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"Go gather by the humming sea Some twisted, echo-harbouring shell, And to its lips thy story tell..." -- W.B.Yeats
Family OutingAgainst the merged blue pond and sky A cleanly-focused silhouette, In hat, white linen coat, and tie, The slim young father, easy, stands, A springy yellow fishing pole Loose in his hands. In ribboned leghorn, on her stool, With easel, brushes, scene composed, The mother limns the placid pool, The willow fronds, the maidenhair. Her canvas stands for grass that's green, Winds calm, skies fair. The rosy children cross the sands With woven baskets wetly red. Their mouths are smeared; their cunning hands Are dark with stains. "Papa!" they cry. "Mama, come see!" White scavengers Patrol the sky.© Carl Selph, 1999
PoemBehold me high and wide and handsome sings the Sky Come Mother dear and see pipes up the tiny boy pink from the sun I shut my eyes and there is only me Nothing is deep as I am deep so booms the Sea and Men are shallow as the tears they weep I am the measure of all things remarks the little girl splashed by the wave It's just for me the birdy sings Man and the Universe reflect my image so I cannot find it odd they are so egocentric now sighs God© Carl Selph, 1999
PicnicIn its summer running on the barefoot road My heart was green as the burst bud. Innocence like sunlight spilled through the wood. Laughing from our mothers in the lavish dawn We came with sacks of banquet and a tune Fleshless as my body's neuter song. We sang our games under the hairy pines, Made imitative penitence for sins By playing church and singing steepled rhymes. But the actual sun with his dry light Spied the tower and with oppressive heat Knocked our song to a cocked hat. The older boy halted a palling day, Suggesting the giggling girls not see Till he and another were stripped and watery. At whistles we watched their wet hair and skin, The older boy leap in trembling wind, The little girls shrieking as he sprang. Splintering creek and the sun's glitter Approved the nakedness and laughter, Fearful pleasures of girls and water. Yet, building houses by the pinestrewn creek We wearied of wedlock's anxious pact That tiring children could but contradict. Home through barbed pines, lost and late, My heart puzzled the fearful heat In riddle silences and sweat.© Carl Selph, 1954 First published in The Colorado Quarterly
RuminationsMexico, July The rains are late this year. The skies above these stony hills recall Delos. Neptune and a surly helmsman soaked me with brine, the caique rising, shuddering down, always slapping the trough of the wave, out of sync. I walked on fluted marble scraps, admired the phallus on its pedestal, and climbed the storied hill under that Apollonian sky. Those gods are dead, and here the Serpent, plumes bedraggled, sailed away. We hobble on, crutched by promises. When next the bright god with his shining beard returns, riding a fabulous beast, may he not view us with a mild surmise. We have suffered the abdications of major deities, and heroes in silver armor laced with their golden blood beg in the streets. Here, now, I stretch in the sun, salt in my wrinkles. Though Phoebus has been dead for two millennia, his fire, originating from such distances, continues to arrive; and I look up, satisfied after so many embarcations, still to be, at least, undrowned, waiting for news, and keeping a weather eye on yet another foreign heaven.© Carl Selph, 1999
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