any season 


except that stomachs grow

                or diminish, hunkering-in happens, or hunger —


 that we humans

delineate with nouns

and spelling, of which they know nothing,


crows, raucously patrolling their territory,

caucus with sharp cries alighting on the rough heat place

                        seeking crumbs,  avoiding splat

only by inches


then there is the owl

   barn or great horned or elusive spotted

hoot hooting into dusk, scouring below

for movement of rats, slither of gopher

          snakes, names they do not know,


nor does the deer on the hillside, the skunk

     rocking toward us, as we leash the dogs

who though domesticated only remember their names

when called home to dinner


above all circle the vultures their red heads alert

for remnants of unnamed animals

caught in the splat of forever


or sometimes when nights grow cold and food is scarce,

rotten orange fruits that once were called —

         by children in disguise —


jack-o’lanterns in some forgotten lexicon

of mystery and expectation.