Friday, April 30, 2010

Fires of Our Own Setting

House Gods
Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Paul Lojeski, Port Jefferson, NY

I was caught in a forest fire
of my setting. Every exit
was blocked.

One day I said, fuck it,
and ran straight through
the flames. I can still

feel the burn and smell
the smoke. Sometimes,
you’ve got no choice.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (4/30) and Sat. (5/1), 6-9pm: SAYS SLAM Semi-Finals La Raza Galeria Posada, 1022 22nd St., Sacramento. Free. Presented by SAYS (Sacramento Area Youth Speaks, SAYS will be hosting the Slam to get the top 6 poets to represent Sacramento at Brave New Voices, the International Youth Poetry Slam, which will be held in Los Angeles in July. Info:

On Friday, May 7 at 6pm, the SAYS SLAM FINALS will be held at the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts in Davis with HBO Def Poet ISE LYFE. Register at; $15 per person or $5 youth/students. (Also check out workshops which will be held during that day.)

•••Tonight (Friday, 4/30), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Stories on Stage with stories by Stefanie Freele and Renee Thompson, brought to life by Kent Gray, Marni Webb and Tim Kahl at R25, 1719 25th St., Sacramento (between Q and R Sts.). Suggested donation $5; join us for refreshments, beginning at 7pm. Host and Coordinator: Valerie Fioravanti.

•••Sat. (5/1), 1-3pm: How to Write About Your Mother: Just in time for Mother's Day, an afternoon of lively discussion, journaling, and writing exercises with Jennifer Bayse Sander, author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Published and the founder of Write By The Lake women's writing retreats ( $10/$5 MatrixArts members. MatrixArts, 1719 25th St., Sacramento. Info: 916-768-6077 or

•••Sat. (5/1), 1pm: Come celebrate around the maypole, as San Francisco's Poet Laureate, Diane di Prima, hosts this delightful afternoon of poetic revelry
in historic Kerouac Alley (between City Lights and Vesuvio Cafe), San Francisco. May Day is celebrated as a green holiday. Dress conspicuously festive for the occasion! Merriment is encouraged! Poetry shall be read by Diane di Prima, Sharon Dubiago, Maketa Groves, Joseph Lease, Alejandro Murguia, and A.D. Winans. Presented by City Lights Bookstore ( and Diane di Prima. [For an article about di Prima being named SFPL, go to]

•••Mon. (5/3), 7:30pm: Poetry on buses in Sacramento? Thanks to RT Metro, UC Davis Extension, and the Sacramento Poetry Center, there’s an alternative to reading advertising inside local buses these days. Inspired by programs in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, the new Poets on Board program puts poetry placards inside RT’s buses to feature the work of local poets and artists. The first placards were installed during April (Poetry Month). Underwritten by UC Davis Extension, the Poets on Board program will feature a different poet for each season of the year. The first piece is an excerpt from Enso, by Viola Weinberg Spencer, Sacramento's first co-Poet Laureate (2001), and it features the artwork of Mario Uribe. The placard itself was designed by local graphic designer Richard Hansen.

This Monday at SPC (1719 R St., between 25th & R in Sacramento), Weinberg and Uribe will be talking about their project that produced the poem and artwork. There will also be a limited edition offering—signed copies of the full-size bus placards will be available on that date. Sales of the limited edition version will help fund future bus placards planned as part of the Poets on Board program.

If you have any questions about the Poets on Board program, the event, or want to participate in the project in some way, please contact Bob Stanley at


News about our SnakePals:

•••Tues. (5/4), 2pm: Sacramento’s Norma Kohout will be honored by the County Board of Supervisors next Tuesday, May 4 at 2pm at the County Admin. Building, 700 H Street, in Sac—A well deserved recognition of her community service. Go to to read more about her!

•••Quinton Duval is under the weather. His wife, Nancy, takes emails to the hospital for him, so you might drop him a line at

•••Tom Goff was a friend of Pearl Stein Selinsky, who passed away on the 26th. He wrote this for her, talking about her successful stab at an Experimental Poetry piece. Pearl's daughter, Jody Feldman, tells me that there is no memorial service planned as yet, but she will keep me informed.

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Pearl Stein Selinsky: a name
to lift up, a gem-inlaid cup,
a soft lambency, sea-cultured, in the syllables.

Elegance was the woman,
and forthright expression
fearless of risk: lifelong student,

traveler, writer, generous
almost egoless sharer and savorer
of poems. We nominally co-hosted

readings at South Natomas
Library, but Pearl’s was by far
the greater preparation. Wonderful verses,

hers, to be sure: and, on one particular
expressive page, a shape-poem
in Poetry, as if to prove,

and prove she did,
that a clear place in the history of the art
requires no New York apartment.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys





—Paul Lojeski

In the damp-walled basement,
with but a single, bare bulb
above the washer and dryer,

I stuffed clothes in the machine
and hurried down the stairs
of childhood, rushing past iron

wash tubs and a fat, padded boiler
into the little room where she stood
hunched over the ironing board.

Under the same stark light her
slight frame seemed impossibly
vaporous. She looked like

a traveler already gone. I turned
on the machine, thinking, some
things never change.


—Paul Lojeski

Buddha crept from the castle
in the middle of the night.
Was the red moon full?

Did white owls hoot and black
wings beat as he left his wife
and boy curled up in the royal

suite? To enlightenment he rode
hard, a justified flight followers
say. To his abandonment

they pray, letting go the want
and worry in his holy way.


—Paul Lojeski

What is it with people, anyway,
beating the drums of time
with such blue intentions?

I’ve done my share of hurting
others. That’s my confession.
Now, what’s yours?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Paul Lojeski

Banjos Ruined the Whole Thing

This Forest God
Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner