This, My Columbia

This, My Columbia
... The Columbia River

" Cosmos Cascading " (10x23)

" Cosmos Cascading " (10x23)
August, 2011 id3300

" Blacking Streaking Black Red " ( Right Corner View )

" Blacking Streaking Black Red " ( Right Corner View )
August, 2011 id3286

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rudy, F. Scott and Jay Licata


F. Scott,

dead at 43.

. . . and on his gravestone,
are these etched words,

below the date
of December 21, 1940:

"So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the past."

The last few lines

from his masterpiece,

" The Great Gatsby" -

and now like Gatsby, or perhaps
more like Jimmy Gatz, i too, feel the
reflections of:

" The expressions of bewilderment
had come back into Gatsby's face, as though
a faint doubt had occurred to him

as to the quality of
his present happiness." - F.Scott Fitzgerald

Yep. My boat has been borne back.
My ship in the stormy billows of life -
Never having caught up with white whales,
Nor Victorian romances

Tho steady the winds
Still a-blowin' strong and full
Against her schooner sails.

Many levels of Gatsby -
A good story for a fourteen year old;
and as much as a PhD. can handle as well.
- almost as much so, as Moby Dick,
Methinks and sometimes wonder...


Rudy Valentino

( As told to Jay Licata )

- J.Licata21may09

A Jazzy Age mindset -
A Roaring Twenties Deco
Speakin' Easy, Speakin' low
Easy Sax, zigzag ziggy,
Lips upon the horn a-blowin'
Ziegfeld notes all in tow.

Fell into the bluest eyes,
Silk sheets a-waitin' in the morning
1920's Champagne, sunrise glow,
Still my Flapper and me a-dancin'
Right into the Thirties and
The Great Depression's dust
Of not so long ago.

Faint and faded notes
From a sweet Clarinet
An old man's memory,
Playing on winds and time,
Jazzman, Rudy and F. Scott bestow.

Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

Never turned off the lights
Never stopped the show,

Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

Sweet and soft nostalgia,
Ragtime, Charleston
Giddy was me and Giddy was you,
Giddy up the Carousel

Riding the Merry, Merry go-round
Against the Merry, Merry we did go.

Jazzin' man on Trumpet
Saxophone on a Piano bench
Bangles and feathers,
Gold baubles and diamonds and beads,

Legs and tuxedos
Crossing stages and the flow
Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

To forget the Great War
The Doughboys and the Tommies
That you loved
Or the ones you'll never know
Sleeping forever in France,
At the Somme, 1916, on the first day,
Twenty Thousand, they fell,

Soft love stories in the night
They never will tell

From Gallipoli, from Salonika
And Mesopotamia,

Far, far from there
And long and long away,

Only blue jazz in the night
Let us forget the day

For all we pray
And wish not to know,

We tipped our glasses
And drank Holy Water
And then and once again
Against the Merry, Merry we did go...

- j.licata21may09

Walking Long to Tintern Abbey - by John Jay Licata

To Tintern Abbey walking
Along the English border,
Of ancient Wales,

From Hay-on-the-Wye,
Walking long
The afternoon of Spring,

To Tintern Abbey
Coming to hear
An Anglo Saxon princess sing,

Her walking long
From centuries moss dead,
We sang the Abbey chorus again,

Then reversed and tread
Back up the English terraced land,
Stone fenced beneath steep cliffs,

To Wales -
To Welsh heavens
and sun setting red
Glimmering her hair,
Brushing gentle against us,

And her Aberystwyth
Blue green eyes
Were the sky,

Her Queen Mother's tears,
The waters of Swansea Bay,

For in the green grass valley
Under Dylan's echoing lyrics
We did lay,

Hearing endless the poems
and songs of South Wales
As lovers from the antiquity
Were wont to do,

After walking long
Into the early dusk
of late moonlight day,

Returning to Tintern Abbey,
To the Wye Valley of Wales
and finding you,

In the Opus of eternity
Lingering forever
In the land of Cymru.

Stone Pebbles and Poems

Stone poems,
Lifted and gathered
Amongst the wild grasses
Of unkempt gardens,

Caked and swaddled
With dry earth
And the pallete's paint
Of ancient soil,

Sun baked
With bark and leaf
And the mottled sheens
Of memory's motif,

From the far lands
Of other times and places
Of the heart,

Winds return the dust,
Covering crevices
And veins of iron rust,
Etched upon lodestones,

Poems for eternity
Held in trust.

Poems as stones,

Wash them up
Wash them down
Wash them off

Hold them under the gush
Of an ageless wellspring,

And polish and shine
The corners,
Then the rounds.

Flip them over
Scrub their belly,
Gather them up
In little mounds,

And place them
In a poet's bag,

Shake them together,
Rattle their sound,
Scatter them back,

And pour them
Into fountainheads
and the wild weeds
Of garden beds.

