Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Jul 07th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

The Poems of Ellen Bass

ae EllenBass(Irene Young)Editor’s note:  Ellen Bass was recently named the new Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate. Her poetry includes “Like a Beggar” (Copper Canyon, 2014), “The Human Line” (Copper Canyon, 2007), and “Mules of Love” (BOA, 2002), and she coedited “No More Masks!” (Doubleday, 1973), the first major anthology of poetry by women. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and The Kenyon Review. She teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University. Visit ellenbass.com.




Ode to Repetition

I like to take the same walk

down the wide expanse of Woodrow to the ocean,

and most days I turn left toward the lighthouse.

The sea is always different. Some days dreamy,

waves hardly waves, just a broad undulation

in no hurry to arrive. Other days the surf’s drunk,

crashing into the cliffs like a car wreck.

And when I get home I like

the same dishes stacked in the same cupboards

and then unstacked and then stacked again.

And the rhododendron, spring after spring,

blossoming its pink ceremony.

I could dwell in the kingdom of Coltrane,

those rivers of breath through his horn,

as he forms each phrase of “Lush Life”

over and over until I die. Once I was afraid

of this, opening the curtains every morning,

only to close them again each night.

You could despair in the fixed town of your own life.

But when I wake up to pee, I’m grateful

the toilet’s in its usual place, the sink with its

gift of water.

I look out at the street, the halos of lampposts

in the fog or the moon rinsing the parked cars.

When I get back in bed I find

the woman who’s been sleeping there

each night for thirty years. Only she’s not

the same, her body more naked

in its aging, its disorder. Though I still

come to her like a beggar. One morning

one of us will rise bewildered

without the other and open the curtains.

There will be the same shaggy redwood

in the neighbor’s yard and the faultless stars

going out one by one into the day.

 

Cheetah

Even with my good binoculars

it’s a buff-colored smudge in the distance.

A smudge that pivots

so the outline of an ear

becomes visible, briefly,

before it’s consumed into the whole again.

That’s it. And yet

it’s as if the world unbuttoned her dress

and we can’t get enough

of looking. This is happiness—

without the freight of happiness. Only

the machinery of our eyes

working so hard to speed through

the air thick with dust and sun,

through the tall, tangled grasses.

We’re looking through a pinprick

in the universe, bound

to any aperture, no matter how small,

glad to be swallowed completely. Hunger,

thirst, the need to pee

all disappear. We’re focusing

in now, our pupils opening. We’re way past

past regrets, failures, promises,

sunk deep

into that bit of tawny fur.

Comments (1)Add Comment
Congratulations, Ellen!
written by nick herbert, March 26, 2014
Congratulations, Ellen, on your elevation to poet laureate of Santa Cruz. In my mind's eye you always wore a laurel. Now your poet's wreath is visible to all.

much love
Nick

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

The Boards Are Back in Town

More than a century after a famed trio of Hawaiian princes first surfed in Santa Cruz, their redwood olo surfboards are returning to the Museum of Art & History

 

We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

Saturday, July 4, is the 239th birthday of the United States, commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence (the U.S. astrology chart has Aquarius moon—freedom for its people, by its people). Cancer, a liberating and initiating sign, is the “gate” where Spirit enters matter. Cancer receives and distributes Ray 3 (Divine Intelligence) and Ray 7 (new rules, new rhythms, new free nation under God). Cancer represents an intelligent freethinking humanity that can and must create right economics for the world. This means a policy of sharing, an opportunity for the U.S. when Venus (money, resources, possessions, etc.) retrogrades July and August in Leo (the heart of the matter). The United States has a unique spiritual task for the world: to lead humanity within and toward the light, accomplished by its people who must first awaken to this task, learn discrimination and be directed by the soul to assume the Herculean task of spiritual world leadership. Let us review the first words of our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this constitution for the United States of America.” Let us form that union together. The following is a review of the spiritual tasks for each sign. Read all the signs. They all apply to everyone.  

 

The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program

 

Film, Times & Events: Week of July 3

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Lunch is Packed

Picnic basket lunches from Your Place, plus smoked chili peppers, and new owners at Camellia Tea House

 

What would you like the Supreme Court to rule on next?

Raising the minimum wage so that those that are in poverty now can have a higher standard of life. Greanna Smith, Soquel, Nanny

 

Bruzzone Family Vineyards

Bruzzone Family Vineyards is a small operation run by Berna and John Bruzzone. Starting out a few years ago making only Chardonnay, they eventually planted Pinot Noir on their extensive property and now make this varietal as well.

 

Ty’s Eatery

Pop-up hooks up with Santa Cruz Food Lounge for healthy comfort food