North of Santa Monica

By Carter Revard b. 1931 Carter Revard
It’s midnight in a drizzling fog
on Sunset Avenue and we are walking
through the scent of orange blossoms and past
a white camellia blown down or flung by someone
onto rainblack asphalt waiting
for the gray Mercedes sedan to run over
and smash its petals and leave us walking in
the smell of Diesel exhaust with
orange-blossom bouquet.

Where the next blue morning
and the gray Pacific meet
as the Palisades fall away
two sparrowhawks are beating
their tapered wings in place, watching
for jay or chewink to stray too far
from their thorny scrub to get back—
and the female suddenly towers,
her wings half-close and she stoops like
a dropping dagger, but down
the steep slope she rockets past them and turns
again into updraft to the clifftops to hover—
as the jay peers out through thorns,
                             and the lines of white surf whisper in.

Carter Revard, “North of Santa Monica” from An Eagle Nation. Copyright © 1993 by Carter Revard. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: An Eagle Nation (University of Arizona Press, 1993)

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Poet Carter Revard b. 1931

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

Subjects Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

 Carter  Revard


Carter Revard grew up on the Osage Reservation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. He is of Osage, Ponca, Irish, and Scotch-Irish heritage; in 1952 his grandmother gave him the Osage name Nompehwahteh (meaning “fear-inspiring”). Despite a difficult early life—he attended a one-room schoolhouse and worked odd jobs throughout his childhood—Revard eventually won a scholarship to the University of Tulsa through a radio quiz. He was one of the . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

POET’S REGION U.S., Midwestern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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