Time Share on the Coast

— Diane L. Moomey

Ball slices into the rough,
too rough: Smell of wet
cat, rustle of leaves, snick
of a snapping twig.
I leave my white ball where it lies
and take another.

Ninth hole. I scoop
this ball from the cup,
still dewy. A tuft of tawny hair
sticks to its pebbled surface.

Sand trap, your scat. This morning
you were seen upon the green.

The rough again— eyes, you waiting
for dusk, for dark, waiting for me
to pack my clubs, cross the last green,
slam the car door. You, patiently
waiting your turn.

 

Expecting Poetry: a pantoum

— Diane L. Moomey

I

“New bones for old”, they’d cried aloud—
I’d sleep with knives and staples,
the shaman of titanium—
I’d sleep and dream of verse.

 

The knives and staples; then the days
I’d fill with paint and paper,
with brush and sleep and dreams of verse,
of sonnet and pantoum.

The hours of paint and paper; days
of water, paper—white.
Of meter:  sonnet and pantoum;
vermilions and umbers.

However,

II
every page still paper-white
while paragraphs are parsed
(no umbers or vermilions,)
parsed within the femur.

Whole paragraphs are parsed within:
(the knitting of new sinew,
scansion deep within the femur,
purling of new bones.)

The knitting of new sinew. Dactyls
hover out of reach.
The purling of new bones, instead
of metric feet. My pentams

hover out of reach. I sleep
and do not dream of verse
nor of re-growing metric feet
but only of ice cream.

I cannot rhyme, and do not dream
of anything except ice cream.

Featured Reader, June 2015

Christine Richardson, introduced the featured poet, Diane Moomey, with these words:

For those of you who are frequent participants to our Willow Glen Third Thursday Readings, you know the lyrical treat you are about to be served. And for our first time visitors prepare to be delighted and moved. Our featured reader, Diane Moomey has faithfully attended here since [forever]. Not only has she always participated in the open mic, but she has been a strong supporter of all of the poets who have shared their work with us.

Diane is a traveler, both geographically and figuratively. Wherever she lives or visits, whether various parts of the US or eastern Canada and especially now ensconced by the sea, Diane becomes part of its terrain. She digs in it, she paints it, and she writes about it. This love of the wild and the tame informs and enlivens her work. Her art and poetry are open invitations to travel with her. Diane is a generous guide. Begin your journey by simply entering her lovely book, Figure in a Landscape, with a cover of her own design. You will move through chapparal and suburbs, valleys and farmlands and the more interior regions of love and loss and renewal. Together you can play a game of jacks, learn a family secret and go with her at 3 AM and enter the ocean for a swim in its blackness.

Please join me in welcoming our lovely poet, Diane Moomey.

Suburbs

— Diane L. Moomey

Wild things come down from dry hills
to land on rooves, and a ginger cat
slinks beneath a hedge.

Somewhere in the village, a staple
has worked loose from wire netting. Rabbits,
restless, rustle their bedding and wild things

come down from the hills, take cover
between garage and garbage cans.


On a patio, drip lines curve from pot
to pot. Celadon frogs cross cracked earth
to slide beneath the aspidistra.

Roses vine between houses, black-tailed
deer take refuge. Wild things watch
from the dark beneath porches. Chickens

seek the safety of the street.

 

Angel Wing

— Diane L. Moomey

— a pantoum

An Angel met me on the stairs,
and brushed me with one wing — one day
I’ll fall to meet my shadow.
So much remains unwritten.

She brushed me with one wing,
I thought you were another.
So much remains unwritten, and
my poet soon will leave me.

She thought I was another.
Yes – once I was a changeling.
My poet soon will leave me, and
I feel the change of season.

I may have been a changeling.
My poet left these pages, now
I feel the change of season.
In this I’m not mistaken.

My poet left these pages. Since
they could all be lost, (and
I feel I’m not mistaken),
won’t you take them with you?

All pages will be lost, when
I fall to meet my shadow.
Won’t you take them with you? For
an Angel’s met me on the stairs.  

Brie

— Diane Lee Moomey

I’ve opened a Brie for you,
opened and set it where its firm white shoulders
will slump into the warmth of afternoon
and where such breeze
as there is today will carry the news of “Brie”
all down my hill and out to the Coast Road,
where you may be driving.

There is French bread, and wine, red.,

Now Yo-Yo Ma is at full volume
(in case you are driving by), and before that
I opened the Neruda to the poem
that seemed to summon you the last time,
and read aloud his final stanza twice,
read aloud his final stanza twice.

