The Rambler

City Path

Posted in Uncategorized by Erik Lloyd Olson on October 16, 2010

No birch or elm with stretching branches shed
Their fragrant shades. No dew dropped ferns adorn
The city floor, but weeds with pricking thorn
Creep through the concrete where I tread.


On a View of Pasadena from the Hills by Ivor Winters

Posted in Modern Couplets by Erik Lloyd Olson on July 31, 2010
From the high terrace porch I watch the dawn.
No light appears, though dark has mostly gone,
Sunk from the cold and monstrous stone. The hills
Lie naked but not light. The darkness spills
Down the remoter gulleys; pooled, will stay
Too low to melt, not yet alive with day.
Below the windows, the lawn, matted deep
Under its close-cropped tips with dewy sleep,
Gives off a faint hush, all its plushy swarm
Alive with coolness reaching to be warm.
Gray windows at my back, the massy frame
Dull with the blackness that has not a name;
But down below, the garden is still young,
Of five years’ growth, perhaps, and terrace-hung,
Drop by slow drop of seeping concrete walls.
Such are the bastions of our pastorals!
Here are no palms! They once lined country ways,
Where old white houses glared down dusty days,
With small round towers, blunt-headed through small trees.
Those towers are now the hiving place of bees.
The palms were coarse; their leaves hung thick with dust;
The roads were muffled deep. But now deep rust
Has fastened on the wheels that labored then.
Peace to all such, and to all sleeping men!
I lived my childhood there, a passive dream
In the expanse of that recessive scheme.
Slow air, slow fire! O deep delay of Time!
That summer crater smoked like slaking lime,
The hills so dry, so dense the underbrush,
That where I pushed my way the giant hush
Was changed to soft explosion as the sage
Broke down to powdered ash, the sift of age,
And fell along my path, a shadowy rift.
On these rocks now no burning ashes drift;
Mowed lawn has crept along the granite bench;
The yellow blossoms of acacia drench
The dawn with pollen; and, with waxen green,
The long leaves of the eucalypti screen
The closer hills from view—lithe, tall, and fine,
And nobly clad with youth, they bend and shine.
The small dark pool, jutting with living rock,
Trembles at every atmospheric shock,
Blurred to its depth with the cold living ooze.
From cloudy caves, heavy with summer dews,
The shyest and most tremulous beings stir,
The pulsing of their fins a lucent blur,
That, like illusion, glances off the view.
The pulsing mouths, like metronomes, are true,
This is my father’s house, no homestead here
That I shall live in, but a shining sphere
Of glass and glassy moments, frail surprise,
My father’s phantasy of Paradise;
Which melts upon his death, which he attained
With loss of heart for every step he gained.
Too firmly gentle to displace the great,
He crystallized this vision somewhat late;
Forbidden now to climb the garden stair,
He views the terrace from a window chair.
His friends, hard shaken by some twenty years,
Tremble with palsy and with senile fears,
In their late middle age gone cold and gray.
Fine men, now broken. That the vision stay,
They spend astutely their depleted breath,
With tired ironic faces wait for death.
Below the garden the hills fold away.
Deep in the valley, a mist fine as spray,
Ready to shatter into spinning light,
Conceals the city at the edge of night.
The city, on the tremendous valley floor,
Draws its dream deeper for an instant more,
Superb on solid loam, and breathing deep,
Poised for a moment at the edge of sleep.
Cement roads mark the hills, wide, bending free
Of cliff and headland. Dropping toward the sea,
Through suburb after suburb, vast ravines
Swell to the summer drone of fine machines.
The driver, melting down the distance here,
May cast in flight the faint hoof of a deer
Or pass the faint head set perplexedly.
And man-made stone outgrows the living tree,
And at its rising, air is shaken, men
Are shattered, and the tremor swells again,
Extending to the naked salty shore,
Rank with the sea, which crumbles evermore.

Hawthorne Bridge (original)

Posted in My Poems by Erik Lloyd Olson on July 27, 2010

The bridge is not the East side’s nor the West’s
But at the very heart of both it rests;
As neutral yet invested as the flow
Of water moving every ship below.
We would be constant as your metal frame
From age to age in looks and use the same.

Forbidden from the jungle of glass towers,
Birds perch and live upon your metal bowers.
Each solid building cast below you sways
Whose fiery lights in rippling water blaze.

When you steal time to lift your lumbering gate
And force the rushing crowds to sit and wait
I think how limited are human powers
To harness and command the future hours.

Over Greenland by Peter Campion

Posted in Modern Couplets by Erik Lloyd Olson on July 19, 2010
A current like a noise machine through sleep.
Blue lichen fields. Mossed boulders. Waking up
to ice cubes cracking in a plastic cup
and voices (“awesome for the Hong Kong branch
. . . well, most of all we miss our daughter . . . ”) I still
see it: the climb up slate as runnels spill
from some bare misted summit like a source.
Whatever sense this dream might make
to others. And whatever when they wake
they also have been dreaming. Rivers of faces
down hallways, merging, as desires mesh
and fissure. Cash for clothes or arms or flesh.
And if there is no towering sublime
where all comes clear to all, no final climb
through cloud, like some old Bible illustration:
how could that ever stop the current flowing
out of the glass at jfk: skin glowing
plumb and peach as we walk inside the sun.

