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

"California Hills in August" and "Progress Report"

Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia

California Hills in August

  • I can imagine someone who found
  • these fields unbearable, who climbed
  • the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
  • cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
  • wishing a few more trees for shade.
  • An Easterner especially, who would scorn
  • the meagerness of summer, the dry
  • twisted shapes of black elm,
  • scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
  • August has already drained of green.
  • One who would hurry over the clinging
  • thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
  • knowing everything was just a weed,
  • unable to conceive that these trees
  • and sparse brown bushes were alive.
  • And hate the bright stillness of the noon
  • without wind, without motion,
  • the only other living thing
  • a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
  • in the blinding, sunlit blue.
  • And yet how gentle it seems to someone
  • raised in a landscape short of rain —
  • the skyline of a hill broken by no more
  • trees than one can count, the grass,
  • the empty sky, the wish for water.

Progress Report

  • It’s time to admit that I’m irresponsible.
  • I lack ambition. I get nothing done.
  • I spend the morning walking up the fire road.
  • I know every tree along the ridge.
  • Reaching the end, I turn around. There’s no point
  • to my pilgrimage except the coming and the going.
  • Then I sit and listen to the woodpecker
  • tapping away. He works too hard.
  • Tonight I will go out to watch the moon rise.
  • If only I could move that slowly.
  • I have no plans. No one visits me.
  • No need to change my clothes.
  • What a blessing just to sit still —
  • a luxury only the lazy can afford.
  • Let the dusk settle on my desk.
  • No one needs to hear from me today.

Poet Dana Gioia served as the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts for six years. His book Can Poetry Matter? is considered a classic of contemporary criticism. Winner of the American Book Award and the Aiken-Taylor Prize, Gioia teaches each fall at the University of Southern California. His fourth and latest volume of poems, Pity the Beautiful, was published in 2012, and “California Hills in August” is taken from his first volume, Daily Horoscope (1986).

Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

The discreet charms of Secret Sister

The South Park sourdough bakery dabbles in the unfamiliar
Next Article

Del Mar next for license plate readers

Follows Encinitas, Chula Vista, Carlsbad, Coronado
Dana Gioia
Dana Gioia

California Hills in August

  • I can imagine someone who found
  • these fields unbearable, who climbed
  • the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
  • cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
  • wishing a few more trees for shade.
  • An Easterner especially, who would scorn
  • the meagerness of summer, the dry
  • twisted shapes of black elm,
  • scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
  • August has already drained of green.
  • One who would hurry over the clinging
  • thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
  • knowing everything was just a weed,
  • unable to conceive that these trees
  • and sparse brown bushes were alive.
  • And hate the bright stillness of the noon
  • without wind, without motion,
  • the only other living thing
  • a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
  • in the blinding, sunlit blue.
  • And yet how gentle it seems to someone
  • raised in a landscape short of rain —
  • the skyline of a hill broken by no more
  • trees than one can count, the grass,
  • the empty sky, the wish for water.

Progress Report

  • It’s time to admit that I’m irresponsible.
  • I lack ambition. I get nothing done.
  • I spend the morning walking up the fire road.
  • I know every tree along the ridge.
  • Reaching the end, I turn around. There’s no point
  • to my pilgrimage except the coming and the going.
  • Then I sit and listen to the woodpecker
  • tapping away. He works too hard.
  • Tonight I will go out to watch the moon rise.
  • If only I could move that slowly.
  • I have no plans. No one visits me.
  • No need to change my clothes.
  • What a blessing just to sit still —
  • a luxury only the lazy can afford.
  • Let the dusk settle on my desk.
  • No one needs to hear from me today.

Poet Dana Gioia served as the chairman of the National Endowment of the Arts for six years. His book Can Poetry Matter? is considered a classic of contemporary criticism. Winner of the American Book Award and the Aiken-Taylor Prize, Gioia teaches each fall at the University of Southern California. His fourth and latest volume of poems, Pity the Beautiful, was published in 2012, and “California Hills in August” is taken from his first volume, Daily Horoscope (1986).

Sponsored
Sponsored
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Marche De Noel Winter Fair, Banksyland, Snowside Winter Festival

Events December 9-December 10, 2022
Next Article

San Diego guys reflect on their dark skin

Editor's picks of stories Robert Kumpel wrote for the Reader
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
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
Close