City of Forty Hills — September, 2022 Featured Poem

I am hoping this will appear in my third poetry book which is currently in the editing process. This poem is in a loose version of a haibun. The great Japanese poet Matsuo Basho wrote many haibuns. This form is composed of a short prose piece followed by a haiku. I went down a delightful rabbit-hole delving even deeper into geology to ensure that my use of basalt was reasonably correct. I also learned this more. I previously said BAY-salt, apparently is it actually ba-SALT.

One of my fond memories as a teenager is visiting Fingal’s Cave. Our family took small boat from Oban, Scotland on our way to the island of Iona. The cave and its cliffs are composed of hexagonal columns of basalt. The rough ocean waves crashing in the sea cave inspired a musical piece by Mendelssohn.

City of Forty Hills

We are drawn to rock. Folded layers of ribbon chert, jumbled serpentine and sandstone, all intrude on remaking this land in our image. San Francisco houses on steep outcroppings welcome the solidity of footing—yet are forced to work around extrusions. Multi-stories grow with deep set pilings. Stony cliffs sprout metal bolts. Up and down hidden passages between office towers and highway pylons, the underlayment is visible. It asserts itself around unexpected corners. Patient, but rarely tractable. In the deep underneath, all is basalt. Rock will ripple in that inexorable river, time unfathomable.

Earth twitches,
shrugs rocky shoulders.
We are fleas.

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