Friday, April 16, 2010

Believe You Know

Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

The sultry moon attracts the moth
flittering among the night-blooming jasmine
on the garden wall nearest the desert by Marrakech.

A restless woman paces their house
trailing her finger over his things while
a sultry moon attracts a swarm of flickering moths.

She wraps in his shirt and longs for his touch
before wandering outside where they used to sit
by the garden wall nearest the desert enfolding Marrakech.

She recalls the stories her grandmother told
of a maiden as bewitched by a mage as
a fragile white moth attracted to the sultry moon.

The maiden-moth attempted to reach
the unreachable moon, pulled by the magic
over the garden wall, toward the vast desert near Marrakech.

If she could only fly to him now, or draw him back to her . . .
but in the silver light, hers is the only shadow under
the sultry moon which attracts the moth
beyond the garden wall nearest the desert by Marrakech.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Tonight (Friday, 4/16), 7:30pm: The Other Voice, sponsored by the UU Church of Davis, features two widely published poets: Katy Brown and Joyce Odam in the library of the church located at 27074 Patwin Rd., Davis. Open Mike and refreshments follow the reading, so bring along a poem or two to share.

•••Friday (4/16) and Sat. (4/17): Sacramento Poetry Center's FREE 2010 SPC Annual Writing Conference at R25, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, with presenters Joseph Lease, Toni Mirosevich, Donna de la Perrière, Flatman Crooked, Tim Kahl, Indigo Moor, Peter Grandbois and Foshang (with Lawrence Dinkins and Mario Ellis Hill). Info:
Registration: Tim Kahl at

•••Friday (4/16 and every third Friday), 7pm: A Showcase of Poetry and Music, a new monthly showcase for literary, musical, performance and visual arts hosted by author/songwriter R.S. Marquez. This month features Rachel Leibrock, frank andrick and Joe Montoya, with music by Ruben Reveles and Professor Esteban Villa. Film projections by Picasso and Renoir. Meet and greet at 7, performances to follow. La Raza Galeria Posada, 1022 22nd St. (between J and K). Free. Info: 209-337-5960 or 916-446-5133 or

•••Fri. (4/16 and every last Friday of the month), 8-10:30 PM: TheBlackOutPoetrySeries inside The Upper Level VIP Lounge, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento (located inside of Fitness Systems Healthclub, by Cal State Skating Rink; exit Mack Road East to Stockton Blvd and then make a left on Massie, right past Motel 6). Features R & B sensation J Ali, lady poet Anna Marie and Kelly Freeman Richardson plus open mic. $10. Info: 916-208-POET or

•••Sat. (4/17), 5-9pm: "1000 Poems on Main Street" will kick-off the 2010 3rd Saturday Artwalk season in Placerville. Poetry will come alive at "POETSpaces"—cubbies, doorways, and alcoves, sponsored by Downtown Placerville merchants, with recitations, posts, and readings. El Dorado County Poetry Out Loud finalist Rebecca Shields is the 2010 Artwalk Youth Liaison. Twitter your way into the world of poetry with "POETweets" ( All are welcome to participate in 1000 Poems on Main Street. Send poetry for inclusion to Or better yet, drop by Artspace (459 Main St., Placerville) and write out either your favorite poem or an original poem of your own for posting on the walls of the gallery. Red Fox Underground Poets (Brigit Truex, Irene Lipshin, Kate Wells, Moira Magneson, Taylor Graham, and Wendy Patrice Williams) will give a reading from 6-7 p.m. at Artspace.

•••Sat. (4/17), 11:30am: While you're in Placerville, stop by the “Poetry Aloud” reading for the whole family at the Placerville library at 345 Fair Lane in Placerville; bring poetry of your own or favorites by somebody else.

