Santa Cruz Good Times

Tuesday
Oct 21st
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

 

Field Work

Santa Cruz Mountain winemakers explain how the harvest works, and what kind of wine to expect from this year's crop

 

Libra's Two Choices

Libra (our last week) is the sign of creating right relations and values. In Libra we are asked to choose how to be, our identity in the world. We can maintain a hermetic sealed-off attitude (my life, my work, my money, etc.) or we can gain knowledge of world events and learn more about those in need. Libra is a group sign—self with others. Here are some events occurring in our world this week concerning food, poverty, spirituality, values and global realities. The UN (a spiritual experiment) each month places a “light” upon world problems. This week a light shines on Rural Women, Farms, Food & Poverty. Before we choose to respond we must have knowledge. “So we can each do our part.” Oct. 15 - International Day of Rural Women (unrecognized with few resources); Oct. 16 - World Food Day & Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth; Oct. 17 - Eradication of Poverty Day (international). During the month of Libra (with Saturn exalted), we pause, contemplate and assess what it is we know, don’t know, and need to know. Libra receives and distributes Ray 3 of divine intelligence, right relations, right choice and right economy (Venus). Use your intelligence “tips the Libran scales” in terms of being able to see and then choose between the two paths Libra offers (return to the past or step forward into Scorpio’s Discipleship). Libra (the oscillating light) prepares us for the great tests and conflicts in Scorpio. In Libra we are subtly tested as we learn the nature of polarized energies (s/he loves me, s/he loves me not). In Libra we learn more about ourselves through others. Libra’s Ray 3 asks us to become more adaptable and skillful. And then we are to teach each other what we know. In Libra, we all become teachers. In all these ways love is cultivated.

 

The New Tech Nexus

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

 

Docs Without Borders

United Nations Association Film Festival showcases documentaries from around the globe
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Nut Kreations

Co-owner Craig Olsen goes nuts over nuts

 

What artist or artists participating in the encore weekend of Open Studios should not be missed?

Santa Cruz | Teacher

 

Martin Ranch Winery

Friends who are wine club members of Martin Ranch invited us to the winery’s fun and festive annual barbecue, where the wine is flowing and the food just keeps on coming. Music and dancing are part and parcel of the action, and a good time is guaranteed.

 

Beer Bus

Santa Cruz’s new Brew Cruz, award winning ales, mole by el Jardín, and Wildcat Ridge Chardonnay