top of page

Deena Metzger: California Poets Part 6, Two Poems

Deena Metzger

October 18th, 2023

Californian Poets: Part VI

Deena Metzger

Two Poems

The Last Word


There will come a time when a last word will be spoken in this language. Afterwards a great sigh will emanate from the trees. They will begin to whisper among themselves the sounds of courage and a wind will come out of them sweeter than air. In the silent place that feared the axe a secret hollow will express the breath they didn’t dare reveal. So many years hiding the truth. The missing songs of birds will emerge from the grasses and the peoples who knew how to sing so will rise up brown as the earth. Sometimes the women and the cattle and the soil share the same hues or the same timbre of praise. Then there are the greens that repeat themselves only in eyes and those who carried the leaves in their vision, carry what prevails when the last word has been spoken and the heavens open up in unimpeded light. The rush of blue then between sky and water will be a waterfall of music and we will not miss the bloody chatter that razed everything to the ground, but will sing the yellow pollen and the golden sap in the dark colors of stones shining in riverbeds.

What will you give up? the Spirit asks. I certainly do not need the last word, I say. I certainly do not need the last word. Let it be spoken quickly and be done with, so we can be still.

From Ruin and Beauty, New and Collected Poems, Red Hen Press.

Fire and Fire and Fire

Red headed woodpecker, knocking at the dying elm. A flurry of finches, red and golden, against the flaming sky.

It simple. Tell it again and again: It’s over! unless there’s a miracle of our own making.

I pour water for the bees who cling, thirstily, to the wet stone, drink without drowning, then fly away to seize honey from the pepper trees.

Birds and squirrels come to another bowl and another for rabbits, coyotes, unknown who else gathers around Her in her decline.

It is cooler here among the trees.

God wants a home like every other creature not an eviction notice or a fire sale.

The heat intensifies. Light becomes fire. God’s fevered brow.

This patio, a hospice, a bedside vigil, that might, if we ever learn a true medicine, restore the only life that matters at this time.

*From, Deena Metzger, The Burden of Light, Hand to Hand Press

Author Bio:

Deena Metzger is a poet, novelist, essayist and playwright. The author of 20+ books, 7 of which are poetry. Her latest poetry books are The Burden of Light, (2019) and Ruin and Beauty: New and Selected Poems (2009) . Her latest novels are La Vieja: A Journal of Fire, (2022) and A Rain of Night Birds,(2017). La Negra y Blanca won the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Award for Literature. Her classic writing book, Writing For Your Life, (1992), is still in print and popular. Metzger co-edited Intimate Nature, The Bond Between Women and Animals, (1998) with Linda Hogan and Brenda Peterson, which pioneered the radical understanding that animals are highly intelligent and exhibit intent. She has been teaching writing privately since she left Los Angeles Valley College, California Institute for the Arts and the Writing Program that she started at the Woman’s Building, Los Angeles. Within the last years, she developed Literature of Restoration, focusing on forms and language that generate ethical concerns and restoration of the natural world. Her current essays are posted on Desperate Love Letters for a Wounded Earth – She is currently working on a new novel, The Broken Lambs. Her website is


bottom of page