I have always loved poetry. Classical, romantic, formal, rhyming or not, it doesn’t matter to me. I think I love poetry because it is not just about telling a story (particularly more modern poems), though I love stories as well. To me, poetry is all about the love of words, the beauty of the sounds they make, how they make us feel or see things, all stripped down to the core by the brevity and limitations of the genre. It is saying and not saying and not saying and thus saying more than one could have if one just laid it all out there. They are little moments and thoughts. They are the repositories and holders of words that we don’t use in our day to day language but are so precise and beautiful and strange I would hate to lose them, have them drift away, dead because of forgetfulness and our society’s desire for efficient communication rather than lengthier, lovelier speaking. Poems are game preserves for these words. A place where we can go on a safari for the exotic words, the words that remind you of the wonder of the world and the joy of new discovery.
In honor of that desire, to keep poetry and the fantastical words they contain in existence in this world I think I will try to include poems that I am fond of, or have found recently in my wanderings here to share with you. I hope you enjoy them.
Night Song of the Los Angeles Basin
By Gary Snyder
pollen dust blows
Swirl of light strokes writhing
knot-tying light paths,
calligraphy of cars.
Los Angeles basin and hill slopes
Checkered with streetways. Floral loops
Of the freeway express and exchange.
Dragons of light in the dark
sweep going both ways
in the night city belly.
The passage of light end to end and rebound,
—ride drivers all heading somewhere—
etch in their traces to night’s eye-mind
calligraphy of cars.
Vole paths. Mouse trails worn in
On meadow grass;
Winding pocket-gopher tunnels,
Marmot lookout rocks.
Houses with green watered gardens
Slip under the ghost of the dry chaparral,
shrine to the L. A. River
The jinja that never was there
Where the river debouches
the place of the moment
of trembling and gathering and giving
so that lizards clap hands there
come pray, saying
“please give us health and long life.”
Slash of calligraphy of freeways of cars.
Into the pools of the channelized river
the Goddess in tall rain dress
tosses a handful of meal.
Gold bellies roil
mouth-bubbles, frenzy of feeding,
the common ones, the bright-colored rare ones
show up, they tangle and tumble,
godlings ride by in Rolls Royce
wide-eyed in brokers’ halls
lifted in hotels
being presented to, platters
of tidbit and wine,
snatch of fame,
churn and roil,
meal gone the water subsides.
The calligraphy of lights on the night
freeways of Los Angeles
will long be remembered.