•••Sat. (4/17), 12 noon: Central Valley Haiku Club meets at Eastern Empire restaurant, 460 Howe Av., Sacramento. Info/map:

•••Sat. (4/17): Lassen County Arts Council (807 Cottage St., Susanville) presents a celebration of National Poetry Month, featuring Lassen County’s Joelle Fraser and UNR’s poet and professor Ann Keniston. Both writers will conduct a morning workshop at 10am entitled “From Mini-Memoir to Poem: How to Get a Handle on a Significant Memory,” and there will be an evening reading at 7pm with refreshments, both events at The Lassen County Arts Council on Cottage St. This opportunity is provided to the public through the Lassen County Arts Council, Poets & Writers and The James Irvine Foundation. Contact the arts council ( to register. The workshop fee is $25, which includes the evening reading. It is free to students and seniors.

•••Saturday (4/17), 7pm: Terry Moore will be celebrating the release of his new book, Born To Love You, at Underground Books, 2814 35th St. (off 35th and Broadway), Sacramento—plus a special Black Men Expressing Poetry Tour, and guest author Kristine Smith. $3 at the door.

•••Sunday (4/18), 11am: El Camino Poets Chapter of California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. will be meeting at the Hart Senior Center, 27th & J Sts., Sacramento. Bring 8 copies of a poem of your own to workshop.

•••Sunday (4/18), 1-3pm: Modesto Poets Laureate Celebrate National Poetry Month at the McHenry Museum, 1402 I St., Modesto. Ed Bearden, Modesto’s PL, and the Poets of the San Joaquin will host past Modesto PLs Arlene Mattos and debee loyd, followed by refreshments and open mic. Info: Ed Bearden at 209-522-9600 or Cleo Griffith, 209-543-1776 or

•••Monday (4/19), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Hot Poetry in Fremont Park: Feat, the McKinley Park Poets: Robin Aurelius, Mary McGrath, Bill Davis, Connee Davis, Debra DeBondt, Mary Antoine, and Andy Anderson. Bring a picnic to eat during the reading.

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


—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

When my brother and I were taken to Death Valley
we thought we were being punished
with another of Dad's ideals of 1950's-style road trips
like he had with his Mom and Dad
But in the mid-1980's
his favorite pit stops were now gone
No solace to "reconnect" as a family—
only finding the occasional tourist trap "gift shops"
Rising heat was no help
to our potential flaring tempers
as we had to sit together in the back seat
with not enough water or juice
and the air conditioning just huffing along
Seeing just lots of empty space
like the surface of the moon or Mars
as we bitterly complained "Are we there yet?!"
Not yet having game boys or cell phones
couldn't wait to get to a real place
Today I still think deserts
are where to send people who don't behave
such as junkies hanging around the American River
Such as if you abuse our nice riparian preserve
with its wonderfully wooded and grassy paths
and are found hiding in the bushes brewing meth
Or you beat up and rob a cyclist
or else just won't follow rules for being "homeless"
Instead of jail,
to be dropped off at a dead no-place,
leaving your survival up to its elements.


—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

("Sasho's Journey", 1990—Wonsook Kim Linton)

Where does the brown bear lead? They are
in a cave. The walls of the cave are missing.

Night is showing through
with its sky and hidden moon—

its green rain and the lost distance.
She carries a handful of red flowers . . .


They are on an ice floe in a desert night.
The land is shrinking around them.

The bear is pulling her through the melting.
The ice is the color of sand.

The sea is a deepening mirror.
A white bird rides on her shoulder . . .


They are in a crude tapestry. Part of it
is missing. The ravels slowly work

around them—mending the fraying world.
Still, they seem resolute

in their calmness—the bear and the girl
going somewhere dreamily together . . .


—Joyce Odam

Now she is in
the center of herself
coiled as always
layering herself
around her visibility.

She pulls her circle in.
No one knows her.
She wants to be known.
She wants to be private.

Why is she not loved!
From somewhere deep
she feels her own weeping
but she will not weep.

She turns into a desert,
becomes wrinkled and fragile.

Something peels her.
She resists.
Something peels her.
She must mend herself.

Why do they disturb her
She pulls her circle in.

(First published in One Dog Press, May, 1996)

Joyce Odam
Photo by Katy Brown


Today's LittleNip:

poetry's ridiculous write it feel proud
strut look in the mirror believe you know