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Two Poems by Sandra Alcosser

What Makes the Grizzlies Dance


June and finally snow peas

sweeten the Mission Valley.

High behind numinous meadows

ladybugs swarm, like huge

lacquered fans from Hong Kong,

like serrated skirts

of blown poppies,

whole mountains turn red.

And in the blue penstemon

grizzly bears swirl

as they bat snags of color

against their ragged mouths.

Have you never wanted

to spin like that

on hairy, leathered feet,

amid the swelling berries

as you tasted a language

of early summer — shaping

lazy operatic vowels,

cracking hard-shelled

consonants like speckled

insects between your teeth,

have you never wanted

to waltz the hills

like a beast?


Spittle Bug
I watched an insect dive

upside down in a crystal bowl.

Magnified, it resembled

a friend’s identity crisis —

red eyes, amorphous body

arched like a scorpion.

Probing the water with an iris stem,

I rescued the swimmer,

helped it crawl to the vase lip,

then complimented myself, as if

the bug were my own invention.

It rested on the flower’s parchment,

hyperventilating, while I went off

to a day’s work. When I returned

it had climbed higher, slathering

purple flesh with froth. Stalled

in one spot like an indulgent head

lost in shampoo, it had taken

the sweet petals with it,

rolling them in babble,

till they were stunted and scabbed.

It looked so harmless at first

roiling in its own spit,

I think I shall call it

gossip bug.

Sandra Alcosser, Montana’s first Poet Laureate, collaborates internationally with conservation biologists to celebrate — through poetry read by millions of people each year — the tribes and species of the world. She is the founding director of the MFA program for Creative Writing at San Diego State University and divides her time between San Diego and Florence, Montana. These two poems are from her collection Except by Nature, which was a National Poetry Series Selection and was awarded the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. It was published by Graywolf Press. They are reprinted by permission. The author’s photo is by Philip Maechling.

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What Makes the Grizzlies Dance


June and finally snow peas

sweeten the Mission Valley.

High behind numinous meadows

ladybugs swarm, like huge

lacquered fans from Hong Kong,

like serrated skirts

of blown poppies,

whole mountains turn red.

And in the blue penstemon

grizzly bears swirl

as they bat snags of color

against their ragged mouths.

Have you never wanted

to spin like that

on hairy, leathered feet,

amid the swelling berries

as you tasted a language

of early summer — shaping

lazy operatic vowels,

cracking hard-shelled

consonants like speckled

insects between your teeth,

have you never wanted

to waltz the hills

like a beast?


Spittle Bug
I watched an insect dive

upside down in a crystal bowl.

Magnified, it resembled

a friend’s identity crisis —

red eyes, amorphous body

arched like a scorpion.

Probing the water with an iris stem,

I rescued the swimmer,

helped it crawl to the vase lip,

then complimented myself, as if

the bug were my own invention.

It rested on the flower’s parchment,

hyperventilating, while I went off

to a day’s work. When I returned

it had climbed higher, slathering

purple flesh with froth. Stalled

in one spot like an indulgent head

lost in shampoo, it had taken

the sweet petals with it,

rolling them in babble,

till they were stunted and scabbed.

It looked so harmless at first

roiling in its own spit,

I think I shall call it

gossip bug.

Sandra Alcosser, Montana’s first Poet Laureate, collaborates internationally with conservation biologists to celebrate — through poetry read by millions of people each year — the tribes and species of the world. She is the founding director of the MFA program for Creative Writing at San Diego State University and divides her time between San Diego and Florence, Montana. These two poems are from her collection Except by Nature, which was a National Poetry Series Selection and was awarded the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets. It was published by Graywolf Press. They are reprinted by permission. The author’s photo is by Philip Maechling.

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Comments
4
  • Dancing Spittle -*

I'm glad your number one in Montana It looks like I'll be a real big fanna

I'm glad you spend part of your time here Soon you too will hold the Ocean dear

San Diego doesn't have much sweet heather But we do have the best national weather

I'd be interested in your poetic reply Hopefully something more wordy than a brief sigh

By the way, I liked you're smiling face and all your Poems implied tone and pace

I am glad you are now published in San Diego Let's hope this is just the beginning of some real dough

*from http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/np-star/2010/aug/26/rhyme-a-day/#c75322

Oct. 22, 2010

but of course i would like to be a debonair dancing bear...hahahahaha!! http://www.sandiegoreader.com/weblogs/poetry/2010/oct/23/a-dancing-bearso-debonair/

Oct. 23, 2010

Reply #2 If a debonair dancing bear dances in the woods would we hear the same wonderful woodsy waltz?

Oct. 24, 2010

of course...and here's the real link Founder...with the Bones clicking in the background

Oct. 25, 2010

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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