Steven Berkoff

California Morn

See how beautiful is the sky thrown across the mountain with a trowel or the furrowed earth scooped and torn or scudding across the morning dawn like chariots of fire pierced with the sun’s bright horns. The damp earth rained throught the velvet night smells like new bread soft and warm the blue-stained hills cut out in silhouette against the sky which drops its gouache of eau de nil or baby blue, depending on the light that rises over the green belly of the sea mirrored in tearful grey and misty. Sometimes like curds sometimes like whey small pools, torn handkerchiefs of sky fell down like flaked plaster in the windy night and left their paint in puddles that dried returning to repatch the tears in the great blue tented sky. The music oozes its confection of heart and ache into the morning air tingeing it sweet and colouring the sound of morning voices where people sit and eat. Golden rivers flood white oval plates with eggs and toast and thin sliced potato flakes. The cool fresh tangy soft light sweet morning wind caresses my face and flits around each jutting cliff each precipice, round brow and nose then curves and filters down the cheeks, circling each nostril then sweeps and howls around my jaw, tickles a whisper like a spume of smoke inside my ear and pars farewell until the next silk breath of wind appears. Cycles thinly wheel their tracks making small cricket sounds as urgent thighs like cables of fine steel pound their oily sweaty pistons up and down. They gradually dissolve into the receeding light that sucks each thing that enters it and taking little bites and now it smaller grows, now tiny, now a fleck a barely moving particle and gulp it all flows. It all comes and goes, cause now just as your eye gave up the chase on bicycle that waved and danced its way and then to your chagrin escaped. Well now a dot begins to grow a spit of colour, fuzzy, now it starts to shape and from its globe small spikes appear, and lines now do define that where the bike had disappeared into the hungry lion, it vomited back into your eye a moving piece of life. I turned my eye away onto my golden plate which then appeared my eggs all warm did flow and like pure molten lava glowed or a LA’s giant rolling hills, the eggs did o’er the snow white plate tumble and spill, the ketchup in its bottle gleamed all bright, rich ruby red. I gripped, twisted its metal cap, poured out its saucy blood. It plunked, globbled down and splashed the egg which now wounded did seem did seem as fork and knife slashed, dug and cut and scooped my breakfast feast. Ooh crumble, smear the golden rye with thick rich drooling beurre and gather eggy nuggets swilling round my tongue while in my other hand I grabbed a cup of coffee, poured it down. The dot that now appeared waving and bobbing growing larger by each stride, expanding in the centre of my eye, now was filling up the space now growing larger with each pace. A runner eating up the air, advancing. Soon it will appear with a puff and pound his head and chest now leaping up and down and left to right as if the earth shook him from side to side. He lacked the grace of sinewed muscle in its holy state obeying rhymes so intricate to make a body seem to float in space but like a puppet dangling from its strings held by a drunken master so it seemed. He thrust his head this way and that as if his nerves and muscle were at war each struggling to obey a different drum. His limbs threshed, struck the ground beneath his withered steps which sent shocks to his trucks which spun away as if a mighty fist had punched and made him sway. Just then this body sculptured from his waist of rippling embroidery of muscle to his face so etched in pain, I saw the reason for his ungainly shape when on two crutches he attempts his tortured race his bravery did move us all. Our knives and forks stood still. Our hearts moved more.
His withered limbs so shrunk were as two twigs, his feet dragged just as if… no feeling flooded through those useless legs and all his might did rest on those two wooden pegs which hit the hard cement and pushed him through. Then once again he lifted up his oars, dragged up to sink once more into his daily hard routine to run like any other human being, keep his dignity in jerky ugly jog but now to me it was his soul that flared from out of his pain. His morning early tryst, his tortured face because this poor valiant man ignored the unfair stroke that shattered what we have. So naturally to be blessed with sympathy of muscle, brain and nerve to move each separate digit to the inspiration like a bird. I saw him dance away into the distant swarm. His hopping gait. His grimace filled my eye and warned us all who once again stuffed mouths with eggs and coffee and gain of the frustration that we do ourselves complain that here was love that overcame the desperate misfortune and hurt and turned it into blinding inspiration that must burn into our self-satisfied and greedy smirk.

© Steven Berkoff, 2009

California Morn reproduced by kind permission of Steven Berkoff c/o Rosica Colin Limited, London. Taken from his collection of poetry and prose You Remind Me of Marilyn Monroe published by Herla Publishing ( an imprint of Alma Books Ltd ) ISBN 978-1-84688-079-7
£9.99 All rights whatsoever in this poem are stictly reserved.
Applications for performance, including professional, amateur, recitation, lecturing, public reading, broadcasting, television and the rights of translation into foreign language, must be made before rehearsals, etc., begin to Rosica Colin Limited, 1 Clareville Grove Mews, London SW7 5AH.
No performance may be given unless a licence has been obtained and no alterations may be made in the title or the text of the work without the authors prior written consent.

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