Fresh linens are on the bed.

And I have trimmed the ivy, cut every spent
camellia blossom and swept its brownness
from beneath the pots that cluster near the door
where today you might knock and bring
a poem, like you did before.

Raising Bread

—Diane Moomey

First this: winter wheat,
whole wheat, hard wheat;
grind fine.
Honey, butter, water.

Yeast.

Then rolling, thumping,
live dough humping
beneath the fingers.

The yeast.

Soft ball, buttered ball,
buttered bowl, tea towel atop,
white towel atop, the warm kitchen.
You did your part.

Go away.

Yeast does not need you now. Go,
do a crossword, wash the dishes,
wash the dog, wash your hair.
Don’t come back till boozy air
drifts up the stairs, seeps
beneath the bathroom door.

Pummel again, make loaf,
cover.

Go away. Yeast
will do the rest.

Our Moon, Reunion

— Diane Moomey

Days and nights we walked your garden —
spent petals of camellia softened our steps.
Our moon fell and rose, our shadows
on your perfect stucco walls; our arms
fell and rose in cadence with our words,
the perfect rhythm of our words, their brimming
pools flooding the parched years
of our silence.

When we parted, I took a stone.

My own garden, your stone warm
in my hand. A blossom falls, finished,
and wrapped in its pink heart lies one
of your words. Gardenia, saucer
beneath its pot; I tip the water out.
What spatters on the flags
is the joke you told.
Our moon rises — I hear again
the story of your dream.

Family Reunion

— Diane Lee Moomey

Butter passed, potatoes passed,
and peas; the roast, salad;
the talk— casting lines downstream
into the river we’ve named our past.

“I remember this,” and tell the tale.

What I tell —
its coinage, color and shape, tone
and time of happening —
has no importance. Consider it only one
of a thousand moments-of-family
played out in every place and time, of no importance
except that I‘ve remembered and brought it
shyly to our late-in-life table.

“Oh no.”

  “No, I never did that.”

    “She never did that.”

      “You dreamed it.”

        “Never. Oh, no no.”

 

Well.
I could doubt myself,
call myself forgetful, blurry of mind,
claim mistake and cast the recollection
back into the family river,
but

I do remember, it did happen, did.
I step back, silent,
hold that fragile droplet close —

I know you, I was there —

and guard it, as with open palm
I would guard a candle’s flame
from the gusts of unknowing winds .

Cloud to Cloud

— Diane Moomey

North of Niagara and east, north
of the peach belt and the Great Water:
high summer storm light — the undersides of leaves
flash silver in the ground wind, that back-handed wind
that gusts now north, now west, startling
birch and aspen poplar. Crows
perch low and on the inside; rabbits
run to ground.

Waiting.

Wide lightning, pink lightning,
strokes along massed cumulonimbus, strobes fully half
this twilight sky — dry. Dry crackle, cloud-to-cloud,
never touching ground, this lightning —
the day long and restless,
sullen heat gathering in great chunks,
going nowhere — the dry crackle that cries for thunder.
Us waiting for the deluge, the drops that will settle the day’s dust,
the drenching gusts that will bring the cat mewling
to the door.

Back-porch waiting:
for that front to sweep north off Lake Ontario,
to wash clean the sidewalks and the Don Valley Parkway,
to carve rivers in the dirt
on the windows
of the last subway car of the day,
to come north, make soggy the putting greens
of the Bayview Country Club,
to douse us here, porching,
way up past Markham in the true country,
in the green belt that cradles Toronto in wide arms.

Us, waiting.

Dry and waiting, porching and holding hands
just holding hands; talking, just talking,
mind to mind, cloud to cloud,
our lightning never touching ground.
Waiting for our weather to move in,
to wet our skins, crack
our dry spell.

Fireflies

— Diane Lee Moomey

You’d drive me home the long way
through Nobleton and Kleinburg, their window-dark houses—
our own windows down, our summer dark, its colorless moon—
my lower meadow thick with fireflies,
their green ghostlight, the listless complaints
of cricket frogs. You’d stop the engine,
stop the frogs. Dark wingtips brushed our cheeks,
humming; we’d speak of angels and the where? of them.

You’d drive me home the short way
through Unionville and Markham—the vee-dub’s meager heater,
our winter-tight windows, their ice mandalas—
the meadow thick with ice and silent,
starry dark above, and silent. You’d turn in—
the snowplow would’ve already been by—
you’d stop at the house, engine running. Our starry dark:
we’d speak of space and wonder if auroras are alive?

