Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Trolling for Why


if I could see wolverine in the crevices
of daylight, the shelves
where rock keeps its histories—
pages of leaf-print, ancient snail tracks
legible as script in
imagination. No more
extant, wildly
alive. One machete to deal with
possibilities of dream—impenetrable
undergrowth twining roots and
tendrils of the mind as a
madman shakes a dead geranium
until it blossoms.

—Taylor Graham, Placerville


—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

Unsung poet Gertrude Stein
with Alice B. Toklas did recline.
Then one day she did disclose—
rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.


(Le Sacre du Printemps)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Why is it
new work must be so sorely
tested: the Rite of Spring riot,
Paris, 1913, nearly breaking
the cellists’ instruments, you might
think, as well as their grasp
of the incessant, insistent meter changes?

Why is it the illiterate wealthy
showered rainbuckets of abuse
on Stravinsky’s masterwork, just a few
bars past the opening high bassoon song?
And why did even worthy composers,

not by any means opposed to
the avant garde in principle, join
the tormentors, whistling into
their latchkeys? (Ah, but Ravel stood
mighty and shouted unheard defense!)
Why at last, how at last, does
the testing of new work
leave it tougher, with seeming bristles
and thorns against the scouring power
of eternity? How does Nijinsky

summon the bellows to keep yelling
numbers at the dancers lest they
injure themselves or the strange new
involute choreography? How does
Maria Piltz will the savage panic
for her Chosen One, sacrificial maiden
supplicating with each defiant upthrust
of her soft arms? How will she keep the fixity

that so long holds the mute suffering pose
before her death by spasms of protest
and exultant? How can she render her gaze
black as the staring eyebeam
of Nijinsky’s Petroushka, soulless puppet
and soulful defiant being, electric as

the last last human before Abu Ghraib bars
with one deafening slam can clamor her in
—jailed about with a century of death?


Thanks to our three risk-takers who tackled our Seed of the Week: Why, with (you'll agree) very different results. Remember: a SOW is only intended to trigger Calliope, much the same as a word you might hear or a scene you might see in "real life" does. There is no right or wrong here, no judgment as to whether or not your poem "fits" the subject. The point is to get writing.

Meanwhile, Michelle Kunert worries about captive whales, and Charles Mariano sends us a Dr. Seuss poem. (Happy belated birthday, Dr. S!)

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Since viewing the Free Willy movie in 1993
I have not gone to a Sea World park
As a child I didn't enjoy their "shows"
My family and I decided to sit in bleachers farthest away
realizing pool water that contained sea mammals
should not have its germs splashed all over us
While seals and dolphins looked happy being domesticated
the huge orcas never like looked they belonged there
Maybe because, I found out later, many instead are captured
because those born in captivity do not tend to survive
But only in America would be created such cruelty
Beating their captured orcas into submission
just like Romans baiting and torturing wild lions in arenas
(An image symbolic, likewise, of God to our indigenous peoples)
used to show an empire's power over nature itself
But this time in Florida it wasn't a "gladiator" sacrificed
but a woman who was told to train them like dogs
to make them jump through hoops at her command
so as to make money for its sponsoring beer company
(Frankly, being human means I fear getting hit by a beer truck
rather than getting attacked by any "killer whale")
But let's not forget a quote mentioned in Jurassic Park:
"Wild things cannot not be contained for people's entertainment."


—Charles Mariano, Sacramento

(with apologies to Dr. Seuss)

three ladies and me
stopped for cornbread and tea
high up the hill,
quite the thrill,
then the bill

it was here
that the lady from far,
doth protest in the car,
she protest in the bar,
she protest on a star,

“i will not drink this tea,
by the sea,
i will not drink with a flea,
i will not drink tea with thee”

the waitress
cast out her eye
then glared at my pie
who caused me to faint
(not cry),

“the tea is quite fine,
you must be dumb and blind,
perhaps another kind,
we serve only,
the finest of fine”

the lady from far
who doth protest
in a car,
in a bar,
on a star,
remarked with a roar,

“this tea,
the bags, twice used
maybe three,
tastes just like pee!”

“i will not drink tea on a hill,
i will not drink for the thrill,
i will not drink in a car,
i will not drink on a star,
i will not drink in the house,
i will not drink with a mouse,
i will not drink with a flea,

and most surely,
i will not drink green tea…with thee!”

Today's LittleNip:

Sometimes people give titles to me, and sometimes I see them on a billboard.

—Robert Penn Warren