Saturday, January 17, 2015

Lee Slonimsky


for Harry Soodak
I have to pause to feel my atoms spin,
to flow with physics governing within,
or else reality would merely be
dry words in textbooks.

                                            Here, upon this ridge
commanding twenty miles of woods below,
I ride the view, my atoms’ roll; see a smudge
of black cloud east, forecasting rain or snow
and watch a hawk coast gusts, like waves at sea,
her feathered flesh atomic too, like mine.

And we’re both cousins to these trees, a lark,
all weather, wind, one falling leaf, an ant
so capable of doing what I can’t:

back-carrying ten times his weight up bark.
The sun itself (atomic-craft).  A fly.  This pine.


I wish these woods would change their color
all at once

instead of meekslow hints of orange, tan,
but much of nature’s heart is patience and

it’s often only birds who hurry, as right now:

a flock that flurries, half tree height,
their black still glossy from last hour’s rain,
across this glen, as fast as summer’s wane
is slow,

                entangled in dense leaves, late light.


The scent of lemon trees far out at sea
without cargo, or even wind, to explain:

you smelled it too.  I saw your puzzlement;
we shrugged away confusion, sipped our jasmine tea
and watched seasparkle from our deck chairs, then
reflected on what such little miracles meant.

“Perhaps ten million years ago, this
was quite the sunwashed valley; groves of trees
so thick their scent persists,” I said.  You laughed:

“Some things just can’t be explained.”

                                                                    A breeze
picked up, and lemons vanished.  Sea turned rough,
our chairs began to slide, then we got up,
observing quite a leap from a blue fish
that surged skyward, then dove in a gleaming loop.
I took your hand; we balanced; air was chill.

And soon the sun returned, and sea was still.

Lee Slonimsky’s work has appeared in Best of Asheville Poetry Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Measure, The New York Times, New Ohio Review, North Dakota Quarterly, and Poetry Daily, and has received seven Pushcart Prize nominations and one for Best of the Web.  His fifth collection of poems, Wandering Electron, was published by Spuyten Duyvil Press in 2014.  Lee is also the co-author, along with his wife, Hammett Prize winning mystery writer Carol Goodman, of the Lee Carroll Black Swan Rising trilogy from Tor in the US and Bantam in the UK.  And he conducts a monthly New York City poetry writing workshop, “Walking with the Sonnet.”

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