The night your father died—
before his time, before his time—alone you drove
the long way, drove the short way, drove the long way,
up the long drive, knocked. I opened, and we spoke of nothing at all
but only held on and remembered
that somewhere there must be fireflies.

When I waved your car down the road
for what would be the final time, corn blades
trembled in the wind of your passing.

 


This poem is from a new cluster called “The Lake Effect,” from a time of living in southern Ontario.

The Body Speaks

— Diane Lee Moomey

no need to be told how. Infant body
watches — each year
carves learning deeper into cells. Grown body
speaks without speaking:
the crossed arms, the open arms
the arms akimbo,

the crossed legs, the tapping
foot, the swinging foot,
the shrug, the shaken finger,
the Finger.

The smile and the frown,
the head — the nod “yes,” the shake “no.”
The shake from side to side, slight rocking:
“Maybe, but probably not.”

The innocent body knows its own dance,
the glossary of Home, knows not
of knowing only one until waking
one day in Kathmandu.

He shook his head.
“Yes” he’d said, but I heard “no”
and walked away . . .
 

Turning

— Diane Moomey

Water is warm, warm.
Belly down in the shallows,
nose pointed downstream,
minnows nibbling arm skin,
I finger smooth pebbles, each

pebble a world, whole.
This red one carried by birds
from New Mexico —
canyons still intact, sagebrush
wedged deep into crevices.

That one, green and gray,
mosses of old Ireland
from the tombs of queens.
A black one from the asteroid belt,
flecked with dust from the hearts of stars.

I turn to face upstream —
water fills my bathing suit,
tickles me down there.
Holding fingers together,
my ship’s prow splits the current.

Brother, sisters splash
downstream beyond the next curve.
Cicada shrills, long —
Frost in forty days, it cries.

Yellow leaf twirls past,
light haze covers sun,
hairs prickle along my back,
my nipples stand up.
On the bank, our grownups laugh
loud at jokes I cannot hear.

I look down again,
pick up a yellow pebble.

Just a rock, only a rock.

Ode, on realizing that five of my best poems were born doing Sixty on Two Eighty between Page Mill and Sand Hill

— Diane Lee Moomey

It’s the Dish.

That metal ear plucks news from the Nebulae:
baseball scores from Betelgeuse,
what they’re wearing on Altair,
the latest on Strings.

Some waves never die.

That Dish, smelling of static,
warps its own space—sonnets and villanelles
leak from lambent fissures.
Egrets, one-legged, contemplate haiku
and cows surround, pantoum-oo
with bovine grace.

Stanfordians circumambulate.

The Dish.
News from the Nebulae,
the best of Orion’s Open Mics
and, rebounding off the cosmos’ curvéd walls,
the syllables of bards long gone
returning to shatter our firmament
all over again.
 

Sunday at the Boardwalk

— Diane Lee Moomey

Flat in blue swimsuit
baggy-bottomed with wet and sand and sharp with
splinters from the boardwalk, flat
and too young to be prey—
hunting eyes are following
only the curvéd ones. Me, knotted of hair,
sticky with ketchup: invisible.

The afternoon is mine.

“Don’t go too far,” she murmurs,
near sleep in yellow lounge, baby
on either side, near sleep; beside her,
as if mirrors are facing each to each,
endless rows of chair and umbrella,
umbrella and chair, of mothers and fathers
blanket the gray sand.

The man in the chair beside us
sleeps beneath his newspaper.

The surf line laps my ankles, fishy foam,
then sucks away, hissing,
and sudden bubbles pock the wet, sudden holes —
crabs live down there, or clams —
however fast I dig, I cannot catch one.

I do catch a sand dollar, mermaid’s money,
hoping she won’t mind.

The boardwalk: in the gloom beneath
a half-hamburger lies, now the grail of ants —
their forays up its cliffs, quick-march
through bogs of mustard! The fallen comrades,
final peak, the triumph, the trumpets!
Ah.

And the man in the chair beside me
sleeps on beneath his newspaper.

Creating the Worlds

— Diane Lee Moomey

In the first world, the sun
rose only every other day, and the moon
fell from the sky
because the gravity module worked
in theory only. Tenants
refused to move in, and the first world
was compost.

The next was an improvement,
though the second-generation gravity module
slipped a disc, and everything fell sideways.
The tenants complained because
whatever they dropped the neighbors got,
and drapes were all soaked through,
though it was written in their lease
to keep windows shut during stormy weather.
They moved out, and the second world
was toast.

