Archives for posts with tag: seasons

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Faux Spring in Southern California
by Robbi Nester

It’s been a month since the last rain.
Tumbleweeds that last fall
pursued their manic course
across the highway
have settled in for the season,
send out tendrils
like misdirected telegrams.
Another frost will surely follow.
Even the birds sing all night,
making the most of a short season.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Apache Canyon in the Los Padres National Forest, California” by Robert Eovaldi. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Robbi Nester is the author of a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012), and a collection of poems, A Likely Story (Moon Tide Press, 2014). She has also edited an anthology of poems inspired by shows on public TV, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It! (Nine Toes Press, 2014).

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A SUMMER WIND
by Michael Field

O wind, thou hast thy kingdom in the trees,
And all thy royalties
Sweep through the land to-day.
It is mid June,
And thou, with all thy instruments in tune,
Thine orchestra
Of heaving fields and heavy swinging fir,
Strikest a lay
That doth rehearse
Her ancient freedom to the universe.
All other sound in awe
Repeats its law:
The bird is mute; the sea
Sucks up its waves; from rain
The burthened clouds refrain,
To listen to thee in thy leafery,
Thou unconfined,
Lavish, large, soothing, refluent summer wind.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Under the pseudonym Michael Field, Katherine Harris Bradley and Edith Emma Cooper published eight books of poetry and twenty-seven plays in late 19th-century Britain. The two women enjoyed a warm reception as Michael Field in Victorian literary circles upon the release of their first major verse drama, Callirhoë and Fair Rosamond (1884), and remained an integral part of the British literary scene up until their deaths from cancer within nine months of each other in 1913 and 1914. All of their work was written jointly — Cooper and Bradley even claimed that they often could not tell each other’s lines apart.

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JUNE
by Linda Pastan

The June bug
on the screen door
whirs like a small,
ugly machine,

and a chorus of frogs
and crickets drones like Musak
at all the windows.
What we don’t quite see

comforts us.
Blink of lightning, grumble
of thunder—just the heat
clearing its throat.

SOURCE: “The Months” by Linda Pastan appears in its entirety at poetryfoundation.org. Originally published in Poetry (October 1999).

PAINTING: “Junebug” by Melanie Fain (2009). Prints available at natureartists.com. Visit the artist at melaniefain.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Linda Pastan has published at least 12 books of poetry and a number of essays. Her awards include the Dylan Thomas Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award (Poetry Society of America), the Bess Hokin Prize (Poetry Magazine), the 1986 Maurice English Poetry Award (for A Fraction of Darkness), the Charity Randall Citation of the International Poetry Forum, and the 2003 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. Two of her collections of poems were nominated for the National Book Award and one for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. From 1991–1995 she was Poet Laureate of Maryland.

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MAY HAIKU
by Adelle Foley

Winter may be gone
Maybe time to move on toward
May memorials.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Adelle Foley is a retirement administrator, an arts activist, and a writer of haiku. Her column, “High Street Neighborhood News,” appears monthly in The MacArthur Metro. Her poems have appeared in various magazines, in textbooks, and in Columbia University Press’s internet database, the Columbia Granger’s World of Poetry. Along the Bloodline is her first book-length collection. Beat poet Michael McClure writes, “Adelle Foley’s haikus show us humanity. Their vitality and imagination shine from her compassion; from seeing things as they truly are.” Visit her online at jack-adellefoley.com.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Most of my haiku start life in the margins of The Oakland Tribune as I walk to work.

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LATE SPRING AS USUAL
by Marie Ponsot

The green vine is moving.
The motion’s too slow to be
visible but it is racing,
racing feeling for a way
across the wall of fence
it’s scrawling on, inches added every day.
Forwarding, sunwarding, it claims
its place. Green states its claim. It writes
the lesson of the day: longing,
longing coming true while arcing
out and up according to the instruction
of desire. Sun-hungry its tip has tilted
toward sun-space. Already
it is speeding leaf-notes out of its root
all along the sprigless budless thread
still scribbling the deed of its location.
In two weeks or one or four
morning glory.

SOURCE: “Late Spring as Usual” appears in Marie Ponsot’s collection Easy (Knopf, 2009), available at Amazon.com.

PHOTO: “Morning Glory Vines” by Linda D, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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VERNAL EQUINOX HAIKU
by Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black

Bird song on the wind
floral raiment dresses an
awakening world. 

IMAGE: “Blue lady with parrots” by Walasse Ting

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Read Lorraine Margueritte Gasrel Black‘s bio at poemhunter.com.

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THE TILTED EARTH AT ITS “EQUAL NIGHT OF SPRING” (Excerpts)

New York Times, March 20, 2007

by Natalie Angier

…the vernal equinox is a momentous poem among moments, overspilling its borders like the swelling of sunlight it heralds. As with everything else about the seasons, the equinox is the result of Earth’s sizable tilt, 23.5 degrees relative to the plane of the orbit. That tilt is fairly fixed, and as Earth makes its way on its circumsolar migration and rotates on its imaginary skewer, the northern tip of the skewer always points toward the same spot in space, the bold sparkle of Polaris, the North Star.

Sometimes the northern skewer tip happens to be facing the Sun, and the northern hemisphere is bathed in the direct sunbeams and generous long days of summer, while the southern hemisphere receives only indirect lighting and hence calls the time winter. Six months later, the scene is reversed, with the northern axis tilted away from the Sun, and its hemisphere left to make do with the Sun’s cool, oblique glances.

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Twice a year the axial skewer tips are pointing neither toward nor away from the Sun, but instead are positioned exactly off to the side…These are the times of the equinox, when the linked geometry of Earth’s rotational and orbital planes together bestow a day of equal parts light and night across the entire globe. And while the equinox is formally calculated based on the moment when Earth first enters its profile position, the Sun is so comparatively huge that it takes us time to pass any point of it, and equinoctial conditions will effectively persist for several days.

