Noe Valley Voice July 2011
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Other Voices: Poems by Evalyn Baron and Larry Beresford


Garden Poems

by Evalyn Baron

 

Today I Was God

 

Today I was God: I

Cared nothing, or barely thought

Of destroying worlds beneath

My garden spade, destruction to bequeath

To creatures whose worlds were finely wrought,

And who, scurrying, had no time to question why.

 

Today in my Godly way, I drowned

Villages of ants beneath the gush

Of my garden hose, as I washed brick.

Death streamed the anthills thick

As universes settled in a hush,

And like Pompeii, surprise flowed through every mound.

 

 

Memory’s Garden

 

Worms and loam:

One turns the other over,

’Til both are bright and glistening

With moist life and odorous promise.

We tend to judge these things,

These life-forms, this mud,

Somehow lower,

Somehow slimier than

Our noble, upright selves;

We think decay and odor

Are things to avoid

For ever.

Cellophane and zip-lock bags,

Air-tight containers

And snap-top bowls:

These are a few of our favorite things.

 

But all things worth nourishing

Are worth the decay.

 

Come to my heat,

You beautiful slithery eels of memory:

Let me grow fat on you.

Bring the sea into my gardens.

I will add my salt to your water

And buds will open.

I promise.

 

 

Tomato Plants

 

“Whoooooppppeeee!

A new place to live!”

The tiny

Grubs

Exclaim.

Their wormy noses

Catch the whiff of

Ripening flesh

Green-for-now-

But-oh-what-

Red-promise-

Later.

The buxom, bosomy

Globes

Of fleshy acid

Fruit

Promise

What?

They promise it all.

While sending electric waves

Across the lawn

To the basil.

 

Before moving to San Francisco seven months ago, Evalyn Baron was a celebrated resident of Manhattan. An actress, director, and teacher, Baron played Madame Thénardier on Broadway in Les Misérables for four years. She also worked off Broadway and at regional theaters all over the country, “able to afford it because of a TV and radio commercial career that I’m happy to abandon in order to finally get some writing done,”she says. Now a resident of Russian Hill, Baron loves gardening, although these days, “I am limited to pots, which I adore for their forced creativity.” She is working on a book and writes a blog atwww.evalynbaron.com.

 

 

Family Poems

by Larry Beresford

 

LIFE’S CURRENCY

 

I don’t regret marrying you, I explained.

Not a bit of it. I never rued the day.

Even despite, she posed

with a wave of her hand, all of this?

 

Oh, that’s just life’s currency,

you know, the harum-scarum.

What do you know about harum-scarum?

she asked, eyebrows on full-dress parade.

 

Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of harum-scarum.

I’ve been around the track, across the street,

through the ringer, up the down staircase,

in the out door, up the creek,

 

out of luck, in the soup,

through the looking glass,

where the wild things are.

Well, she said, what did you bring me?

 

 

SHE’S SO GREAT TO COME HOME TO

 

When I creep in late

and strip in the dark,

softly bathed by city lights,

and she’s lying heavy on her pillow,

radiating steam heat,

exhaling soft stable snorts,

I see the outline of a solid figure,

a substantial presence in my life,

a foundation on which to erect my new life.

 

I used to lie awake anyway,

alert to the slightest creaks

and shifts in the settling structure

I had constructed around my dread.

But sometimes now I can’t sleep

for the strangeness of it.

Here is my mate, my other half,

so unexpected, so unprecedented.

How did this happen? Where did she

come from? What did I do to deserve this?

 

I never could have extrapolated

from what I knew,

Hollywood dramas and screwball comedies,

unfulfilling serial monogamy

and my parents’ tired, comfortable

cohabitation with seven children.

It was never like this,

never a thinking, breathing life partner,

whose every chortle, every malaprop,

is further confirmation of our lifetime deal.

 

Even when we fight,

even when we haven’t settled it by bedtime,

we still need to sleep together,

because the battlefield lies here.

This proximity is our agenda,

our journey, our business, our life.

 

Oh sweaty, snorty, solid presence in my life,

let me spoon you, let me smell you,

let me share your bed that isn’t quite

wide enough for two, comfortably,

and wake you with my restless tossing.

If I close my eyes, please

be there when I open them again.

 

 

Larry Beresford lived in Noe Valley, Glen Park, and the Castro from 1981 to 1999. During his years in the city, he contributed numerous features to the Voice, including a column about local history called Landmarks of Noe Valley. He decamped for Washington, D.C., just before the millennium, describing his “Farewell to Noe Valley” in the October 1999 Voice. The move didn’t take, however, and he returned to the Bay Area a year later, settling in Oakland with his wife Rose Mark. Author of the 1996Under a Gibbous Moon: The Adventures of Mister Funky,Beresford last fall published Family Poems, which he dedicated to his grandson Osirus. The poems on this page are part of that collection, available through Amazon.com. Readers can also visit Beresford’s website, www.larryberesfordpoet.com.

 

Poems  2010 Larry Beresford, from Family Poems (Redheaded Press, Oakland)

 

The Noe Valley Voice invites you to ­submit fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry for possible publication in Other Voices. Email OtherVoices@noevalleyvoice.com or write Other Voices, Noe Valley Voice, P.O. Box 460249, San Francisco, CA 94146. Please include your name, address, and phone number, and a self-addressed stamped envelope if you want items returned. We look forward to hearing from you.