Wednesday, February 03, 2010

It Will Only Lead to Poems

Is it spring yet?
Photo by K. Kieth

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

On writers-block days she takes her camera
and haunts the fringes. Snaps of vacant lots and quarry,
nameless stream with its load of trash—mismatched
thongs and sneakers, orange popsicle wrappers, tattered
kites—castaways that steal themselves
from the degenerate crowd of upstream refuse. Focus
and shoot. Among such litter, even on a spiritless
February day the light finds form
to sparkle. New grass pushes through bald tires
and metal grids. Tendrils resume their patient work
of transformation. Can she find herself
a metaphor, an image for the scrap-
book of her mind?


Thanks to Taylor Graham and Richard Zimmer for their poems about our Seed of the Week: Scrapbook, and to Sacramento's Poet Laureate, Bob Stanley, for his poems. I asked Bob to do a column for Medusa, and he decided he'd rather speak in poetry, so here we are.

Bob hosts a new series beginning at 6 PM tonight: First Wednesday Poetry at the Central Library in Sacramento, featuring some of the poets from the 2001 Sacramento Anthology, including Annie Menebroker, James DenBoer, Joyce Odam and more! Central Library, 828 I St., Room 209, second floor. Free. Be there!

As for yesterday's musings about whether or not your poems should appear on more than one blog at once, I've decided it's a tempest in a teapot and that I won't get my snakes in a snarl over it. As I said yesterday, in theory we're supposed to be following the old rules, but in reality, things have changed a great deal. And thank you to those of you who wrote to me about it; all of you said pick a rule and stick to it. :-) Wise advice, indeed.


—Bob Stanley, Sacramento

I’m asking the questions again
What am I supposed to do?
or the larger ones like what are we supposed to do?
this opens out of course into who are we?
are we?
can one define a we?
And yet in the light of these great questions it bothers me
perhaps most of all that the line break
skips a line when I hit return which brings me back to my own
without which I would not be able to write this poem
but with too much of which I would write one
that would only alienate you
if there were a you.
So I’ll assume a you
and therefore a we
‘cause I’m a given,
self-centered and all.

Haiti crumbled 15 days ago, we are told
and shown
and we believe this
just as we believe the moon landing and the
falling of rain
we can see something
so it happened.
Our eyes lead to our hearts briefly
the same way our stomachs do and our pocketbooks
which is a word only used in idioms now.
I guess a pocketbook is like a
wallet or a checkbook
or a bank balance.
And we all share the ATM
like the communal fountain
in the square that we all go to for water
unless we’re fully electronic
as I am as I write this—hammering little ciphers into place on a hard drive so that
you might see
what somebody in a darkened office on a college campus might have to say
fifteen days after thousands died in a collapse
of civilization
that will no doubt recur
in different ways.

Tao Chien complained
about his sons,
“The twins can’t tell a six from a seven, and all they do
is hunt for chestnuts and pears.”
He wants to drink wine, we figure,
bored with his fifth-century bureaucratic job,
and Sarah says “I wouldn’t want him for a father.”
What makes a good father,
I wonder, and then
think about mine,
who’s a pretty darn good one
(as I use the colloquial that he might use).

It’s good that I’m in a hurry
because I find things to say
or try to say
and at least I’ve set some rules for myself
the fusion of first and second
into third person
is what makes the world work
when it does
I guess that’s what we’re supposed to do
or I am:


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

The Frog and Stein:
A frog is a frog is a frog.

The Frog in the Window:
I’m a ceramic frog called “Mac.”
I’m green with dark spots on my back.
Mouth wide-open, eyes a-pop,
I stare out the window non-stop.

The Frog’s Lament:
Hi Ho, a-wooing I do go.
All the lady frogs have gone
to another lily-pad pond.
Hi Ho, a single life I’ll know.

A Frog in the Winter:
A frog in the winter
doesn’t do very well.
A frog in the winter
Has to hide for a spell.

Other titles:
The Frog in the Waterless Pond
The Frog who came to Dinner
The Frog who Meant Well
The Frog Called Bob


Today's LittleNip:


—Bob Stanley

It’s what the fortune cookie does.
It’s the flip of
next card, the response

you could not divine.

It’s the pattern
in tea leaves, shapes

clouds make, the colors

you see when you close
your eyes, sunlight

filtering through branches.

Don’t try to understand.

It will only lead
to poems, or worse.