The third was nearly perfect until
the icemaker jammed
and froze the planet solid at both poles
almost to the equator. Most of the tenants
moved out in protest, still owing rent.

It would have been a crime
to jettison a world so nearly perfect,
and the Powers agreed to thaw it out
and try again. Tenants returned, but this lot
smoked, and fought over everything
including the thermostat—
the icemaker couldn’t keep up.
You’d think they would have learned
from the second world: all the carpeting had to be re-created.
They moved out anyhow.

The fourth world will be non-smoking.
Would-be tenants are picketing, but everyone knows
this is the only world in town. This time round
the Powers agree to keep the blue ones and the red ones
on separate continents, and to confiscate that
internal combustion engine they are all so fond of.

The fifth world is still on the storyboard.

Distal Points

— Diane Moomey

Beside her door, yin and yang
circle each other in black and white enamel,
a brushed Chinese character — perhaps for long life —
her name below, brass bell above:

I ring.

Door opens — a drift of sandalwood smoke
mingles with the jasmine above my head.
She draws me inside.

“Eyes,” I begin, “my eyes . . .”
“Yes,” she murmurs, “yes. Now show me your tongue.”

I show.
She takes my wrist in two fingers,
closes her eyes, listens to what I cannot hear.
“Mmmm . . . the liver is wild . . . please lie down
and take off your socks.”

I lie.
Her needles slide into ankle skin, the webs
between my toes. Belly gurgles,
cheeks tremble,

I think
of my sister! I’ll ask her a question,
my brother will answer.
Turning right, I’ll find I’ve gone left.
I’ll plant seeds:
somewhere in Andromeda,
a star will change course.

Spring Breakup

— Diane Moomey

smooth, so solid, so smooth.

We’d put in at the boat ramp —
not at the grocer’s dock, though that was closer,
paved lot shaved smooth, but at the ramp —
and not that our boat or any boat
was going out that day, lake ice
two feet thick from shore to shore.

The boat ramp . . .
its gravel lot was full of snow —
the dog, first out the door, peed steaming yellow
and flung herself from drift to drift.

Full of snow, and easy, its ramp slick and easy,
easy, and so our toboggan load of weekend kindling,
and charcoal, of olives and romaine — the olive oil
already in the cabin, now clouded with cold —
our load of milk and steaks and onions,
of red wine and dog kibble slid
like butter down to the lake.

We were new.

I remember the toboggan was red, its poly ropes
yellow, and that we took turns pulling. The wind!
In the middle, ice was bare and clear — we lay down,
pressed our noses close, looked for fish
or something, and marveled
that we walked on water.

It was a good weekend, and solid:
fire and wine, no sign of melt to come
but we, freshmen to this country,
did not know its seasons . . .

Candle Ice

— Diane Lee Moomey

In that month when sap rises,
when smoke rises, and steam from sugar shacks
across the great North,
when night is loud with frost, and bright
middays break water free of ice, then
lake ice, for its own reasons, begins
its melt from within. Not
withering crystal by crystal
till disappearing altogether, but
by washing away in a most
vertical manner, leaving candles.
Just candles. Ice candles.

We eat them like popsicles . . .

Not like icicles — merely roof water,
tar water, bird poop water,
though not without merit: available all winter long,
harvestable with mittened hands.

No, these candles require bellying-down to the dock, require
a bare-armed plunge to the elbow,
probing the still-icy waters
for a whole one, one as long as the ice sheet,
January-thick.

Our gourmet tongues: these taste of tamarack,
of loon and pickerel, of kayaks and canoes.

July, Interference On The Coast

— Diane Moomey

Some will say I interfere
this year. It was because
summer is not at all, here,
and spring-bloomed fuchsias have nothing
to replace. Hummingbirds seek in vain, in rain
like winter’s.

I buy a glass bottle,
fill with red, hang upside down
till fuschsias bloom again.

You might say I interfere:
a junco bird appears
where none have been for two years
or three, and peers
into my windows, hops close
as if to get a better view.

I buy a plastic bottle,
fill it with millet.
The bird returns, with family:
flings seed wide in what I hope
is glad abandon.

One might think I interfere
for no because at all,
except I see a flash
of brightest yellow downslope
among the eucalyptus,
want it close and so buy

a sock filled with thistle seed:
chocolate to finches, I hear.
This morning, thirteen
yellow bellies and brown,
hang heads down,
head-to-tail spiral
around the swaying sock.

My acts: sudden
gusts in the karmic winds of birds, appearing
on cue?

Or interference?