Our meetings for the year 2023 concluded with a Poetry Night & New Moon Salon.
Several times each year, the Section has a Poetry Night in which friends and members of the Section read original poetry and in which poetry lovers in the Section read favorite poems. Original poetry has the spotlight and priority. We’re lucky that we have several poets who participate regularly in the Section meetings.
Poetry Nights occur on Zoom. Many of our poets reside in states or countries outside Northern California.
The Section also sponsors regular New Moon Salons. These are evening of poetry, music, conversation, storytelling, and snacks. Prior to COVID, we celebrated these salons four times a year in the home. COVID knocked the wind out of the sails for a while, but only briefly — we switched to performance videos, and then to hybrid meetings.
Here are the original poems and translations read by the Section poets, along with some favorite poems read by poetry lovers.
All original poems are ©2023 by the signed poet.
“asides: on the road again, the wasteland vast”
“At the Edge of Advent”
The oak in the park is the last
to lose its leaves. Copper emblems
both sword and shield, they hang
from the lower branches, tinged
by the late November light always
different on this weekend of the
first of the four Sundays. dropping
like gossamer from the morning
blue above and suffusing the
afternoon earth, streets, rooftops
the sides of the mountains
To the south a small plane rides
the last of the light, veering north
Venus and Jupiter have crossed from
Scorpio into Sagittarius and a crescent
moon sits high to the horizon, each
one a beacon as the blue about
them deepens. Now I think of you
Gabriel, one of the seven archangels
concerned with our earth, with the
configuring of peoples, a turning in
an epoch, ever alert for what might
come to be, for the unveiling of a
new threshold, all of that now
a cloak about you as you stand
before her and wait for her answer
to the question in your words, a
question to herself: How will your
necessity become my possibility?
My cradle to craft, and to love?
In the gathering darkness
you stand, silently.
and wait for her to answer
November 2079 (from the book Good Time)
3 “Valentine Poems”
“Tis the Season Valentine”
Whoever stole the snowman
From our porch please come back
And take the baby Jesus
You obviously need him
More than we do
But I hope you know the star
That followed him now follows you
Please leave Mary and the donkey
She’ll get used to losing him
On the long trip back to Egypt
You must have children too
You want to cherish and amaze
But no gifts to bring no kings
These humbug Christmas days
“Once a Year Valentine”
In the curious fable of the palm trees
Who all longed to be ballet dancers
With their long legs and swirling skirts
Arranged in lines along the beach
There came a windy choreographer
Who sketched a pattern in the sand
Once a year on Christmas day
It was where a baby lay
Cast up by the churning waves
A magic child who granted wishes
When the palms began to sway
And to their dancing added voices
That rose in praise from far away
Once a year on Christmas day
“Christmas Lights Valentine”
One of our neighbors down the street
Hired a crane to cover
His enormous Ficus tree
With colored lights last week
It looked like a giant wig
Wearing a crown of sparkling gems
But as if that wasn’t enough
He lit up the yard and entire house
Until it resembled that candied hut
Hansel and Gretel would soon arrive
To nibble on and wake the witch
And instead of shepherds and kings
He planted a skeleton tall as the roof
Whose eyes are glowing coals
Its hand lunging for a falling star
LAST YEAR’S POINSETTIA
Though it bloomed twelve months ago,
it is still growing — stalwart, approaching
Christmas with sparse strong leaves,
a few with faded crimson blush, memories
from last year’s glow.
Its stems have grown strong from
a long journey through warm months and now
each leaf, veined and vibrant, greets
the damp grey November light while, below,
the soil holds curled brown leaves, broken free and
dying to the coming season
The flaming red leaves from the last year are but a dream.
Now a determination to become less has taken hold;
its old self does not sleep but stands alert in quiet display,
across a round table
from a thick central stem
stalks that coil, intersect, wind their way
from the main axis
to float, to search, to hover over a flat surface,
carrying verdant leaves that
bend, fold over, lie down and
pivot, filling every inch of the low space
fill your eyes with each twig, each
scalloped shaped plump leaf and notice
not one of them
stops to blossom or carries a hope
(read by Bruce Donehower, with Roger’s permission in his absence)
Get up early, the womb of night
still enclosing you: your heart
has beaten how many years now,
struggling to translate soul into body,
body into soul—and who is it, inside,
who has watched it all? Each morning
there is a first breath, a first cry;
imagined—remembered—shapes of wings
bear you once more to the earth. How
does the new life free itself
to carry its wild and hopeful news—
how do the accumulated hours
of daylight lay you, each night, in the grave?
