Poetry Night / February 10, 2024

“Tools of the Trade” / Photograph taken in Robinson Jeffers “Hawk Tower” / Big Sur / Northern California, North America / Photo: Bruce Donehower


March 10, 2024

Dear Friends,

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, if there is time. 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. Some of our poets reside in places far from Northern California.

The Section also sponsors New Moon Salons. These are evening of poetry, music, conversation, storytelling, jokes and snacks in the style of early romanticism. Since so many friends and members live at a distance, we switched to hybrid meetings for these salons.

Here are the original poems and translations read by the Section poets.

All original poems are ©2024 by the signed poet.


Susan Koppersmith

“With Monet, Late in Life”


Under a bridge float my many lives;
They are shimmering pastels.
They float on still waters.
A willow weeps behind the bridge.
Below it are memories, lilies that drift.
Their opened are shimmering in the sun.
Blossoms drift on a mirrored surface.
The shaded air is listening and remembering.
The lilies have emptied, they are open.
My heart is like one of those lilies.


“Late Summer


“. . . And here the dark infinitive . . . ”
— Mark Strand

summer has come undone.
roses, mouths open,
devour the midday air.
Light — languid and bright,
moves over the land, while
underneath in the dark earth
the soil is moaning, slow tones
as it empties itself
of verdant grass, the fullness of blossoms,
the heavy-leafed bushes.
summer has fulfilled itself.
its fecundity is dark,
with roots intertwining, winding around,
like a dog settling,
to sleep.




Nicholas Morrow

“Love Always Wins”


What will it take to turn the tide,
to quench the fires burning forest and town,
still the waters ever on the rise
and the wind that ravages the land,
while the earthquakes, molten within,
the ethers, challenged with insidious intent,
thoughts, feelings, and deeds without a master?

Do we really think there is an answer
and hope it will come before it’s too late,
continuing to do what we have always done
while changing appearances to match the times,
keeping the same company, habits, and goals
that brought us here destined for destruction,
or worse, acquiesce without the will to resist?

Do we wake grateful and inspired
for the opportunities that life brings,
for the sun that lights up the day
and surrenders to night, sleep, and dream,
for the beauty of rain, wind, and snow,
for love freely given in all that we do
with the joy of knowing each other?

What does knowing mean anyway?
To give something or someone a name
and define its nature, appearance, and worth,
its uses for profit and gain without recognition
of the soul and spirit from which it springs?

Or is knowing a living relationship, evolving into ever higher states of consciousness?
This poetry knows! Do you agree?
It sees with the eye of a lover what matters,
with the compassion of a creator for creation,
and dances with truth to beauty’s song,
accepting what is and not giving in
to evil, hate, and lie that are on the loose,
knowing love always wins in the end.


“The Rabbit Hole and Time”


The mad hatter paces to and fro
– what to do, where to go –
the rabbit hole is populated
with want-to-bees discombobulated,
and Alice is off to bake a cake
while the evil queen and wicked witch
make their move to alter fate.

In an animated conversation
the hatter evaluates the situation –
“Enter the hole and face the foe;
where insanity rules, mad men go.”
“Forget the party, cake and tea
and leave Alice to her own demise;
what I don’t know I cannot see.”

Alice took a pill to make her small
and another to make her tall,
chasing the rabbit, chasing time
and it was all happening in her mind;
even the characters were imagination,
but you, mad man, have been chosen
to rescue Alice before it’s too late.

Where to begin; what must I know?
This madness sees what others cannot –
innocence as wisdom’s greatest joy
and curiosity as destiny in disguise,
together all that you need to act
in the reality of the imagination –
Rescue Alice and free the world.

Take the pill of consciousness,
entering the field with joyous laughter –
“’Tis a game of chess they say…”
Inspire the queen to rule with honor
and charge the witch to heal all ills,
then join the party and celebrate –
the rabbit hole and time will wait.




