Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal
The Yellow Hills
Let’s meet in the yellow hills
near the sea. Let’s picnic in
the yellow hills. We could
look up to the sky and make
small talk. We could tell each
other our hopes and dreams.
Stretched out on a blanket
under the warm sun. We
could pretend we’re dead
or like some immovable
force. Under a leafy tree
in the yellow hills we’ll rest.
In these hills black ants eat
the crumbs we leave behind.
Their tiny shadows could only
be observed under a microscope.
In the yellow hills we leave
our troubles behind. Not far
from shore we feel the breeze
that comes from the sea. We rest
here where the leafy tree’s shadow
seems to swallow us whole.
The yellow hills protect us from
the dark times of the world.
Philip Byron Oakes
A forest stumped for an answer
as to where to sit. From whom
to seek shelter, in houses gutted
by old flames, coming back to
haunt the furnace for the hearth.
Culling the herds of the listless
for the brightest of those eyes
lost in sleep. To separate the
wood from the wooden, when
asked to loosen a grip, on a
hand in the making it what it
is. Confounding the unmitigated
with alloys of discretion, in
fending off the queries from
those who might do some good.
Anchor the garden to the ground.
Meet the qualifications in the alley.
An one for all intents serving
as a purpose, for what might
have been, as well as for what
narrowly is. As good a reason
as any to plant a tree.
Terns climb and wheel incessantly
mewing a lament for lost chicks,
painting patterns on the cliff face
that artistic periwinkles
can study from their seashore studios
and copy in the sculptured shelters
in which they enclose themselves.
Each night the wind wields
nature’s scouring pad
and scrubs the cliff face clean
so that in the morning the terns
must undertake their task again.
murmurs from a perfect afternoon
murmurs from a perfect afternoon
i. drifting into that hermetic seal
the picket fence stands proudly unwashed
in the three trunk hemlock afternoon:
it is all held together by wispy cables
and the dreamy embroidery of soapy eyelets-
those painted threads of yellow, green, and rust
that are all inside a glassed-washed afternoon:
the clearing fog of then and now and when.
a tempting little drip will propel the suspect elders
to wander into the white promise of the warping slats.
ii. the trifurcation is an amusement that briefly matters
she dances in the chartreuse lemon spring,
is the green summer of our frothing joy-
she flutters again in orange leaves,
that, saintly, burst and burn in autumn:
ironic words of appreciation always seem to fail
in a way that is pervasive and, oddly, geometric
on the tear-stained Appian Way of patio pavers:
there are many things that cease to matter
in the Euclidian formulae of wind-swept leaves.
yet, we try, and try again, to simply find the point.
iii. back to the idle rust of dropping cones
each shadowy dot of near and distant leaves
is bartered by the tricky once-washed slats,
traded for a moment that waves good-bye, well met:
saplings proudly foil the coniferous quivering-
the compost can, always, existentially blue,
a calming retreat from the obscenity of now
that is telegraphed by this obstinate relic-
boasting of a clarity almost reached
if, indeed, it was reachable at all.
the rest just freezes,
impotent in the set of choices and meanings-
what is the course beyond the fence?
through the unwashed slats there is only:
the soothing green of the distance mown,
the windy rhythm of dappled seed,