Arts+Culture

Arts+Culture

We Are the Eighth Day, © Melanie Weidner

Poetry

Poinsettia

The scarlet petals were floppy as old hats
by March, and falling into piles on the rug,
so I cut its plastic pot to free its roots
and laid it by the compost in the mud.
Busy that spring, I never noticed how
it waited out the months, night after night
in wind, in grueling rain and a late snow,
inclining from the compost into light,
its new leaves firming, shining, thick,
like a novitiate of a strange order,
as days warm, growing fierce and quick,
blessing the lost plants I’ve lodged there.
It rang like church bells, red, on the hour.
Now let me learn to love what cannot flower.
Poetry

The work of wood

The shavings curled from my plane the afternoon
she stood a shadow in the door and spoke
the single syllable. I thought, So soon,
but deep in me a harmony awoke,
a rhythm lost in the hammer song I made
furnishing the world chair by chair, bed by bed.
Her single word was Go. My debt was paid.
Joseph’s memory would be satisfied:
My craft would find its end in speech—the Word
voiced as once when spoken it divided light
from dark and all Creation bloomed. I heard
my father in her voice. Both sadness and delight
indwelt the shop, as if the two were one
as they may be when the work of wood is done.
Music

Sound alternatives

Rickie Lee Jones broke into the music business in 1979 with the jazz-pop novelty hit “Chuck E’s in Love,” and she has been a maddening enigma ever since. At best she’s inconsistent, at worst she’s the embodiment of the tortured artist: all tantrum and attitude with little worthy fruit to show.
Poetry

Contemplation at the Bar R Ranch

Both the owner and his daughter said we’d have to see the crosses,
so of course I tried to avoid them, but wandering aimlessly

after sublimity as I do on free afternoons I followed a sign
that said “Baptismal” down a narrow way

and stepped carefully on the rocks across the icy creek.
When I looked up there they were, enormous,

big enough to crucify a pteranodon or a giraffe.
As I climbed the muddy path some part of me said,

I have to safeguard my doubts and another remembered
how the old picker said to Goodman, I find

the prettiest woman in the room and play every song for her.
Too edgy to eat, Salinger’s Franny tried to pray

the Jesus prayer all the way through homecoming.
With the sun low behind the crosses, I could barely look.

Thin grass, lichens, rocks and gravel lay low all around,
stunned by some brutal devotion not their own.

Three weeks to solstice. Faint thin birdsong.
So many trees, so many rocks, so many women

whose lives and bodies I will never touch.
The creek rippled on, Shasta glowed in the chilly haze,

a strand of spider silk glinted in and out of sight.
Breathe in: This is paradise. Breathe out: I must go.



















Poetry

Disconnect

in a pink shirt the reporter speaks
his voice ripe with excitement while
behind him the Wave crashes over
and over the same bodies flung
like broken sticks which in an instant
they have become bundled into
body bags bulging on the shredded sand
though when we return we’ll hear
from one survivor in a wheelchair
whom we glimpse smiling as the scene
shifts to a woman waltzing across
her kitchen dazzles as she holds high
a ziplock bag not large enough for bodies
no but fruit she says stays fresh for days.