In California

I
Chemicals ripen the citrus;

There are rattlesnakes in the mountains,

And on the shoreline

Hygiene, inhuman caution.


Beef in cellophane

Tall as giraffes,

The orange-rancher’s daughters

Crop their own groves, mistrustful.


Perpetual summer seems

Precarious on the littoral. We drive

Inland to prove

The risk we sense. At once


Winter claps-to like a shutter

High over the Ojai valley, and discloses

A double crisis,

Winter and Drought.


Ranges on mountain-ranges,

Empty, unwatered, crumbling,

Hot colours come at the eye.

It is too cold


For picnics at the trestle-tables. Claypit

Yellow burns on the distance.

The phantom walks

Everywhere, of intolerable heat.


At Ventucopa, elevation

Two-eight-nine-six, the water hydrant frozen,

Deserted or broken settlements,

Gasoline stations closed and boarded.


By nightfall, to the snows;

And over the mile on tilted

Mile of the mountain park

The bright cars hazarded.


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