Charlotte Innes – As Roads Continue to Narrow

innes LE P&W 2 Nov-Dec 2023

Download PDF Here
14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume Two Nov-Dec 2023.

As Roads Continue to Narrow, poems by Charlotte Innes .

As Roads Continue to Narrow

Below my living room window (I don’t know why)
there’s a large asphalt space my artist neighbor
says might almost be an Italian plaza,

with a fountain, maybe. And so I begin
to imagine an Italian statue, spouting water,
smiling at tourists throwing in good-luck coins,

which would likely mean good luck for the homeless,
that guy rooting through garbage, laughing wildly
outside the rehabbed condos across the street.

Beneath the dirt that covers him head to toe,
there’s a greenish sweater, once-cream pants, sandals
still intact and a youthful energy

that drugs or illness or both might soon destroy.
As I try to imagine what he was or could be,
he wanders off, red-faced, black hair disheveled,

beyond the median dividing the street
and the sign, ROAD NARROWS. Of course, all roads seem
to narrow, made tiny by the human eye

that wants to see it all, but this road, split,
is narrow. Curving round the hill
it seems to disappear like streets or alleys

meandering away from Italian plazas.

Roads of every kind are shrinking now
until a word or two ignites a flash
of desire or pain, tenderness or fury,
straight from the 80s or whatever decade.
And the ash-heap I think I am explodes
into a three-thousand-year-old sequoia
somehow surviving a blaze, which sends me back

to the imagined plaza, where I also imagine
a little bench and maybe a crepe-myrtle
for shade, or one of the old carob trees
that used to line my street until disease
got them. And then I imagine peace for all.

And then I imagine more and more and more.

Your Blue Sweater

–with a line from Rumi

Your blue sweater is bluer than the blue sky
over Sycamore Canyon where I look up
locked out by criss-crossed twigs of live oaks
and the hard buzz of words, go back
to that dark coffee shop the night you said

Green talks from the inside!

Everyone talks about greenery. What’s true is
your blue sweater, bluer than the blue sky
over Sycamore Canyon where I look up
locked out by criss-crossed twigs of live oaks
and the hard buzz of words. I’ll be quiet now.

This Gentle Spirit

Thick as the low afternoon cloud
summering on Western ranges,
light as cold winter breath touching
your lips. Come spring, I’ll be with you
in drifts of steam over meadows,

in a sweet-smelling curl of smoke
freed from damp wood on cold evenings.
When it snows, dig deep, you’ll find me,
in the warmth between hand and glove,
beneath fleece jacket and wool hat.

Taste me in tears. In your cloudbursts
of laughter, hear me. When you think
I’m lost in shadows, dear, I’m not.
Even when you do not know it,
I am here, will be, when you’re gone.

© Charlotte Innes

Charlotte Innes is the author of a full-length book of poems, Descanso Drive (Kelsay Books, 2017) and three poetry chapbooks, most recently Twenty Pandemicals (Kelsay Books, 2021). Her poems have appeared in many publications in the U.S. and the U.K. including The High Window, Agenda (online), Antiphon, The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, Tampa Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review and Pratik (Nepal), as well as several anthologies, including The Best American Spiritual Writing for 2006 (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Beyond Baroque Books, 2015). She has been a featured poet on E-Verse Radio and for readings in the U.S. and the U.K., most recently in the New York-based Carmine Street Metrics poetry series and for a Kelsay Books reading in Warwick, England. She has also appeared in Rant & Rave, the live storytelling series produced by Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles. A former newspaper reporter, freelance writer and teacher, she has written on books and the arts for many publications, including The Nation and the Los Angeles Times. Originally from England, Charlotte Innes now lives in Los Angeles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.