Arrayed organs of sugar’s sweet birth,
the valves, the catwalk, the reservoirs
stout beneath bosses’ offices and a
wind-stretched American flag. Docks below
on Carquinez Strait once welcomed ships
from Hawaiian islands laden with cane.
Creosote pilings molder now, a century’s
tides having had their way. A refinery of
sugar is most needed in these bitter days,
distilling the positive and discarding the rest.
May there be more reservoirs of goodwill,
may there be open arms embracing bounty
from elsewhere. Only then can we taste
the sweetness our future holds.
Tupelo Press, one of the great independent literary presses, has tapped me and 8 other poets to write 30 poems in 30 days (actually 29 days, this being a leap year February) for their February 30/30 Poetry Project. This raises funds for Tupelo’s ongoing publishing support of emerging and established writers and poets as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (yes, donations are tax-deductable).
The 30/30 Project’s approach is like the sponsored walks, runs or rides of other nonprofits, except here sponsors benefit and help in the creation of original poetry.
I invite you to participate in this Project with me by sponsoring one — or more – of my remaining 10 poems.
Here’s how it works: Each poem I write is published that day or soon after at the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project website, https://tupelopress.wordpress.com/3030-project. Every day all February you will read some wonderful, newly-minted work by me and my 30/30 colleagues – 270 new poems in all. I have already written 18 poems this month that are published at the website, and there are 12 more left to go!
Here’s where you come in: You can sponsor my poems with a donation of at least $25 per poem. For each poem you sponsor, you can challenge me by giving me the poem’s title or an image or word, which I will then accommodate into the poem (or you can just let me loose on my own!). For those of you who want to enter the process further, for at least $50 per poem I will write a poem built around a person you would like to honor or memorialize. Finally, for $100 one lucky sponsor will have the distinction of sponsoring a quadrennial poetry event – a Leap Year pair of poems on February 29th. We will discuss how to make these special.
I hope that this excites your interest in my work and the poetry process. It’s all for a good cause and should be fun for everyone! If you choose to donate, please go to Tupelo’s page at https://www.tupelopress.org/donate.php. Scroll down to “Is this donation in honor of a 30/30 poet?” and select my name, “Clyde Long” from the pull down menu, so that Tupelo can credit the donation to my work. Also, message me so that I can appreciate your donation and talk with you about “your” poem(s).
Here’s to poems in February!
A memorable day across the Rio de la Plata in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay:
Water bottle battlefield
We escaped Buenos Aires aboard a ferry in
steerage struggling across the Rio de la Plata
headed to another land, its stories ancient
and military with fortress and basilica.
Beer and fruit and bread sustained us as
we sailed the broad river, more sea than stream.
Docking we disembarked into the barrio historico,
bougainvillea blooming wild above ancient
arches and cobblestones, its square moldering,
iron fences swooning left and right, curbs sinking.
The lighthouse tower cast a long shadow,
its Cyclops eye winking back at Buenos Aires.
Fortress soldiers stood at attention in formation,
knights and pawns and rooks wrought from
melted water bottles misshapen on a chess board.
We tourists moved them on the battlefield until
by day’s end their war was more a mosh pit.
Walking a couple dogs on a brisk December night is one of life’s simple pleasures!
I squire the pups down past our
tower of holiday lights, down to where
the neighborhood lights shine in
clustered rainbow constellations,
ancients’ stories assembled in straight
angles and wrapped trees.
The cold monochrome sky above,
Lordy, it’s smeared with stars
telling stories we can only imagine
as we have it all here and now —
evergreen tang and oak smoke,
safe passage through black of night,
life force leashed and panting.
Sitting in a North Beach cafe–across Columbus from City Lights–I inhabited a moment of grace.
North Beach Grace
My journey to this table well set
with silverware and olive oil
began decades ago and an hour ago,
a tunnel and bridge path inflamed
in the furnace of late autumn sunset.
In this gilded moment I await my beloved
and our precious charge, wine on its way –
and here they are, enlivened and happy,
seated beside me, enthusing their day.
On this kind December evening we bask
under holiday lights coloring the shadows,
giving thanks for blessings bestowed.
Far be it from me to attempt to translate Shakespeare. Let this be an appreciation, filtered through my sensibilities.
Sonnet 73 Revisited
My eyes are glinting for you
reflecting fall trees’ losses
amid final colors where
not long ago birds sang
and you thrilled to me
not knowing it was me.
Winter solstice is next,
darkness tipping the scale
yet light abides, I see you still;
darkness almost conquers
but I see you still.
Sonnet 73, William Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
As we hear the daily dirge in this Season of Slaughter there seems to be a dichotomy of emotions doing battle as well. It’s fragmentary and complex, at least for me, and here I put it to words:
Choice is yours
Engage or avoid?
Excise or fertilize?
Let ’em in or keep ’em out?
Fight or flee?
Turned cheek or haymaker?
Middle finger or arm wave?
Smile or grimace?
Move it or squash it?
Offered hand or closed fist?
Tears of joy or sadness?
Pay it forward or pay a fine?
Bless fortune or decry fate?
Imagine or forget?
Be grateful or bitter?
Help or hinder?
Think or react?
Anger or compassion?
Attack or forgive?
Laugh or snarl?
Smooth or roil?
Hate or love?