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The Los Angeles Times Book Prize, 1987 : POETRY PRIZE : On Nov . 6, The Times will award its annual Book Prizes in five categories--biography, history, fiction, poetry and current interest--along with the Robert Kirsch Award for a body of work by a writer living in or writing on the West. This week we publish excerpts from the books nominated in poetry. : THE RINGS OF SATURN by Diane Wakoski (Santa Rosa: Black Sparrow Press)

November 01, 1987

"Image is narrative" in Wakoski's poems; in this collection's title sequence, "The Saturn's Ring Poems," thoughts and memories are spun from the symbol the ring. "More Light, More Light,"

Yet, I have been the moon

too, her silvery translucence still

glowing in my hair

occasionally.

And I have loved the sun

though now only have allergic-sensitive

skin

to show for it.

The day I mailed off my

wedding ring that I'd carried

so long on my key ring,

to the woman in California who requested

it,

I opened an old, mildewing trunk,

and another gold ring

fell through the top layer of

rotting cloth and landed

its little round gold self

on a white wool Greek sweater

that for some reason was intact.

And I thought of myself

then

as the rings of Saturn,

not the planet, mysteriously green,

and throbbing in the solar night,

but rather

those chunks of ice, swirling in orbit,

dead stones, without flicker or

life, who become

transformed,

bathed in opal glow as they move

around their gravitational source;

and seen through light years

they seem like rings, girdling

the planet; they seem to

have as much light

as the whole strip of casinos

in Las Vegas.

The illusion is the same as that

the poet projects.

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