Monday, May 03, 2010

Spirits Make No Sound

Stan Zumbiel

—Stan Zumbiel, Sacramento

Spirits make no sound when
they leave the body, don’t
entwine themselves as they
reach into the sky. Patina

of night on the morning,
dark reaching toward midday
isn’t shadow or the low
angle of the sun but cold that
infiltrates them.
A young couple heads home
from work on the sidewalk
talking and touching
each other lightly.

There’s not even a screech
of tires or dramatic
speech, just two
staccato pops. Spirits make

no sound when they leave the
body. Police search for a former

Do they prefer random, senseless
violence or someone quietly
intoning their name? Spirits don’t

entwine themselves as they
reach into the sky.


Thanks, Stan! Stan Zumbiel taught English in middle and high school for thirty-five years in the San Juan Unified School District and has had a hand in raising four children, yet doesn’t have the slightest idea how he got to be old. He first tried to turn his thoughts into poetry in 1967 while serving in the Navy. In January 2008 he received his MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He continues to write in his Fair Oaks home that he shares with Lynn, his wife of twenty-five years.

Stan also served Sacramento poetry as a long-standing Sacramento Poetry Center Board Member, a noble post from which he has recently retired after more than two decades. We are most grateful for his time and energy in that capacity! Stan will be reading for SPC this Weds. with Edythe Schwartz at the Downtown Library, 808 I St., Sacramento, 6pm.

Returning resources:

Former Pleasanton Poet Laureate Cynthia Bryant’s online resource, Poet’s Lane, used to be a favorite place-to-go for events, poetry, submissions—very helpful. Now it’s back! Go to She's just getting started, but it'll be 'way cool.

The SPC blog has also been revitalized (—President Bob Stanley is posting regularly there, keeping us up-to-date on poetry news items past, present and future. I’ve made it easy to keep checking in on Bob and SPC: scroll down to his pic on the bulletin board at the right of this column.

Sacto kids in new anthology!

The poetry of seven students at North Avenue Elementary School in Del Paso Heights has been chosen for inclusion in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans ( Those students whose work was selected include Ajay Fullmore, Karen Bernal, Karla Garcia, Deshaun Pryor, Latocha McDaniels, April Alexander and Jennifer Grajeda.

This week in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing, go to

•••Monday (5/3), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center (1719 R St., between 25th & R in Sacramento) presents Viola Weinberg and Mario Uribe, who will be talking about their project that produced the poem and artwork for the first installment of Poets on Board, a program of bus placards that will feature poetry on RT Metro buses around the Sacramento region. Underwritten by UC Davis Extension, the Poets on Board program will feature a different poet for each season of the year. The first piece is an excerpt from Enso, a poem by Viola Weinberg, and it features the artwork of Mario Uribe. The placard itself was designed by graphic designer Richard Hansen. There will also be a limited edition offering—signed copies of the full-size bus placards will be available. Sales of the limited edition version will help fund future bus placards planned as part of the Poets on Board program. For more info, go to

•••Tuesday (5/4), 7-10pm: Here's a reading series you might not have heard about: Open mic at Strings Pizza every Tuesday at 9500 Micron Ave. #128, Sacramento (next to Capitol Christian Church). All open mic acts are welcome from a’capella to guitarists to poetry. Check out for more details.

•••Wed. (5/5), 8-10pm: Bistro 33 in Davis presents Sacramento's Pat Grizzell plus open mic, 3rd and F Sts. Free. Joining Pat will be Steve Bird, member of Junkyard Burlesque, on bass. Hosted by Andy Jones and Brad Henderson. Info: or 530-756-4556 or

•••Weds. (5/5), 6pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Stan Zumbiel (recently retired from SPC board after more than two decades) and Edythe Schwartz, retired professor of Child Development at CSUS, in the Sacramento Room at the Downtown Library, 808 I St., Sacramento.

•••Thurs. (5/6), 8pm: Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe features Indigo Moor plus open mic. 1414 16th St., Sacramento.

•••Fri. (5/7), 2-4:30pm: Calaveras Station Literary Journal Release Party presented by California State University, Sacramento at CSUS University Union, Foothill Ste., 3rd floor. Please join us as we celebrate the writers included in this twelfth edition. Food and beverages will be provided. Journals will be available for purchase at $10 and readers will be glad to sign copies. Info:

•••Friday (5/7), 6pm: SAYS SLAM FINALS will be held at the Mondavi Center for Performing Arts in Davis with HBO Def Poet ISE LYFE. Register at; $15 per person or $5 youth/students. (Also check out workshops which will be held during that day.)

•••Friday (5/7), 8pm and Sunday (5/9), 2pm: A Russian Affair: The final production of this year’s Sacramento Opera is “A Russian Affair”, two operas (Eugene Onegin and Queen of Spades) by Tchaikovsky, based on the poetry of Aleksandr Pushkin. Community Center Theater, 1301 L St., Sacramento. Tickets range from $18-$130 and may be purchased at 916-808-5181 or 19th-century poet and author Aleksandr Pushkin's work was considered to be the beginning of Russian literature. He wrote more than 800 poems, half of which have been set to music—in total, 23 operas have been based on his works. In addition, Eugene Onegin and Queen of Spades are considered by many to be Tchaikovsky’s operatic masterpieces. (For more about Pushkin, click on his pic on the b-board at the right.)

