Nancy: I never looked at a Manzanita and saw BTUs, but after hearing a neighbor suggest that we could solve our waste disposal problem by sending it on rail cars to the Grand Canyon...
“The Relatively Unproductive Chaparral”
Keuster, Davis & Bagby
Passing into, passing through,
hunkered under the Manzanita,
expectant of birds, I love the chaparral,
chaparral between me and the desert,
chaparral between me and the mountains,
chaparral between me and the sun.
And I love the life of the chaparral,
the wings in the chaparral,
the wild black bees in the chaparral,
the pungent sweet honeycombed chaparral
humming in the sun.
Industrious America! Biomass!
The new chaparral, the ground-up, spit-out
feedstock/chaparral, the diesel fuel factory
between the desert and the mountains.
I loved the old and shining Manzanita,
the old days, wild and wasted days,
thunder and sun in the chaparral.
Alan: When I first read the series of haiku-like segments in Paz’ “Piedras sueltas,” it inspired me to try something similar using his headings, although not quite as compressed and with a seventh section that gives up entirely on the form.
After Octavio Paz, “Piedras sueltas”
Rain-washed, polished by passing feet,
it’s all one to these stones.
Except here, at one side, these two give up their embrace
and part forever for this flower.
She was a cat, an owl, an oasis,
a call that brings longing in the night.
As she was all shapes, no one guessed
as she drained through the stones, her death.
It came and went so swiftly.
He held it all and it shattered.
A long time on his knees
cutting his hands on the pieces.
4. Bells in the night
All day burning with sun,
now ice of stars and moon too old to rise.
I have waited here, waited
until at last the stones start ringing.
5. At the door
I blink at the wind-whipped courtyard.
What do you all want?
Behind me silence, my own walls.
Threading the cobbles the million ants.
He became everything at once.
A harrier quartered the lowest sky.
A mouse sprinted agonized among the blades.
He never found a way back to himself.
Stones scale the slope, lifted on each others’ shoulders
and burst in waterfalls, glimpses
of armor hidden among trees.
Arrows, green feathers or the wings of mountains.
All the hills lift high in the shrill air
and circle away to the west.
Birds the color of sunset beat down as splintered rain.
We fear the storm as storm, as fear.
We slip, are carried downward,
as dead leaves, dead stems eddy together for comfort.