Dan Davis

“bridge 3 cathedral grove”


6 x 6’s and 12 x 12’s
across the creek
trees raise holy silence
everyy dayahh
day by day raise
green, by the sun,
raise like long green
valleys deep and steep
ferns like laurel and ivy
like stripes of mosses
cling their climb
like roots into rock
or dirt wind like rain
would have in the creek
or across, too
washed clear of dirt and green

trees above
trees below
trees across
trees raise silence

like voices

timbers fallen
trees fall to timbers
redwood creek
bridge 3

every needle
ever greened, lifted
to and by the sun
drifted to
filled with roots
that raised
the needles

stitched stacked
cell to cell
needle green
limb grown
limb by limb
by needle silent
to a tip
to the sun

limb by limb
green laced
trined to
the needed sun

bridge to
sun/silent blue sky
timbers crashed
out loud
off away
from against
the silence
the laurels ivied among
the ferns the timbers’ cover
like the needles on the stem to
its tip the earth takes
fog tends well
like silence’s

(silence in the laurels ivies ferns:
silence like a bridge
its timbers too strong
that ever they could creak(


for the raven’s caw-call, gloss, gleam and glide (claw will hold) and quickened eye’s-
more so
for the fox’s scream at others’ ears (‘presence), at night’s darkness, at far stars
space and fog’s keep hides—
no, not a call, at all,
but cells open to their existence:
a tooth that lets blood
drown its throat
and claim/calm
its ruff.


bears and holds

raven and fox
bough and burrow
the moist air like the greened warmed

fog to the night belongs.
fog the near ocean spun
its mists needles gather
drop down dark air
to ivy and fern and laurel
or earth
the needles’ own roots

fog drifts. night belongs
night belongs.
mists dwell ladders’ laces,
slickn’d needles mists ally.
mists bonded find dark air below
slice down


“a poem is a machine made of words”


a poem is a machine made of words

is like an axle

on an
orange wheelbarrow

glazed with rain

so much depends upon

like unlicensed

motion like pegasus




Bruce Donehower

A Translation of a Poem by Rainer Maria Rilke / Read in German by Marion Donehower



“To the One”


“. . . it is not the poet’s business to relate actual events,
but such things as might or could happen
in accordance with probability or necessity . . . ”
— Aristotle


“, , , very like a whale . . .”
— Shakespeare


Above the earth
The star that shines
Reminds me that a clever rhyme
Occurs without my fretful mind
Hatching plans or wasting time
In search of some Dead-Poet Shrine.

Instead, a sense of me resigned
Takes comfort in the number nine.
“Why nine?” you say.
“Because it rhymes?”

Your question shows
That in your mind
Rhyme and sense
Must always twine
According to some
Master’s Plan
That never happens.
Never can!

And so I leave you with this rule:
The star the shines behind the blue,
Behind the veil of Logos light,
Finds in darkness sheer delight
And knows that number nine is when
The Goddess’ dance begins . . . and ends.

Always shining.
Ever new.
Always sunlit.
Never blue!




Roger Rindge



No, we cannot shelter under music now—
no comfort or refuge;
if you give in that way, the tears
won’t ever stop. Now, it breaks

through to us from worlds we yearn for
but are frightened of; the old
paths having been lost for years.
Or if we are to make our way there,

offering up sound, the instruments
will be edges, swords, borders,
past anything familiar of feeling
or thought; new intention, new

will, on fire with wakefulness. And comfort—
to come back to that—pouring its clear-
shining and upright warmth into places
we didn’t know could be comforted.


“Gubaidulina (2)”


You fly back and forth over
the border with fearless ease,
the sun feeding your plumage

while you feed us
with nutriment of sound and word,
dropping mysterious keys

to doors we can’t yet conceive of;
and we are still too much on this
one side, chasing tones

through deep drifts of snow,
our legs and our heavy shoes
bewildered and inspired . . .




Peter Rennick

“The Promise of the Gods Valentine”


Clearly the darkness is the light’s last color
Where it all gets broken down
All the colors rushing in
From the periphery to blind night’s
Bestrewn darkness
Where it’s raining
On half the earth
And on the other half
Sunlight pours in
Where the colors take their places
Having suffered enough for one day
Floating a bridge across the abyss
Hurry or you’ll miss it


“At the Abbey Valentine”


I assume your world
As you must assume mine
We are all caught
In some glorious assumption
About to happen as soon
As we get ourselves out of the way
Take a breath it could be mine
Breathing my life into yours
I assume the greatness
Of your world
As you must assume
All the gratitude in mine
If we are ever to be lifted
Slowly calmly off the ground




Una Korbin



I’m being watched.
The wide-open eye of the moon
sees through my filmy curtain,
pulls the cover off my sleep,
draws me to her hypnotic gaze.