For the poet
Is but a moment,

His book hovers brief
Above the ground,

While the stone poems,
Will return again
For millions of years,

Beneath the sea,
Along the river's banks,
The forested floor
And sculpted canyon walls,
And sides of mountains,

Atop the ribbed crest
And ridge of infinity,
Forever and endless,

The stone poems
Will trace the paths
Of icing streams
And anchor out
The trench and pinions
Of lakes, artesian wells,
Gaps and gullies,

And the spine and ribs
That lift and pillar,
The beams and girth,
And bones of Earth
And brethren star,

Poems in the garden wall,
So close, were once
Comets and meteors
That tumble and fall

Warmth upon stones
Solstice day play
Led you off
To the far away.

And when missing,
Those who knew you
Will be wont to say:

"Gone. Gone to stay."

In a puzzled reflection
Both magical and sad
Words of bewilderment
They might add:

"She danced alone"
With only the garlands
Of Rosemary and Mint
Upon her moonlight skin
But seemed embraced,
Spin footed and enthralled,

As if listening to
The sonnets of lovers,
Though none could be seen -
Her garden was empty
Her garden was walled.

A Troubadour's America

Oh, America!
Where has your muscle gone?
For thin-legged office men
Build houses of paper
And their paper tygers
Peddle futures against the dawn
And the ghosts of hungry 1930's men
Know it's all a con.

So scatter stock and debenture
From the airship O'plenty
The computer god's box
Lost America's wealth
In the wild black yonder
Of red numbers and trades
Of muscle and blood for paper
And signs to read:
"Out of Business"
Had to eat the seed corn -
Too leveraged to wait for dawn.

Had to float more paper
And sing the song
Of "put and call"
Had to sell America
When her engine
Began to stall.

"So boys, we got to borrow
And buy her back on margin!
Before they call her notes"
And the pies-in-the-sky begin to fall
And before all Corporate Liberty
Is shipped across the sea
With no memory of

The workin' muscle of America
That made strong her economy
With the sweet-sweat nectar
Of the free
And her dark and shaded sons
That still wait to fully be.

Wall Street's One Hundred Men

One hundred men
Of Wall Street
Control ten trillion dollars.

They didn’t dig the well,
But they surely drink its waters.

Citizen soldiers,
Few of them
Have ever been.

Our great grandfathers
Fought for nationhood
In the Civil War,
Not for economic win.

Your Elephant Party
Cuts your taxes,
Making others pay for war.

Your lobbyists,
Saddle Uncle Sam with debt
Still, you juggle and shake
The piggy bank for more.

Your daughters marry well,
Sons, have the best deal around
Their hands are soft and clean
And the banners of Ivy League, abound.

Americans believe their patriots
Rejoice for fair shake, fair play,
But they run hungry on empty
When you take most all the pie away.

So think about these issues, sir
When the money bell rings
At the close of your day,

For we all love
A strong America
And Lady Liberty’s bills
Are running high,
But parity and ability to pay
Should be, the Yankee Doodle way.

Your cards and candies
Sent to Congress
Have given you full sway.
You have great influence -
The rules are written your way.

You know whom to call
And what to say,
But sir, it is a point of honor
To raise and to tell,

That the Robber Barons
Of the Roaring Eighties
Who cleaned the cupboard bare,
Learned that government
Is not theirs to sell,

And discovered
That wealth without ethics,
Is not a Bull
Nor a Bear,

And good citizenship
Is not freedom without a care

For the Little Man,
Once, your father’s neighbor,
Is now, not anywhere,

And yet his son
Is over there
To save your oil,

While you labor away
In silk shirts
And soft shoes,
Makin’ a million bucks,

The poor man
Sings the blues,
The soldier,
Has much to lose.

And certainly, you say
It was his to choose.

Wake up, Mister
And lend a hand!

You’re kicking our dreams,
Down the street,
Like an old tin can.

My Populist Poem About Bankers

From Seattle...

Comes a Populist.

"Boss Man Office Man"

Make a cake
Bake a cake
Banker Man
Makin' mortgage money -
Nibble quick gold
Flashes in the pan.

Boss Man
A-comin' down the aisle
"Oh, no!" cries the Office Man
"Please let me be!"

Many good men
Longing to be free
Dreams from the cubicle
Like notes in a bottle
Thrown into the sea.

Capitalism's got their mortgage
Hound dogs of debt
Got them cornered
Got them up a tree.

Wall Street owns America
Paid cash for Lady Liberty
Two hundred years later
Jefferson, Theodore and Lincoln
Are weeping for you and me
While the USS Citizenship
Flounders in a green money sea.

Mallahan and McGinn for Seattle Mayor - A Poem by John Jay Licata ~ Troubadour Poet & Seattle Native Son

Will we ever have another Mayor
That's born in Seattle!
Who knows the city -
Its visceral spit and spaddle,

And understands the City Council
Is prone to fiddle faddle

Wherefore these two Irish lads -
Mallahan and McGinn,
With rolled up carpets
Under their arms, glib tongues
And with out-of-towner's charms,

Are making promises of Easy Street,
Promises made without a care
Like so many fish like us
Flinging across Pike Place Market -
Flying through the air.

