Jeff Rogers grew up in Michigan college towns, with four professor parents, before dropping out of college himself and driving across country to Los Angeles in 1983 in pursuit of poetry and adventure. He
has made LA his home ever since, loves it, and doesn’t care who knows it. He’s made his living as a writer for the labor movement since 2006.
His work has been published most prominently in The Coiled Serpent: Poets Arising From the Cultural Quakes and Shifts of Los Angeles, as well as other literary journals online and in print. He’s read and
performed at numerous venues around Los Angeles, from the Onyx to Beyond Baroque, The Los Angeles Theater Center to Art Share LA, both solo and with the poetry and theater ensemble Gray Pony.
Mission of San Juan Capistrano Ruins
People heaved these rocks up for walls
before they tumbled down.
People lie under the grass in this cemetery.
People walked these cold stone floors
And in this courtyard, they gathered
The sun into their skin.
(c) 2016 Jeff Rogers
(First published online July 2016 at drylandlit.org,)
What Grows Below Ground
(In tribute for Richard Duardo)
That which casts out, escapes from under
The garden wall, groping blind for lands beyond.
Taproot that pushes down through seed-ground seeking source.
A time-traveler of sorts, arrow tendril pointing all the way back
To that very moment when the big bang
Snapped the whole universe inside out.
That ecstasy of first creation when it explodes its banks,
From ecstatic trances of the first cave painters
Facing their rock walls rolling and swimming in firelight,
On down to us, standing here, feeling nearly deaf,
Nearly blind and nearly mute, brushes in hand
Before the empty canvas, or fingers poised above keys
Before the blank blinking screen, our arts
The coded thoughts of the universe passed through
Our twining neurons and into our hands,
Into frames on the walls before us,
Into our poems clutched in shaking fingers,
With their stutter of language, words cobbled together
From such thin and rickety letters.
How that viny S, for instance, twirls up and around,
How that scaffold E makes a ladder of three rungs from earth up to sky,
And how that Y dips its shy tail into subterranean waters below,
Then spreads its naked arms in welcome
To the rain and the star-showers above.
(c) 2017 Jeff Rogers