Poem for Leo

..and then it was mid-August,
the fairs & festivals of fertile summer had all paraded by,
seducing this humidity from tropical skies,
inducing a humility of labor;
this poem came into being accompanied
by diamonds & rust on the car radio,
moon in watery Cancer, a flamenco-like rhythm
on the landscape, storm of cumulus aloft;
born under a restless tawny lion,
it is a child of California,
smells faintly of Tulare apricots, sugar-pine woodsmoke,
salt on heavy air, & Amador’s sweetest black Muscat.
Science teaches that the act of breathing is involuntary,
but I swear this poem learned to breathe
with the ebb & flow of the bay tides,
rise & fall of Joan’s guitar strings, its own voice
not unlike the sorghum-soprano descant that helped birth it-
it takes strange delight in the
you burst on the scene already a legend verse,
remembering David’s Song,
Hwy 101 revisited in an e-minor chorus,
lost & alone in a coast redwood forest,
listening to this midwife from Woodside, San Mateo county;
on a day too sultry to wear sleeves, much less underwear,
this poem covers its nakedness in summer gold,
a fold of foothills yarrow & swallowtail yellow,
tree-tobacco’s citron-flute & muted blue of roadside chicory
to remind itself of the sky before the monsoons came.
It allows nature to dictate its movements, left
part of itself behind in the razor-
snapp’d beak of corre-camino: Mexican roadrunner
now choking down dusty scales & whip-
snaking tail; rust-banded sagebrush lizard
escapes & extends its lifespan
one more miraculous day in the seeding chaparral.
This poem insists on remembering the word sacred
precedes datura, asks that it be taken at summer’s end
up into the Siskiyou’s and laid down in scarlet larkspur
at Maahcooatche, to await autumn’s diamond bright frost
where the deer come down to drink.

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