A love poem by Harry Northup

Easter Sunday, April 20, 2014

Several of the poets whose poems were selected for exhibition in storefront windows on Figueroa, in Highland Park, went to a restaurant after we made a tour of the posted poems yesterday afternoon. One of the people serving our table of 10 was a young woman who had just arrived in town three weeks ago. Upon learning of what brought us together on this particular afternoon, she asked about our favorite poets and Suzanne Lummis promptly rattled off a list that went from T.S. Eliot to Denise Duhamel. She seemed content with a single response and valiantly tried to show that she, too, just read. She knew of Alice Walker and how Zora Neale Hurston’s work was rediscovered, but she seemed to think that Hurston had died very recently. She had not ever heard of the late Wanda Coleman, whose death and final reading at the Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles was recorded in one of the poems in a storefront window.

One poet I would have added to Suzanne’s list of favorite poets, which also included Weldon Kees, would have been Harry Northup, who sent me a recent poem this morning that is so deeply moving and full of solemn exhileration that I asked his permission to reprint it in my blog. He has kindly sent his permission, so it is with great pleasure that I celebrate this holiday with you by sending out this poem.

For My Love Sleeping


What do I see but the pressures

beating down

From all directions on the blue stone

with bright spots like burning coals


What do I see but headdresses & peacocks’

spread tails

An enormous rain

A sword as place a lightning point


What do I hear but flowers blooming

Like tails reaching upward

Like lights as bracelets forming

a bridge on water’s surface


What do I believe but a flower

in the moon

A shadow blocking its width in

front of the sun


To say who’s right would be to

recognize a sunflower fronting

my face close as a lion’s open mouth

To welcome would be to listen


To focus within the blue sky’s cycle

To turn within its circle

To remember missing the answer

that followed reason’s logic


To count stands in the middle

To find means to rescue

Stay within & not hide

To not escape means forever


To hand over above hands reaching

from the fire

The vase of flowers & clouds in the

sky remain lonely daffodils


Remembrance offers concision

the center of the propeller

Within stillness desire surenders

What desire has no fruit


What silence ignores hunger

What red flowers transform dusk

to death with twin yellow brightness

Glow dusk with white doves in trees


3  27  14


Harry E. Northup