Several Octobers Ago ~ Saint Mark's Cathedral

Several Octobers Ago
Holy water and blessings,
Four generations
In a gathering
At Saint Mark's Cathedral
On Capital Hill
And the wee Anglo Saxon was me,
Bequeathed into tomorrow
By the Bishop of Canterbury.

While Great Grandmother
And Grandmother and Mother,
In the nexus of the moment,
Were cast into memory,
Endless and days to be,
And have now all passed
Save for the infant me -

Last one standing
One Hundred-Thirty years
Of a Seattle family history.

Albeit, Great Grandmother -
Lucy Valerie Berry,
Grandmother - Lucy Lawton,
And Mother Carol Ann,

Still share the same epiphany
Of that Fall Sunday afternoon,
In October of Evermore
When love imbued encore,

And seeds of Forget-me-nots,
Spindrifting and broadcast
Against hills of Seattle green,
Playing in meadows of Rainier
and along the sea spray shore,
Bloomed then and forevermore,

And when passing along
The road near St. Mark's,
With Seattle General near by,
Where we both were born,

And sometimes framed and glimmering
In the same blue of my mother's eyes,
The Dover Apartments, to the West,
At the corner of Fifth and Marion,
Within sight, and still standing,
Between towers and monoliths,

And thus this triad bricolage -
This trilogy of the heart's opus,
Beckons its image flush with tears
And bids me stay and not wander
A better land -
Nay, for this be
The lodestone and fountainhead
That these three mothers of me
Gave auspice in the Alma meter
Of Love's immense eternity.

This, My Columbia

This, my Columbia!
As long your waters run
Under eternal stars and time,
The ancient evenings of the moon
Will flow endlessly upon
Your river's immortal rhyme.

"Pacific Northwest Poems"

Arriving From An Odyssey

They were there
In ice silkened
And silent solemnity
Eternally postured
and awaiting my return
Saint Hood, Saint Rainier
As twinned pyramids
And sentinel gatekeepers
Of the Pacific Northwest
Paramount and panorama,
They were there
Awaiting my return...

The Trees

Barren and leafless
Stand in sculpted groupings
Along the banks of
The Lewis River in December,
Days before the solstice
And with promises
Of noble Spring green
Soon to shield
The lone Birch barked white
Their dormant dance surrounds
In the riverlands of Winter sight
As late migrants
Ring the air crisp
And birds on travel
Wing their mottled sounds
Slip-skimming the frozen grounds
In streams above the hunters
And their trophied towns...

The Logs

Laid side by side
Strapped in with iron chains
Upon beds of logging trucks
Which rumbled and thundered and
Swooshed along the roadway.
The logs, down and dead
And boughless now,
Once trees,
Whose last rustling notes
Now merely echoed faint
Reverberations on the breeze.
And on the memories of the leaf
And the green clustered jewels
Of a thousand sails
Once glimmered in ocean skies
Now brown ghost dibblers
Trip-dancing across the frozen sward
As the loams of Spring
Call soft the leaves of shard...

Birds Purple and Blackberry Blue

Birds Purple and Blackberry Blue / 
Swashed still purple / 
And black to be / 
Enmeshed in fields of Summerly. / 

An old woman now,
Lost in the memory gardens
Of thorn and sticker
And a once young lover's pain,

Her blooms in wait
To taste tart sweet verjuice,
The black and purpleberry

Toes pressed and curled,
Wreathed and twined,

Into moist Pacific loam,

And the silted sand dunes
Along the firth and quay
Of the sacred lands
Of the Duwamish,

Now embraced against the cold to come
When Autumn damp danks the air
And Winter icings freeze the fountainheads
Of Lilac and the Sugar Berries
Of forbidden fruit...

" Tacoma Blue Sky "

From Lawton to Hopkins
From Watson to Hoode,
To Great Grandmother's house, I go.

From Hill to Berry,
Generations vary
Timelines tarry,
Tho my mother's genealogy
Is well within me
And still in tow.

My long dead
My long forgotten,
I've come to know.

Putting pen to paper,
They are close within me,
Part of my constellation -
A gene stream -
A starlight show.

Three hundred years in America
And I will be next to go,
Childless, a screeching halt -

A part of the tree
That did not grow?
A flower from whence
Tomorrow's seed did not sow?

Nay, I say
For well after I am dead,
My words, my poems
Singing like voices of children,
Will still be read.

For with pen to paper,
No sense of loss or of dread,
For dances with the past
And love dreams of tomorrow,
Are twice be loved
And twice be wed.

