A Slug-Newt Day – poem by Bill Noble

A Slug-Newt Day

*California winter*

A jelly-vinyl newt, a baby-face,
ponces down the dingle bent on mating.
These drifts of rain are etchings
sketched on pewter plates,
the maple leaves are hands,
thrown up, thrown down,
caressing earth against the rain,
lascivious and clingy,
happy to have done with dancing.
How the riffles waltz and chitter!
Salmon spurt their milt,
and twine and spill their eggs in gritty redds.
Fir tops poke the flabby clouds.
The leaves of hazel wishy-wash to yellow,
emerald mosses felt and gob,
licorice fern unfurls like lizard tongue,
puffy, pirouetting lichen
plumps from skyward.
Slugs the size of nether members
cruise the humus, ochre barges,
silver ribands streaming.
O, detritus! O, alluvium
of plenitude, of glut, this rut
of metaphor and meaning,
of simile and saraband and sideslipped symbol—
Let science set its butt to tree-butt,
let the drizzle sluice its nose;
no romp, no gambol for this grizzled guy.
Too much of wet, of life!
The pen-black washes out to purple
spreads to gray, the page
goes pulp. Thought slops down
to fête the slug:
a poet’s sump to plump
the boogie booty of the world.

Bill Noble

Lake Leonard by Lucy Day

LAKE LEONARD

For mosquitoes, whose long, delicate legs
dance in air to the hum
of high-frequency wingbeats, the ring
of redwoods on the hill by the lake
is cathedral enough.

And the sugarstick feeding on humus
on the forest floor–its single
erect stem rising from earth,
striped red and white like a candy cane–
has all it will ever need to know of Christmas.

In low trees, male cicadas create their own choir
by vibrating membranes near the base
of their abdomens, and in oblong, glossy leaves,
madrone leaf miners make
their own rich veins of silver.

The striped bass are quite satisfied
with pits they’ve made for spawning
in the shallow southern end of the lake.
These craters are the closest
they will ever get to the moon.

And the Western tanager high in a pine–
red head, yellow body,
black tail and wings–singing “pit-ik”
in a hoarse voice, appears
to be content with its own beauty.

I’m a creature too, with disc-shaped
red blood cells lacking nuclei
but packed with hemoglobin to pick up
oxygen in the capillaries
of alveoli clumped in my lungs.

I breathe carbon dioxide into the forest,
where oak leaves and redwood needles
turn it to sugar, but my skull
is a cauldron of yearning.
Nothing is ever enough, certainly not

my ability to describe the Indian pinks,
their scarlet petals divided
into four broad lobes with rounded tips,
or checkerspot butterflies, lighting
now on the shining leaves of the yerba santa.

***************************
Lucy Day lives in Oakland, California. Her recent poetry
collections–INFINITIES, WILD ONE, and FIRE IN THE GARDEN–are available from Amazon.com. INFINITIES contains many poems inspired by outings with Michael Ellis. Lucy is director of the Hall of Health, a museum in Berkeley, and
founder/publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books www.ScarletTanager.com).

MUIR WOODS AT NIGHT by Lucy Day

MUIR WOODS AT NIGHT

Rust-colored ladybugs, clustered like grapes,
mate on horsetails that wave by a creek,
where silvery salmon spawn and leap
when the sandbar breaks at the gate to the sea.

The ladybugs have come hundreds of miles,
from valley to coast, for this singles bash.
The females are choosy: they twiddle the males,
seeking appendages padded with fat.

And all around–high in redwood burls,
on elk-clover leaves, and in the rich soil–
the meaning of life is to stroke and prod
under a humpbacked moon, dissolving in fog.

***************************
Lucy Day lives in Oakland, California. Her recent poetry
collections–INFINITIES, WILD ONE, and FIRE IN THE GARDEN–are available from Amazon.com. INFINITIES contains many poems inspired by outings with Michael Ellis. Lucy is director of the Hall of Health, a museum in Berkeley, and
founder/publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books www.ScarletTanager.com).

SOLSTICE BONFIRE by Lucille Lang Day

Lucille Lang Day

SOLSTICE BONFIRE

When Belenus blazes
into the sea, and the last
pink and gold reflections
fade from tide-washed sand,
let us build a bonfire
to celebrate the longest day
the way the Celts did–
with a burning man
garlanded with yellow flowers,
St.-John’s-wort.

Of course, our man is made of wood
and we haven’t saved
animal bones all year
for this occasion,
but we can purify ourselves
by burning sage
while stars bloom profusely
and the moons of Taranis
line up in a plane.

Let men leap over the flames
while black-tailed deer disappear
beyond the dunes,
gray foxes nab jack rabbits,
and great horned owls bow and hoot.

Pass the wine! Let us celebrate
Ogmios, Brigit, and the Matronae
holding their children
and baskets of fruit.
Remember Lug of the Long Hand,
god of the arts. Stoke the fire!
In my red dress I’ll dance
in the smoke and sparks,
led by the drum
of my pagan heart.

***************************
Lucy Day lives in Oakland, California. Her recent poetry
collections–INFINITIES, WILD ONE, and FIRE IN THE GARDEN–are available from Amazon.com. INFINITIES contains many poems inspired by outings with Michael Ellis. Lucy is director of the Hall of Health, a museum in Berkeley, and
founder/publisher of Scarlet Tanager Books www.ScarletTanager.com).

SPRING ON MOUNT DIABLO by Lucille Lang Day

SPRING ON MOUNT DIABLO

by Lucille Lang Day

See the bluebird on the arching branch
of the live oak amid white oaks
and gray pines on the hillside, which holds
so many shades of green. And see
the black and yellow meadowlark.
Head on, it looks like a pansy in the tree.

Watch the red-winged blackbird dance
in the meadow, ruffling its epaulettes,
perhaps to summon romance, or let
an adversary know who’s king. Notice
the triangular leaves of the purple
Chinese houses that sprout by the trail.

Mustard, mule ears and buttercups
are golden. Indian paintbrush and yarrow
remind us of fire and snow. Smell
pineapple weed and taste the wild radish.
Touch sticky monkey flowers. Listen!
Skinks and snakes, slithering in the grass.

Did you glimpse the one with curved fangs
and diamond markings? It’s a rattler.
There are many by the path. And on
the flanks of the mountain, did you notice
the mansions below boulders embedded
with fossil shells from an ancient sea?

The mammals with opposable thumbs
have hoarded golf clubs, CD-ROMs
and emeralds, then left for Costa Rica,
while blue dicks bloom unbidden
by their driveways, and tree frogs gather
in their yards each night to sing.

Poems copyright c 2000 by Lucille Lang Day

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Lucy has taken many outings with me and some of these trips have inspired some of her poetry. Her poetry collections are Wild One (Scarlet Tanager Books), Fire in the Garden (Mother’s Hen), and Self-Portrait with Hand. She can be reached at lucyday@earthlink.net.

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