Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Coughing of Lions

Word Bird
—D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Hovering over the words,
Herding them, moving them
Into small groups. Full of meaning.

Here, the description of the heavens
Staggers forward, dragging
Its collection of constellations
Behind it; fully aware
That these pictures are but part
Of light seen from a single
Place, struggling to maintain
Themselves as the heavens
Reel around them.

These, are the words of lovers.
There is no end to them.
They slide and describe,
Word after word, the varieties of touch;
Definite descriptions, of flesh
Meeting flesh, in all temperatures and climates.

Gratefully, we follow these things,
Charmed that language
Allows us such rooms,
Such variety of discourse.

From the dark hills comes
The coughing of lions,
Calls of birds. William
Blake, moving room to room
Searching for the right phrase.


Thanks, as always, to today's contributors! Be sure to stop by Luna's Cafe & Juice Bar tonight for readers Joe Donohoe, John Longhi, Bill Gainer and David Gay. That's 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8 PM. Be there!

Our Seed of the Week is Masks, and it’s a give-away. Send a poem about masks to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726, and I'll send you any rattlechap of your choosing! (Go to the "rattlechaps" page on for a complete listing.) Give-away SOWs have deadlines; this one is midnight on Sunday, January 31.


presumed dead
—charles mariano, sacramento

i’m surprised
when something comes out

most of the time,
plugging along
rarely check
the rearview mirror,

“crappy writing”
i say,
“clear as day”

not making a lick’a sense
after the wreck
the usual,
i yell down the canyon…

“helloooo? anybody alive?”

when at the scene of
fatal bad writing
always check
for survivors

at first
a long, eerie silence

“nobody down here,
‘cept us
sorry-ass pages”


—D.R. Wagner

The language off on its own
Dance. sometimes, when the night
Spreads itself like a lover across
The bed of dreaming I can smell
The musk of words on my skin.
A way of saying that cannot
Be made with the mouth.
I run my tongue along the lips
of this lover. It is exquisite
as in bone pain or heartbreak.
When words touch this deep
There are flaming swords, there
Over east of Eden. One cannot determine
Depth of feeling. There is no device
To measure this deep.
Light cannot penetrate here,
Only the the movements of breath
In and out, in and out, words
Themselves are not admitted here.
Still, it is language, still it is
Touching that drives so deep
Into the core of loving that
Everything is understood.
It is such of mystery that no one
Has blood enough or time to
Offer explanation. Amazing grace.
How the mountains rise from the plain.
How the seas rush to know all
That is called land.


—D.R. Wagner

The wind, in from the desert,
Ruined from running through
The litany of winter, barely able
To speak. Still now, it attempts
To say your name. Blows through
The vowel sounds, leaving them
In the trees. Chases birds across
Alfalfa. Their bodies make letter forms,
Change into wheels. Unable to land
They find shelter in the ditches,
Clutching weed stalks, rocking.

Walking past the cottonwoods,
I hear it clearly for an instant,
Your name. Impossible in such
Late weather, but there, nevertheless
Or perhaps it is other, a scraping
Sound of branches against themselves,
Well above the ground. Perhaps
This is not language, this time.
Perhaps, I am wrong.

Wind inside my coat, through
The neck, forcing words from my mouth.
They make your name, as if I had
No choice, as if I were the desert,
Or, at best, a part of winter too,
Full of hands, waving, waving.


—James Lee Jobe, Davis

(for my grandniece, Addison)

It can be overwhelming, the unfairness of it all.
The randomness. But there is beauty

As well. Here, a death—there, a birth.
A tidal wave. A rainbow after a spring rain.

An ancient forest burns. A child
Is saved from a well. Beauty, yes,

And chaos, too. Harshness and sweet quiet.
Welcome to the world.


—James Lee Jobe

We're slow dancing to music
from when we were young,
and we move so easy together,
that perhaps—for a few minutes—
we are young. Cares and years
peal away, and you smile
like a flippant girl again. My!
Your school uniform is askew!
My hands are on your waist, moving
you, my eyes dance with your eyes,
and you shyly put your arms
around my neck. Our bodies
slide in close. Smokey Robinson
has moves.
So do we.

Tree Spirit
—Photo enhancement by D.R. Wagner

Today's LittleNip:

In even a light snow, we can see
the three thousand worlds.
Again a light snow falls.