Wind blows stiff from the White Cliffs.
Along the road, rape seed fields
gleam florescent, like Van Gogh’s colors
in his warm weather mania.
First, I visit the Cloisters,
protected from swift gusts,
then downstairs to the shadowy
11th century Crypt and sullen dust,
a place for quiet, prayer and reflection.
I brought my travelers lamp (really just
a tiny book light from Blackwell’s).
On ornate carvings I read
some good history and some bad.
Of a sudden, walls reverberate, earth heaves,
sound lodges in my bones.
A quake? No, darker,
like a rumbling night mission.
Is it because I’m here with no real intent?
Someone gives a small cry.
I hurry upstairs to diffused light—
a vast choir on temporary bleachers
rehearses the Verdi “Requiem.”
V-E Day, 2015
Under the San Gabriel’s: A California Ghazal
A dry October. Sitting by the hotel pool, fan palms stand
stalwart as if rooted in iron, yet a cool off-shore breeze.
I remember banana trees ravaged by the Santa Ana’s,
leaves startled, split, then separated into prophecies.
Two girls in string bikinis talk of Las Vegas and college.
One says the name of her black toenail polish –“Jaguar.”
Air fills with the scent of coconut oil. Light on their feet,
I admire the easy way they spring from bright lounge chairs.
Golden lilies and creamy yucca bring warmth and beauty.
The handsome man in the turban says his name is Nick.
Camphor trees near the pool seem unnatural.
Someone says, “The Red Sox will play in The World Series.”
At the reunion yesterday, Ralph flew in from Hawaii, hibiscus
shirt and pukka shells. He remembered me from English 1-A.
Evening, violet hills obscure in haze, the fountain spews
blue and orange lights, white tents hoisted for a wedding.
Even in overcast and smog, beauty can be measured,
the milky Star Jasmine twining, crimson parrots flit of wing.
Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, California is interested in brief moments that may find their way into a poem. The ragged squirrel by the side of the road, green figs on a white plate, a sudden burst of melody, the cricket's song. Besides writing, Jeanine enjoys Tai Chi, collage and Romanian folk dance.