Thursday, March 22, 2007

Poetry Out Loud & On the Page

Phil Weidman and friend

—Phil Weidman, Pollock Pines

Early evening, I sit outside
on our slider smoking yesterday's
cigar and study a few
of a friend's remarkable poems.
Tigger stretches out beside me.
The slider groans as I push
lightly with one foot.
Tigger purrs as I stroke
his soft underside.
Half a dozen gray hairs
stick to my fingers.
Branches of a silver maple
provide a canopy over our heads,
its delicate leaves quivering
in a refreshing breeze.
I sip a coke.
One day, I suspect,
the bottom will fall
out of this slider,
out of this life.


Thanks, Phil, and happy birthday! Tonight (Thursday, 3/22), 8 PM: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe (1414 16th St., Sac.) presents Phil Weidman and Laura Hohlwein. Info: 916-441-3931 or Open mic before/after. See last Monday's post for more info about Phil.

Poetry Out Loud tomorrow:

For the second year, California is participating in Poetry Out Loud, the national poetry recitation contest for high schoolers. The State Finals will be held tomorrow (Friday, March 23) at 12:30 PM in the Secretary of State Auditorium, 1020 O St., Sac.; no charge for attendance. Sacramento County's entry in the State Finals will be Kristi Avila of Elk Grove H.S., who will recite "I Go Back to May 1937" by Sharon Olds. The winner of tomorrow's contest will get to go to Washington D.C. for the national finals. Info: 916-322-6555 or Today's Sacramento Bee has an excellent article, including comments from California Poet Laureate Al Young.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Is it my curse forever
to see her, yes, but askew of vantage?
So that she seems Homeric
in her forever striding away, knowable
by her legs and gait? And what of her
topless top—animal, perhaps, rendering her
the hybrid who walks? Is she griffin,
chimera, what? And what does that
say of my own zany person—quilted because

Let my animal stride as is, modern
perhaps, Romantic almost certainly,
blended of brown and bright…
You will know me by my plainness, but
remember me as you do the saxophone
in Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances,
a stiff yet lilting Russian plainchant
—yet, peacocking the atmosphere,
that song’s curious and perfumed chromatic tail.


(Highway 49, near the South Yuba River)
—Tom Goff

There is no object so foul
light will not make use of it.
—Joshua McKinney

We tread the slickness, leaf-carpet remnant
collecting in sluices once rinsed forcibly
by weight of ineluctably downdrawn water
shot through monitors beating goldbearing
rock. Depredation redeemed—the action
of foot upon foot reclaiming in mulch
what once left dug or drained or pounded.

The gouging of nature, transubstantiated
into slopesided scoopings ascending
wheelchair-friendly for maybe miles. In these
environs, is a soupçon of despair perhaps
apropos? Bound happy for these hills,
we chanted, We’re going to see the turning
of the leaves… but when Nora speaks of
the exquisite reds and golds as a consequence
of chlorophyll departing the spent husks,

I see death hung upon the air, “branch-charméd”
to dangle in sere and serrate bodies
as from medieval walls, till the soft note
Sever now prompts the snapping at
each lingering stem’s blunt slight touchpoint…
and all is death that I trample, though Nora’s
hand is in mine. Then the leaf-smell, mold-smell,
assails my nostrils, fills the mist-subtle traceries
of atmosphere with living scent… it’s artichoke,

the autumn-chill but not crisp air is the steam
of my mother’s pressure cooker translating each sharp,
bitter leaf-sword to a slightly sweet, pliable
tenderness grown one with the soft, soft gray-green heart.
The glow of the late sun too soon over the mountain
above the ornately looped highway, above the rock-paved river,
holds the cool of the mayonnaise in which we would dip
each broken leaf—and against this, the vanishing sun itself:
Hot of that cooked leaf? Elusive savor of lemon
folded into the dressing? Can life so subtly,
so suddenly lift or lilt from within death’s
downtrodden? Is resurrection at last a light or a scent?



Medusa encourages poets of all ilk and ages to send their POETRY, PHOTOS and ART, as well as announcements of Northern California poetry events to (or snail ‘em to P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726) for posting on this daily Snake blog. Rights remain with the poets. Previously-published poems are okay for Medusa’s Kitchen, as long as you own the rights. (Please cite publication.)