Monday, February 23, 2015

On Ray Bradbury's Yellow House Demolished In Los Angeles, Strange January 2015

The Props assist the House
Until the House is built
And then the Props withdraw
And adequate, erect,
The House support itself
And cease to recollect
The Augur and the Carpenter –
Just such a retrospect
Hath the perfected Life –
A Past of Plank and Nail
And slowness – then the scaffolds drop
Affirming it a Soul –

Emily Dickinson


"the stone that the builders rejected
has become the Cornerstone"
Psalm 118:22

for Sam Weller with gratitude hopefully
from us all...and to Ray Bradbury with sorrow
for beauty for possibility lost
(the children's vivid field trips to the old magician's haunts)

can houses go to Heaven?
I wondered, stunned at the news:
Ray Bradbury's yellow house demolished...

by an architect.
an architect who won prizes.
prizes for what?

demolishing the immortal?
at least, where they lived.
I won't be bitter I sang to the lemon sun.
houses can go to Heaven, well

this one could.
a house where stories spun
the color of midnight and the honied noonday
hived and the violet rains swept through;

a carnival whine of train whistles.
where will their ghosts go now?
they'll linger somehow

near the new swimming pool.
where the new lodgers view
(the ones with second sight, it they're lucky)

pearl dredged, the vast
and Christmas migrations of his words;

no more the house where the fantastic figured.
a man padding in bare feet to the midnight fridge
devoured cheese sandwiches, picked pickled books off a

shelf or two

luxuriating in his own stores...
and dreamed his readers knew him.
 but history shifts when the wrecking crews show up.

on any dazzling day in 1962,
on Blake, the Norton Anthology read
(it reads no longer, trending beyond the old neighborhoods):

When a child, William Blake saw God peering through the window.
Did William Blake change what he saw? Did God cease peering?
so that editors revised in later editions?

 the constructors deconstructed?
can you alter a vision once it's envisioned?

even without the window,
God still sees
do we do we-
some things, you can't excise

the stucco fading to tangerine in the sunrise,
who comes now to displace, being wiser than

music, past the clock of hearing.
we're not buying it!

someone removes a phrase, a shelf, perhaps a roof
when no one's looking but the clouds
and then it's gone. at least, the shell of it.

it rained the day they took the roof off
the newspaper read.
as if the skies were weeping...

small goldenrod things crept near
keening in the debris:
and readers throughout the world.

these dreams can come and go no matter what
the planners plan.and they don't really understand 
that censored visions, buildings reappear to children
 in the after years

beyond all earthly zoning.
and in the neighborhoods with curbed appeals

old monuments resurface in the magma..or
start bobbing up
in a summer lake with the wounded dinosaurs.

oh it's so searing this has come to pass. alas
the house cried out in vain, while everyone was at work
at the book store, ice cream parlour

and then, whirled off (and All Souls with it)
 like the house in Oz...remaining in a far kingdom

because...because...
the grass could grow as tall as it wanted there or

you can't kill a yellow house the colour of myriad suns
all marigold and gold finch bright
disconsolate the green trees sigh all the way from Waukeegan, ah

amber preserves but not Los Angeles 
I can't stop crying  to any passersby on the sidewalk

where eggs could have been fried...
July rockets launched:

uproot the century plant and plant it somewhere else!
or gather the movie moguls here to stop this!
but once dismantled there's no going back.
alack alack unless

invisibly the house transformed itself
well out of view enacting its own Bradbury tale of

little by little and much by much
all shadows tucked in to the very touch of the curtains
 at the windows
dreaming itself apart from Time, letting go into

a better berried clime and

plank by plank chimney brick by brick
little garden in the back with wildflowers strewn
and birds that flew and chirped around the eaves

missing the writer scratching in his den
clickety clack on the typewritten track
his golden lore no more no more

oh no was not torn down but like an old shoe
that missed the wearer, mystically removed from here
(its inner self)

and by Whose hand? lifted gently from the land.
and only babies knew;though
children hoped, as they wondered, cherry bright again.

oh do not fear sighed sunflower angels mending 
this scarred landscape 
despite the worst laid plans and blueprints

made of sand should be denied but
whenever it looks like, on this side
where you need stories to get by
as if the undertakers had won! wheeling their barrows

of the stripped down walls
carted off to charities...
where's charity in this? I sorrowed
in a nightmare land:

they've stolen
our pilgrammage forever.

or it had wings to fly, that buttercream house
reading over his shoulder, (all butter pecan and dreamy)
for 50 odd years as the notion slowly formed though it

grew paler than pumpkins toward the end
at what it had to do...and railed at
losing its butterscotch perch or porch?

it dimly reasoned,
"out of all Seasons now!"

through tears I see
what it saw
right down to the sawdust floor

of the Circus really leaving town
this time

on a day perhaps of cotton candy clouds...

to the coffee grounds of a well made story
you won't perk again (it thought,
more than a little overwrought);

it huddled closer to the Sun.
but what's done is done
the story book house is overcome by the

bulldozers no longer dozing by the raspberry shrubs.

 then it arose
like a wondrous yellow cake
about to be crowned with frosting oh my friends

while it chimed it chimed like a carillon:
there is- there is- no End! 

a buttercup house in new-fangled Glory shines
where Ray eternally presides, 
near gold foiled volumes, rainbowed ice-box pies

and he'll look up with a glad surmise
(a booming I told you so)

when we'll drop by someday to see the house spiffed up.
the haloed cream drenched apple fritters fried
and pour with him the dandelion wine-

fine toasts to the yellow house!
when it's our Time, when it's our Time

mary angela douglas 23-25 february 2015

P.S. I am not making this up. an incredible synchronicity... On feb 25 at 8:58 a.m. as I was revising this poem again and lingering on the phrase "I told you so" wondering what I meant by it exactly
the local radio station (wsjs) announcer said just before the newsbreak: "You might get a chance to go to Mars...forever. more in a minute..."

so that's how I knew the poem was finally done, fork-tested.