Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
has gone missing, migrated to somewhere over
her left cheek—eyeball now wonky, dislodged by
the unexpected and sent trolling for more vision
to handle some latest upset, some recent quirk
of events. Needless to say, this wry new twist
leaves her uneasy, discomfitted—this odd shift
in her features puts off strangers, confuses
loved ones, and sends her over and over again to
the mirror to gaze at the poor, lost little organ. She
will try to alter its unfortunate translocation: try
to see exactly what she needs to do to reverse
its recent left-turn and get this wandering third eye
back up onto her forehead, back where it belongs…
—Kathy Kieth, Pollock Pines
When I'm 64....Oh, wait—that's today! I know how tedious it gets to hear us old people say we never thought we'd get here, but, well, we never thought we'd get here...
Anyway, I have, and I plan to celebrate with a reading next Wednesday, when The Snake Salutes the Tiger. The above ditty is from my new chapbook, Emily and the High Cost of Living, which Tiger's Eye Press will be releasing that night. Co-Editors Colette Jonopulos and JoAn Osborne have agreed to read with me, so here are poems from them, and thanks. JoAn's poem was a response to an accident, and Colette's was a response to that response. (Claire Baker sent me a couple of wonderful ones that are down below those, and thanks to her, too.) That's Weds., Feb. 10 at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, 7:30 PM. Be there! Find out, once and for all, who Emily is!
TWO SIDES OF PRAYER
—JoAn Osborne, Antelope
(for Bonnie, 8-13-05)
It’s Saturday morning.
I swipe the cleaning cloth across the
window sill; out of the corner of my eye
I see him: a praying mantis checking
out my kitchen from a point just south
of my index fingernail—an amazing
jade green, not more than half an inch
tall, resting on legs no wider than threads,
wings held close to his body.
Such a fragile body.
He cocks his triangular head from
side to side, his Raggedy Andy eyes
popping back and forth as my words fall.
Back in the corner he resumes his holy stance.
“Little friend, what are you praying for?”
It’s Saturday morning.
Driving to the American River parkway
for their weekly run, she slows for cyclists
along Fair Oaks Blvd. Out of the corner
of her eye, a black blur. In slow motion
she floats sideways toward a telephone pole.
Heavy metal scrapes pavement, making its own
rock music. Tomatoes fly from their basket, splatter her
with their limpid blood. Sprinkles of glass freckle her body.
Such a fragile body.
Her wings—not yet claimed—she comes to rest,
tires spinning heavenward. Reverberating echoes
of destruction signal a world gone cold. Silence
fills a momentary void before chaos.
“Dear sister, what are you praying for?”
RA'S SMALL, SMALL BOAT
—Colette Jonopulos, Eugene, OR
Your melancholy, the arc of it, invasive body of it, our
evenings spent unraveling it, considering it, the largest
bolt of cloth you ever unwound. It changed the way I
looked at strangers in coffee shops, their eyes directed
below tops of computers, thin walls to block the world;
it changed the way I looked at women who wear berets.
I listened less, watched more for signals from feet, from
hands folded like bird wings, the glide of shoulders. And
now, miles from you, I unravel myself into darkness,
vague scrim of hope gone like my voice, my treasure
of opinions; even god unravels in me with this dream
of red snakes, their grandfather thick and brown falling
from the door jamb to drape his coldness across my back,
me wrestling the armless creature while he flicks his will
upward. Awake at five A.M., no light dragged behind Ra’s
small, small boat, no light to fade my dream of snakes; I
recall at last, the day you sent a praying mantis poem, his legs
working in your kitchen window, the way you handled green.
SHE SLEPT UNDER MOONBEAMS
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
They warned her that night not to
sleep under moon's rounded light—
that it would reverse her
magnetic poles, capture her karma,
waste it on needy strangers
who sleep in total darkness
away from celestial harm.
Not influenced by the crazy tale
that night she slept under moonbeams,
exposed her brave street-heart to
the moon's benediction: in a week
of open sleeping out, no fright,
she saw & took a fresh direction,
a fiction full of light.
—Claire J. Baker
Should a star
fall into our hands
we need not place it
back into the sky.
If we must break new
ground, why not start
with the land
on which we stand...
If we feel we are
on our way, though we
haven't moved an inch,
we are on our way.
we don't have to fly
a hundred miles
to know we can soar.
May you live all the days of your life.