For coming full circle,
Great Grandmother's house
At the end of my path
Where destiny was etched,
And the returning heart has lead,

Back up the mossy,
Northwest steps
And through aching hinges
Upon a sparsely painted, warping door,
And along a musty carpet floor,
Passing tables, wooden pieces
And a rocking chair

Out onto a back porch
And the patina of disrepair
To where a backyard of childhood's,
Crumbling fences and an ancient Pear,
Remembrance, it is there,
The sweet scented soil
That begot me

And the out-of-fashion
Flower beds and borders,
And amongst the weeds of time,
I laid myself down again,
For but a few moments
That turned into an hour,
And slipping too easily
Into the by and by
Of Tacoma's bluest sky,

I sat up startled knowing then,
It was too soon to die,
For many and many
Of lines of verse to write
And waiting for goddesses
Tipping into the night.

And standing up
Deciding not to overstay,
And the sound
Of my Grandmother's voice,
And hearing her say:

"Add another poem."

Then she said:

"Add another day -
Go on Grandson,
Walk away!
I am with you
Step by step,
Moment by moment,
Word by word.
Weave your children,
Noble son..."

"Fade from here
And journey back to me,
And once again
We will embrace
In the sunsetting
Of yet another day."
. . .

I always knew
That I would see her
Yet once again,
My Great Grandmother.

That we would speak
And I would feel
Her cotton apron
Against the side of my cheek
And her hand cupped
On the back of my neck
As i stood three feet tall

And her scent mingled
With the work of her day
And the warm sweet of her breath,
Down the sides of my face,

Because always
Have I remembered
That week of Summer's first day,
When lying on my back
In the freshly turned soil
Of her flower beds,

As she sat higher up

On several flights of stairs
Upon the back porch,
Looking down
And across the yard at me,
Saying nothing
For moments upon moments
And minutes upon daydreams,

As i wandered
The bluest Tacoma sky of 1949
And the radio's voice
Of President Truman;
She liked the president,
Told me he was "pure Missouri"
And a good man and "resolute"
And i thought that meant religion
Or something complicated;
But she liked him a lot;
And Glen Miller as well -
He had the big band orchestra,
And who was lost in a plane
"Near the English waters"
As i think i remember
How she said it,
It was during the war,
She said it was.

And now I look

Across and down
Into her backyard garden
From my mind's eye view
And see her napping lightly
Upon the freshly turned
And scented flower beds.

And sleeping gentle now,
All our memories are scattered
Amongst those Forget-me-nots
And from seeds of Poppies
That she had planted,
Each Spring now fifty years
They merge and bloom
After once drawing
So softly into the earth,
All the time
We had together,

And the scent of Lilac
And the song of Bluebirds
Carried on the winds
With the perfumes
Of English Heather.

The Two Best Poets in Washington State Since 1889

Win, place and show
The second best poet is silver
And this be poetical,
Upon myself bestow.

The gold is Richard Hugo,
My neighbor at West Seattle High,
A generation before me,
With forty years of overlap
Under the same Seattle sky.

Indigene sons of Washington soil
Born, bred and begotten
Within the same Seattle mile,

Where tugboats would toil
And foghorns were heard,
With Liberty ships
Through the Ballard Locks
In single file.

We were the lads
In the Spring
Of Evergreen's history,

While the carpetbaggers
Of the poetry business,
Didn't arrive until the Fall.

Still, our Big Mountain
Is big hearted
And all are welcome -
Come one and come all!

Though one must remember
That Lady Rainier, you see,
Dances her best
With Richard and me,

And only the honor
Of her embrace
Can place bards and poets
Upon the high mantle
Of Northwest native grace.

So come ye troubadour and penman
And pay your homage and due,
To the land of Cascades and Olympia,
With lines, couplets and sonnets
And a chapbook or two,

As nimbus and karma,
And the aura and muse
Of poet Richard Hugo,
Place a blessing upon you.

"Seattle Poems"


This romance…
This love
This Seattle.
Born on her hill
As was my mother
As was she...

And now
Her Ladyship,
Still too young
To dance with Chicago,
She dances with me
As old man New York sits
While I waltz
Flush with glee.

And later,
Not far from the Sunday Ballroom Cathedral
of her hills,
In the riverlands of the Duwamish,
I sweet sleep deep,
Cradled in the folds and holds,
Of night harbor music
and the lyrical tapestry
of her arms...

"Seattle Sunset"

Seattle huddles her lakes
In long arms of green rims and ridges
Pressed bold and folded
Across the rosetted fleece of sunset,
Her sculpted stone men-in-waiting
Perch luminous and bathe in gold aurora,
Along the velvet edges of dusk,
And gaze the nippled swash and sway
Of night-comings and their maiden’s passion
For courtship’s sunrise promise of early mirth
And the color brush canopy of day...
. . .

