Thursday, May 06, 2010

Goldfish, Mothers, & Other Complexities

Photo by Stephani Schaefer


how the sun slanting on the wall marked time
while we crouched under the kitchen table

waiting for the worst to be over
letting tear tracks dry in the close gritty air

those broken dishes in the corner could be you

remember when she grew tall shrieking in the yard
while white clouds passed serene above it all

remember the blue tiles, the cold tap running
the rough wet cloth

how we learned silence and careful steps
to thread the path from supper to sundown

do you remember

the language of eyes and how not to be caught
looking at one another those times

—Stephani Schaefer, Los Molinos


—Stephani Schaefer

Who am I to tell about her crazy scenes,
something I'd rather not write anyway.
Rain drums down, inside the rain I dream.

Why not remember how she played
by ear: Cole Porter, Schubert, Debussy.
I like to sit inside sound, rain

or music. Its perfect silence washes me.


Thanks, Steph—it's good to have Stephani Schaefer back in the Kitchen after all the time she's been spending putting together her anthology of poets who have written about her photographs!

We’re still talking about Moms for our Seed of the Week. Send ‘em along to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs. I warned you that talk of Moms wasn't necessarily going to be greeting-card pretty; then again, Pat Hickerson's "Rooms" writes about it from the other side of the fence. Well, like Mitz Sackman says, it's a complex job. And thanks to Pat Pashby for finding today's LittleNip—perfect for the tone of these poems.

Some deadlines coming up: Squaw Valley, Swan Scythe, Dancing Poetry. Scroll down on the b-board to the picture of me sweating away in my bathrobe at the computer for more info about these opportunities.

Keep sending photos, too! I almost never have to dig into the world of Stock Photos anymore, thanks to our SnakePals. People are inspired right now by the beautiful flowers in bloom—take your camera out into the wilds of NorCal before the heat arrives. And take a peek at the very bottom of the b-board (skinny blue box) to see the fruits—well, flowering—of some SnakePal labors.


—Patricia Pashby, Sacramento

on life, she hauls
turbulence in—
tucks it behind closed doors
so neighbors will not see;
needing to impress everyone;
feigning perfection—smothering
a child’s


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

How do you write a card
For a person, a mother
Who loved you and abused you
No easy task
Both parts of her
Were equally true
My childhood experience
Informed my own parenting
Coming to it much later
Than my teenaged bride-mother
Who read to me
Who allowed me my emotions
Even the ugly ones
She got real with me
Told me
“Sometimes, we wish the people we love were dead…
That does not mean we don’t love them…
It means we are angry and upset”
She beat me unconscious when she was
Often the stress was not provoked by me
Happy Mother’s Day
It is a complex job
We all do the best that we can


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

still I dream large and wild
windows wide open, arched
curtains flung roomward
sheered with sunlight
where once I paced, waited

watched her,
windowless and wanton,
warping the weft of weeks

watched her thru a peephole
went out to dinner, waited to go home
to a police note tucked in the front door
your daughter….

to wickedly polished floors
gleaming with a satin sheen
rooms beyond were warm with carpet
dogs stretching from their naps
gazing, brown eyes wistful

the undulant fever of my daughter’s mind
lost in all rooms among chairs and tables
hands at my throat
smashed panes in the French doors upstairs
she tried to break out

so intensely the house behind its eucalyptus shadow
rooms haunted at the rim of the canyon
wisteria purpled the driveway
acacia yellowed the sunpad below


—Patricia Hickerson

all the way from 204th St. to 178th
we stay on the mesh banquette
taut as travelers on moving day
Grandma holds the water bowl
oops! don’t let it spill
they’re her fish; she won’t let them go—
does anyone think it strange:
a bowl of fish on the subway?

board the bus
cross the Hudson
beyond the City fish eyes bulge
they look down, where are we?
think to swim the river
look at each other
swish their tails no—
on to Jersey

Aquarium Prism #2
Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento

Today's LittleNip:

The commonest fallacy among women is that simply having children makes them a mother—which is as absurd as believing that having a piano makes one a musician.

—Sydney J. Harris