Four Poems

EGO UMBRA*

If Nature
Took a human shape
It would be
A female
Shadow self

Only spectral
Living witness
To harm
Being done
On all
Four corners
Of her
Vast creation.

Her human
Children don’t
Appreciate her
Natural beauty
As is—

W: 8.5.21
[ For Diane Ward. ]
[ Inspired by the painting Me And My Shadow by Lady Tiffany. ]

*LATIN: “Shadow self.”

EGO UMBRA 2

Nature
May be content
Just being an airy
Little shadow, from a
Safe distance standing,
Watching the Anthropocene
Unfold—

Where’s the sport
In seeing humans do
More damage to
Her carefully-constructed
Ornate creation when she’s
Helpless to avert, as
Shade?

Nature
Had to demonstrate
Her innate powers
To all doubters
Left by assuming a
Fully functional, fleshly, feminine
Form.

Wherever she
May roam,
Nature
Leaves a long trail of footprints
Sprouting new blades of grass
Growing into new meadows, weeds,
Kudzu vines tangled within it all—

Wherever there are
Chalk-dry ruins,
Nature
Summons clouds, rain and wind,
Vegetation, morning dew make a bold return,
Animal survivors walk, crawl, slither, fly,
Come out from long, cautious hiding—

Everything she touches
Turns into life.

W: 8.11.21
[ Inspired by the 3-part graphic novel series Anafae,
created by Monica Richards and James Neely. ]

THE SPROUTING SEASON

true, this isn’t paradise

But it’s the only
Paradise on this polluted Earth I’m aware of:

Bitter chill, freezing rainfall
Relents to arriving warmth,

Our feathered neighbours, some breeds,
Return from habitats farther away,

Gardens tend to sprout coloured
Soft petal treasures, complimenting soil & grass,

Barren trees, clothed
In new, burgeoning leaves and attached

Fruit, developing,
Ripening within their own soft succulence

[ Apples, limes and oranges
Immediately come to mind ]

Out with overcast
Grey sky, dreary and spilling downpour seed,

In with the turning
Everything that grows to jade—
In with romance with the time of beautiful scenery
Reborn, between March and June

The sprouting season.

W: New Year’s Day 2022
[ For Nudi. ]
[ In response to the poem mother-tongue: the land of nod by lucille clifton. ]

GENERAL SHERMAN

Season of spreading flames
Make the hot months hotter,
Make short work
Out of sequoia groves

Fireball orange
Days and nights blur
No slowing down seasonal inferno
Fright runs through spotted owl and other animals

California woods’ future—drained of colour
Blackened soil,
Charcoal columns,
Smoking cinders—

Two paths in Sequoia National Park
Lead to the first forest guardian
Standing at 84 metres high, 2200 years old
In need of protection—

Firefighters apply aluminium sheet
Covering roots and trunk at the very base
So flames of Summer
Won’t leave scars on the tallest, oldest soldier

General Sherman
Who has seen
Ages come and go,
Beings become born and die,

General Sherman
Whose name evokes
Visions of past field battles between
North & South, over economics, over slavery—

General Sherman
Whose name, unfortunately,
Reminds us of spreading
Flames of war.

W: 1.12.22

Dee Allen African-Italian performance poet based in Oakland, California U.S.A. Active on creative writing & Spoken Word since the early 1990s. Author of 7 books—Boneyard, Unwritten Law, Stormwater, Skeletal Black [ all from POOR Press ], Elohi Unitsi [ Conviction 2 Change Publishing ] and his newest, Rusty Gallows: Passages Against Hate [ Vagabond Books ] and Plans [ Nomadic Press ]—and 46 anthology appearances under his figurative belt so far.