Monday, April 19, 2010

Perhaps This Is Not Language

Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The wind, in from the desert,
Ruined from running through
The litany of winter, barely able
To speak. Still, now it attempts
To say your name. Blows through
The vowel sounds, leaving them
In the trees. Chases birds across
Alfalfa. Their bodies make letter forms,
Change into wheels. Unable to land
They find shelter in the ditches,
Clutching weed stalks, rocking.

Walking past the cottonwoods,
I hear it clearly for an instant,
Your name. Impossible in such
Late weather, but there, nevertheless
Or perhaps it is other, a scraping
Sound of branches against themselves,
Well above the ground. Perhaps
This is not language, this time.
Perhaps I am wrong.

Wind inside my coat, through
The neck, forcing words from my mouth.
They make your name, as if I had
No choice, as if I were the desert,
Or, at best, a part of winter too,
Full of hands, waving, waving.


Poets were saddened to learn of the passing of NorCal Poet Bill Ludington last week. Go to Bob Stanley’s County Lines ( to learn more about Bill and to read some of his poetry.

This (Earth) Week in NorCal Poetry:

(For a more complete listing, go to

•••Monday (4/19), 7pm (note earlier time): Hot Poetry in the Park Poetry Series at Fremont Park, corner of 16th and Q Sts., Sacramento. The McKinley Park Poets, several of whom worked for the Peace Corps in Chile, will hold a benefit reading for Chile. Donations requested. Guests are invited to bring a picnic to enjoy while listening to the poets. This will be INSTEAD OF the regular Monday night reading at the Poetry Center. (In case of rain, the reading will move to the Sacramento Poetry Center at 25th and R.) Info:

McKinley Park Poets:

Bill Davis: Born up a Kentucky holler, international justice systems reformer: Kosovo, Palestine (not going so well), Argentina, Georgia (a little trouble with the Russians), ex-Peace Corps Chile

Connee Davis: Quiet seer/poet of details missed by most, retired speech therapist, world traveler, also of Chile Peace Corps fame

Andy Anderson: Thousands of irreverent poems, a few should pass muster, life devoted to Indian health care, Europe-phile, loves the bike trail, Peace Corps Chile, bad dresser

Mary Antoine: Used to drive race cars, now racing attorney/RN specialist in health law, real redhead raising a real teenager

Rebecca Morrison: Hold on to your seats and your clothes, a poet extraordinaire inspired by hot love, cool nature and European romantic meals

•••Monday (4/19), 7:30pm: Tiffany Higgins and Judy Halebsky read at Pegasus Books in Downtown Berkeley (2349 Shattuck Ave.):

•••Tues (4/20) and Thurs. (4/22): Folsom Lake College celebrates Earth Week with “Literature of the Wild”. Scheduled readers include Taylor Graham, Jennifer Pickering O'Neill, Tim McHargue, and Tom Goff. Public Invited! Bring poetry, prose, creative fiction or non-fiction or read from a favorite “wilderness” work or writer—or just come and listen! Two readings: Tues. (4/20), 12-1:15pm in FLI-20 (Community Room) and Thursday (4/22), 1-2:20pm in the El Dorado Center Library. Info: 530-642-5637 or 916-608-6611 or contact Kathy Leland at

•••Tuesdays, April 20 to June 8, 6-9:15pm: Poetry Writing and Translation Workshop with William O'Daly, UCD Extension, at the Sutter Square Galleria, 2901 K St., Sacramento. The course will focus on the generating and constructive critiquing of participants’ poetry, supported by readings in the anthology, A Book of Luminous Things: An International Anthology of Poetry, edited by Czeslaw Milosz, and in The Art of the Poetic Line, by James Longenbach. Info: U.C. Davis Extension website; click on “Poetry and Translation Workshop” for a course description and other information:

•••Weds. (4/21), 6pm: Sac. Int’l Film Festival presents a screening of the documentary, Red Poet: The Story of Jack Hirschman. Q&A with the filmmaker, Matthew Furey, and reading by Jack Hirschman after the movie. $10 admission for Jack's film and reading will also get you into the Thinking People's Shorts Showcase at 6pm and the short film, Lychee Thieves. 24th Street Theater, 2791 24th St., Sacramento: or Sponsored by the Sacramento Poetry Center and Poets & Writers.

