The Outdoor Poet: Pam O'Shaughnessy

Kelp, Monterey Bay

stranding, the underwater-forest
sways like thin torsos
upheld by air-sacs
artificial currents plumped in:
kelp plants tidal

yellow-brown can grow sixty feet tall
hollow tubes and linked leaves

sway up sway back
light-shafts through green

illuminate the forest animals
a single sunfish-cow

& monster bottom feeders
both eyes on one side of their heads
which you won't find
at the base of land-trees

though I have seen them in government

Folded Wings

cool forest scratching
past blackberries
dried-out blackfruit
poison oak sticks
plenty of resin left

eucalyptus canopy high
many branches wreaths
of lace-leaves hanging
here and there
one leaf flies up

throw a stick
they rise confetti
in an upside-down world
orange shineblack bodies
from twiggy cities
their light-flutters

return to dust-green
pale sky
folds again to gray

day after day
obedient to my nature
I throw my stick
obedient to theirs


at Henry Cowell Park

ticks kick from the bushes onto the fur
the soft fur they can smell in the old heat
above the petrichoric path
dim sounds of hollow wood clacking
not like your light music why are you
about to explode night is spacious
spotlit why do you writhe who is he
hard against a tree when dew comes
drawn to his hunt no one to hear
the sounds you make at his festival
which has suddenly erupted in a clearing
but celebrate: an angel has spun down on silk
eight-legged. you grimace like a gale
or girl you want to know something cold
that will have to be torn from your casing
damaging but you slice open your chest
willingly to the mess in there


as we walk these hills
gilding with the progress of spring
silent, only the windy grasses
a-slink with snakes, creeping with coyotes,

no disturbance
in the transparence,

the land draws out our poisons
the clay is edible, the insects
offer themselves up.

these hills
are bread
with the property of wholesomeness.
these cold springs
shock us back .

we drink gullyfuls.

About The Writer Pam O'Shaughnessy is a Santa Cruz poet. These poems are from her collection of poems, Figments, published in 2013 by Laika Press.

The Outdoor Poet is edited by Robert Sward, author of numerous books of poetry including, most recently, New and Selected Poems: 1957-2011 (Red Hen Press). He lives on the Westside with his wife, the artist Gloria Alford, and a poodle mix named Cosette. Participation in The Outdoor Poet is by invitation.

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