" Wolf " " Salmon "


An eternal epitome
Of the Northwest’s timeless freedom -
Pristine and elemental
Brutal and beautiful
As the earth’s history itself,
Made manifest and woven
By the endless matrices
of rivers and streams,
And fed by the hydro-genesis
and full moons
Of snow-melted Millenniums
And the epiphany
of the many midnights
Of the ageless howl of the wolf
And the water’s wellspring rush
To alma-matered and acqua-bellied lakes...


Five year salmon
Jeweled and gemmed
And king fish crowned
Returning full loop to Puget Sound
Through endless and oceaned pools of loss,
Having left behind those several many
Strewn about in cruel seasons of storms
and caught in the rivers’ thatch
They swell and swollen to hatch,
Circling back from sea wide odyssey,
Carrying the genetic banner of honor
Missioned before the millennia of sunrises,
Anteceded before the rivers sculpted
The rock and stone
From the many long times ago,
An unending passion
Fulfilled and quenched
in spawned-out endings
From thrusts of life
of all the young to come
Expatriated in halves-of-decades
And the pain-sweet circle of birth
And travels of travail
To homecomings of tattered ecstasy
Piqued in memories
of aqua-mapped topography,
These noble cousins
Of old elephants
Wandering away to die -
Of three score and ten,
Alaskan men
Pushed off for their one-way
Canoe ride to future blessings
And ancient dreams enroute
To the sweetbitter noblesse oblige’
Of down-side-up joie de vivre’
And the last ride home
From wayward boundings -
Salmon and man
And the homings and roamings
Of feathered minions -
Hawks and Swallows Capistrano,
Pacific Groved and Monarched Butterflies
And ghost flocks of Passenger Pigeons,
In the rhythmic and staccatoed cadence
Of ancestral journeys
Spread splendorous
Across the dawnings of time...

It Is Good to Be the Seaweed

It is good to be the seaweed
Floating, drifting
In the crystal,
In the clear Vashon, Puget Waters
In the Summer sparkling,
Gifted shoreline of afternoon,

Albeit knowing,
These jeweled days,
Are few remaining -
No longer stuffing the pockets
Of the young man
That once was,

But rather soon enough
With nostalgia's mirth,
Will come to dance as seaweed
Amongst the ocean lodestones,
Beneath the mountain white

Of spindrifting clouds,
And the ice diamond waters,
Surrounding the glint green
Of Seattle's hillside birth.

Mrs. America 1865

Mrs. America 1865

All the sons
We never had
Fell into
The mud and blood
Of the Civil War.

For into the soil
And still they toil
To fill the branches
Green, each Spring
On Dogwood and Magnolia
When the Easterbells ring.

The Bohemian of Carmel Bay ~ by Jay Licata ~

The Bohemian of Carmel Bay

Chase the throe
And the thrill of struggle.
Homestead the soul
And lay down lean and thin and smuggle
Into the opulence of the California coast.

Park-niche Midnight each evening,
With her dark metallic blue paint
Under the shadow of Santa Rosalee
On wharf number two
In the ebb tide summer of ninety three.

Not the tourist wharf -
Replete with seafood restaurants
And shops and curio stands,
Saltwater taffy and espresso peddlers

And boat tours of people watching
The drinkers in the wigwams
Of the whale watchers
On the piers of people,

All within the shorelined distance
Of a boomeranged starfish -
Its twirling tips draw the eye
To its turn and pivot,

Back along a famous cannery row
Of gentrified sardine packing houses,
A la Steinbeck-esque tapestry

...Under the shadow of Santa Rosalee

Each night on the service wharf
Bordering and mooring
The fisher vessels of commerce -
No longer sardine boats
Rather, the squid fishers
Calamari harvesting the night,
With light to draw them up
To the masts of star dappled crosses
In the dark mottled Velvet Sea

...In the shadow of Santa Rosalee.

With some last grandsons of Sicilians,
Their boats seen from across the bay
And the Carmel Beach view

Of night time Christmas candled triangles
Floating on a soft bend sea
For the nets of the Calamari

To the early-light unloading of squid
Other fishes, too
From full-bellied boats
Named for wives and paramours -
Into the sheds that straddle the docks
To gush-rush and slip-slide through chutes
And onto the trucks of Southern-Euro names,
Banner-like spread across their sides,
Extolling the new found power of Family & Sons –

Not like the turning of the Nineteenth Century
Albeit, not unlike any day
Of the ocean giving up her currency
Near the cemeteries of Italian immigrants

And half a hundred miles south
From the Di Maggio Brothers
Who hit the ball long and hard
And watched their Joe
Sweep across diamond framed fields
With the ballet grace of athleticism
And the backdrop of Sardine fisher men,
These grandfathers of baseball players
Who now rest in soil
From days of water and cold and fog

...In the shadows of Santa Rosalee

Where aunts and uncles and darkish-eyed girls
Who brought thin-hard bodies to weddings,
Mostly their own
‘Til later, their little girls
To first communion at San Carlos Cathedral
And whose sometimes Pompeii tempered husbands
Grew boring and provincially bombastic -
Eventually some wives running far off
With blue and pink Scandinavian -American farmers’ boys
From South and North Dakota to Fort Ord
On their way to deaths and trauma
In Southeast Asia