•••Weds. (4/21), 7-8:30pm: Our House Gallery Poetry Series at Our House Gallery, 1004 White Rock Rd. #400, El Dorado Hills, Montano de El Dorado Center (south of Hwy 50 on Latrobe Rd. at White Rock Rd.). Info: 916-933-4278. Open mic event; free for all ages.

•••Thurs. (4/22), 5-7:30pm: Way Cool, Daddy-O! Coffeehouse Poetry: in Celebration of Earth Day! Poets from the Sacramento area (NSAA, Bill Gainer, Alexa Mergen, Bob Stanley, Martha Ann Blackman, Robert Grossklaus, and JoAnn Anglin) will read environmental poetry at The Buzz Café, CSUS Student Union. Additionally, CSUS students will also read at this event. Event is co-hosted by the CSUS Environmental Student Organization and the Sacramento Poetry Center.

•••Thurs. (4/22): 7:30pm: A Night of Poetry with Andrea Gibson, winner of the 2008 "Women of the World Poetry Slam", plus special opening guest Buddy Wakefield, plus open mic. CSUS, University Union Ballroom. Free. Co-sponsored by the PRIDE Center, the University Union UNIQUE Programs and ASI. This event is in support of PRIDE Week. All ages permitted. However, some content might not be suitable for children. No alcohol sold or permitted at venue.

•••Thurs. (4/22), 8pm: Then head over to Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, for BL Kennedy’s last night of hosting that venue as he presents Ed Mycue, Nancy Keane, and Todd Cirillo.

•••Sat. (4/24), 2-4pm: An Afternoon of Poetry at the Arden-Dimick Library (Watt and Northrop in Sacramento), featuring Indigo Moor, Kathleen Lynch and Bob Stanley.


Todd Cirillo writes: This Thursday, the infamous poet and promoter B.L. Kennedy takes the stage one last night to hold the award-winning Poetry Unplugged Poetry Series at Luna's Cafe, 1414 16th St., Sacramento. He asked Six Ft. Swells' own Todd Cirillo to be among the featured readers; also reading will be Nancy Keane and Ed Mycue on this historic and wonderfully disreputable evening. You can find Todd on or on facebook at Six St. Swells Press, and see also an interview with him in the April 15 edition of SN&R:

Scroll down Medusa's skinny blue box on the right, by the way, for a photo of BL with Ted Finn (well, the back of Ted Finn...). BL was instrumental in bringing Ted out of "retirement" a few years ago for the Rattlesnake Press Conversations series, which spawned a SpiralChap of Ted's work: Damn the Eternal War.

—Todd Cirillo, Grass Valley

In the course
of our love
through the many
verbal and non verbal
the thousands of steps
to and from
one another’s open arms,
the good times
and bad,
you believed that
life and relationships
are lessons
to be learned.

I feel
that I have
retained those lessons well.

For example,
I remember
that it was you
who taught me
that everything
looks perfect
from far away.


—Todd Cirillo

No bouquet of flowers
will fix this break,
nor any amount
of wine, whiskey
or new women.

the road,
and Waylon Jennings

“all the places
must be better
than the ones
we’ve left behind.”


—Todd Cirillo

My heart
no lock
that can


Today's LittleNip:

Viewed from the distance of the moon, the astonishing thing about the that it is alive...Aloft, floating free beneath the moist, gleaming membrane of bright blue sky, is the rising earth, the only exuberant thing in this part of the cosmos...It has the organized, self-contained look of a live creature, full of information, marvelously skilled in handling the sun.

—Lewis Thomas

Photo by Jane Blue, Sacramento