•••Sat. (5/8), 12-4pm: Crocker Art Museum’s 125th Anniversary Event will include poetry readings, storytelling, flower arranging, cake decorating, an exhibition of 19th century black paper dolls, and performances by trick roper James Barrera, banjo-ologist Gordy Ohliger and Folklorico Latino de Woodland in The Ballroom at 216 O St., Sacramento—all for the low, low admission price of $1.25! Guests may also record birthday wishes and memories of the Crocker for a video project. Arrive early; there will be a big crowd! This is one of the last events before the museum closes for four months in order to move artwork into their new wing. It will re-open with another party Oct. 10. Info:

Scheduled readings:
12:30-1pm: Victoria Dalkey hosts & reads
1:25pm: Cake cutting (and singing of “Happy Birthday”)
1:30-2pm: Lawrence Dinkins hosts
2:30-3pm: Cynthia Linville hosts as Chris Olander, Catherine Fraga and James Lee Jobe read
3:30-4pm: Cynthia Linville hosts as Dennis Schmitz and Viola Weinberg read

•••Sat. (5/8), 1pm: Celebrate the spring issue of the quarterly Song of the San Joaquin at the McHenry Museum in Modesto, 402 I St., Modesto, 209-577-5235 ( This is a free event and, of course, is open to the public. Info: Cleo at

•••Sat. (5/8), 2pm: Citrus Heights Area Poets will hold a poetry open mic event in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore on Sunrise Blvd. near Greenback in Citrus Heights. Free!

Citrus Heights 3rd Annual Health Fair includes poetry!

•••Sat. (5/15), 9am-1pm: “Soar to Healthy Heights”: 75 exhibits dedicated to sr. issues and concerns, including presentations, demos, screenings, give-aways and entertainment.

Citrus Heights Poet Margaret Bell writes: I, and a few other poets, will be manning a table at this event. We encourage all poets and other creative artists (musicians, novelists, painters, photographers, jewelry makers, quilters, etc.) to bring flyers or brochures (no bigger than letter-sized paper) and/or business cards to our May 8 open mic event (Barnes & Noble, Sunrise Blvd. in Citrus Heights, 2pm), for distribution at the May 15 Health Fair. (You can also bring them to our table at the May 15 event, but you need to get them there a little before 9am.) I will make sure they are displayed on that table to be picked up by folks who attend the event.

Sacramento City and County Poet Laureate Bob Stanley will be at the Health Fair from 11-12. We cannot raise funds at this event; however, we can allow people to enter a drawing for a "table prize", and Bob has offered one or more of his books for such a drawing. We hope he will personally select the winners during his time at the event. Other poets may display their books on our table and, if they are personally present, can conduct drawings for their own books or simply give copies away if they wish. Some of you may wish to just give away copies of your own poems. That's fine too. All you need to do is bring the copies to me at the May 8 open mic and I will see that they go on the table for folks to pick up on May 15. If you need more information, feel free to contact me by email (

Davis Cemetery Art Show

Gracing the walls in the month of May, the Davis Cemetery District’s office will be hosting art from two special guests. Hailing from Sacramento, Pete Eckert’s photography not only astounds the public, but inspires. A founder of the Blind Photographers Guild, Mr. Eckert’s mission is to capture the moments that he cannot see anymore. Because of his remarkable blind photography, many cannot help but appreciate the effort and time he takes to craft his shots. Showing with Mr. Eckert will be Joe Finkleman, one of the Cemetery’s own. His photography has crafted a number of highly varied series. The work in May features unusual photographs—part theater, part still animation. The main pieces that will be shown include forms of “light puppets” Finkleman has created. To see the show, please join us at 820 Pole Line Rd., Davis, in the office. The show is an entire month, spanning from May 1-31, coinciding with the office’s hours of 9am-3pm, Monday through Friday.

•••An opening reception to meet-and-greet Mr. Eckert and Mr. Finkleman will be held from 1-4pm on May 9. Info:


—Stan Zumbiel

Though he has no English,
I lean toward him to say
Peace be with you,

and drop 500 yen into his cup.
He turns slowly to the side
and spits.


—Stan Zumbiel, Sacramento

The great temple to the sea
god looms on the cliff, carved
from white stone, to survey

the kingdom, to send killing
storms, to smell singed
sacrifice, to hear sailors’ prayers

and the calls of seabirds
feasting in shallow water. Two
widows in black descend a narrow

dirt trail, find a driftwood
log and remove their sandals,
dig their toes in warm

sand, crosses around their necks,
no need to speak. They look at a young

girl—a waitress perhaps, an office
worker, a teacher
of young children who carries a low

canvas chair close to the shore,
takes off her clothes and turns
her face to the sun. She has a small

book and the light surrounds the last
bus of the day. A nun stares out the
window, fingers her beads and polished

crucifix, having visited her
mother not dying but
happy—they walk down each

day to the sea looking out to
where the blue meets blue a

distant fold in perception that
holds stories she might tell her
grandchildren. A mother,

father, and two
small sons laugh at the threat
from the breeze that

throws its scent gently across
the resistant shore. Earthshaker
stretches his limbs beneath

the calm surface. Stones
under bare feet cast brief
pictures of marble-skinned maidens

singing between white columns, white
linen draped in folds,
raising their arms to the potent

poised trident. Posed
against the blue backdrop
this god faces the sun

holding his head, eyes closed.


Today's LittleNip:

The limerick is furtive and mean;
You must keep her in close quarantine,
Or she sneaks to the slums
And promptly becomes
Disorderly, drunk and obscene.

—Morris Bishop



Poets on Board Placard #1