Phoebe MacAdams: Three Poems
Phoebe MacAdams is the author of The Large Economy of the Beautiful, her seventh book of poetry. Her previous books include Sunday, Tombouctou Press (1983); Ever, Rose Valley Press (1985); Ordinary Snake Dance, Cahuenga Press (1994); Livelihood, Cahuenga Press (2003); Strange Grace, Cahuenga Press (2007) and Touching Stone, Cahuenga Press (2012).
Even Birds Are Complicated
Listen and translate the blessed entanglements,
says a voice in my dream,
like this green shawl, a gift from Roberta,
or the red throated hummingbirds
and the finches battling for food.
Will calls with news from Selkirk, New York,
the old family house.
He saw the barn wallboard
where my grandfather measured
the grandchildren each July fourth,
where he saw his twin brother’s ghost,
and where he died.
This is about knots, words,
even birds are complicated
but about the shawl: in March
I walked into a room full of women knitting for God.
Are there any rules? I asked.
Three by five feet, they said, pray
and then give it away.
from Touching Stone
Cahuenga Press, 2012
The Large Economy of the Beautiful
I am wearing my birding hat
and crazy paraphernalia:
binos and bottles, little notebooks and pens
as cars whiz by on Highway 1.
Today I have learned about Syrinx, nymph
beloved by Pan,
also the throat muscle and cartilage of bird song.
The Black Skimmer moves along the top of the water
trolling for fish;
California Cormorants stand on the sand
drying their wings.
dowitcher and plover,
yellow feet, red bills
Great Blue and Snowy White
At night the shapes of birds move differently:
us to rise from our daily difficulties
and sing ourselves into form.
Under the Beauty of Kate
my sister watching over us
through the tissue of reality,
I sit here in the cold,
grateful to remember promises:
we care for each other
on this side or the other.
I take solace in family,
in home and in
the church of words.
(Author photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Phoebe MacAdams was born and raised in New York City, but has lived in California most of her adult life - first in the poetry community of Bolinas, in Northern California, and, since 1982, in Southern California. The Large Economy of the Beautiful is her seventh book of poetry. Her previous books include Sunday, Tombouctou Press (1983); Ever, Rose Valley Press (1985); Ordinary Snake Dance, Cahuenga Press (1994); Livelihood, Cahuenga Press (2003); Strange Grace, Cahuenga Press (2007), Touching Stone, Cahuenga Press (2012), and The Large Economy of the Beautiful: New and Selected Poems (2016). Her work has been published in a variety of magazines and anthologies. She has given readings throughout California and other parts of the United States. Active in the Los Angeles literary community since moving to the city in 1986, she was a founding member of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival and, for two years, ran the Gasoline Alley reading series on Melrose Avenue with the poet, Bill Mohr. She is a co-founder and since 1989 has been a poet member of Cahuenga Press. She was a teacher of English and Creative Writing at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles from 1986 to 2011, when she retired from teaching. She now mentors teachers for the LMU education program. She has two grown sons, three grandchildren, and lives in Pasadena with her husband and former teaching partner, Ronald G. Ozuna.