...In the shadows of Santa Rosalee

Yet some having expiated cruel fates
With the sweet and bitter taste and flavor
Of the Mediterranean feminique
As some mamma’s boy princes
To Santa Clara Law School,
Finding red haired girls to marry
Whose grandparents of another novel -
‘The Grapes of Wrath’-
Three generations from the dust bowl,
Now meeting in the irony
Of a pas de deux across the floor
Of the Valley of the Heart’s Delight,
Where the rose dust of San Jose’
Veneers the sweat labor stench of Sardine skin
By the auspice and renaissance
Of each year’s fruit blossom parade
When on Sunday Morning
The wife of the city’s mayor
Rests in the arms of the parish priest
As her family chants Latin
In the mission church that saved
The Ohlone Indians from sins and hell

...Under the long shadows of the Santa Rosalee.

And in the guise and garb of squid fisher-
Though crew member not
Only night time repose lengthwise
Across the bench of Midnight Blue
And against the tat and tatter
Of the tip-toed tattoo

Of harbor patrol lights
And the derelicts both human and wood,
Awakened at the end of fitfulness
By the night shore lapping notes
Of a sea-lioned cacophony
And the waves music of salted air

...In the shadows of Santa Rosalee

And then the stumblers
Into hotel lobbied resting rooms,
Washing away the taint and smirch
Of having fallen from the perch
Of upper class grace
And long legs with lace
While all through the night

The statue of Santa Rosalia –

Thirteen-centuried Sicilian saint,
Stands blessing the fisher boats
For rites of safe passage -
A New York little sister
Holding high mass
For the hovering and gathered masses,

Her seashore liturgy
For the shoals of souls
That beached hard
and lost against the shores,

She now sings God’s encores
In open sky services
Held in harvest-time courtyards
On the public square
Under the arbor and canopy
And the sonata of Santa Rosalee.

From Edinburgh to Midlothian

The fledgling dibble danced
Across warm rocks and road
In front of your castle,
Betwixt the rumbling carriages,
In the late afternoon

And I thought
I heard you call
From Edinburgh
For me to watch over
This jump skipping bit of life

And as this wee bird
Crossed safely over
To your side
And into your gardens,

My thoughts glinted
The miles between us
From Midlothian
And I thought of you
Then whisper soothed
The wind to say:

“Thou newborn Thrush
Singing safe,
Is snug-sequestered
Amongst the tall grasses
And reaching branches
of your Grace."

Albeit the crickets
Still chorused
The day’s dusk,

And said come home -
Shed the heartache
from the husk.

Come home -
Lest the memory
Like a rogue returns
and sits upon the weather vane,

Where once the rooster red
Sat proud upon his throne,
Now has flown, has fled
And from whence
Love's dreams doth sped,

In the War of Roses -
Hearts of White Roses and Red
Onto English Gardens hath bled,

And into the night
Through Kingsmen's woods
We were walking aloft
Upon a metaphor,

Then faster as upon
A galloping steed,
I pressed my heart
One last time
Into the Gaelic mist
And Anglo-Saxon reed,

And braced with Beowulf's mead
And sweetest aqua vitae,
Slipped my hand from yours
And waded into the icy bog,
Never reaching the other side,

And thus freed from mortality
And the longings
Of unrequited love,

Felt Saint Mercy's sword
Atop my pate,
Then swiftly from above.

~ ~ Upon Planting a Sapling, In The Valley of The Heart's Delight - This Santa Clara Valley ~

Upon planting a sapling
I gentle and firm
Hold the trunk
At breast height
And tilting my head
Press my lips
Against the bark,
As holding the hand
Of a lovely woman
And tasting the heat
On  her wrist. 
And young again,
Walk into the grove
Of memory and orchards
Of treasure trove
Where once did wander
And once did rove.
Lying back a hundred years ago
On the floor of the valley -
The Valley of the Heart's Delight
And waiting for her
Under the late Spring Moon
And the musk of Santa Clara night,
Amongst endless miles of Almond trees
And blossoms carpeting velvet white,
Her dark hair flouncing
As we walked quickly
Along orchard path,
Into the quiet deepening dusk of sepia
Where time becomes immortal,
Long ago love is born eternal,
And the hush and whisper
Of her lyrical voice
Plays sweetly once again.


Going to the Sea and Finding the Tyger Hawk and Love - A Poem by John Jay Licata

A lad of seventeen
In the Summer of Sixty-two -
Rode the SeaMar, the MassMar
And the Steel King -

Liberty Ships across an ocean
Humming and churning,
The engines would sing
All the night steady and bring

Upon sun risen sparkled waters
And through the Panama Canal
An aquamarine of a morning's Spring

And for signing on and paid a pittance,
These three ships journeyed me
Once afraid, then bold and brave onto

Heavens and moons and faces of Gods
From the bow, the deck and the bridge
Night stars and a trembling embrace
Of the first dreamings of Yahweh
And glimpses of love

From the faraway place,
The hand that makes fire, makes ice,

The calling song
Of a woman's heartbeat,
The Tyger Hawk and love...

