Valley Carpenter Bee
Photo by Bobbie Jo Allen    





Me or the Valley Carpenter Bee

                                            by Bobbie Jo Allen












Mind awakens to the sudden sight of                                                                                A before-unknown bright thing: it hovers,


the bee; it signified at once, beauteous—                             a(s)                                   plump with pollen, bold againt the rosemary,


it shook off the fog of experience, shining                                                                      shining primeval fuzz of a whole-body halo,


the color of warm honey: disappearance of sense             into                                    a creature immersed in its own loveliness; so


enters—so exits thought—becoming                                                                                strange: green eyes gold wings gold body—


a new idiom; I identify with                                                                                               a gold strangeness—unalighting—


this first-seen thing—it transformes me,                         to/as                                      a topaz foiled in rich green rosemary—


a heart-harmonic sounding (so silently)—                                                                      a rare chance sighting—I am then


understanding I am not here                                                                                              in silence seeking small blue blossoms,


and in that the sense of disappearance                         in/to                                           a beauty I can’t understand, bridging me into


the object only as bright as the sun                                  -                                                light only as bright as the object it strikes.




Pothos Leaf. Photo by Bobbie Jo Allen





    Everyday Darkness

                                    by Bobbie Jo Allen






Morning chiaroscuro as the midsummer sun

    streaks through tree leaves, just so

    entering the window, just so. The glow

    of the pothos leaf’s like a lamp

    and I’m entranced--

    a neon green beacon. When shall we three

    meet again, light leaf and me. . .

I can watch the manifested seconds

tick by as an edge of shadow,

and it begins its eclipse,

and then I get that

I’m moving so swiftly through space

it only seems like stillness,

get that I won’t know the moment

until it arrives or once it’s gone.

So I chase it with my open hand,

find flesh is too thick to be luminous

but the light lends

me a kind of delicacy,

the morning quiet a kind of quotidian peace.

I’m only dense flesh after all,

and open to interpretation.

When I hear the washer end its spin cycle

I’m done ruminating, but turn

to watch a towhee pluck a fat caterpillar

out of the basil. I’m grateful for the dull

brown bird eating that bright green alive,

making good use of time and shadow,

realize it’s hard to imagine now,

any light without this dark.


(Equal Night)




Listening, tracing the sound water moving over rock, sliding over rock,

the granite bone of the mountain, and moving swiftest where it finds no resistance,

the surrounding sound suggesting other sounds, intimate voices in the distance,

instruments playing nothing all at once, so meaningless is the sound you forgot

where the listening started, so losing who the listener is, what is you-ending



or river-begins, as the water, held in the double vision of introspection

and awareness, achieves such clarity it is only perceived in reflection,

in movement so perfect it seems like stillness, the sound of water resonating

in the bright new autumn air, the light poised in an equinox of thought and action,

the mind moving to where it is freest to flow, since it has no stone to question it,

no intention to trouble its illusions, no time to wait for or turn to seek.







Listening for the Reader


I begin with the lower ranges of the  human voice,

the constant acoustics of speech, spectro-temporally 

speaking: Time and air making words—Magic: The een of a 

hinge or iss of a gust forming meanings lost even to 

those who know the language, yet spark the body, the senses: 

Muscles releasing the fire of laughter—or tears, even! 

Distance no matter, distinctions understood. These are words.


Do you hear it? Without you, no poem; but I can’t wait for

your understanding, can’t stand still for your Apprehension;

must manifest the line in absence, must mold constantly

the connotation and gently open the meaning of 

the word—Still, you will complete the Event, you will see, speak

(spacio-temporally, so to speak) the excellent 

metaphor for common experience: It’s a crowded 


room. Words I do not know; you making the wonderful sound.


Emotion | Instinct



The blue-black form of the crow in flight

hot against the grey-white July sky:

A grammar, of sorts: Perceiving its distinc-

[“T”]ness, yes; but also wondering: Does it 

know wonder? It flips and drops in 

the heat wave’s updrafts—with, and/

or against, the wind: That’s like a laugh, 

distinctly seems shaped like an ecstasy 

in a pure act—pure action—“in-stinct”—

Its shape against: also a bar or barrier,

a defining thing; each name, a carrier.



Current Events



The perched hummingbird scratches with his fine toe

a spot just above his eye: turn of the head: Ah. Just so.

Then: off to crush his enemy, that other hummer,

he knocks the nuthatch off a branch for good measure.

In a swift turn of events, the fig beetle wins the battle 

over the mulch, burrows below the kangaroo paw,

which decides to continue blooming indefinitely, impossibly.

A young crow wags the power line like a jump rope—rough

landing—while two lemon-yellow butterflies joust over

said kangaroo paw (pink), presumably in dispute 

for the right to make more lemon-yellow butterflies.

The fox squirrels can’t decide who rules the coral tree.

Small chaos in the garden, in the margins of tragedies, 

of so many huge defeats. But struggle itself, a matter of scale.



Trick of the Light


When the hummingbird hit the window

there was a small, singular sound,

its own strong wings creating such Force

its light, its feathers, and its air made a thump.

The tragedy of velocity. A body against unseen

glass; a body flies into a sky where there is none.

Now strangely complete, strangely perfect,

strangely majestic in death, iridescent in the sun:

Reflection can be deadly. We see: a still-hummingbird

lying still in the palm of a human hand, a mystery.




Choosing to Hear


The mockingbird sings all night

with an imperative that penetrates

the window panes, the walls, and by

midnight has soaked the whole house

in its intense variations. Sleep seems

unworthy: I sense an infinitive need: 

To witness. It’s roosted in the Silver Sheen,

a tree also sleep-less, night-blooming.

On the floor, beneath the song

and the tree, I reach up and open

the window, saturated by the sound

and the silence that surrounds it,

helpless and afraid: What am I?

Stupid and mute, and not the first

to lose my mind while being washed 

by complex beast-music: A will beyond 

me works that spell. . .I know too much.

But at least I know enough to stay 

silent, wait to say it until morning.