UCSC ran a contest to see who could write the “best” Ode to Santa Cruz. The winning ode would be read by Garisson Keillor during his appearance at the Santa Cruz Civic Center. The winning author was “well-known Santa Cruz visual artist” Douglas McClelland. Here is my entry followed by Laurie Agard’s haiku response to my ode, followed by Faith Zack’s entry, followed by the winning entry. Judge for yourself!
O, sleepy Italian fishing village! City on an elfland hill!
Haven of the aging hippie, Harbor for the shell shocked Vet
Asylum for the single mother,
Shelter for the wrecked and battered
Sanctuary for all seven genders,
Resort for those with ample pocket
Boardwalk, Harbor, Wharf, and Lighthouse
Surf Museum and Natural Bridge!
Tide pools, redwoods, and Mission Santa Cruz
Lost Boys ride a Giant Dipper with the silent ZaSu Pitts
Ever changing changeless time warp
Protected timeless mediterranean bay
Dolphins leap, otters roll, and Gray Whales spout
We live on the lip of a mile deep trench!
Labs Richter and Long Marine
Human genome project completed here!
New planets discovered, ancient fossils uncovered
History of Consciousness Ph.D.s!
Surf city slackers, scientists and skaters
A crossing of saints where mountains meet sea
Four twenty stoners, students and surfers
Small town sensibility, global responsibility
Pergolesi & Bookshop,
Crepe Place & Coffee Roasting
All collapse and rise again!
The wrecking ball bounces off the Cooper House wall!
Elementary schools close,
Colleges sprout like mushrooms on the Hill
O, ephemeral Mystery Spot!! Tourists flock to thee!
Quakes, deficits, students, and time may change thy face
Yet redwood, coaster, clock, and train
All stand to remind us of times slow pace
City of celebration and homeless defecation
You gave us First Night, Last Night,
and Take Back The Night
Myth California and the Preying Mantis Brigade
Crazy chaos theory Dripheads, Mr. Twister,
and Umbrella Man
The statue of Tom Scribner
Stirs the lentil vegan pot with saw and bow
A miracle! He cries real tears
As “progressives” court Big Box chains
Eastside, Westside, Town, and Gown
Your Greenbelt rings them all
From Zachary’s to Zoccolis
All of us stroll the mall
Yea, let us don our wetsuits, pull the salt water taffy
Stalk the wild morel we learned of at the fungus fair
As costumed children greet the Monarch’s return
We celebrate daily the purple scarfed dancing lady
that is Santa Cruz
Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
the wind of Ron’s ode.
Whiz your bike up West Cliff, watch the sea otters dive
Weave through couples and strollers, joggers and doggers
Swing your hips to the drum circle vibe
Whole grain, organic, earthy crunchy santa crustaceans
Salute the sun on your sweaty yoga mats
Sip your chai latte, watch the Umbrella man
Promen-ambling up the mall
Santa Cruz, to honor you,
I declare a mural —
surfer facing the sea
wearing a full bore tool belt;
rat gray pony tail.
in hand — he balances,
rampant on a green wave.
Tattoo of Gaia that bears
the word “Mom” on his chest.
His board, a riot of earth tones,
bears the proud legend
“En Plein Air.”
On the shore, strong women
will be seen, gathering
with a rainbow of others
in solidarity. Planting, writing,
catching their own waves.
The painting style is bold,
Rivera-like, colors clear,
edges crisp, but the pearly
Pacific light sweetens the diverse parts
redwoods, tourists in black socks,
screwtop wine bottles,
pale slackers, bronzed shiatsists,
owlish deans, and organic garlic–
into a rare harmony. All gentled
by an avant garde surfbeat,
string band, folk song loop
from an amp behind
a tie-dyed screen.