Friday, February 26, 2010

The Hells We Choose

Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Dawn DiBartolo, Citrus Heights

i was in church.
familiarity was distant
and the kids sat in his lap,
all of them, while i sat
in my pew alone.
the devil had
a European look,
long curly hair,
seducing fingers roam.
he spoke to me
in cryptic tones
that distracted me
from the sermon.
when all was said and done,
he left me
to clean up the mess, alone
hauling armfuls of debris
through the empty soulless fields.


—Dawn DiBartolo

out of boredom
or curiosity, i jumped
on board,
pushed the button
marked heaven.
as i began to descend,
what seemed like only one floor,
my heart rose, pulsed
in my throat.
i was afraid of
open doors,
and these split to reveal
a boiler room hell—
lead pipes and steam
right in front of me,
but no one waiting.
the doors began
to come together
and relief washed over me.
just before they shut completely,
a harried man of buttered toast
in a cool ash business suit,
red tie,
slid thru. “thank God.”
he proclaimed,
and hit the same button
i had
to end up where i was.
instead of up, we traveled
bending with the tracks
i’d not seen before.
we traveled long
without words,
and he checked his watch
i fretted over the growing distance
between me and those i loved—
how would i ever return?
finally, we stopped.
before he disembarked,
he leaned in, as if
to kiss me,
came close enough
to steal my breath
into his lungs,
though we never quite connected.
he left me there, alone
and hollow,
and i awoke not sure
if i ever made it back.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing of events, go to

•••Fri. (and every last Friday of the month), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries inside The Upper Level VIP Lounge, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento (located inside of Fitness Systems Healthclub, by Cal State Skating Rink; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie, right past Motel 6) features poets Daynomi "IrRegularflow" Thomas from Los Angeles, Cleo Cartel, Jesse Brown, Elika Bernard, Malik Saunders and The Mustard Seeds. and open mic. $5.00. Info: 916-208-POET or

•••Sat. (2/27, and every last Sat. of the month), 7-9 PM: TheShowPoetrySeries features Daynomi "IrRegularflow" Thomas from Los Angeles, Mario Ellis Hill, Chara Charis, DeLaire Doyle, LaRah and more. Wo'se Community Center, 2863 35th St. (Off 35th & Broadway), $5. Info: 916 208-POET or E-mail:

•••Sun. (2/28), 1 PM: Salvatore Salerno reads at McHenry Museum, 1402 I St., Modesto. Free; open mic; refreshments.

•••Mon. (3/1), 7:30 PM:
They're scattered around town—on buses, trains, cabs, in restrooms, bars, left along with the tip; stuffed into a stranger's back pocket. Whatever. Wherever. Small poems in small booklets half the size of a business card. A project of the 24th-Street Irregular Press, which cranks them out to be taken by the handful and scattered like seeds by those who want to see poetry grow in a barren cultural landscape. On March 1, Sacramento Poetry Center presents Poems-For-All Celebrates Nine! Poets will read short poems from their miniature books published as part part of the Poems-For-All Project's ninth anniversary, as well as poems from others who are in the series, including William Blake, Kenneth Patchen, d.a. levy, William Wantling, Emily Dickinson, Roque Dalton, Jack Spicer, Jack Micheline, Ted Joans, Dr. Seuss and others.

PFA Celebrates Nine will actually take part in two different locations on two different days: On Monday, March 1, at SPC (25th & R Sts., Sacramento), and on Weds., March 10 at The Book Collector (1008 24th St., Sacramento, hosted by Rattlesnake Press). Here are the readers for both nights:

MARCH 1st (Host: Bob Stanley)
Manny Gale
Frank Graham
Rachel Hansen
Ru Hansen
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Rebecca Morrison
Geoffrey Neill
Danny Romero
Rivkah Sass
Abe Sass
Bob Stanley
Mary Zeppa


MARCH 10th (Host: Kathy Kieth)
Martha Ann Blackman
Taylor Graham
Ann Menebroker
frank andrick
Bill Gainer
Rachel Hansen
Ru Hansen
Kevin Jones
Kathy Kieth
Joyce Odam


—Dawn DiBartolo

in the mist of cumbersome sleep
fear found and coddled me
gave me dark and waking dreams
that left me shaken and weak.

in the hollows of the night
where shadows manipulate sight
and the winds evoke writhing fright,
clung assurance with tattered might.

with the sun came fractured day
full of woe and dismay
“come child, shift this way”
the unfettered hauntings say.

and with gloom and solemn dread
fear and hauntings filled my head
with all dreams lost and all things dead,
day followed as night-demons led.


—Dawn DiBartolo

what is the price
for letting go
and riding the descent?
at what cost
do i begin
with black canvas
and ghostly white ferris wheel,
eternal death, the conductor?
as i hand him my fare,
the coins carved of soul,
slide thru the iron gate
waist high, legs lost
to the darkness.
which rocking car
holds my fate tonight?
what journey
shall my mind take,
and make real
for the moment’s sake?
strap myself in
and hold tight
to begin.
there are demons
known only to me
and they slice thru
like wind as i spin
thru night sky,
wondering how the light
will ever reach me again.


—Dawn DiBartolo

dance with the devil, she said,
to know your limits, like each
time testing the rope that holds you
suspended; only then will you know depth.

the fibers are frayed, i say,
will snap and leave you lost
to the falling…falling…

but i’ve been falling, she believes,
for so long now, bottom may
quiet the screams…

and there is no escaping
any hell you willingly choose.

Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner


Today's LittleNip:

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of the time he will pick himself up and continue on.

—Winston Churchill



Our thanks to Dawny-D and D.R. for today's art and poetry on our Seed of the Week: The Devils That Chase Us. Both of them have been published by Rattlesnake Press; check 'em out at or The Book Collector.