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Lisa Rosenberg: California Poets Part 7, Three Poems

Lisa Rosenberg (photo credit: Two Irises)

July 1st, 2024

California Poets: Part VII

Lisa Rosenberg

Three Poems

Equinox and All

                                    Spring, 2020


It was Thursday. It was warm. Equal hours

of rain and sun to match the parity

of night and day, to catch me—half wonder,

half anxiety—taking solace in names

as crows gathered in the neighbor’s cedar,

and juncos filled a canopy of oak, here:

a small backyard in the suburbs. A small

parcel, equal to any before the stars.


A season arrives, defies confinement.

We dress for contagion, we quantify

calm, then dance in separate rooms. We might

re-chart the stars. Scour the old maps as if

their errors were not ours, and scrapping them

could right the world. Such vacant streets. Only

birdsong, and cautious distances, and faces

of oxalis, rooted beside the fence.

Forbidden to Throw Stones in the Sea

—Posted in Assos, Kefalonia, Greece


So I cast only glances into the smooth cove

where a lone café opened

and an elder sold honey in unmarked jars.

Above us, a Venetian fortress said nothing at all.




Your language forbidden, each word

a stone cast against you

and this stony island your earliest teacher

of names for the sea’s clear hues.




Walls strewn like stone fruits.

The dust is ochre and white

and the light irrepressible.

Goats and dust and the sea’s glare meet you.

Four Interrupts



Meetings and multitasking, laundry and laptop, musing on politics and exercise and which is faster—the keyboard or the pen?—or how many plummeting acorns does it take to carpet a yard, when a chorus of leaf-blowers pauses, meaning such limber shadows from a huge eucalyptus will dance now without sound on the patchwork rug spread before me like farmland beneath a wing, as I confess openly an instinct to vacuum, captive to a clean floor in a cramped house on a splendid day in an era when no one has



Hardly the first siren of the afternoon, but possibly the longest, keening toward the freeway, drowning out text chimes, toaster bell, a large idling truck across the street looked down upon by crows, fearless denizens of drought-scape with haze and disheveled selves we might recognize in the smooth tops of puddles at the curb or a dream of puddles, so much talk of rain now, it is raining talk and talk and stories sometimes, all laced up, nostalgic as news-racks once chained together, begging our attention, faces like speechless 


Tea Time

Not really, but terms remotely British sound loftier than tepid coffee in a suburb west of everywhere, between fire season and no season, which is how the world sees it, the canon I mean, stamped by cities with centers and commons and bulky cardigans and straight brickwork or flat clapboard, which sounds nothing like its spelling, which mildews in summer, where summer is weedy-green and I lived there once so briefly, where my elders grew up, all those dry voices embroidering the long-lost drudgery of snowy miles to 



Will it be the sofa or the chair, the true bed or a bed of streaming-service tears in their umpteenth season beyond all grounding to the first, beyond our mildest wild hopes and any semblance of redemption or seemly revenue—the margins extreme, unlike the margins of the day like a yellowed page, when pages were paper and paper was pulp, but after paper was linen or papyrus and made at great human expense not to mention water and whatnot, if what is not day or night but one continuous turning of a great experiment in joy, because why not just

Author Bio:

Recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, Djerassi Artist Residency, and MOSAIC America Fellowship, Lisa Rosenberg is the author of A Different Physics (Red Mountain Press), and recent essays spanning science, travel, memoir, and satire. Formally trained in physics and poetry, she worked as a research engineer in the space program, and is a frequent speaker on the confluence of arts and sciences. In 2017-2018 she served as Poet Laureate of San Mateo County, California. Her work appears in venues such as The Threepenny Review, POETRY, The Common, Bad Lillies,, SWWIM, and California Fire & Water: A Climate Crisis Anthology.



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