Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Locks & Blocks

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento

in a conversation with Chuck
gentleman and guardian
of a table and post
at McHenry Museum

amid displays
of ancient tools
rusted, dug and preserved
from central valley farming
of days gone,

i’m reminded
of hot summer days
in the dusty fields of Merced
just off the Los Banos Highway

of an old watertank planter
pulled by a small ford tractor
with two bent metal seats
in back,
low to the ground
the water spout
between us
pointing down
to the dry, thirsty dirt

daddy and i
took turns
dropping Ace tomato plants
into the watered groove
six inches apart

each of us
with a lug of plants
in our laps
nurtured from seed
in the old woodframe hotbeds
out back
during winter

as the tractor chugged
across the dirt
under that blazing sun
i yelled to my brother driving
tractor up front,

“Junie! runnin low on water!”

he looked back,
his face ringed with dust and sweat
nodded, then turned
at the end of the next row
to head back to the canal
to restart the pump


Thanks to Charles Mariano and Joyce Odam for today's poetry. It's Tuesday, and our Seed of the Week is locks. Real ones (barn doors, prison gates, locks on diaries, being locked in or locked out) and metaphorical ones (locks on hearts and minds, writer's block, however we can be locked in or locked out). Send your SOWs to kathykieth@hotmail.com; no deadline.

This Thursday (2/18) at 12 Noon, head downtown for the Brown Bag Lunch Series at the Central Library, 828 I St., Sacramento. Mary Zeppa and Lawrence Dinkins are hosts. This Third Thursday reading follows close on the heels of Valentine’s Day. There are, of course, many famous poems about romantic love. On 2/18, let’s branch out from that familiar concept. Bring your favorite poems (preferably by a writer other than yourself) about any kind of love. Maybe you’ve read a terrific poem about loving music or sculpture or horses or kite-flying or skateboarding! Let your mind run free.

Calls for Submissions:

•••A reminder to all that the Spring Poetic Matrix Press Newsletter (www.poeticmatrix.com) is in preparation as we speak. Joyce Downs is Guest Editor of the issue that takes the theme of "Love and its Many Permutations." Please submit two or three poems with a required 3-line bio to poeticmatrixpressnewsletter@yahoo.com by March 1st.

Deadline: May 2010

On behalf of Kent State University's Wick Poetry Center, KSU Art Galleries, and Soldier’s Heart, you are invited to participate in an exciting international art project. In collaboration with the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, the Vietnamese Children’s Art Exhibit will debut—for the first time in the United States— in September of 2010 at Kent State University, then travel nationally. This exhibit will showcase a collection of Vietnamese children’s artwork on themes of peace and war alongside the poems of grade school children, senior citizens, veterans, and established American poets. Some of the children’s drawings and paintings are now available on the Wick Poetry Center website (dept.kent.edu/wick).

Send all poetry submissions with a short bio to Nicole Robinson, at nlrobin1@kent.edu/. Please include the title and number of the work (located in the corresponding textbox, found below each image) that you’re responding to.

I’d also like to invite you to participate in this project’s curriculum planning efforts. Over the next several months, we’ll be posting writing prompts, lesson plans, and ekphrastic poetry units to our website. Should you create any of your own teaching materials in support of the Vietnamese Children’s Art Exhibit, we’d love to include them in our online catalogue for curriculum planning, making them available to educators all around the world. Curriculum planning ideas, which we’ll collect until the end of the semester, may be emailed to Melissa Barrett, at barrett.mel@gmail.com/.

Thank you for your support in this unique and timely project, which will showcase the visions of Vietnamese children and the power of poetry to promote peace and reconciliation worldwide.

David Hassler
Director, Wick Poetry Center

Deadline: April 15, 2010.
First prize: $150

750 words or less. Entry fee $10 per submission. Former prizewinners are the judges. Complete guidelines, mailing address, and prizes at www.writeradvice.com/.

Deadline: April 1, 2010

Ninth annual free contest. Fifteen cash prizes totaling $3,600. Top prize $1,500. New simplified online entry process. Submit one humor poem—previously published okay, simultaneous submission okay. Winning entries published online. Sponsored by Winning Writers, one of the "101 Best Websites for Writers" (Writer's Digest, 2005-2009). Visit us online for guidelines and online submissions at www.winningwriters.com/contests/wergle/we_guidelines.php

Deadline September 1, 2010

Accepting short fiction & poetry, spoken word recordings, creative non-fiction, interviews and social justice concerns. Also looking for artwork, photography, to post on website and links to exchange

Accept simultaneous submissions & reprints; length flexible, accept excerpts. Receives postal submissions & email—prefer email submissions as attachments in Microsoft Works Word Processor or Rich Text Format; cannot open .docx files.

Publishing as semiannual ezine, winter & summer. Selecting material from ezine for Kindle anthology. Check downloadable issues on website for style & tone: www.ginoskoliteraryjournal.com (Use latest version of Adobe Reader.)

Deadline: October 1, 2010
$1000 prize, $10 entry fee
Write check or money order to “Ginosko”

Ginosko (ghin-océ-koe): To perceive, understand, realize, come to know; knowledge that has an inception, a progress, an attainment. The recognition of truth by experience.

Ginosko Literary Journal
Robert Paul Cesaretti, Editor
PO Box 246
Fairfax, CA 94978

DEADLINE: February 28, 2010

A Gathering of the Tribes magazine is accepting poetry, fiction and non-fiction submissions for issue #13.

—You may submit 5-10 poems at a time and fiction and non-fiction that is no more than 2,500 words in length.
—Submissions will not be returned to sender, so please don't send us your only copy.
—Simultaneous submissions are fine, please let us know if something that you send us has been published during the time of submission.
—You may email submissions to editor amy.ouzoonian@gmail.com or mail them to A Gathering of the Tribes, PO Box 20693, New York, NY 10009

To learn more about the style and genre of the work that we are most likely to accept, either purchase a copy of A Gathering of the Tribes magazine at your local bookseller or visit our website: www.tribes.org


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

O gigolo,
I know your game;
you flatter me
as if you loved

the softness of
my name…my charm…
my looks…my wealth…
my choice of you…

the way I do
not look my age,
and may not last
till midnight. You

arrive on time.
I love you, too,
sweet boy. I’ll get
my cane. I’m game.

(previously appeared in Bliss)


—Joyce Odam

I am the dark.
Come marry me.

I am cold.
Feel my heart.

It is still.
It is not breathing.

It is not connected
to my life.

Will you marry me
like this?

I am without promise.
I will hurt you.

(From My Best Regrets, Mini-Chap, 2008)



—Charles Mariano

(McHenry Museum, Modesto, CA)

blew into town
one bright saturday
a tumbleweed
off the 99

and despite my usual
well-dressed fears
in a vast sea
of unfamiliar,

a silent agreement
this time
to at least attend
and listen

it’s strange
but when allowed
the opportunity
to mingle,
i choose to crawl
on a wall
a common insect
a precarious perch
of stark raving dread

and take notes,

“i will not raise my hand,
i will not speak,
am…the fly”

today, the morning after
steam rises slowly
from my coffee cup,

memories of yesterday
grand rooms of elegance,
creative flair
false bravery
in the morning fog,
of genuine warmth
the kindness of strangers,
a host
gracious and true,

and me,
a fly
a frightened tumbleweed
off the 99,

who rarely speaks


Today's LittleNip:

Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things.

—Robert Frost

Photo by Steve Byland