Pacific Slope

Stephen Motika
shoals   in sparked night
real creatures crushed by
                                         
                                   heated hunter
                                              gathers me, in long stocking

pearlescent, feasting
                                              salty heat of
abalone
          stewed in derelict measure

climbed, naked, on board
                                              each body, a mosaic in sand

drift, sea rind, carapace in hand
                                              to which we, a fire

red carved, each tissue ripped from small purse
                                                      tessellated surface
          talus shade


                 in tears

More by Stephen Motika

to have been, instead

instead, insulted. to look, in green light. redact. can you read... the oracular, such indifference. failing in the halls of an unknown.

to have powered down. mission. some sort of cavalcade, plane flight caucus to indifference. a mission, museum, the night in the unknown. a city.

raked forest leaves, consorted with compost fires, down in steam, walked an incline, slipped to fall. the clatter of bones on buried stones, on those leaves fallen, but not as fast as I fell.

in Turrell's dim light, I realized the failure of the art official. an artificial stance, an impossibility: to speak and listen simultaneously.

the train bed, we call them tracks, where two ties swim beneath. a gossip, these gadgets, soaked in white scrimmed preamble. I made the mistake of coming closer, again.

ihe rejection, a mastication of the brain, those thoughts that fuel the day. I can't, besides, canning involves brine and fish we simply don't have.

in the sea farm, large carp. in the lake, a new cat finds our resources, our swims, those precious summer waters, where the between marks space.

the train from platform; here, everything in an elevated series of windows, lighted, in yellow mirrored fashion. large tower rests on the ground. the pavement gives way, the grinding of breaks.

came across a few seats, edits, and large empty doors. there were paintings, an elderly man. a slipped space to look aside guards and walls. I can't think of how many steps it takes to escape.

platformed, clasped, we waited to circulate, encased, dined within curator's task, lips sown in a silence of those emeriti.

caustic, in bold approach, pallid lips, rouged face, nearly quaffed and ensconced. I edged the red, a rage lost in the linen weave, a time.

Related Poems

Dispatches from Devereux Slough

Black Phoebe

Highwayman of the air, coal-headed, darting
Plunderer of gnat hordes, lasso with beak –

"Surely, that fellow creature on the wing,"
The phoebe thinks, "should fly like this."

                     And loops
His flight path in a wiry noose, takes wing
Like a cast line and hits the living fly,

Ripping it from the fluid of its life.


Devereux Lagoon

Shiners leap ahead of diving cormorants
And killdeer cry, alarming one another.
In an egret's beak, the catch flashes like shook foil.

How well these field glasses scope out the place—
A kestrel sky, serrations of the Madres,
And sand flats darkened by a rare rain shower.

Such an odd peace, as creatures stalk each other


Dispatch from Devereux Slough
               Fall, 2008
The gulls have no idea.
The distant bark of sea lions gives nothing away.
The white-tailed kite flutters and hunts.
The pelicans perform their sloppy angling.
The ironbark eucalyptus dwells in ignorance and beauty.
And the night herons brood in their heronry like yoga masters, each balanced on a twig.
The world has changed. The news will take some time to get here.


From the Garden Toad

A cri de coeur of mud, a heartfelt groan
Of deep damp, mother rainfall and her sire;

A plea from underground, from drooping shade,
From memories of sunlight and clear water;

Reproach of an old grandparent half-forgotten –

All in that voice, announcing a desire
To have sex under the giant philodendron.


Marine Layer

No one is out tonight, but just in case,
A tubaphone's deep echo, like a seine net,
Sweeps under darkness and pulls darkness in
The way a trellis shadow cages light.

To hear the foghorn is to hear your childhood,
If you were lucky to have lived near ocean,
Moving again into your neighborhood.


Overcast on Ellwood Mesa

Hawks like it. Wings cast no shadow, hovering,

And white crowned sparrows are easier to pick out
Among the foxtails, scurrying like mice.

Under the gray cloud cover, blue birds course
Like running water through the fennel stalks,

And the shrike, color of the sky, keeps watch
From the barbed wire of the startling green golf course.


September Song

Those phosphorescent shoulders of the night surf
Passing beneath the pier,
                     as we looked down,
Were an agitation in the falling water
Of creatures set to glowing,
                     all together,
By sudden apprehension, which we perceived
As incandescent wonder,
                     our eyes feasting,
Our hearts filled by the light of crashing down.


Shorebreak, 3 a.m.

At night the swell and crash, the swell and crash,
As waves rush forward, peak, and then collapse
Gasping and giving up a ghost of spray,
Sounds from a distance like a low-voiced hush.

Awake, alone, at the right hour to hear it,
That hush, for all the sleeplessness behind it,
Can lead one, walking wounded, back to sleep.


Sundowner

Waking at nightfall like the other monsters,
The vampire and the moonstruck wolfman, arson
Is hardly required to set your body burning,

Thirsting for dryness, dry brush, stucco houses.

Flame wind, ember wind, wind of moonlit smoke,
Rolling a fog of ash downhill to sea,

The sun's down is the harsh fur of your burning.


Surgeons

The egret is more patient than any watcher
And lances its incision when its stillness
Has made one look away.
                     Its anesthetic
Is stillness, and it numbs the water's skin.

The pelican takes a hatchet to the water,
The egret plies a scalpel.
                        They extract fish,
But one by smash and gulp, and one by stillness.


The Crystal Ship
       Sands Beach, Goleta

The famous rock star thought up his famous rock song
While gazing out at the oil derrick offshore.

Lit up at night it might look, to stoned eyes,
Like a faceted galleon perfect for a song.

Tonight, as sunset gives off its green flash,
The derrick has that look.
                     And so does the oil barge
Docked to it, dead black, filling up with cargo.


To a Dead Sea Lion at Sands Beach

You had returned from dry land back to water,
Preferring it, and welcomed the new limbs,
Webbed to conceal your toe and finger bones.

You rolled along the surf, all memory
Of other motion swept back in your wake,
And ended here, among fly-buzzing kelp.

Sleek swimmer drowned,
            and with your unwebbed bones.


Heaven

When we are reunited after death,
The owls will call among the eucalyptus,
The white tailed kite will arc across the mesa,
And sunset cast orange light from the Pacific
Against the golden bush and eucalyptus
Where flowers and fruit and seeds appear all seasons
And our paired silhouettes are waiting for us.