Poetry by Clifton Snider


I return to the house I love
in a new season,
this house for twenty years
a refuge,
sporadic home
with three aspens
rooted in the rear.

I’ve come to watch their
heart-shaped leaves
turn from green to gold to brown
then drop.
I will see it happen
and the aspens, the cottonwoods,
the piñons in the Taos mountains
will verify–or not–my intuitive belief:
there is healing in this land,
in this house of memories
laid out in movements
of my blood.

3 September 2010
Taos, NM

Indian Summer in New Mexico

The high desert sky
nearly cloudless
the day before the clocks fall back,
sun bright as an atomic flash,
cottonwoods, aspens, maple, willows–
leaves falling like they rarely do
back home in Southern California,
a day to walk on roads
whose dust rises with every pickup
& Prius that passes,
& as you watch a northern flicker
with red mustache
perch on a slender stump
two dogs cross the field
and the creek bed
and join you on the road,–
you shoo them off
& happily they scamper away
& you walk down a quiet residential street,
one house a junk yard of old cars & trucks
stuffed with all shapes of rusted metal & tubes,
further up a majestic modern adobe,
unoccupied for the season,
kids jump on a trampoline in another yard
while grandma and grandpa sit in the shade,–
then back to your casita & for once
you leave the door open.

By Degrees

I return home
on a freezing November night
in Taos, New Mexico,
to find a lifeless heater.

I set it higher–74-77 degrees.
Nothing.  No creaking from the white metal
that borders the bottom
of the walls of my casita.

No problem for bed:
I sleep without the heat.
The trouble is the morrow.

I think of Cro-Magnon ancestors
bundled up in tailored skins
fur turned inward
gathered around an open fire
as I wrap myself in layers: T-shirt, sweat shirt,
Norwegian sweater
& I work & wait & shiver by degrees
until another human being arrives,
a native of this town, who knows
better than I how to light
the light.


About Clifton Snider
Clifton Snider, faculty emeritus at California State University, Long Beach, is the internationally-acclaimed author of nine books of poetry, including his latest, Aspens in the Wind (2009), and The Alchemy of Opposites (2000).  His Moonman: New and Selected Poems is scheduled to be published in the coming year by World Parade Books.  His novel about the rise, fall, and physical and spiritual recovery and comeback of a 1980s rock star, Loud Whisper (2000), is slated to become a major motion picture from the award-winning independent film company, Iconoclastic Features.  His coming out/coming of age novel, Bare Roots, was published in 2001, as was his novel about two gay Pentecostal preacher’s sons, one of whom disappears under ominous circumstances, Wrestling with Angels: A Tale of Two Brothers.  A Jungian/Queer literary critic, his book, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature, was published in 1991, and he has published hundreds of poems, fiction, and articles internationally.  His work has been translated into French and Russian.

1 thought on “Poetry by Clifton Snider

  1. The poems are rich with words that paint beautiful pictures of a world unbekown to me. I would love to visit.

    Thank you for the poems.

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