Giant poppies giving in
To the gravity of their beauty.
Your eyes cast down
Like the coast road to the rocks.
How beautiful you were.
The flowers came to nothing.
A scent of ocean sprawled
Under the trees like a puma.
How beautiful you were
Head back, your eyes lifted
Burning through the pelt of fog.
The forest sighs. Ignites
Lifting father’s wheelchair into the car
I see Ezekiel’s wheels
within wheels. We roll through springtime.
All around us on the way to church
forsythia impersonating flames.
And being beside me silent,
father’s certainty carries us into the fire like a chariot.
A 1000 daffodil eyes sparkle in the breeze.
Lion sun, let your yellow shine down
He rides complete in his own depth & breadth
serene as the bowl of pure sky we roll into,
transported by the wonder of butter sun.
Not his nine decades of life on earth
that bring acceptance but acceptance that brings
life. He names it “grace,”
which has six wings and will fold him
into the bright reunion.
Bull in the field, gore us with your horn-gleam
I wheel him into church for the touch of the burning Word.
I wheel into the parking lot to wait, burning
for a word that would touch me
like the book praised in my Times. “Blessing,”
he says. But I say “chance”
because we know the shape of chance.
one side of her face like the moon.
Hawk on the wire, cast your topaz eye
We both behold that beast with the four faces,
the man who sees in all directions at once
and holds in her hand,
reaching out to us on our wheels of desire,
the burning word. Father, I name your chariot Sulfur
because you know. Mine,
because I don’t, Lemon, a word that weighs more than God.
Maybe it’s luck all the way down yet
Sun-beast, you take us up together in yellow grace.
HOW A POEM IN LOVE JUST FALLS APART
I want to give you this very poem
very woven very built.
I made it out of words and from the light
at the crease of your cheek.
Let it be your favorite scarf be dark
sweet chocolate. It’s fat-free. It’s got
your arm hinged with my head in it when we lie spent,
hand at my earlobe,
turning your fingers out to graze.
Did I mention
you are my dictionary,
my order and serendipity?
Meaning that crescent of hair
listening, right now, at your ear.
It is the curves & corners of your voice.
Come, sashay into this poem.
Pick your way through the crowd of words.
They’ve had a bit too much, I admit,
and coupling everywhere.
Look around, shake things up
the way you do,
tossing out some
here and there into your bra.
Go on, re-make my poem
the way you do
my vast audience of one.
You give me a better view of the light
wearing nothing but …
OK OK. I hear you. Screw this poem. Let’s go
tongue some vowels.
Come, give me your labials.
We’ll go share liquids and bump
a hard consonant.
Born in Oakland, David Sten Herrstrom grew up with braceros in northern California working the dusty orchards. Coming east, he earned a Ph.D. in English literature at New York University, built a house, and received a Poetry Fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts. A sequence of poems with drawings by Jacob Landau, Jonah’s Disappearance, was published by Ambrosia Press, and he continues making poems, which appear in magazines as such as Columbia and US1 Worksheets. Currently, he is working with the composer Mark Zuckerman on an opera, The Outlaw and the King.