On September 27, 2018, poets from California State University, Bakersfield collaborated with the Bakersfield Museum of Art as part of their “Art After Dark” series to present poems inspired by the California collective “Society of Six,” Yvonne Cavanagh, and Charles Arnoldi. Thanks to the vision and hard work of Development Coordinator Alli Duncan and Curator Rachel Magnus, the event was a smashing success, and thanks to support by Curt Asher, Dean of the Walter Stiern Library, and Robert Frakes, Dean of the School of Arts & Humanities at CSUB, the attendees were given a chapbook featuring the poems and art that inspired them. I owe Yvonne Cavanagh an extra level of gratitude for painting “Floating Oranges,” the inspiration for my own poem, “Under an Inverstion Layer.”
Under an Inversion Layer
–after Yvonne Cavanagh’s Floating Oranges
Highway 65 was never alive.
Not on those eye-wet days of fog delays
when a sheet would swallow the horizons
and I would steer by watching the shoulder
and wait for the windshield to re-issue
red tail lights proceeding in a linear
fashion past the rows of navel citrus
into which one could easily vanish
were one to drift or lose track of the white.
And not on those nights of cold spell clear skies
and sharp stars with the growers’ wind machines
churning the frost-smoke through the orange groves
in hopes of keeping the sugar cell walls
from rupturing each ember hemisphere
and rendering the sunny flesh unfit
for human consumption, each floating globe
now a mere decoration, a sunk cost.
Roads do not lead anyone anywhere.
I tell myself this whenever I’m lost.