St. Lucia Landing (excerpt 2)

Here's another excerpt from the long, multi-part poem "St. Lucia Landing." On visits there, it was a life lived outside. The hot weather in January and February, typically when my family would be there, drew us to the beach and sea. Inside, the house was airy and open with tropical trees and plants around and colorful birds landing on the kitchen table and window ledges when the shutters were pulled aside.  

St. Lucia Landing (excerpt 2)

 

130

Unbothered by foraging doves

And long-beaked tremblers and crows,

With their fierce feet, the long-tailed critter,

Size of a large chipmunk, dragged its ass

Uphill, jaws clamped on a hunk of bread,

Not moving like a standard rat.

 

131

In eleventh century-China, Wei T’ai told us,

“Poetry presents the thing in order to convey the feeling.

It should be precise about the thing and reticent

About the feeling, for as soon as the mind

Responds and connects with the thing, the feeling

Shows in the words; this is how poetry enters deeply

Into us. If the poet presents directly feelings which

Overwhelm him, and keeps nothing back to linger

As an aftertaste, he stirs us superficially; he cannot

Start the hands and feet involuntarily waving and

Tapping in time, far less strengthen morality

And refine culture, set heaven and earth

In motion and call up the spirits.”

 

132

Halfway into the bay

A wave rears like a white

Chess knight, mane flaring,

Or a pumped-up seahorse riding

Its back-fin or even a sky-blue skunk

With foamy stripe and bush-tail,

Parading just like that,

Then gone.