Photo by Anna Andrews
—JoAnn Anglin, Sacramento
The killing scents you wear
slide across my cheek, encircle my heart.
I recall the long ago cologne of Lucky
Strikes and Pabst Blue Ribbon—flavors
inhaled with my baby’s breath, surreptitious
sips from tumblers left by party guests.
Wit or wisdom’s clever words I forget
yet remember the whiff of whiskey in
the golden crescent stain,
the biting scent of burgundy spilled
on imitation lace.
I know you are here by the
stale warm beer odor and
cigarette smells that precede you.
Now I lean into your sour shirt,
lick your nicotine fingertips,
inhale the warmth of liquor sweat rising.
Your pheromones of death ensnare me,
take me back to infancy.
Lured by your fatal cologne I long for the
remembered death scent of you,
long for your warm amber breath.
NorCal poets will be sad to hear that Quinton Duval passed away yesterday at home. Quinton has been quite ill recently, and we’ve all been thinking about him and his family. Recently retired, he was an excellent poet and publisher (Red Wing Press), and a great guy to be around. He will be sorely missed.
Congrats to recent winners in the California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. annual contest, announced in April at the annual convention in Los Angeles. Carol Louise Moon won the Golden Pegasus, and Joyce Odam won the Theme Poem (New Worlds). A partial list of other winners included Katy Brown, Don Feliz, Elsie Whitlow Feliz, David Anderson, Claire J. Baker, Allegra Silberstein, and Cleo Griffith. More info about CFCP at www.chaparralpoets.org/. We have two chapters in Sac, and there’s one in Modesto.
No Sow of the Week this week. I’m backlogged with poems and photos to publish right now, and want to take a week to catch up. Our Mother’s Day SOW turned out to be wonderful, by the way! Looking over the poems that came in, I see such a wide variety of thoughts and feelings about mothers—which is only right, because, as Mitz Sackman said, it’s a complex job...
So let’s take a breather this week and look at a variety of poems on a variety of subjects. If you’re wanting for inspiration, scroll down on the b-board to Calliope and rummage through her closet. (There’s a give-away there, incidentally, that’s been up since the beginning, but nobody’s taken advantage of it yet.) And if you want to see last week’s poems, click on “Older Posts” at the bottom of this cream-colored column; that’ll take you to the last seven days, all in one swell foop.
She isn’t whole,
doesn’t know if she ever will be.
In the months since she shattered,
she has started to disappear.
Her once-strong lines, edges
of sweeping curves, elegant angles
were a clear demarcation
between her and her world.
Sometimes she misses what was solid,
All those things with barbs cannot hook into her now
can’t tear what lacks substance.
Now the world flows into her at will,
takes what it wishes, in shreds of
her corporeal being.
She is amazed at what can pass through her.
Once somebody’s memory, she has
become a faded dream.
Yet what is left moves, uses space,
casts the faintest shadow.
An exquisite tension keeps the threads
of her in a semblance of her shape.
She keeps trying to move forward
in fluid shimmer
to gather the external fibers of her
that are in rapid dissolve,
the angel hair threads that glint,
not from internal shining, but
reflect what passes through her
yet never fills her up.
And somehow the aggregate of
filmy remains keeps moving forward.
She is seen as if through steam,
through frosted glass,
through a veil.
What remains suggests her,
but is not quite her.
All she knows is the magnetic force
of her yearning, but she does not
know if the yearning is to be whole
or if she yearns to fully dissolve.
September 11, 2001
Don’t look back they are told
Don’t look back
Bodies, windows, walls
Light falling into dark
The world falling
Into the shape of a dragon
That follows, follows
Still they look back
Don’t look back
But they do
Some are turned
To brittle salt
Some to tears
Some into holders of
Dreams of falling
my breath puffs in each cold morning air
back muscles ache, hauling 50-lb. bags of ice
fingers hurt, congealed from spreading ice around
my yogurts/juice boxes/cottage cheese
gas twists out foully as I struggle to light the flame
under the big coffee pot
burn fingers on hot coffee grounds
try to remember which sold best yesterday
which unsold I’ll eat for lunch.
fingers grow sticky
jelly fillings icing on cheese Danish
caramel on the maple bar
cinnamon almonds on bear claws
leather & metal give
a satisfying heft to
my coin changer
I carefully separate
make sure no dimes hide in the nickels.
yells the boss
smile, smile, smile
these poor ol’ boys want to
see your pretty face
a high stretch up into the truck
behind the wheel letting my cigarette
hang from my mouth
while I turn the big truck round
use the long side mirrors
at the construction site
the deep throated horn
bosses’ look of dismay
workers’ friendly waves
I try not to raise much dust
quickly leap out flip up side panels
As I hand back change I marvel at
scars on big hands
many missing fingers
smell of sweat and dirt
the former field of weeds
still wet newly poured concrete.
I just bring sustenance
An ocean of ink in a single drop,
Trembling at the tip of my brush.
Poised above stark white paper,
A universe waits for existence.