The Works of Spencer LaMoure
Spencer LaMoure lives in the village of Tomales, California, and teaches humanities at Santa Rose Jr. College. He has been published sparsely in several little magazines over the years, and can be found in the Marin Poetry Center anthologies.
All Poems © Spencer LaMoure
A New Poetry
Out of granite canyons of the Sierra, & rivers of melting snow,
from dust & wind & heat of the long San Joaquin summer,
I hear a song. I hear it in the whirr of turbines of Hetch Hetchy,
& in a Mack Truck shifting gears up the Grapevine,
in fumaroles of Lassen and the chicken hawk’s cry above the oaks of Mariposa
and the bark of coyote and the bark of the sea lion
and in the Air Alaska circling out of clouds to land at SFO:
of orange groves and oil derricks, manzanita & bristlecone,
rough tides of Sonoma and roll of Del Mar waves
where half-nude bodies worship the sun,
and in the roar of traffic along Bayshore Freeway at dusk:
of multiple languages and menus, scripts of materialistic pleasures
and technologies of power, of laughter and movies,
of fish tacos and transcendental meditation,
of loud blather of folks from all over the planet
clustered in great urban complexes from Redding to San Diego
whose ancestors had already crossed over from old countries
to escape forever sad moralities of repression
and make themselves new in Fresno, El Monte, Eureka, San Jose!
Who have now nearly forgotten their ancestors
and can’t remember what an English sonnet sounds like,
iambs pumping like pistons of an old steam engine:
words of Mexican slang and mahayana sutras, science jargon,
Zen silences, technobabble taken off TV, words that jump out
of a technical manual, words from indefatigable studies
of difficult philosophical texts and comic books, shop talk,
spanglish, nipponglish, words minted from extraterrestrial mysteries.
words used to sell artichokes and used cars, words aimed
at the unmasking of terrorists and phony politicians,
words that will open gates of prisons --
Chowchilla overcrowded with poor colored women --
words that will awaken neglected children to read and learn,
words that embrace openly the happy/sad realities of actual life
in which you’ll find an image of your own back yard
and the crowded street you live on with its gas station and corner store
in Lincoln Heights or Haight Ashbury, Locke, or Second Street El Cajon
with its hamburger joints and blacktop parking lots, & drug store,
Petaluma on the other side of the freeway behind Safeway,
Watts, Tehachapi, University Avenue Berkeley, Chico,
North San Juan where they say the finest weed is grown,
and here in Tomales cow pastures and ocean mists,
without permission, without having to be policed or governed,
colorful like poppies and lupine in springtime Tejon Pass,
desert wildflowers Death Valley suddenly abloom,
or a bottle of beer and a baseball game.
When my first poem was published in the North Beach magazine,
Nexus, in nineteen sixty four,
I was likened to a newly discovered comet.
Years passed. I published little.
I was soon forgotten,
just another dot of light in a sky filled with bright stars.
Now here I come round again -- an ancient chunk of rock and ice
tumbling this way at great speed. Nothing can stop me.
And when I collide -- perhaps in a Saskatchewan wheat field or a direct hit
in New York City, or right smack in the middle of Yucatan --
no one can say what will happen --
perhaps a mass extinction or the start of a new age.
Maybe I’ll just be vaporized
as I blaze through the atmosphere like a scream.
I , TOO
I, too, had a mother who took me to church on Sunday,
who taught me to recite my Psalms by heart.
And I, too, prayed to beautiful blond Jesus
of the clear blue eyes like cold mountain water.
And I trembled thinking God the Father terrifying harsh
in hot California summer sunshine as I sat by myself
and ate my peanutbutter and jelly sandwich for lunch at school
pimple-faced and numb from shy inwardness and selfconscious dread.
And I saw angels dance in clouds along Canobie Avenue,
and spirits spoke to me from the darkness of my room
in the bungalow we lived in among the lemon trees.
And I, too, became a man and saw the void of night and distant stars
above the dark rooftops of San Francisco, where I lived alone, a student.
I, too, analyzed the arguments of philosophers,
read Celine and Beckett, Nietzsche and Dostoyevsky and Hardy
and delighted in the dark words of Eliot and Jeffers, of Joyce and Hesse,
my head filled with cogent theories and calculations and grand thoughts
concerning the origins of all things and the nature of time and space
and I loved the new criticism and the ordinary language semiologists
and considered how only empirical science can secure true understanding.
And I thought of myself as an enlightened man of fine culture,
and I struggled among men, dreaming of fame and deathless art.
And I grew old in the rush of irreversible time, and began to see
how little of what I had hoped to accomplish could ever be realized.
I began to understand the limits of knowledge, of conscious thought,
as my body softened, eyes dimmed, ears began to ring with age,
my voice lost its youthful sexy charm, my head bald:
I began to understand I would never be able to play piano like Monk.
never paint as well as Vermeer, Monet, or Winslow Homer.
Much of the work I had already done looked pale beside the masters.
I realized my scientific curiosity would never be satiated,
I would never learn all I wanted to know about the visible universe,
even my study of the arachnids seemed inconsequential.
And I, too, understood I would perish, my bones and blood no better
or worse than rock and water, no more necessary. And I gave up all hope
and reason, and let be, I laughed happily at the absurdity of it all,
and again I saw clouds appear like angels, I heard the darkness sing.