Homage to Rolf Jacobsen
The yellow jacket keeps crashing against the pane
trying to get out. All along it’s only a matter
of opening the window, finding the words,
and you’re out there — in the other, larger world.
To the dead, paradise is the sidewalk you stroll down
looking in windows, humming, stopping for coffee.
The Song of Divorce
Bitter the warmth of sunlight, and bitter the taste of apple,
the song and the stars and wheat fields, bitter the memory,
moonlight, the shine of the lake’s surface in morning
like a sheen of pearl, bitter the hummingbird’s throat
and gold pollen, all poems and their music, harp wood
and sandalwood, bitter, silk sheets, fire, the marriage.
Reading Cavafy Alone in Bed
I, too, remember the past, my room lit by candles,
and the night she entered and touched my face
with her face, with mouth and tongue and lips,
in the orchard night, in the odor of fruit,
her breasts — remember, body? — that room,
remember? — our cries, the flickering candles?
Lazarus in Varanasi
From a pyre on the burning ghat
a corpse slowly sits up in the flames.
As if remembering something important.
As if to look around one more time.
As if he has something at last to say.
As if there might be a way out of this.
Joseph Stroud, born in 1943, is a California poet who spends half the year in Santa Cruz and the other half in a cabin in the Sierra Nevada. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and a Witter Bynner Fellowship in poetry from the Library of Congress. These poems are from Of This World: New and Selected Poems, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2009 and reprinted with permission.