Monday, February 19, 2018

Three Poems by Cleo Griffith

Symmetrophobia Says It All

for my sloppy fear of static forms,
barriers to
motions of leaves,
swish of water along gutters,
fluttering wings of walking pigeons.

Squares of cement sidewalk
trap my rounded toes,
double panes of window
press my curvature dimensions,
and the door, rectangular,
splays me against it.

Hard-line shapes corner me
the way cowboys cornered ponies,
to capture, bring in, tame.

I fear the regularity
of squares, envelopes,
the box of flattened-grain cereal.

Even words I write
tie me down,
bind and straighten,
try to make me
un-rounded as the letter "I."

The Shift Beyond Silver

Here is the shift--
perspectives drift from night
to where there is neither night nor day,
no moon to which to speak of heartache,
no sun to represent the higher truth.

The shift is slight--
does not alarm--new sight reveals
the falseness of identity,
does a raindrop have a singleness?
It shows us the opposite of complexity.

Shift slowly,
life the clock from its stand,
it means nothing now, its sand
neither stops, starts, nor exists.

We are but a silver memory
held between two green leaves of the apple tree
or lying against the soft lips of a poet.

Certain Wheels

when I hear the sound of certain wheels:
longing . . .

not those of the red convertible next door
or the motorcycle another neighbor loves
but the distant train wheels catch me
by the throat and heart each time

there is a town I know
beneath towering cliffs
of the Columbia River Gorge--
trains rumble several times each day,
echo across the wide rush
of green-gray water,
do not stop, carry only goods,
no passengers, none allowed to board
and go away, nor does any bus
do more
than travel through non-stop.
Residents must send their hearts west
to the Pacific on cold erratic waves or
join the unresting east winds,
sweep out of twon
toward rolling hills of golden wheat.

I am far away from the solid touch
of that familiar old pavement beneath my feet,
the sound of trains that pass and never stop,
but still, at the sound of certain wheels,
longing . . .

Cleo Griffith was Chair of the Editorial Board of Song of the San Joaquin for its first twelve years and remains on the Board.  Widely published, she lives in Salida, CA, with her husband, Tom, and their tabby, Tank.

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