Friday, May 14, 2010

How to Get There? Lobotomy?

David Jordan

—David Jordan, Bend OR

Soaring, gliding,
the osprey
of Cabo San Lucas
cruise blue
over Hotel Finisterra,
look down
on ground. For what?
They don't dive
to snatch prey
as food,
they stay high,
fly on and on.
Maybe they weigh
what has happened
to their stark
land, desert turned
to dollars by men
who build tall hotels
to fill with fat
gringos, their too-tan
wives, sullen sons
and daughters.
Perhaps the osprey
gaze in wonder,
in amazement. Where
is the jackrabbit
asleep in cactus shade,
the snake sunning
on hot rock? What
is all that clutter,
all that vapor and flash?
It could be earth's end.


Thanks, David! David Jordan is a former newspaperman and college teacher turned poet/fictionwriter who lives in Bend, OR. His poems and stories have appeared in more than a hundred literary publications, including Thema, The Chaffin Journal, moonShine Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Rattle, Comstock Review, Nimrod, Mannequin Envy and Pearl.

No Seed of the Week, so readers have been finding their inspiration elsewhere—see yesterday's post for the Great Guaifenesin Challenge. Taylor Graham took us up on the Gauifenesin limerick (see Calliope's Closet on the b-board at the right).

And thanks to Ann Menebroker for the photo of some more Snake Pals, including Quinton Duval, and to Tom Goff for his beautiful poem about Quinton, who passed away this week.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

•••Friday (5/14) thru Monday (5/17): Third Annual “In the Flow Sacramento Jazz Festival”. On Friday (8pm) there will be a special evening of music and poetry at Luna's Café, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, hosted by NSAA (AKA Lawrence Dinkins) featuring Electropoetic Coffee, Josh Fernandez, Ruben Reveles, Frank Andrick and many more. Tickets are $10/day or $30 for a 4-day pass. For info on other events during the weekend or to order tickets, visit

•••Friday (5/14), 7:30pm: Los Escritores del Nuevo Sol/Writers of the New Sun hosts as TZ Hernandez reads from his new book, Breathing, In Dust at La Raza Galeria Posada (1024 22nd St., Sacramento). Book info:

•••Sat. (5/15), 12-4pm: Gunther's Ice Cream in Sacramento will celebrate its 70th b-day this Saturday! Stop by the Franklin Blvd. store for a few hours of fun; meet the Gunther Family and the first employee hired in 1940. Raffle prizes, too—win a bike!

•••Sat. (5/15), 7pm: Aid For Haiti features poetry by Dennis Schmitz, Bob Stanley, James DenBoer, Victoria Dalkey, Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Mary Zeppa. Music by Pat Grizzell and Junkyard Burlesque, plus long-time Haitian Activist Larry Castagnola. Newman Center, 5900 Newman Ct., Sacramento. Suggested donation: $25, but all donations welcome. All proceeds go to Partners in Health, Dr. Paul Farmer and his medical workers in Haiti. Sponsored by Castagnola Haiti Project, Grandmothers for Peace, St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Sacramento Poetry Center. Info: 916-457-2478 or Click on the pic on the b-board for more info about Partners in Health.

•••Sat. (5/15), 9am-1pm: “Soar to Healthy Heights” Sr. Health Fair at Fountain Square Rose Garden, 6237 Fountain Square Dr., Citrus Heights. Free! 75 exhibits dedicated to senior issues and concerns: presentations, demos, screenings, give-aways and entertainment—including a poets’ table, with Bob Stanley appearing from 11-12pm. (If you want to display “stuff” on the table, get it there before 9am.) Info: Margaret Bell at or Dr. Jayna Carpinski-Costa, 916-722-8647.

•••Sat. (5/15), 3-5pm: Spring 2010 Celebration of the Women's Writing Salon in Grass Valley, now in its 5th Year! Sierra Mountain Coffee Roasters, 671 Maltman Dr., Grass Valley, 530-477-5282. This is a free event celebrating the voices of fabulous local women writers, featuring Judy Crowe, Heather Donahue, Christine Irving, Terri Kent-Enborg, Patricia Miller and Julie Valin. (Note new time and venue!) Info: Betsy Graziani Fasbinder at

•••Saturday (5/15), 5:30-7pm: Mary Bergquist writes: Three poets from New Freedom will be doing poetry on Placerville's Main St. for the Art Council's monthly Artwalk. This month it's "BEATNIK" night, so you'll find us appropriately attired and wailing out a bit of Jack Kerouac, etc., accompanied by guitar, saxophone, and so on. If you happen to want to walk down the street that evening, please do! We'll be somewhere on Main, visible and audible from 5:30 to about 7pm.

•••Monday (5/17), 7pm: Hot Poetry in the Park at Fremont Park (between 15th and 16th Sts. and Q and P Sts., Sacramento). Rebecca Morrison hosts as Carrie Rudzinski, April Ranger and Terryl Wheat read. Guests are encouraged to bring a picnic to eat during the reading, which takes the place of the usual Monday night reading at SPC on 25th and R. (In case of rain, the reading will be held at SPC.) Info:

Carrie Rudzinski is a believer, kitten wrestler, performance poet, and fervent adventurer. Named "Best Female Poet" at the 2008 College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational, her work is unapologetically honest and surreal.

