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Night Song of The Los Angeles Basin

                                  Owl
                       calls,
                       pollen dust blows
              Swirl of light strokes writhing
              knot-tying light paths,
 
              calligraphy of cars.
 
Los Angeles basin and hill slopes
Checkered with streetways. Floral loops
Of the freeway express and exchange.
 
                 Dragons of light in the dark
                 sweep going both ways
                 in the night city belly.
                 The passage of light end to end and rebound,
                —ride drivers all heading somewhere—
                 etch in their traces to night’s eye-mind
 
                 calligraphy of cars.
 
Vole paths. Mouse trails worn in
On meadow grass;
Winding pocket-gopher tunnels,
Marmot lookout rocks.
Houses with green watered gardens
Slip under the ghost of the dry chaparral,
 
                 Ghost
                 shrine to the L. A. River
                 The jinja that never was there
                 is there.
                 Where the river debouches
                 the place of the moment
                 of trembling and gathering and giving
                 so that lizards clap hands there
                —just lizards
                 come pray, saying
                 “please give us health and long life.”
 
                           A hawk,
                           a mouse.
 
Slash of calligraphy of freeways of cars.
 
                 Into the pools of the channelized river
                 the Goddess in tall rain dress
                 tosses a handful of meal.
 
                 Gold bellies roil
                 mouth-bubbles, frenzy of feeding,
                 the common ones, the bright-colored rare ones
                 show up, they tangle and tumble,
                 godlings ride by in Rolls Royce
                 wide-eyed in brokers’ halls
                 lifted in hotels
                 being presented to, platters
                 of tidbit and wine,
                 snatch of fame,
 
                          churn and roil,
 
                 meal gone   the water subsides.
 
                          A mouse,
                          a hawk.
 
The calligraphy of lights on the night
                  freeways of Los Angeles
 
                  will long be remembered.
 
                          Owl
                  calls;
                           late-rising moon.
Other works by Gary Snyder ...



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