I attempt to cobble dream wisps
into my night awakening,
but all that might be sensical
is incinerated in her white light –
absorbed into Her aliveness –

Her unhurried whirling dance
unveiling the naked darkness
disappearing and returning
in the thinnest veil
our eyes detect –
thread by thread exposing
her cloak of light.

Now in fullness
her mercurial pouring,
shimmering back
like a signaling lighthouse,
calling her story out of us
in rhythms of gaping time,
enchanting the rise and sway
of the ocean and each creature’s
throbbing birth.

White Goddess
Rib of the Earth –
Our awakened dream.


“Light a Candle”


Light a candle,
Bring it within.

This flame is halo enough
to waken the huddled darkness –
black silhouettes frozen in time.
Watch their edges fidget
as they thaw and arouse,
awaiting your discovery.

They are overstayed guests
wanting one thing or another.
Shine this light upon them –
see who’s who,
each one speaks
a different tongue,
so listen carefully, to each.

What they want is you.
Step bravely into
their shadowy feet,
enter the shape of their flesh,
listen for the trail of their longing,
what you have been carrying.

If you give them
what is inside their asking,
you will receive.

They may go, vacate.

What remains?

An open window,
a clearing,
new fields of fresh life
to stretch, roam,
and climb as pulsations
of a flame.




Susanna Gaertner

Several Short Poems: “Cock’s Crow’, “Autumn Leaves”, “Investment”, “Shakespeare & Company”, “Imprimatur”, “Logik”, “Baltimore”


Cock’s Crow

Forever in your recent years
the sun has not come up any more.
You know it is morning
by the end of plausible nightmares.


Autumn Leaves

Cold bespangled
in their flight to earth
fallen angels
which yet exhale
summer ecstasy.



My ancestors’ bones
given on temporary loan
my children will repay the interest
my death augment the capital.


Shakespeare & Company

“Age cannot wither
nor custom fade
the power of your smile.”

The twinkle in them may weaken
as the wrinkles around them deepen
etching parallel laugh-lines into my heart
at eighty, I shall stand transformed
alive, radiant, seeing myself with a start
as in a mirror of your eyes at thirty.



unlock your hands to me
for I will then unclose
or, if you wish,
my life will shut like a book
that is past,
printed, you, on the last page



was wir nicht kennen
koennen wir nicht nennen
was wir nicht nennen koennen
koennen wir nicht lieb gewonnen haben
ich liebe dich mehr als ich dich kenne
also doch nicht dich



Red porches gaped stupidly
at the traffic in the sooty streets
and stifled the yawns of the houses behind.

Those red jaws could not bite for their size
the explanations offered by exhaust pipes
that stopped, screaming at the ragged row-house doors.




Philip Thatcher

“February Moon”


The moon of purification
said the Romans
the before dawn air crisp with
frost, scouring itself clean

cleansing the moon’s light as it
slips down from the south
toward its vanishing point just
shy of west and enters the tangle

of branches beyond my window, snagged,
the branches incising its shine
then released to rest in the open
fork between trunk and trunk

A waning moon, just off full, a sliver of
light gone from its earthward edge
drawn toward, through the sunward
bow by the long threads of the sun

Purification and sacrifice, as the sun draws
the moon homeward night by night
sliver of light by sliver of light drawn
through that bow until it is but a sliver

of itself, yet held near full this moment
between earth and sun, trunk and trunk
the dawn air crisp with frost
scouring itself clean


“Almost Autumn”


A waning moon, these nights at
the end of August
Voices from a
late summer party rose and fell
along the block last night, voices
wanting release from what will
not let go, the plague that persists
the election not wanted, the cries
of the ones stranded in a flow of sewage in a faraway land. from
that pinprick to the heart

And the ravens wing along the
edge of these mornings, the sound
of them hidden in distant trees
or fleeting across a span of sky
going from burnt to lucid blue

Are they telling us something?
a friend asks
Maybe so
maybe telling me to return to
Basho and Ryokan, to listen
closely. breath by breath, to
what moves within, between
those compact lines
held apart, held together by a
thin poignant blade

A waning moon
that pinprick to the heart
almost autumn