April 14, 2015

Two Poems by Don Thompson

Genius Loci: San Joaquin
Crow is too commonplace,
more into roadkill than mythic status.
Coyote has been reduced
to skulking in near silence:
no more night howls,
but only those yips that sound
too anxious—all too human.
Tule swamp Badger is long gone,
gone with the Yokut.
And it's not Hawk who sees everything,
but notices nothing we care about,
makes no distinction
between trees and telephone poles.
Nor is it Wind which, though unseen,
musses hair and unsettles the dust—
an ordinary mischief maker.
So it must be Light then.
Even blurred by endemic haze,
it overflows the gulches
and slips in under the rocks,
saturates the dead grass
until it glows
for an hour after dark.

Hard to say who holds the deed
to this land.  Fence posts
staking out the property lines
have rotted, barbed wire
caught in some sort of legal snarl.
Jack rabbits have always lived here
rent free, burrowing
deep under sage and mesquite.
Long since evicted, uprooted
tumbleweeds hold their ground.
But someone has to pay the taxes,
someone who keeps believing
that next year or the next water
will flow down from Sacramento,
more than a trickle.

Don Thompson has been publishing poetry since the early sixties, including several books and chapbooks in this century.  Back Roads won the 2008 Sunken Garden Poetry Prize. An LA Times profile, “Planted in the San Joaquin,” remains available online.  Visit his website at www.don-e-thompson.com for links to his books.

1 comment:

  1. Your connection to the animals and earth is certain, Don. A quiet testament. Nice work.