Monday, May 31, 2010

Let's Fly to Paraguay!

Gabrielle Toft

—Gabrielle Toft

i’d give you the shirt off
my back, you’re saying
all playful puppy-eyed shoulders
give me those freckles, put
them in my mouth
raindrops are eyelash
hugs, keep
making lists, lover, we’ll
get it all done
babies, birds and that
lady in an orange dress
we're so distractible
in our pigeon holes, wet naps
and canteens
be my life preserver
formaldehyde me in your promises
that space between your neck and back
wild horses and first rain

please, let’s fly to paraguay
shoreline light flirting
with hands wrapped up at
the baggage claim
don’t take everything so
dearest, darling, bear boy
we're a two person
mime troupe, come
talk to me in hands


Thanks, Gabrielle! Born in Napa Valley and raised climbing trees and running barefoot every summer, Gabrielle Toft relies heavily on her dreamy, valley upbringing for inspiration. While she is always nostalgic for "home", San Francisco called to her at a young age, with its dirty glamour and anonymous streets. After graduating from SF State, she taught creative writing to 8th graders for two years in which she learned more about herself than they will ever realize. Currently she is living abroad teaching English, but is still writing about San Francisco and her imminent return. She has been published in Transfer Magazine, Cipatli, SF Bay Guardian and is the writer/editor/publisher of Prodigal Daughter, a quarterly magazine. More about Gabrielle at


Ekphrastic event in Contra Costa County:

Margaret Bell of Citrus Heights has a poem in the Art Passages MIXOLOGY Gallery’s Ekphrastic Poetry display in the Contra Costa County Administration Bldg. in Martinez at 651 Pine St. AC5 received poetry from poets ranging in age from ages 17 to 86. The website ( says: Some works of art received multiple submissions. Rather than choosing one submission per work of art, it was determined that all poems would be published. This is in keeping with the mission of AC5, to act as a convener of the Arts in all its forms, for all members of Contra Costa County. The gallery includes over 60 works of art. If you have not been to see it, we invite you to come visit before the closing on or about June 5, 2010. This Ekphrastic Poetry event was curated by Maria Rosales.

Mendocino Coast Writers Conference July 29-31:

The Mendocino Coast Writers Conference is an intimate conference limited to 100 participants where excellent writers who are also outstanding teachers (including our own Bob Stanley) will encourage you to find and express your own voice. Workshops, lectures, readings, and meals take place on the Mendocino Campus of College of the Redwoods, located, near the water, at 1211 Del Mar Drive in Fort Bragg. At MCWC you get a broad sampling of genres. You can choose to focus on your favorite—novel, short fiction, memoir, poetry—or taste a little of each. The theme is writing for social change—not in the sense of preaching—but in the deeper sense that honest words make a better world. The conference offers workshops, afternoon lectures and discussions, guided writing practice, professional consultations, readings, the Saturday evening dinner and keynote speech, and Sunday nature excursions. Deadline for early registration is June 15. Info/reg form:

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Mon. (5/31), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents S.A. Griffin in his Poetry Bomb tour. [See the b-bd at the right or last Friday's post for more about S.A. and The Poetry Bomb.]

•••Tues. (6/1), 7:30pm: S.A. Griffin’s Poetry Bomb will travel to Nevada City! Free to all, refreshments and open-mic included—read one poem of social, political or cultural comment and have it included in “The Bomb”. The show will be at the North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center, 17894 Tyler Foote Crossing Rd., Nevada City. Info: (530) 265-2826 or (530) 432-8196.

