February 1, 2017

A Poem by Thomas Piekarski: "Donner Lake"

Thomas Piekarski is a former editor of the California State Poetry Quarterly. His poetry and interviews have appeared widely in literary journals internationally, including Nimrod, Portland Review, Mandala Journal, Cream City Review, Poetry Salzburg, Pennsylvania Literary Journal, Boston Poetry Magazine, and Poetry Quarterly. He has published a travel book, Best Choices In Northern California, and Time Lines, a book of poems.

Donner Lake 

The burgeoning light way high in the sky this morning. 
I’m dreading the coming of the rays that partition day
and night, for those flood lamps may blind my insight.
But I can’t be forlorn because I’ve forded so long songs
that routinely rip like a river and yet gentle as a rivulet.
And that’s the way reflections off of the water behave.
First it’s like lightning flying, furious, fit dive bombers
from on high reigning, raining down in limpid showers.
And then ripples from persistent wind that wafts across
this lake’s sheer blanket. Behold the bitty angels draped
in clearest energy, weightless, flickering brilliantly like
crystals sparkling all across the lake. Then a small boat,
its motor puny, putters unobtrusively toward the shore
and produces no major wake. Only the wind can do this.

Recollection is a luxury brought on by endemic sloth
to take the mind off of compliance. I must produce or
my goose is cooked, so better be prepared for the worst.
The art of preparation seeks no reparation for no war is
ever fought over it’s territory. Those who would deny
the importance of preparation are generally in for a big
surprise. The Donner Party ventured totally unprepared
onto uncharted wilderness in bitterest conditions when
snowdrifts made the Sierras less passable than the Alps.
John C. Fremont warned pioneers traveling across this
most wicked terrain in inclement weather. He promised
rocks and more rocks, snow and more snow, and worse,
unfortunately no way out. Those 81 poor souls who left
Truckee Meadows one ominous autumn had sealed fates.

Donner Lake surface liquid glass with waves cresting east
to west. I’m standing where the tiny tide guided by some
moon that can’t be seen contributes to its destiny, sad end
upon the shore. Melancholy baby, how about you now not
hid in stars where the eternal are? And if they ate my flesh
would I be less treasured in your manicured heaven? Tell
me, O sage, does the word of a swindler play better when
he has a hungry brood to sell to? The innocent immigrants
taken in by such a swine swallowed his advice and traveled
the supposed shortcut that only cost them more time, time
lost in drought and broken axles that set them back in their
quest to conquer those cold Sierras and to California before
heinous wintery weather could come and vanquish dreams
of a paradise wherein all wants and needs are relinquished.

Thomas Piekarski

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