Poems by Gene Berson

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In the Mix

by Gene Berson

From Canary Summer 2017

Gene lives in the northern California foothills in the Yuba River watershed. Everyone goes to the river. Like a temple, with its falls its rapids its green pools, it seems to restore everyone in a personal way. We feel our kinship through it.

swirling more slowly
in an inner tube
having just rippled below rapids where the river
widened into quieter water
I spun beneath alder trees
where damselflies were mating

males, attached behind each female’s thorax
faced other attached males
seeming to shadow box each other
females holding onto blades of river grass
elbows jutting out, threadlike forearms angled
in a sure grip, anchoring their mates

wind high up the ravine
spilled down its path of paling leaves
lichens quivered
umbrella ferns twisted on their stems
ripples reached me
hair on my arms 
leaned in the direction
the breeze was following

all because the earth was turning
in soundless space




Primal Visitation

by Gene Berson

From Canary Winter 2017-18

we woke to hear soft rain drip
onto the damp deck
where pollen coagulated
into small yellow gobs
even on the backs of our visitors—

salamanders—
silent and stealthy
had surrounded our house
gradually drawn around us as we slept
an aura of protective
prehistoric calm
quelled our anxious dreams
until even our bones
felt as still as the mountains. it's true
mountains were once people
now here we are

listening to rain

hardly able to speak. please

tap the planet gong
gently with your knuckles
as you pass by to the kitchen

to mark our being with each other

I will listen to your journey
trail you down the hallway

and there will be no within
without you.




Snow Reclines

by Gene Berson

From Canary Winter 2017-18

along the honeysuckle
a womanly figure
melts, each flaring drip
a wet cold spark

runoff from the roof
trickling in the drainpipe

the sun burning
ninety three million miles away
incidentally warms my hand

melts my snow queen
to quench the plant

her lesson for me
is how to relax
as you give yourself away
a figment of light in what you let fall
away, oh

she’s destined to disappear

(if I sit here if
I sit here long enough . . .
I’ll not only see her go
but feel her hand slip
from its sleeve of ice in a vapor
take mine and lead me to an iron bridge
silkened by frost)

she’s both metaphor
—a glittering wheel of snow
turning in the untended garden
and a form of water

you may freely
regard this spectacle as mere phenomena
which it is, or accept it as a vision,
a shapely woman stretching
into luxurious languor

which it is, but you

what are you, then, sitting in your chair
on your deck drying out, en délire with the spinning
wheel, in the snow and sun
everything dripping, sparks crackling in the snow,
branches leaning, branches fallen
bits of mossy bark scattered everywhere?

you are the part of it
that pretends
the wide-awake dreamer
on which the future depends




The Plum Tree

by Gene Berson

From Canary Fall 2016

My father liked to sit in the backyard
next to his little plastic fountain
near the bamboo, sipping a highball
his French cuffs folded back glowing like gardenias
following the orange satellite of his cigarette in retrograde
when he took a drag in the darkness
the night warm
the plum tree full of stars.




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