poet Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia

#341 on top 500 poets

California Hills In August

I can imagine someone who found
these fields unbearable, who climbed
the hillside in the heat, cursing the dust,
cracking the brittle weeds underfoot,
wishing a few more trees for shade.

An Easterner especially, who would scorn
the meagerness of summer, the dry
twisted shapes of black elm,
scrub oak, and chaparral, a landscape
August has already drained of green.

One who would hurry over the clinging
thistle, foxtail, golden poppy,
knowing everything was just a weed,
unable to conceive that these trees
and sparse brown bushes were alive.

And hate the bright stillness of the noon
without wind, without motion.
the only other living thing
a hawk, hungry for prey, suspended
in the blinding, sunlit blue.

And yet how gentle it seems to someone
raised in a landscape short of rain—
the skyline of a hill broken by no more
trees than one can count, the grass,
the empty sky, the wish for water.

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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Comments about California Hills In August by Dana Gioia

  • a good poem, but... (5/25/2018 7:49:00 PM)

    No better or worse then the massive attack the author had on similar poetry written in our shallow and unpoetic times in his book Does Poetry Matter? . The typed form is as those poems that exists as words on a page rather than sounds in the mouth and ear. This poem is no better or worse than its contemporaries. I was expecting the poet to carry his own staff, and present a modern work in the stance of Virgil.

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  • Walter Durk (9/26/2007 8:30:00 PM)

    This is a fine poem, well-crafted and well-written. I enjoy the cadence, the flow and the topic. It conveys very clear imagery, and I can easily envision the California hills, also having lived among them.

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  • John Goodman (5/8/2006 9:50:00 PM)

    Dana talks about life that is surrounded by death. A uninhabitable field that looks as if there is no life holds an abundance of life. The eye can be very deceiving when we do not look close enough.

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Read poems about / on: august, hate, summer, rain, green, water, wind, sky, tree