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Local Poets, Local Inspiration

Morton Marcus--author of 10 books of poetry (so far), contributor to numerous literary journals and godfather of the Santa Cruz poetry scene--recalls a "Day in Santa Cruz."

My Day in Santa Cruz

1. Every day I talk with neighbors, tradesmen, cashiers and friends I've known for years, some of them my students from years ago. I call to my wife from the front door and she answers. The children have been gone for years, but the neighbor's cats lounge in the back yard, and every spring doves roost in the planter boxes on the front porch and stay all summer. Alone at night in the room upstairs, I read, listen to music and watch the stars. Tell me, has anyone been luckier or had a richer life?

2. Another storm tonight. It's been raining on and on for months. Everyone is sick of the gray days, the wet, wind-filled nights. Unable to sleep, I lie in bed, and think of the living and the dead, the eons of them beyond the window. The squall shakes the house, sloughing the rain in one direction and another. I sense the walls surrounding me, the rain beyond the window, the glossy streets, the marshy fields, the trees and the river outside of town, where the homeless, huddled under bridges, watch the rain-spattered water rushing past.

3. Most nights, I sit alone after the household is asleep. I've done this for years, a sort of ritual to adjust the tempo of my days to the telluric rhythms of the earth. There is the house and silence, the timbers creaking around me, the city and the countryside stippled with sounds beyond the window. These are moments I cherish, when it is just me, the house, and the miles of moonlit chattering I cannot separate into individual pieces of noise, sounds that scatter from the grasses, the trees and the rivers beyond the cities, all of them rushing into a starry future where I am left behind and forgotten.

--Morton Marcus

Morton Marcus has published 10 books of poetry and a novel and had nearly 500 poems published in literary journals. Next year, White Press will publish his translations of the Serbian poet Vasko Popa and his newest and final book of poems, 'The Dark Figure in the Doorway: Last Poems.'

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