Al Young: One Poem a Month for ‘The California Report’
Photo: Joseph Robinson / Courtesy Al Young
“Al Young served as California’s poet laureate from 2005 to 2008. The winner of awards and honors too numerous to mention, Al Young has contributed to The California Report many times over the years. Starting today, the show is making him a regular feature. Al Young spoke with host Rachael Myrow about what inspired him to write us a poem about California every month.”
— The California Report (February 3, 2012)
FEBRUARY: A DEEP-SEA BREW
“Just chill and wait out winter,” Death Valley sighs.
Rain-drained, L.A. winces, then pulls back
for yet another long-shot. Will Squaw Valley settle
for recycled sewer water to keep snow slopes alive?
From bread-basket Fresno, where fresh food
hides, to poem-like Ukiah (haiku spelled backwards),
February — a deep-sea brew of troubling particles,
waves and winds — stays open-ended, up for grabs.
Thirty days hath September, /April, June and
November. /All the rest have thirty-one, except
February, February, which has, which has — what?
– Al Young
<<Web Bonus Poem>>
NOW WITH THE TWO-FACED MASK OF JANUS OFF
Now with the two-faced mask of Janus off,
we take on February from the top,
from Crescent City, from Yreka: soft
poles of California’s scuffling north. Yup,
we got that right. The stretching of daylight
suits San Diego fine, but where we go
from there — say, Watsonville — extends the night.
Merced, you said, sees spring and winter mix
and match deliberately. VoilĂ — Yosemite!
– Al Young