•••Weds. (6/2), 6-7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents its First-Weds. Sacramento Room Reading in the Sacramento Room of the Downtown Library, 828 I St, 2nd floor. Readers will be Trina Drotar, Paco Marquez, Sandy Thomas and Sue Thomas. Sandy Thomas, a third-generation poet, was born in San Francisco. Her poems have appeared in 24th Street Irregular Press, Rattlesnake Review and WTF. Her latest chapbook, These Stones, was published by Two Trees Indie Press in 2009. She lives in Sacramento. Trina Drotar is a poet via fiction, memoir, art, and design. Her writing has been published, or is forthcoming, in Word Riot, Medusa's Kitchen, and Rattle. A clothing designer and artist, Trina has worked as editor of Calaveras Station and is the current editor of Poetry Now. Originally from San Francisco, she has lived in Houston once and Sacramento twice, where she is completing her MA in English— Creative Writing. She spends July in Fresno studying with writers like Carole Maso, Lance Olsen, Rebecca Brown, and Debra DiBlasi. Sue Thomas is a former newspaper reporter, freelance writer, and advertising copywriter. She taught high school English in Elk Grove for 23 years before retiring, and has taught in Costa Rica, Washington, D.C., and Humboldt State University in Arcata. She was awarded a fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center and was awarded an NEH grant to study the Renaissance in Florence. Sue has been writing poetry for about 20 years. Paco Marquez is a board member of the Sacramento Poetry Center, and has written poetry for many years. This month he is in the process of driving from South Carolina to Sacramento, so his biography has many new chapters to be written. This is his first public reading in Sacramento.

•••Wed. (6/2), 8pm: Bistro 33 in Davis presents Joshua Clover at 226 F St. in Davis. The first 50 people arriving by 7:45pm can expect a complimentary glass of wine! Open mic afterwards. [See b-bd for more.]

•••Friday (6/4), 7-10pm: Youth Speaks poetry reading (under-21 open mic) at Sol Collective (, 2574 21st St., Sacramento. $5 donation.

•••Sat. (6/5), 12-8pm and Sun. (6/6), 12-5pm: Join the arts organizations and artists of the R25 Complex (25th & R Sts., Sacramento) as they join together to host the first-ever R25 Crossroads for Arts and Culture Festival. Free admission for everyone. Bring the family! Children will enjoy puppet shows by El Teatro Espejo on Saturday and Sunday. Art lovers may bid on artwork at Sunday's art auction. Poets will read Saturday and Sunday, including Bob Stanley, Sandra Senne, Paco Marquez, Kelly Matthews and Kate Asche. On Saturday, music lovers can listen and dance to the sounds of the Christian Dewild Band, Marty Cohen and Sidekicks, and The Streamliners; more music to be enjoyed on Sunday with James Israel Band, Aisle 99, and Puzzletree. On Saturday, Bill Trainor and Children's Network will also present. Vendor booths will offer art, crafts, and food. Open house and opportunities to meet the artists and find out more about the following organzations: Artists Studios, California Stage, Ed Claudio's Actors Workshop of Sacramento, Three Penny Theater, Alliance Francaise de Sacramento, MatrixArts & the PopUp Gallery, On Stage, Sacramento Poetry Center, Wilkerson Theater. Info: Ray Tatar (916-600-9536, or Joy Gee (916-370-5628, or go to Medusa's b-bd and click the pic.

•••Sun. (6/6), 4-6pm: The Book Collector (1414 16th St., Sacramento) presents an afternoon of poetry celebrating Peter Ludwin’s new book, A Guest in All Your Houses, with Peter Ludwin and William O’Daly. Free. Light refreshments. Info: 916.442.9295 or Peter Ludwin is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship from Artist Trust. He was the 2007-2008 Second Prize Winner of the Anna Davidson Rosenberg Awards for poems on the Jewish experience, and was a finalist for the Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award. An avid traveler, for the past eight years he has been a participant in the San Miguel Poetry Week in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He owns a small trailer and twenty acres of land near Big Bend National Park in Texas, but lives most of the year tucked up against the Green River in Kent, Washington. A Guest in All Your Houses is his first full-length collection. Click/pic on the b-bd for more.

William O’Daly has published eight translations of the late and posthumous poetry of Pablo Neruda, as well as a chapbook of his own poems, The Whale in the Web. O’Daly was a finalist for the 2006 Quill Award in Poetry for Still Another Day, the first of his Neruda series. With coauthor Han-ping Chin, he recently completed a historical novel, This Earthly Life, set during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. O’Daly lives with his wife and daughter in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California.

