a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
PACIFIC OCEAN BREAKS, MY POETICS
they come in from every direction no knowing
which way they’ll turn break
so wild foamy in excess their beauty even before
they crash so monstrously huge their lust, their light
upon the sand upon each other breath
taking from where on earth
did this come sometimes
disappointing piddly you
turn away but they don’t
upon wave plowing in so conflicting
their path, so contrary
the silver soaked shore
going south now head ripped off
flying behind the next tunnel
too immense a girl drowning in the rip tide nothing
makes her feel more at home now seeing them coming nothing
makes her more the poet than these long silver lines
and going back
exploding their own order all
civil orders the churning
mudgold blue of the terrorist undertow in front
slanting off the opposite way the one behind colliding they
never stop o fuck here comes another too many they don’t sum up the light
writing the universe the bioluminescences
of autumn the girl’s neon body
face down in the sand
gasping air pound and roar ever changing rhythm, moan
of earth turning over
on the turning globe to the blinding sun eye
star surf of heaven her
son and daughter inside surfing to shore
Abalone deep down there growing the waves
high up here flying, light and water
and earth and sky, abalone all along
growing thirty years now on this headland
writing, all this time growing my meat
my shell, my glisten, my suck.
The Pomo wore abalone to ward off sorrow.
Mid October, the divers keep surfacing—“Oh!
there’s so many down there
you catch your limit in ten minutes”
keep pulling up abalone
roots of the waves, root of this sunset, red and silver
abalone the identical waveroot pattern. And the full Moon
coming up behind, all night sailing to the west
on the abalone clouds. O my glistening moon
will they pull you up too?
There was a pyramid of abalone shells
next to a pyramid of black bombs
on the black asphalt shortcut we took
Friday nights, coming and going
The bombs, black iron balls with fuses
were like the black marbles on our Chinese Checkers board.
The abalone shells were shiny silver moons, Egyptian
pyramid beside the Nile, as shiny
as the bombs were dull black.
LOS ANGELES RIVER I LOVE YOU
and darkness was on the face of the deep. Gen 1:2
My head on the sand looking up
to sky was earth. Was me
behind or under or inside the earth, exactly me, looking up. Dry
but flash floods to come. Who
I am. Shell on the curve
of the horizon blowing sand. Gull behind the wave
struggling to come in. My eyes the fish. Flashing. My hair
the clouds. Flooding. I saw
the stars though it was day. Even when you’re dry, LA
you are here.
(“Place where the water comes down”)
You invited me for dinner at your campsite
on the Gualala River.
Your name was Rivera.
You cooked the meal in the fire pit
then asked me to comb your hair.
You said you have to be gentle
I don’t have as much as before.
Your hair was long and straight, silver black.
I loved your Indian hair
but I was certain I could not
We retired to your tent. The mouth
opened onto the fast flow to the sea.
It had been awhile and last time I couldn’t.
But on your thin narrow mat
on the hard dirt ground I opened
to the inside more than ever before.
Or maybe I’d just forgotten, Indian
lover that I am. But why
am I an Indian lover?
We loved all night in the dirt
the river rushing by half on the mat
cold and sore but loving
the earth so opened to the inside
where the water comes down I remembered
my infant son couldn’t stop crying
so I’d take him outside
lay him on the ground
which soaked up his tears
and lulled us to sleep
In town they argue the Indians
said Wa lala so the invaders say Gwa lala. Oh
Gualala, I have always known
how to love. (That’s why.) I’m so
grateful when allowed. You cooked me
dinner on the Gualala, you asked me
to comb your thinning hair. Your name was Rivera.
You invited me into your tent.
Sharon Doubiago is the author of many books of poetry, short stories, essays and memoirs. Her most recent publication is My Father’s Love, Vols 1 and 2, a memoir of childhood and its legacy in adulthood. Volume 1 was a finalist in the Northern California Book Awards. These poems are from her new poetry manuscript, Writing.