This particular morning, dawn
is purple, dark, shepherding all hearts—
and in each, the choir creates the willing ear.
How does any of this work in the world?
The sleepers on the train are not
driven off today—they are let sleep,
curled close in their seats, undisturbed,
running in their dreams to the Child
“The Mirror and the Muse”
Legends of King Arthur’s Court
Legends of King Arthurs Court Come drifting down through
Dusty centuries past
Enveloping me in a phantom white
Cloak with great Pendragon on breast high
Visions of Mead on a table round
Crackling fires in massive halls
Mirth! And talk of High Deeds
As it waifs by and past, a longing…
A remorse if you will Engulfs me
Mighty Excalibur is No More!
I alone stand here
Chevalier of Olde….
Am I all alone? Hast thou forgotten Camelot?
I shall once again, as the memories come back
Deep inside the high walls of Camelot
Listening to the Knights of the Table Round
Praising God and Arthur.
The Scent of Memories
Today is Friday, the day I get up early,
get all the shipping out, drop off at post office
and go swimming…afterwards I float on my back in the jacuzzi with the jets off, gazing up at the blue sky and scudding white cotton ball clouds weaving through the palm fronds…
then I drive out to Green Star coffee to pick up my organic brew and as I was opening the door,
suddenly I am hurtled back to country roads, summer days and horses…the clip clop of hoofed shoes, wading a creek, eating a sandwich in the shade of the trees on mossy banks as she clipped the sedge, rolling the bit on her tongue
open air barns filled with hay bales, the smell of alfalfa and oats, the sweet scent of warm horses, rubbing liniment oil and hoof picks…
brushing her, and blowing softly up her nostrils….back and forth, breathing together
then the tug of the opening door pulled me through and with years of memories sifting by…. captured by those days….the lovely young man looks up awaiting my order.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“To the Moon”
(translated and read by Bruce Donehower)
Once more your silver light
Fills valley, bush and trees . . .
Expanding over silent fields of night
Until my soul slips free.
You hold me tenderly in sight
And soothe me like my lover’s face.
O, how mildly you describe
My destiny, my fate.
To every sound, my heart gives echo:
“Times of gladness, times of woe!”
Racked by joy, racked by sorrow,
I wander on, alone.
Dearest river, endless stream!
I am sad. Forever.
Kisses, pleasure? Vanished dreams!
Faith in loving? Never.
Once I possessed it —
Delight beyond words!
But now? Torture exquisite!
Remembrance is my curse.
River, flood this valley!
Rush! No rest! No peace!
Rush! And whisper inside me
Poems and melodies!
When in winter night
You over-swell so angrily . . .
Or in Maytime bright
You quiver buds so lovingly . . .
Blessed is she, who puts an end
To self and world. She without hate,
Who loves one friend
and with him tastes
That which goes so strangely dark,
Unthought by common minds,
That which through the labyrinth of heart
Wanders in the night.
2 Poems from The Sea and the Bells
(shared and read by Marion Donehower)
Is the sea there? Tell it to come in.
the great bell, one of the green race.
Not that one, the other one, the one that has
a crack in its bronze mouth,
and now, nothing more, I want to be alone
with my essential sea and the bell.
I don’t want to speak for a long time,
silence! I still want to learn,
I want to know if I exist.
I came here to count the bells
that live upon the surface of the sea,
that sound over the sea,
within the sea.
So, here I live.
Arvia MacKaye Ege
(shared and read by Alice Stamm)
Are we not all woven like bright blossoms
With strands of light into one flowering wreath-
Those of us who breathe the breath of heaven
And those who breathe the naked air beneath,
So Iike one unfolding cosmic garland
So firmly, ever newly intertwined
We weave the life-web of the seamless garment
Of the spirit being of mankind.