Jumping Ship With Me and My Sheepskin

If you die old

If you die alone -

Very alone

The County sends
The Meat Truck.
They shovel up
Your lifetime's stuff,
Into garbage bags
And a computer numbered bin -

Nothing personal,
Nor shame nor sin.

Then the lawyers will take a slice
And even an extra helping or two -
Albeit, better he or she
Than a greedy relative
That never gave a fiddle for you. 
 Well, at least the Sheepskin -
 Which reads  " With Great Distinction "
 Now cast into cyberspace,
 Will illicit from the Gods
 Perhaps a nod, or a wink or two -

How's that for an irony of denouement -
How's that for a few lines of adieu?
And the crew of gleaners
Will mock with laughter
An old man's sad trappings -
His tarnished house and cache
Of sentiment and pictures
From the hay days -
And framed in the sepia
Of the long ago.
And then the loose coins
And a mother's gold locket
Slip, with a pence or two
Into the usual pocket.

I tell you, brother
The best plan
To beat the Reapers -

Get aboard your sailboat
And take the duffel bag
With all your special stuff,

Head for the Last Horizon
And standing on the Bow
With steel and steady heart
Jump into the sea
With the loving arms
Of Yahweh and Eurydice
Awaiting there for thee.

Or, more simply sayable -
Take a drink
Take a pee
And jump into the sea.


"My Calling Card, If You Please"

Ah, the world hath changed!

My calling card
If you please.

The prince comes a-courtin'
An older froggy now,
Wobbly gait, shaky knees
Flights into cyberspace

And the surprising ease
Of the quest for legacy,
To fly with kismet birds
And poets of destiny.

Earthbound no more,
Once swam with the Dolphins
Along a Carmel shore,
Amidst a long forgotten,
Timeless Summer's breeze.

My calling card,
If you please.

Go ahead, take it!
Ride with me
Along the cosmic currents
Of poetic fantasy,

Climb with me
Up the backbones
Of the galaxy
And through the vortices
Of lyrical infinity.

Listen with me
And hear iambic
The verse of Blake
And of Poe and Keats,
At the portals
Of the universe.

Travel allegory with me
On the night wheels
Of the midland train,
As the tracks sing Sandburg
And Frost in America's
Last great refrain.

Meet up with Sir William,
English ladies drinking tea,
And thespians and bards of Nirvana,
In cyber walk cafes
Along the digital path
To word weaver's immortality.

My calling card,
If you will,
Froggy, prince or poet -
None escape the mortal chill.

Come Autumn,
Then comes the freeze
And cast into eternity,
Are lines and words
Such as these.

My calling card,
If you please.

Turn and Tilt - by John Jay Licata

We turn and tilting
Towards the Sun,

Fall into the damp and dark
Rain forests of November,
Here in Seattle.

And come December wet,
The Sun is over the shoulder.
Come January’s promise
The froth is colder,
And turning and tilting,
Into February’s ennui,
And the malaise gray
Of sunless day,

With warmth and light
Too far behind us -
No turning back that way
As to Gods and Moons,
And Makers of Stars, we say,

March, wake up!
From the wet and damp,
The dark and gray
Of sunless day,

Hearken unto April
Come she May.
As April turns towards me,
She twirls, tho slight,

I call to her
She looks back at me.
I ask to dance -
Please, dance with me!

For now I see the sun
Over her shoulder,
As she glances
At the mortal me,

The winds, the winds of March
Press her cotton flowered dress
Against her womanly,
As I ask the gods piously,

If these portraits
Of rosebuds and orchids
Are there for me to see,

As I wished for May
The April sister,
Brought life and glee,

As each held hands
From left and right
We turned and tilted
From the long and Winter night,

And bid goodbye
And fare-de-well
Sunshine days
Moonlit nights,
Good wishes upon
A Summer's day.

As the warmth
Upon my pate befell
Hearing June’s
Faintly chiming bell,

Like a love song’s call
Offered up to me -
Another chance, another dance,

Around the maypoles of time
And the wishing wells of destiny.

Tyger Whale Tooth

Sea sculpted
For eons and epochs
Millenniums and light years,
Centuries of beads
On necklaces of time

This gemstone rock
On the beach of California
Came to be
With synchronicity,

Rhythmically carved,
Crafted and shaped,
Savaged and soothed

By the sea
Before the Eos,
Goddess of dawn
Came to be.

