Issue 5: Phoenix
Bob Sward's Writer's Friendship Series
Need to Know
quick list to poets featured in this issue:
Frank X. Gaspar
James Lee Jobe
Daniel A. Olivas
||Frank X. Gaspar
I was walking in the garden looking for the intermediaries
between me and the clear light. I had left the hose running
much too long. Something was eating holes in the ear-soft
leaves of the morning glories. I saw for the first time
that the neighbor was growing corn-the yellow shocks
were leaning just above the cinder-block fence, and they
looked delicate and scruffy, like city corn, like alien corn,
and suddenly there was so much to be done, so much to
put in order, not the ordinary business of loving and dying,
but the ordinary business that comes bundled with them:
Sunlight behaved perfectly in every corner, the shadows breathed
in their one direction and told stories, our cat crouched in the flower bed
aching to kill something: How do you explain being so convinced,
so utterly taken by the idea that beauty is somehow moral?
I mean in this day and age? I mean now when no one can even get
that equation to hold up? But the ants have formed a black
ribbon that leads to a dead snail. But the Pipers and Cessnas
and Beechcraft are circling and banking for the airport with
so much color and precision. But the dogs two houses down
have heard the mail-carrier's foot, and they have erupted.
This is not the argument I'm looking for. And I have been lazy.
Tangerines and lemons have swollen and dropped from their
impatient branches. They lie among the fern and the vine, bruised
and mushy. They are being swarmed. They are being devoured.
In the courtyard, in the center of the oldest building
among the old Spanish buildings, among the white
stuccoed walls, among the ochre tiled roofs, the olive trees
are preparing to leave this world. They are dropping
the dark boles of their olives. They are lightening their burden
as if they might straighten their scarred backs. And the olives
are everywhere under the feet of the young girls and
the young boys and under the shoes of the old men
who are stooped with the weight of their books: olives
like black stars or black fish, staining the brick, drawing
the gnats and the resolute sparrows. The olives are bitter.
You cannot eat them. Here in the sun, on the weathered
bench, I cannot think how Claudius Caesar could have survived
alone on the secret olives he plucked from his trees, when he knew
his wife had poisoned his meals for weeks on end. Yet he outlasted
her resolve. That is the story. But these olives are bitter and
you cannot eat them. And where can they think they are
going, these bent, decrepit trees? See how they cast away
their eyes and ears. And the young crushing them under
their soft, light feet, and the old crushing them under
their heavy heels. These trees! See how they think they
have had enough of the earth? See how their shadows
are merely lace, how they leave the morning sun unperturbed?
See how they ready themselves over and over for the new life?