Trees by Fleur Adcock

Posted in Contemporary Meter by Erik Lloyd Olson on July 7, 2010

1   Elm, laburnum, hawthorn, oak:
2   all the incredible leaves expand
3   on their dusty branches, like
4   Japanese paper flowers in water,
5   like anything one hardly believes
6   will really work this time; and
7   I am a stupefied spectator
8   as usual. What are they all, these
9   multiverdant, variously-made
10   soft sudden things, these leaves?
11   So I walk solemnly in the park
12   with a copy of Let’s Look at Trees
13   from the children’s library,
14   identifying leaf-shapes and bark
15   while behind my back, at home,
16   my own garden is turning into a wood.
17   Before my house the pink may tree
18   lolls its heavy heads over mine
19   to grapple my hair as I come
20   in; at the back door I walk out
21   under lilac. The two elders
22   (I let them grow for the wine)
23   hang vastly over the fence, no doubt
24   infuriating my tidy neighbours.
25   In the centre the apple tree
26   needs pruning. And everywhere,
27   soaring over the garden shed,
28   camouflaged by roses, or snaking
29   up through the grass like vertical worms,
30   grows every size of sycamore.
31   Last year we attacked them; I saw
32   my son, so tender to ants, so sad
33   over dead caterpillars, hacking
34   at living roots as thick as his arms,
35   drenching the stumps with creosote.
36   No use: they continue to grow.
37   Under the grass, the ground
38   must be peppered with winged seeds,
39   meshed with a tough stringy net
40   of roots; and the house itself undermined
41   by wandering wood. Shall we see
42   the floorboards lifted one morning
43   by these indomitable weeds,

[Page 48 ]

44   or find in the airing-cupboard
45   a rather pale sapling?
46   And if we do, will it be
47   worse than cracked pipes or dry rot?
48   Trees I can tolerate; they are why
49   I chose this house—for the apple tree,
50   elder, buddleia, lilac, may;
51   and outside my bedroom window, higher
52   every week, its leaves unfurling
53   pink at the twig-tips (composite
54   in form) the tallest sycamore.

Jacket (original)

Posted in My Poems, Uncategorized by Erik Lloyd Olson on May 21, 2010

How does it feel to wear your former jacket
That carried you through daily joys and strife?
Such semblance of you should not idly sit.
Full on my shoulders let these garments rest
With all my skin against your outline pressed.
In these same clothes you living wore, I place
My longing arms. My eyes begin to trace
The net of seems that holds your laboring life.

My hand explores your pocket’s huge, dark cave
Grasping your trash, your relics left to save:
Here speeding tickets rest you long forgot;
Unbending one, I spy a blurry shot
Of your Ford hellbent on the Brooklyn Bridge.
I drives my thoughts far back to when you’d pledge
“I’ll quit my racing!”, never to avail.
(Still tickets piled up inside our mail.)
Your frequent failures struck home hard at first
But friends soon learned no hand could quench your thirst.

Truck Driver (original)

Posted in My Poems, Uncategorized by Erik Lloyd Olson on April 30, 2010

No taste of sleep these heavy eyes have known.
In deep recesses of the fog-choked zone
I burn my distant hopes to keep awake
For all the sweetness of the world’s at stake.
My drooping arms and feverish fingers strain
Not to veer off the compass of my lane.
I drive enormous timber, lumbering slow
Up these steep mountains, over sheets of snow
And round tight bends where half the rear tires miss
The road to hang above a precipice?

Erik Olson


The House of Hope (original)

Posted in My Poems by Erik Lloyd Olson on April 17, 2010

The Mansion casts long shadows on our street
Like some age ravished castle half complete―
High towers stretch to heaven built on hope
And lavish expectations void of scope:
Unfinished rooms, a porch where boards stick out
Betray the truth of long financial drought.
Each lofty plan outran its vast expense
And draining every dime, abandoned sense.

Erik Olson 4.16.2010

Burning Memories (original)

Posted in My Poems by Erik Lloyd Olson on April 17, 2010

No rays could burn me in that heavy wood
Whose shady birches veiled my childhood.
On the high summit of a clouded hill
That trapped the passing hours in quiet still
I lingered in a solitary den
Far from gray cities and the ways of men.
Here human sounds and lamps are out of reach
But flirting fireflies glow and swift bats screech.
No eye surveying from my porch can see
Beyond the veil of leafy canopy.

One day the ground secured beneath me breaks:
I shudder as my mother’s fear awakes
To blistering fire and rolling clouds of smoke;
We see half blind and breathing poison choke.
Upon my hill and through the grove I love
Fierce crackling flames arise and burn above,
The fire, expanding as the winds arise,
Shoot their long beams and kindle half the skies.
My mother grabs me as a hawk on prey;
Next thing I know we’ve flown ten miles away.

To see my house, shrubs, mighty trees all torn
Apart like straw my vision was reborn–
Forced from the shadows of a sheltering womb
That wrapped my half formed eyes to block out doom.
These flames which taught my early tears to flow
Illuminate the universe I know.

On Stoic Pride (An Epigram)

Posted in My Poems by Erik Lloyd Olson on April 5, 2010

What tongue refuses Wine and Wit

That does not hide a hypocrite?