THREE POEMS by MICHAEL ROTHENBERG: Michael is a poet, editor and publisher of the online literary magazine BigBridge.org, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change (www.100tpc.org), and co-founder of Poets In Need, a non-profit 501(c), assisting poets in crisis. Born in Miami Beach, Florida in 1951, Rothenberg moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 and co-founded Shelldance Orchid Gardens in Pacifica, which is dedicated to the cultivation of orchids and bromeliads. While in Pacifica, he helped lead local environmental actions that stopped major coastal developments that would destroy wildlife habitat. He was co-founder of Pacificans for Mori Point, a grass-roots group that led the battle to stop development of endangered species habitat on Mori Point and Sweeney Ridge, which resulted in the eventual inclusion of these areas in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He was also on the G.G.N.R.A. Steering Committee, the Board of Directors of the Pacific Land Trust and was founder of the Bromeliad Society International Conservation Committee. Michael has published 20 books of poetry including Nightmare of The Violins, Favorite Songs, Man/Woman (a collaboration with Joanne Kyger), Unhurried Vision, Monk Daddy, The Paris Journals, Choose, My Youth As A Train, Murder (Paper Press 2014), Sapodilla (Editions du Cygne-Swan World, Paris, France, 2016) and Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press, 2016). Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, was published in 2013 by Ekstasis Editions (Victoria, B.C., Canada), and in 2014 by Shabda Press (USA). A Spanish/English edition of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story, and the poetic journal collection, Tally Ho and the Cowboy Dream/The Real and False Journals: Book 5 are scheduled for publication in 2017 by Varasek Ediciones (Madrid, Spain). His work has been published widely in literary reviews and included in anthologies such as 43 Poetas por Ayotzinapa, edited by Jesús González Alcántara and Moisés H. Cortés Cruz (Mexico), Saints of Hysteria, A Half-Century of Collaborative American Poetry, edited by David Trinidad and Denise Duhamel (Soft Skull Press), Hidden Agendas/Unreported Poetics, edited by Louis Armand (Litteraria Pragensia), and For the Time-Being: The Bootstrap Book of Poetic Journals, edited by Tyler Doherty and Tom Morgan (Bootstrap Productions). His editorial work includes several volumes in the Penguin Poets series: Overtime by Philip Whalen, As Ever by Joanne Kyger, David’s Copy by David Meltzer, and Way More West by Ed Dorn. He is also editor of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen published by Wesleyan University Press. Rothenberg currently lives on Lake Jackson in Tallahassee, Florida.
for Hart Crane
But this, —defenseless, thornless, sheds no blood,
Almost no shadow—but the air’s thin talk.
In the air! maybe there
these spindly creatures
are ethereal. Maybe at
the Heart of Hurricane
But know them as I know them!
When Caribbean breezes
are spiders’ transport
leaf to leaf. Know them
the leathery grapplers
woody rooted, sawtooth wind-slicer
holds fast to slippery bark of Anything!
Fierce, succulent, windworn
Know them! Passionate exhibitionists
burning, aching high
violet sweetheart of hummingbirds
broad berried wands of ripening Tropica, all
no pretense to divine. They are great
white tufted seeds parachute course
through curtains of lianas
cling to craggy bark
build gardens, festooning cities
Bromeliad, out on a limb, civilization
of raw vegetable kingdom generating until all
kingdom, life and limb, crashes to the ground
Frog pond! Serpent house! Stagnant channeled
reservoir! Malaria nursery!
Or wedged on rocky sun blast ledge! Or anchored
as forbidding hedge
for robbers. Barbed.
ELEGY FOR THE DUSKY SEASIDE SPARROW
Rock Hudson died of AIDS.
Rita Hayworth's picture was pasted
on the first Atom Bomb.
Yul Brynner died the day my father died,
Orson Welles a week after.
So what about the Dusky Seaside Sparrow?
Extinct in the middle of June,
nineteen hundred and eighty-seven.
It's a Disney World
of space shuttles and evolution.
But this heart of mine
wants to stop.
the demise of the river,
the fanged beast at the door of the sea.
It's a sentimental heart in a roomful of mirrors.
It's always an elegy.
Thinking of you, Dear,
it's an elegy.
Stiff gray horizon
turned upside down
on my back
from a distant Gulf appear
in Pacific spray
Pelican, gull, piper burn
One big ocean
sent to another lost generation
Blood sparks in lunar swells
Screams of murder from the beach
The roar devolves
Agile, homeless bone of mammoth legends
(Coffee on the stove)
No, I won’t let go
Ignorance of the law is no excuse
but distraction tumbles into deception
Hermit crab, starfish eyes
Blue-black twilight travelers
Spoiled men of war
and sonic whales
Endless time and tide reveal
the unforgettable torture of sleep
Three Poems: Copyright 2016 (C) by Michael Rothenberg. All rights reserved.