Penny Harter's Lizard Light, Sample Pages.


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Lizard Light, Details and Sample Pages

Lizard Light, front cover
Penny Harter
Lizard Light
Sherman Asher Publishing, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 1998.
Cover illustration by Teresa Smith Dominguez
Book Design by Judith Rafaela
6 x 9", 96 pages, perfect bound, $14.
ISBN 1-890932-02-7

"It is time to write poems that go beyond the personal, poems that speak for the Earth and its inhabitants in a time of great vulnerability for all species, and for the planet itself. . . . I hope that the poems in Lizard Light confirm our mutual responsibility to the Earth." ~ Penny Harter, from the Preface

"Your eloquent passion and respect for the earth, your waking us to our responsibilities as creatures on a beleaguered planet (Earth as a precious divine manifestation), help keep me strong and hopeful—and grateful for your gift. ~ Melissa Pritchard

The lizard on our sidewalk
has no tail again; by tomorrow
a new tail will be budding
from the blunt stump, while
in the yard's tall grasses
ants will share the piece
our cat abandoned.

Each month the moon is a lizard,
angles of sunlight biting it down
and giving it back until someday
the sun goes dark. 

If my limbs were stars
they would burn across light years,
their fire still living
no matter when they sputtered down
to bone and ash,

but now I guard this lizard
who plays dead between my feet,
the light already shining
from its wound.



Fallen on the edge of a dirt road,
midway between the gorge depths
and the overhanging cliffs
where rocky ledges sheet off
into space, this stone
shaped by wind and water
is a miniature mountain,
tawny as the river
that wanders far below.

Its slanting peak folds
to embrace a solitary figure
emerging from its side, a guardian
whose featureless face tilts blindly
toward the furnace of the sun,
the glimmer of the stars.

Our Lady of the Mountains,
small spirit of granite
whose shrine is the side of the road,
pray for us here where the Earth
is rock and water,
          wind and dust.


"Beautiful book! Calls the spirit home, to Earth, to learn how to live as we should." ~ Demetria Martinez

"Her poetic landscapes range from Africa and Brazil to Antarctica and beyond; her narrators trace the archaeological history of the world as effortlessly as they observe lizards in the front yard." ~ Willow Older, writing in Pasatiempo, The Santa Fe New Mexican

The Hawaiian bobtail squid
forages in the night surf
while waves of moonlight, of starlight
fall like sediment into the sea.

Its globular eyes pulse green;
its spotted body glows
orange, brown, and blue.

Smaller than my thumb,
it is a galaxy, an organ
of light inhabited by millions
of luminescent bacteria.

In the abyss beneath these squid
other nocturnal predators prowl;
yet they cannot see the bobtails
whose bacteria protect them, shining
in the wavelength of the stars
and of the moon.

What have we learned
            to do for the Earth
                        that means as much?


"Lizard Light" first appeared in White Heron Poetry Review; "Symbiosis" appeared in Yefief. My thanks to the editors.
This page first posted 23 September 2003 and last updated 23 January 2008. Copyright © 1998, 2003-2008 Penny Harter. All rights reserved. No material from this web site may be copied on other web sites, produced in printed copies, or otherwise reproduced except as explicitly stated on a particular page, or by permission of the authors in writing. Please do not e-mail copies of this web page; rather, send the URL:
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   Penny Harter's Lizard Light, Sample Pages.