From My Attic Window by Ashok Niyogi.
Wild red berries
Border tentacles of Berryessa,
Caressing the Highlands
With gentle murmurs,
Rolling hills with primary green,
Picture postcard in the rain.
Monticello Dam is blocked off,
In the open at your peril.
The rock face makes sobbing sounds,
Othello in despair,
The rock has tears
Streaming down its brown-black cheek.
In the beards of wizened trees,
Rolling sheep on spindly legs,
Horses have gone to sleep.
The bovine munch away
Udders bursting with cream,
I park the car near Turtle Rock
And chew the cud for them.
Creek to stream to river to lake,
Lapping at Spanish Flat village and store,
Unfriendly geese waddle
For earthworms and snails,
Take to water as I approach
And are graceful again.
Blackbirds tease in swarms,
The clouds come down and ruffle my hair,
A solitary speedboat jets by
As the geese turn around and gaze,
And swim away, nonchalant.
Two fishermen stand their watch,
Silence devours the grayish light,
Black clouds are in muted pain.
Two islands in diagonal tandem,
Inner Island haphazard
Like the hair beneath my parka,
Big Island with the Apache crew-cut;
And then the Highlands fall away
Into creeks and canyons.
Clouds are rent asunder
By the sun in the west,
The water slowly weeps its way,
Gathers speed as it descends,
Like the evening of a human life
Spent partly in the studied rain.
"Wine tasting and vineyard tour
By prior appointment only",
Your final visit
To Mr. Richmond's funeral parlor,
By prior appointment only,
Bingo at the Ladies' club,
Gentlemen to wear clean socks only,
Methodic rape of virgin meadows
In geometric patterns only,
Houses painted in Spanish colors
By Mexican labor only,
Row upon row of grape vines
With gnarled brown stumps only,
Back to Martinez via scenic route four
With a dead-end ahead only,
Jalapeno with stuffed cheese
At "Jack in the Box" only.
Slush from tires,
Through defogged car windows,
In winter rain only.
Chinese New Year
Today, the sun has come out
At least through my rectangle of window,
The eight palms that I can see
Look lush in the morning wind,
They must be eating healthy and working out.
Yesterday began the Year of the Rooster
At least in San Francisco,
With plastic floats to keep out the rain
And a plastic Miss China USA.
The snails have loped back into the grass
As have earthworms and sundry poets,
This is the year to hear, not talk,
To seek guidance on stocks and bonds.
Starbucks coffee is superior
To my favorite Borders blend
Espresso in china cups
To warm your palms
As you shelter from the rain.
I read The Waste Land to myself
In cruel February, without lilacs,
No dead land, no Virginia Wolf,
No Ezra Pound, no profound Joyce,
Bypassed Mr. Eliot's mischievous notes
And walked the pedestrian path
With Michael North.
Now I shall have to listen to Wagner,
Read Dante, worship with the Grecian gods,
Maybe I will walk my mountain path
And see that man in front of me,
Always, this is the year to hear,
Warfare In My Bedroom
Black ants march in single file
Ten workers to one warrior,
From potted plant to fallen crumbs
Of strawberry cake, on duff carpet,
Difficult terrain to negotiate.
Cockroaches stand their complacent ground,
Nibbling, antennae swaying,
Like aerials out of armored cars,
Ants return in single file,
Eight now to every warrior
And some warriors limping away.
Four tug at a cockroach wing,
The other four
Drag the carcass of their fallen two,
Weighted down with medals of war.
Cockroaches have the advantage,
They can mutate and migrate,
Ants file back to their bloated Queen
Who feasts on dead ant (medals and all)
And cockroach wing,
And lays her eggs.
Trees Are Bare
Flowers climb up subway stairs,
Annotated with autumn snow,
Ms. Karpova, button up your mink,
Hide yesterday's wine
In Alicante, the sea is cold,
Mothball your bathing suit,
Light my forest for your fire,
Orange, red and beaten gold.
Dr. Gupta, lay out your Burberry,
Three buttoned blazers are out of fashion,
As is inordinate passion,
Palpate my liver with lily hands,
Has the cirrhosis bloated or shrunk?
Hotel California from which Eagles soar,
The borrowed stress of immigration cards
Correctly filled out once more.
Fingerprinted and photographed,
Ms. Sabatini shuffles her Tarot pack,
Pulls out for me The Hanged Man,
"You have a nice day"
Second mortgage on your home loan,
Throw your credit card dues in the can,
Mend Tsunami bridges
And censor the debris away
From Banda Aceh.
Some trees are bare,
Others sprout leaves of infant green,
Poppies and Petunia suffer the frost,
My universe emerges
From the morning of dawn.
Curl up your toes beneath the comforter,
Listen to the coffee percolate,
Stare at dead leaves with a frown,
Light your first cigarette,
Rub away last night's decay
"I'm calling from Minh Toes & Nails,
Don't hang up".
Turkey inside brown bread,
One hundred calories.
Dew drops from yesterday.
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