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Robt O’Sullivan Schleith: California Poets Part 6, Three Poems

Robt O’Sullivan Schleith

October 18th, 2023

California Poets: Part VI

Robt O’Sullivan Schleith

Three Poems

Moon Flowering Full


That this brown bulb holds promise of beauty by virtue of white roots dangling from its base

seemed almost metaphysical to my mind, having never before forced an indoor bloom.

Suspended in a vase of water & small pebbles, as instructed, it was placed in the windowsill.

Can it know it will be neglected now for weeks, nine stories above the autumn-leaning city?

I am draped in miniature white lights; a string of one hundred garlands, across shoulders & down

arms, is unceremoniously tied around my waist. The balcony will be decorated for a surprise party

tonight — Parisian lights in potted ficus, the guest of honor’s favorite setting. But the strand has tangled

mercilessly. A phone call interrupts my harried unraveling; you’re needed in the office. My guests start

arriving in three hours, I protest, tossing lights haphazardly across balcony ledge. I was hoping

to score a date still for the evening. We have a client down. I’ll be right there, I acquiesce. Resigned,

I notice the amaryllis, how tall it has grown these past weeks, a large bud now formed at the stalk’s top.

It appears ready to burst open, patches of color — peach, or apricot perhaps, within the fertile,

green-sheathed pod. Telecommunications, the transfer of data across phone lines, consumes the rest of my day.

I will be loveless tonight for sure now, I ponder between the yin & yang of tip & ring; ironic how

the language of my professional life centers around twisted pairs & coupling devices.


Hours later, the client’s network is again online. Back home, I race to finish stringing the last of the lights; instead am witness to an

exquisite betrayal as I open the front door; the amaryllis, full-flowered, presents itself accompanied by pink globe of September full moon

reflected in window, and suspended in blue twilight. Breath comes short in these pollen’d liaisons; I feel a flower open inside me, and

wonder — did moon force virginal blossom, a tidal pull on vase; or has flower called moon up out of river with its trembling?

No matter; time is short; trees are lighted, music cued up — a Left Banke setting, sans grand piano; guests & caterers arrive.

Outside, moon sets behind river, flower closes to slow, lingering perfume.. sorrow suffuses the warm night air.

I had a date with a pretty ballerina…

Had You Stayed, It Might Have Meant Forever (Alice’s Lament)

It once felt like eternal life in her semi-circular driveway, her mother Alice pointing how the one way leads out the Waples Mill direction, and the other winding up into Random Hills towards Keith’s house though I’m always turned around and not just up here, I swear Marsh, I mean I sometimes can’t tell where Alice ends and you begin

Passing one another on our endless driveway pacing, the car radio turned up so we could hear the new Steely Dan album, you liked to look east, out where the lady slippers came up at one time; past the garden, your father’s old woodshed, past Nanny’s house, her dusty antiques, the wasp-corpse windowsills, past the old trailer park, the wash hanging out on the lines, past the graveyard, the old Tanglefoot clearing where the sunlight penetrates, past Piney Branch, past Cub Run, I kept on driving the highway that for me led only west; caught a ride I guess you could say, and I never looked back, never saw the rest of this story til now that you’re gone my god I can’t believe you’re gone.

Well, stay and I’ll roll the piano outside, Alice offers; you and Marsha can sing madrigals out there long into the night, just stay. I’ll bring some candles out here too or I can always plug in the outdoor lights if the moon isn’t bright enough for Brenda to read the sheet music if she’ll just play; if you’ll just stay I can put up the bluebird houses Marsha loves before the snow starts up again, you just know there’ll be chicks in the spring just stay and for god sakes I’d even chop down this old tree to keep us warm if I had to, and you know that well & true now

But as we really know now, what with the old place breaking down and then the body, and even the mind failing a little Guess I’m just broken beyond all repair now, she cried Her full heart always going out to us, the candle flames flicker and eventually the porch lights are all dimming too And soon your eyes won’t even be able to focus but you’ll still hear her; I know I do, I promise you that, I still hear

Alice scolding I tried to tell you but you wouldn’t listen You could have stayed here forever, you know that good & well but you just had to go wandering down the road that pointed you west, wondering just what you’d be missing if only you had heeded, if only you had stayed on here with us

Well, for all you know you might just have missed the best; now chew on that awhile when we’re all gone from here, love.

In Remembrance of beloved friend Marsha Burleson Somers Aug 2023

When the bluest Sky is not Enough

I have dreamed Coyote Canyon, between Anza & Borrego Springs, bighorn sheep watering at the creek that runs even in summer; I have dreamed Cedar Creek Falls, the trailhead eight dirt-rough miles off the main road out of Julian, through National Forest land; I have dreamed the Carrizo badlands, the gorge & Trestles beyond.

I have dreamed these inaccessible, off-road places — this county, this southwestern corner is screaming out:

Today is rockhounding under blazing desert sky; today is a hard-scrabble ride past amethyst tailings in the Jacumba mountains; and today I dream extreme crystal tourmaline poetry!

Author Bio:

Robt O’Sullivan Schleith has hosted the monthly Poets INC (Inland North County) open mic poetry reading at the Escondido Municipal Art Gallery ( since 2007, is a regional editor for the San Diego Poetry Annual, and is founder and original host (1997-2002) of the San Diego Poetry Slam. He publishes under his mother’s name O’Sullivan, as well as his stepfather’s name, to honor their memories with his writing.


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