Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Paul Dresman

Full disclosure: Paul Dresman was a teacher of mine at the University of California, San Diego, and he was the nearest thing I had to a poetry mentor. He has a genius for the unexpected phrase to describe what would go unnoticed in situations and encounters, and he has one of the most perfectly developed ears I've come across; his free verse has a vital, rhythm,a sound of surprise. Here, he provides us with a comic scenario for the tensions between the animal and human kingdoms; what is revealed is that we are getting in the way, quite unaware that we share the planet and soon enough will experience a similar dilemma. -tb_____________


Speaking of Routes

By Paul Dresman


Behind the beaches, the plains
cut back into the red ochre,
yellow ochre canyons
and, in places, the torrey pines
have been slashed to the quick
to lift houses on pads,
rainbirds turning circles,
grasses ad ornamentals
where dry brush rattled pods
and the elfin forest went about
surviving each dry year
(rabbits love to come at dawn
and graze the fresh watered lawns).


Where the freeway cuts and concretes the access
the animals are funneled through the underpass
Nights in your lights (maybe one-eyed, returning from parties)
their eyes flash and they move hugely
--foxes coming into sudden new view


But they pass as fast as a pair of hips
in a party kitchen
moves around behind you, brushing you. lightly
inscribing a small intaglio in your imago,
a moment between car and animal,
between hello and where are we going to go?

But the onramp beckons, the empty lanes
lead to the cities of the plains
where animals are found in dreams
like a passing fancy of endless party people
dancing in circles, wanting…


The animals are wanting. One half
of our face caves away. We stand,
along the chain link, waiting
to cross the impassable highway.