Monday, March 08, 2010

Gutterspouts & Birdsong

Geoffrey Neill and Muriel
(about a year ago)

—Geoffrey Neill, Sacramento

(after reading wm. blake's "abstinence sows sand...")

why is it love, with faces flush and tousled hair,

spit spent renewed in lang'rous limb and moistened snare,
once likely sung, spoke soft or beautifully schemed,
should find itself then but dull, overdrawn and dun,

should sleep?

and when remembered find contempt, be sneered and shunned,
should even find the object of its lusty leer
besmirched, besmeared? is love the sum of constance
its end?



—Wm. Blake

Abstinence sows sand all over

The ruddy limbs & flaming hair,

But Desire Gratified

Plants fruits of life & beauty there.


—Geoffrey Neill

(after wm. blake's "eternity")

i was the joy, the prickly flower

i was the bird, the fletchéd arrow

i was the cloud illumed by the sun

the sheltered creek that swift sang and ran

but i was bound by bands called love:
when ran, pursued by hounds and heeled

if rained then told of pain to feel
if flew, defletched and feathers told
were beautiful and bright, then threshed
if flourished, pruned, picked, plucked:
odd if it's love, even if not
odd for love, even if it's not


—Wm. Blake

He who binds to himself a joy

Does the winged life destroy:

But he who kisses the joy as it flies

Lives in eternity's sun rise.


Thanks to Geoff Neill for today's high-class poetry! Geoffrey Neill is one of the alternating hosts at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café in Sacramento. He writes: I've lived in California my whole life (thirty-one complete years, one partial year), currently on 2nd Ave in Sacramento. I've got a daughter (Muriel, and the pinnacle of evolution) who is nearly two years old. I recently started publishing chapbooks of local poets under the name /little m press/. I'm one of the features on March 29 at the Sacramento Poetry Center. I sometimes eat falafel in a pita. Is that enough? I don't really know what else to say…

"Desire Done" and "Uneven" are currently being published as part of Richard Hansen's Poems-For-All series. Come help us celebrate PFA's ninth anniversary this Wednesday, March 10, at 7:30pm at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento.

Also this week in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing of events, see

•••Monday (3/8), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Jim Powell and Heidi Steidlmayer at HQ for the Arts at 1719 25th St., Sacramento. [See last Friday's post for bios.]

•••Sat. (3/13), 2pm: Citrus Heights Area Poets present a poetry event at Barnes & Noble bookstore on Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights.

A Million Tomorrows at The Cosmic Café:

You are invited to visit the Cozmic Café (594 Main St., Placerville) during the month of March, 2010 to view photographs and celebrate children and the Season for Nonviolence. As part of The Season for Nonviolence, the exhibit, “Our Children: A Million Tomorrows,” features photographs of children from the U.S.A., Mexico and Vietnam by local photographers, Janis Arnell and Irene Lipshin. The theme of the collection is inspired by the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “...if we are to reach real peace in this world...we shall have to begin with the children." We celebrate children in our exhibit, with the understanding that a peaceful and safe tomorrow depends on caring for all “our children,” here and around the world.


—Geoffrey Neill

the books she stole from bookstores she would hardly ever read
except for maybe on the nights she took them
they tottered in the corners of her dark-at-midday room
that she rented for a hundred bucks a week
the ceiling dripped with something some called water
the walls sweated more than her at night
she'd crouch against those coffin walls, hear voices coughing in the hall
and close her eyes and tell her hands to write.

the books stacked in the corners mingled, moldered into rot
and the pages uppermost began to open like a womb
the vines that sprouted there bound themselves up in her hair
and they blossomed where her irises had been
she walked along the city's streets some mornings
and filled her head with fog and leaves, with gutterspouts and birdsong
she shaped her hands like cups and gathered water from the river
as it rushed around her ankles like her life

then out to sea.


—Geoffrey Neill

so, tell me about the time you were
sitting on the carpet with your legs under you,
you had no socks on, your sister was small,
someone was in the room, or had just walked out,
you had a very specific feeling that you can't name
but remember intensely with sharp nostalgia, tell me

about the time that, laughing, standing on the sidewalk,
you looked over and saw something across the street
that knit your brow, and you suddenly understood
that everyone's life is different and it's not always safe
to trust your trusting instinct because that is not
how he acted when he knew you were watching,

or tell about the time you lay on the hood or roof or grass or sand
your feet flat with your knees up or your hands under your legs
and you couldn't believe how big you felt, how each part of you
was expanding at a rate faster than the rest of the universe,
that the stars were so far from you, so far from each other,
and their number so great, and the space between them so vast,
and the light so old and mysterious, that there must be
something, please god something that will fill the space

between your arm and body, that will warm the spot
that dips and curves up into your neck,
that will feel like lips and breath behind your ear.
yes, i am here


—Geoffrey Neill

it is possible to steal from me
something that is not
mine opportunity cost and all that
jazz improvised on a momentarily
daily basis as she leans
against the wall and laughs
laughs at some delightfully clever
wit only up to his shoulder and his
chin two of them together
hopefully and

i'll soon still be seen
as skipping quicker than
an inanimate flat stone
over serene unrippled un
ruffled lake water only
to sink more slowly journey
ended among so many other
pebbles worn smoother until
into sand into mud into silt into dust
to dust and when new
breath incarnate is improvised with
maybe a little more

this time to make you
swing in time to
the groove baby its
the groove that makes that
ponytail swing against the drywall in
time to the upright bass solo
so give me more
but dont start until
i can handle it
i swear.


Today's LittleNip:

I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty.

—George Burns



Geoff & Muriel find out how much money
professional poets make...