And within the splinter
of a moment,
Under the thunder of juggernauts,
This angled beauty
and minusculed monolith,
Sculpted montage
of the Earth’s heat,

This paleo tooth
of the Tyger Whale -
Would be hers,

Carried along
by transitory man,
Brief caretaker
With gem stone rock in hand,

Once wedged and sanded,
In whirlpools of Atlantis,
and oceans of mystery,
Phantom powered geology,

Offered up to her
In pools genealogy,
This eon scrimshawed icon,
Gestated metamorphically,

While her grandmother’s mother
Ran from pogroms to give her life,

This catalyst crafted imagism,
traveling from ocean depths,
Seasons upon seasons -
Crawling, steep stumbling
Through rumbling storms
and time tumbled shorelines,
Beach beckonings
and rivers of confluence,

As an impetus for love
In dances of infinity,
This gemstone rock
Was sculpted free
In the art and jewel of deity,
and gleaned for thee,

Astride the blessings of serendipity,
The waltz of wizards
and Whooping Cranes,

The wildfire passions
Of Point Lobos,

And the Pebble Beaches
Under yellow Mustard hills,
Against the Johnny-jump-up
Parlors of purpled flora,

And the wind and the Indigo,
Of wooded Ginger lands,
Wildcats, Bach and Bumblebees,
Wigwagging Willows,

And the Bluebelled sonatas,
That bring upon the breeze
The longing of memories
of love and the first moonlight
The heart had ever known,

In the dreamings of dusk
and twilight's pathway
Into the lingering nights
of warmth and Lavender,
Lilac and Spring honey.

Twillowme White Wolf

Twillow White Wolf
Ran a thousand nights
A thousand years ago,

Following her, a people
Once lost, from a frozen North
Found passage through the snow
Down into the lands
Of ancient Idaho,

White wolves gliding
Through the snow
Finding sun gods
And ice dancers
In the lands of Idaho,

Under night moons
La Loba come
and La Loba go
Leap jumping drifts
Of fallen snow,

From the North
To the Twillowme
From Arctic crystal
To Shoshone show,

Like Salmon come she will
To the Twillowme lands
Of long ago,

Tracing where rivers go,
Night Running La Loba
And Majestic Eagle know,
The Salmon run
Precedes the snow,

And Wolf Eternal,
Epitome of the Northwest's
Once timeless flow,

Pristine and elemental
Brutal and beautiful,
As earth’s history itself,

Made manifest and woven
By endless matrices
Of coulees and streams,

Suckled and fed
By the hydro genesis
Of snow melted Millenniums,

And the wellspring rush
To alma matered
And acqua bellied lakes,

Millions of years in the making
To become a moment of madness
Of mankind's for the taking,

Come she will
As a god or chieftan
From the faraway
And above the North,

To lead safe passage
Each thousand years
Crossing a thousand nights,
Along the rivers of time,

Resplendent twilight runner

Come she may

If come she can
From what immortal land

For a people
Lost once again,
Now without spirit
Or vision's hand?


The sound of the Buffalo

In the night in Sandburg land...



Endlessly running...

La Loba Blanca.

White Wolf running...

Friday, April 02, 2010

"Ode to San Jose State"

~  Ode to San Jose State  ~

Those were the good days
And now, through vines of grapes
In vineyards of memory
Walks Edwin Markham,
His plaque upon the Morris Daily
Beneath the Tower Hall.

As each annum’s embrace
Of flushed and fresh the face
Of keen, unbridled youth
Gathers within
Alma Mater’s opened arms
In the wine colored fall.

For the Valley of Heart’s Delight
Held San Jose's University
In cupped and terraced orchards,
Encircling each morrow’s
Sun goldened trove
Of student body dream and harvest.

And as the old Student Union
Played "Bobby McGee"
It set our passions free,
For you see, we were students
At a dreamer’s university

And the voice of Irene Dalis
From the Music Building
Through the rows of ancient Pepper Tree,
Gave our spirit wings and song
From a wishing well of eternity.

And for sixty dollars the semester
We were Spartans and held chant
As Krazy George’s drum
Ripple-danced the gridiron
Tho we said: "No war!" -
Better to run the pigskin
To a nobler score.
And our runners were fast!
Evans to Carlos to Smith -
They carried the mast to Olympia
From Speed City to Freedom’s call,
"Run man run!"
Said legs in rhythms
Of justice for all -

Tho track is no more
Bud Winter’s men
For centuries to come
Will sprint for gold
In Valhalla’s hall.

The kaleidoscope and divine madness
Of the Art Building of the Sixties -
Its genius drew us in
To sculpt and weld and paint
From mystic gene pools
Of nascent creativity -
Student mariners on oceans of color
Riding high on visions
From the palette’s swash.

And yet now,
It is the changing colors
Of cooling grape leaves in Autumn,

From deep green to orange bright
To the purples and dark crimsons of red,
That is memory’s steady call.
For it is from this season of my life
I tip nostalgia’s cap to all,

For they were the good days
And we, were the students
Of San Jose State, in the Fall.