Vernal equinox, the lovely little Latinate term that means “equal night of spring,” is used to indicate the March-based equinox even in the southern hemisphere, where the event is really the start of autumn…

The Great Sphinx of Egypt, built some 4,500 years ago, is positioned to face toward the rising sun on the vernal equinox.

In the 1,500-year-old Mayan city of Chichén Itzá, in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, the magnificent Kukulcán Pyramid practically slithers to life each spring equinox evening, as the waning sun casts a shadow along its steps of seven perfectly symmetrical isosceles triangles, a pattern suggesting the diamondback skin of a snake.

In the West, the equinox is intimately fastened to the holiest of Christian holidays: Easter is timed to occur the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox.

Ecstatic, ecclesiastic, serpentine or Dionysian, the rebirth of the Earth offers a second chance to us all. Aren’t you glad you have two days to do it?

SOURCE: New York Times, 3/20/2007. Read the entire article at nytimes.com.

ILLUSTRATION: “Orange and olive” by Serge Bloch, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

ILLUSTRATION: “Vernal Equinox” by Ernestine Grindal. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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AT THE EQUINOX
by Arthur Sze

The tide ebbs and reveals orange and purple sea stars.
I have no theory of radiance,

but after rain evaporates
off pine needles, the needles glisten.

In the courtyard, we spot the rising shell of a moon,
and, at the equinox, bathe in its gleam.

Using all the tides of starlight,
we find
vicissitude is our charm.

On the mud flats off Homer,
I catch the tremor when waves start to slide back in;

and, from Roanoke, you carry
the leafing jade smoke of willows.

Looping out into the world, we thread
and return. The lapping waves

cover an expanse of mussels clustered on rocks;
and, giving shape to what is unspoken,

forsythia buds and blooms in our arms.

IMAGE: “Overcoming Winter” by Marianne Beukema. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born in New York City in 1950, Arthur Sze is a second-generation Chinese American. Educated at the University of California, Berkeley, Sze is the author of eight books of poetry, including The Ginkgo Light (Copper Canyon Press, 2009); Quipu (Copper Canyon Press, 2005); The Redshifting Web: Poems 1970-1998 (Copper Canyon Press, 1998); and Archipelago (Copper Canyon Press, 1995). His other collections include River River (Lost Roads Publishers, 1987); Dazzled (Floating Island Publications, 1982); Two Ravens (Tooth of Time Books, 1976; revised, 1984); and The Willow Wind (Tooth of Time Books, 1972; revised, 1981). His honors include an American Book Award, a Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a Western States Book Award for Translation, three grants from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, and fellowships from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, he was awarded the Jackson Poetry Prize from Poets & Writers magazine. Sze was elected Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2012, and is a professor emeritus at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He is the first poet laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he lives. Find his books at Amazon.com.

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OCEAN CITY: EARLY MARCH (Excerpt)
by Elizabeth Spires 

Along Ocean Highway, apartments rise up
to ten and twenty stories,
white, hallucinatory, defying the shifting sand,
the storm moving in off the Atlantic
that drives the rain, needlelike,
across the windshield so that we can’t see,
so that we stop in Ocean City to wait the storm out
at the Dutch, the only bar on the boardwalk
open this time of year, all the concessions
boarded up, weather-beaten, closed against the season…

Long, narrow, and dark,
the Dutch, with its shifting clientele—
from summer weekend pickups to Ocean City regulars—
allows for strangers. We order Irish coffee,
then two more, and use our change to play an arcade game.
Aliens, half an inch high, in green armor,
drop out of a glowing sky and quickly multiply.
Our backs to the storm, we play out
old anxieties, losing each game to time and starting over:
we must save what’s being threatened and not ask why.

SOURCE: “Ocean City: Early March” appears in Elizabeth Spires’s collection Swan’s Island (Carnegie Mellon, 1997), available at Amazon.com. Read the poem in its entirety at poetryfoundation.org.

IMAGE: Ocean City, Maryland, postcard by Curt Teich & Co.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A critically acclaimed poet and children’s book author, Elizabeth Spires lives and works in Baltimore, Maryland. Spires won a 1996 Whiting Award for her volume Worldling. Her children’s books include With One White Wing and Riddle Road: Puzzles in Poems and Pictures, and The Mouse of Amherst.

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MARCH
by Richard Kenney

Sky a shook poncho.
Roof   wrung. Mind a luna moth
Caught in a banjo.

This weather’s witty
Peek-a-boo. A study in
Insincerity.

Blues! Blooms! The yodel
Of   the chimney in night wind.
That flat daffodil.

With absurd hauteur
New tulips dab their shadows
In water-mutter.

Boys are such oxen.
Girls! — sepal-shudder, shadow-
Waver. Equinox.

Plums on the Quad did
Blossom all at once, taking
Down the power grid.

NOTE: Richard Kenney discusses “March” at poetryfoundation.org.

IMAGE: “Luna Moon I” by Betsy Gray. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Richard Kenney’s first collection of poetry, The Evolution of the Flightless Bird (1984), received the Yale Younger Poets Prize.

Kenney’s second book, Orrery (1985), took its name from an eighteenth-century device used to display the movements of the solar system. During the 1980s and ‘90s Kenney received a number of prestigious awards, including the Lannan Award, the Rome Prize in Literature from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and a fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. In 2008 he published One-Strand River: Poems 1994-2007. Kenney is professor of English at the University of Washington, where he teaches in the MFA program. He lives with his family in Port Townsend, Washington.