April Ranger is perhaps best known in Boston as the winner of Emerson College’s Nicole DusFresne Playwriting award, but she became an almost instant Cambridge favorite when she began reading regularly on the Cantab open mic. Since day one, her vivid, original imagery has been eliciting longing sighs from our audience, making her the local master of the Oh-I-Wish-I-Had-Written-That poem.

Terryl Wheat is a performance poet who has been performing (sometimes at the edge of rapture, sometimes mightily ticked off) her poetry and the work of others in the Sacramento area for many years.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

A pallid young scholar of Tennyson
was informed that there’s virtue in venison.
He thought he was bold—
caught a bit of a cold
and hunted instead guaifenesin.


—David Jordan

Did Rick drift a lifetime
aching for Ilsa
after he walked off
into that Moroccan fog?

Or did they reunite
in Baltimore
after the war,
wed, breed three kids,
divorce when he discovered
she was sleeping
with her psychiatrist?

Here’s looking at you,
Ingrid kid,
and the Vaseline grease
they painted
on your teeth
so Ilsa could smile
and cry
at the same time.


—David Jordan

You long to accelerate, reach the sleek speed
that sets you adrift in serene space. How to do
it, that’s the question. What might be required
to ride that rush, faster and faster, G's grabbing
at cheeks, body slammed back against seat, your
whole existence atremble until abruptly you
come undone like a kid on a roller coaster cresting
a summit, go weightless, ease free of all this world’s
ties—gravity, memory, regret—and leave behind
not only earth’s dirt but every lover who ever betrayed
you, every boss who ever fired you, every child
you ever left. Ah, the peace. Feel your bones
float, your hair lift loose, your heart rise and fly.
How to get there? Rocket? Centrifuge? Lobotomy?


—David Jordan

My dorm counselor
when I was a college freshman
was a Hawaiian guy
named Ken Kalina.
"Doubts by me,"
he would say
in response to almost
anything. Tell him
you got an A on a mid-term,
he'd grin and say:
"Doubts by me."
Tell him you'd found
true love
with a brunette from Boise,
he'd roll his eyes and say:
"Doubts be me."
Ask if he thought
the rain would cease,
he'd shrug and say:
"Doubts by me."
It was his all-purpose
expression, used to voice
everything from amazement
to distrust, from hilarity to
melancholy. He said "doubts
by me" so often we freshmen
took to saying it, too,
as both joke and tribute.
We said it so much it became
a habit, a trademark. We were
the dorm of doubt on campus.

I haven't seen Ken Kalina
since June of that long-ago
freshman year, but his mantra
rings through my life.
My wife says it's still love,
after all this time. Doubts
by me. My mother
preaches God, vitamins
and Republicanism. Doubts
by me. My son says he will
find a job. Doubts
by me. My friend Bob
says it all matters, every minute,
every hour, every day. Doubts
by me. I believe
I'd be better off
if I'd never met Ken Kalina.
Otherwise, I doubt it all.


—David Jordan

Down through the blue of your eyes
Out past the shimmer of your smile
Time took me
Time took me
I lost myself in life
Even now, I wander

Some say I should forget
Undoubtedly you did
Early love doesn't always scar

But I can't regret loving you
Rather, I regret not saying
Oh, babe—I lie broken
Make me whole
Love me forever
Every day
Yes, every day


—Tom Goff

(for Quinton Duval)

Having known you chiefly by your poems,
or else the chance greeting or cogent phrase

you slipped across a poets’ conference table,
I knew you a fine writer,

little else of your life’s texture. But take Boswell,
meeting Johnson seldom: evidence that aura

and portent pepper even the rare meetings.
You could savor the local seasons,

scenting a different wind or bead of rain
distinct from & under what the weather

any one instant delivers:
slithers of dark thread amid

sunsweep. How your poems might
arrive just once a month (notes Kathleen Lynch),

chestnut and smooth from under
the currying brush. You could outwait

even the Chinese immortals of poetry,
sages alive beneath chokecherry trees

raindripping. You, like them, alert to birdstir,
insect-scratch along the leaf—like fingernail flicks

the nurse gives the hypodermic
to eject air bubbles? You exalted patience,

knowing nature has it, humans can master it,
yet subtly deplored impatience, boredom,

knowing nature and people (you too) seething
these as well. You felt, as you said, “Sometimes

the longing begins early”; found eagerness
even in tractors—was it they that belched

those death-traces, the sulphur so butterflylike
in your vineyard poem? You found,

in Delta thickets, on the freeway-and-farm plain,
along the American, Cosumnes and Sacramento,

the brooding danger and the keening peace,
each state longing for the other, longing, longing…

as we now long, wishing our poetic masters not gone
in body, but back at the bookstore readings,

once more chatting graciously, smiling
across ever so slightly tilted wineglasses…

Loretta Schmitz, Bill Gainer, Quinton Duval, Dennis Schmitz
Photo courtesy of Ann Menebroker


Today's LittleNip:

My soul is an empty carousel at sunset.

—Pablo Neruda