•••Sun. (6/6), 2-4pm: Poetry Rocks in Many Languages at Century House, 2401 Santa Rita Rd., Pleasanton. Come for readings of poems in Italian, Spanish and French with translations. Pleasanton's Liz Fortini will host and read poems she has written in Italian with translation; Award-winning Ukiah poet Jabez Churchill will read in Spanish, & Ronnie Holland, Poet Laureate of Dublin, will read her poems written in French with translations and those of French-speaking poets she has studied. For reasons why language is important, check out Ruiyan Xu's NY Times’ recent op-ed: "Each of the thousands of languages spoken around the world has its own system and rules, its own subversions, its own quixotic beauty." (

After light refreshments, an Open Mic will be held. The public is invited to read a poem up to 40 lines (one page or less) in a Western European language and read their translation or read a poem they’ve written in English. Contact Deborah Grossman for any questions:

(for a more complete listing of NorCal poetry events and workshops, go to


—Gabrielle Toft

he sleeps and
i wonder if, like the tide
i'm going out and he's going in

church goer
i miss you like crazy
you think you've got me all
mapped out
next move, check mate, transcribe
this, baby
its only my
second time

you talked about your sunglasses
like a bagged lunch
and i knew wed never fall in love
well say "were over it"
at half moon bay
ill end up taking you to the donut shop
on your birthday
where youll apologize for being such a nice guy
and ill nod, understanding

i cant promise i wont write poems
to my daughter, to the
nurse who fed my IV
at the clinic, the dark
haired boy at the bar
I want to print out all the times you've
said i love you
and tape it where we met


—Gabrielle Toft

let’s open up the freeways and drive blindfolded, let those car crash dreams come true. we should be reckless with ourselves, our hearts. you were reckless with mine. let’s waste hours and drink tea out of our hands and fuck until were the same person and you won’t have to remember my name, walk away unscathed. except for that feeling, some smell, years from now i’ll still have you looking over your shoulder on street corners, checking under the bed, for monsters, ghosts, i’ll still have you reading my books, mornings you can’t leave the house, i can’t wait until you’re sending me cards still on my birthday, to an old address you have in san francisco, cause i won’t live there anymore.


—Gabrielle Toft

remember the lightning?
there was lightening, wasn't there?
blowing holes
in our
you just sat by the
window smoking cigarettes
smelling like great
oaks, steady, skin like
eyelets, finger read me
like some war wounded soldier, some
black bound word filled
yeah, yeah, what you said


—Gabrielle Toft

you took me to a ghost town
with some of the oldest mummies
in the world
where we both shut up
and felt how
everything was

this is not a flirtation, i remind him
youre just
hot for teacher
i hate what I've become, he says
put me out of my misery
and im all dreamy, loose fitting clothing
and summer shoes

my voice gets a
bit bubbly
with all his oceanography
talk, his
wolf howls
i made three sets of copies,
of reality,
when we need to be brought down

we hooked up last friday and
he gives golden
eyed ultimatums
"i will not write back to you
until you
swallow your pride"
that is how lazy people talk, i remind him
you watch too
much tv


—Gabrielle Toft

we met over three years ago
(pause for escalated CHEER )
i: dreamer of thunder
you: jaguar love dance party
we might be an unlikely match
but im prepared to blow you
heres some relationship advice:
i can be hard to love sometimes

I think of you like
clean beach bonfires, great
body of secrets
infatuation makes me (literally) sick
take a chance, stop
wishing for
third encore

its easy
for some pretty girl to show up
wearing flats and tights
or heels and good hair, whatever it is
that you like
but dont forget, that
pretty girl is just
bad art
eventually shes just wasted space


Today's LittleNip (for Memorial Day):

It is time for inner city meditators. Time for the Victorious Ones to get their hands dirty in the myriad hell and hungry-ghost worlds of the planet. Time for bhikkus and bhikkunis to understand the addictions of television and the comforts of the corporate state. Time for spiritual warriors to taste the toxic garbage of a collapsing ecology. If there is to be any more "time."

—From Hard Travel to Sacred Places by Rudolph Wurlitzer



Judy Halebsky, Kathy Kieth, Carol Frith and
Sandy Thomas. Sandy will read at the
Downtown Sacramento Library this Weds. at 6pm,
along with Trina Drotar, Paco Marquez and Sue Thomas.