Jane Blue

A sparrow zooms perpendicular into an ash tree;
leopard markings, a black head, and it's gone.
Fledgling doves zigzag, suspended, through the street.
An empty hearse glides by, from some secret fleet.
Sparrows skitter, singing their cacophonous, atonal song.
One zooms perpendicular into an ash tree.
Pablo Neruda was tendered a toy wooly
lamb through a fence's hole. He returned with a pine cone.
Fledgling doves zigzag, suspended, through the street.
It surprises me that the boy was still there to receive it.
As though they lived in parallel universes, alone.
A sparrow zooms perpendicular into an ash tree.
It's how old lovers live, parallel, never to see
one another again except bobbing above hedgerows,
as fledgling doves zigzag, suspended, through the street.
We bleed and we slough skin and we heal, particles free
and recombining, eternally done and undone.
A sparrow zooms perpendicular into an ash tree.
Fledgling doves zigzag, suspended, through the street.

In July's long heat wave we felt
we were dead, or we were the living dead.
We had no hunger, no hungers.
We couldn't wail.  We couldn't smell
or even taste.  But now, the aroma of coffee,
the door open, traffic shushing by.
A phone ringing, jazz, blues, gospel in the air.
A fly examines my flesh
for rottenness––grease, dirt, any way in.
It's cold enough in the morning now
to change the trees quickly
like adolescence.
I like the way the sky opens in winter––
another month or two; I expect to live
to see it.  But who knows?  Who ever knows?
The Rose of Sharon, the crape myrtle, opulent
fat and messy at the end of their season.
I love them.  They are a part of my life.
I have lived in this place longer than anywhere,
even childhood.
I am planted here, yet every day I think about moving.

Let us learn to live swaying / As in a rocking boat on the sea.
––Friedrich Holderlin, trans. Robert Bly
The four of us walk in cold light rain––
four umbrellas: blue, blue, rose and beige.
The rose and the beige twirl and bow
at the entrance of the restaurant like a French film.
Then the pale sun of winter curls in, around
and under the canvas curtains
that hang halfway down mullioned
double-paned windows.  They sag in places
from the weight of ticking, stitches ripped,
a panel undone.  Someone begins a conversation
about the Resurrection.
The single curtain with its folded double
torn away from it, distorts the shadows behind it,
thickening them.  The curtain is less opaque
than the others, off-center, that is, eccentric.
A fair young woman with crimped golden hair
sits straight up, alone at a table by the window.
She resembles the Flemish virgin of von Cleef's
"Annunciation" reduced on a Christmas card. 
A line came to me this morning
from the unraveling edges of sleep: "The lonely,
isolated eyes of God."
He peeks through the curtains and sees us laughing.

Two raccoons are mating outside my window
in the violets and the rain.
It's February, 8:00 a.m., the clouds
falling down in the side garden, black as wet dusk.
They are tawny and masked, his face
behind and above her face,
a double image. His claws clutch her rump.
She squeals. He bears down.
He'll keep her where he's caught her
between the tupelo and the streaked pine fence
until it's done. This isn't Valentine's Day.
He may stay with her in a den in a tree
until the kits are born, but then he's gone.
Still, I am drawn to them
as to something holy. I put Enya's
"How Can I Keep from Singing" on the CD player
and begin T'ai Chi. They have keen ears,
but I have vanished in their urgency.
One last piercing scream from her and I see
him ambling toward the Joseph's Coat roses
pruned and knobby against the back fence.
She is nowhere to be seen.
The violets have just begun to bloom
sending a musky scent out
through all the backyards of the neighborhood.

Jane Blue's poems have been published recently in Convergence and Caesura, and earlier in such magazines as Avatar, Poetry International, The Chattahoochee Review, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Louisville Review, Antigonish, and Spoon River Poetry Review.  She was born and raised in Berkeley, California, and now lives near the Sacramento River.



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A CLOSER LOOK: John Koethe

Bruce Bennett

Jane Blue

Debra Bruce

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Ann Cale

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