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Local Poets, Local Inspiration

Prose poems by Santa Cruz County Poet Laureate Gary Young

By Jessica Lussenhop

From 'Days'

Queen Anne's Lace crowds the air; cicadas call from beyond the stream. Monkey flowers rouge the hill below a pasture where six horses crop sage; and beside the road, between riprap at the river mouth, down gullies and the wasted ravines, thistles are showing us their hearts again.

From 'If He Had'

An owl drifts slowly through the canyon where three flickers worry a pitted oak for grubs. Jays make a racket in the redwoods. Mourning doves sit motionless in the orchard. Robins gorge themselves on the pyracantha, and a hummingbird hovers just out of reach. Ravens, wrens, thrushes, hawks. I have tried so hard to be content doing nothing. I thought I'd done nothing all day, and then I remembered the birds.

From 'Pleasure'

The signature mark of autumn has arrived at last with the rains: orange of pumpkin, orange persimmon, orange lichen on rocks and fallen logs; a copper moon hung low over the orchard; moist, ruddy limbs of the madrone, russet oak leaf, storm-peeled redwood, acorns emptied by squirrels and jays; and mushrooms, orange boletes, Witch's Butter sprouting on rotted oak, the Deadly Galeria, and of course, chanterelles, which we'll eat tonight with pasta, goat cheese, and wine.

From 'In the Face of It'

Near midnight, walking uphill by starlight, the ground still wet, the air brisk and moist after the storm, I was startled by a pocket of warm air. A breath from the mountain, the river, the trees? I turned to look. No, the moon.

Gary Young's books include 'Hands,' 'The Dream of a Moral Life,' 'Days,' 'Braver Deeds,' 'Pleasure' and 'No Other Life,' which won the William Carlos Williams Award. Last year he received the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Gary teaches at Georgiana Bruce Kirby Preparatory School and UCSC. He was recently named Poet Laureate of Santa Cruz County.

Poet Robert Sward edits 'Local Poets, Local Inspiration,' which appears in this space the first week of each month.

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