(After Robert Lowell)
Malibu Colony’s newest widow
slow pours the bourbon in her frosted glass;
her blue eyes stare out at the bay.
Her son’s a lawyer in Century City,
Her daughter’s an actress in LA.
She lives in the past.
the Liquorama Thrifty
in her Mercedes Benz 450,
she starts to stall.
The neighbor’s house looms up,
she hits the wall.
There’s naught but fog—
we’ve seen some changes on our street,
they buy, tear down, then build a bigger
edifice. Our exclusive
realtor’s cards spring up in front.
Boys kill cranes in Watkins Bog.
And now the local
congressman hangs up his signs for fall,
his office filled with MBA’s,
young turks stride up and down the hall.
There is lots of glory in his work,
he’ll be a judge someday.
Last full moon,
my old Chevette quit on the freeway edge;
I waited for smash-ups, blinkers on.
The tail lights passed me, red on red,
where the merge lane narrowed and was gone.
The Auto Club was coming soon.
A siren screamed nearby,
Death, unholy Death its song.
I wrapped my shaking arms around me
as if to calm my anxious heart.
I strained my eyes to see—
it seemed too long.
The deer that forage
the hillsides for something to eat
must live by their wits near city streets.
Brown shapes, moving shadows dart
beyond the lilacs where the ivy parts
for the halogen street light.
At my doorway,
I pause to look up at the stars.
A stag with full antlers steps from the brush.
Stopping, he returns my stare,
caught in the evening’s hush,
but he does not stay.
Patricia L. Scruggs’ work can be seen in ONTHEBUS, Spillway, Rattle, CALYX, Cultural Weekly and qarrtsiluni, among others.
tricycle beside the front porch,
May air filled with lilacs, peonies in June,
rain barrel collects soft water for washing hair;
hide and seek behind the second-hand sofa;
black Singer sewing machine,
pink nighties, doll clothes,
flowered curtains, apple-box dresser;
welded pipe swing-set painted silver;
teeter-totter plank board over a sawhorse;
snowmen, flyer sleds,
flooded backyard ice rink;
trash fire in an empty drum;
oatmeal sprinkled with brown sugar,
warm milk-toast for fever;
Eno’s Fruit Salts on the radio,
“Keep happy with the Happy Gang,
Keep happy, start your day with a bang…”
Woodbury cold cream,
white tipped shaving brush;
crocuses and shooting stars,
meadowlarks and robins;
the rutted road to school,
“Run, Spot, run,”
purple hectograph, blotters,
ink wells, broken pen nibs;
the Saturday matinee,
Sheena, Queen of the Jungle,
the Pathè News rooster
stretches and crows,
tanks roll across the screen,
followed by Looney Tunes.
Author’s note: “Black and White, l943,” is a collage of memories of Royalties, Alberta, a town that ceased to exist when the Turner Valley oil boom ended. Our family lived there during World War II.
Patricia L. Scruggs is a poet, artist, teacher, mother of two and grandmother of three. A Southern Californian by way of Colorado and Alberta, Canada, her work has been published in Calyx, OnTheBus, Spillway, Rattle and the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, Deliver Me, and So Luminous the Wildflowers.
Wotan sleeps in the house of Freya
surrounded by boulders and flames.
And he said: “Long is one night,
Long are two nights” (sounded phonically),
and he said: “But how shall I hold out three?”
That was Longfellow
(that old potato),
in l844 or 1845
and Emerson said he lived like a king
around the time
Courbet was denounced
(if he was denounced)
for painting The Stone Breakers.
It lacked spiritual content
or so the critics claimed,
but he said, “Je ne peux pas peindre un ange
parce que je n’enai jarnais un vu.”
He made his own exhibition in a shed
and distributed A Manifesto of Realism.
That was at the time
of the Paris Exhibition.
Later Lincoln wrote: “You can have
no conflict without being yourselves
but that was before
the South seceded
and Sherman marched
to the sea.
“Strike the tent,”
Lee murmured as he died,
with Grant already
in the White House.
“Anger is short madness,”
said Horace. I think not
of the helicopters
or the National Guard on every street.
As Mary Siewert said,
“I never thought I would be glad
to be living in a police state.”
After the warm spring rain,
the hills don
their poppy covered shawls.
When at night I go to sleep
National Guardsmen watch do keep.
Did He who made the lamb
make thee? Has He carved
both madness and bliss?
Let not the fear
cover up the fear.
The cat is king in his jungle yard.
Let go of thy talent
I say, let go.
Release thy genius
that flowers in its place.
Open thyself wide,
let the poem emerge.
This is all there is.
There is nothing else.
Patricia L. Scruggs is a Southern Californian by way of Colorado, Wyoming and Alberta. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Rattle, Spillway, OnTheBus, and the anthologies 13 Los Angeles Poets, Deliver Me, and So Luminous the Wildflowers. She is a retired high school art teacher.