Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Where We Mean To Be

Santa Cruz Surfer Stairs
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

This Dutchman won’t quite fly, though piracy
age-dwindled winks from the stamp-sized stern-stuck flag,
a jolly non-Roger more like a toe-tag,
the morgue-stored corpse’s last cold scrap of privacy.

The rest of the boat’s a match for that sorry appendage.
Heaped-up pallets and crates wish this old rumboat
swift bootleggers running booze. Pipe dream: this bumboat
scumboat’s palsied, bedridden, no determined age.

It hugs itself newspaper-warm, long docked yet listing,
tranced in cutlass notions of self-protection,
exhaust funnels box-ribbed, quarantined from no infection.
Solid blue boxes must be the inutile engines,

each deputized to take over (but neither functions).
Even the pilot house of this fishing smack
lacked altitude, so another story got stacked,
the better to squint out at roadsteads and foggy junctions.

Between the green element and much murky sky,
atop these planks of albatross-poop deck,
worked the long-gone Silvers of this varnishless wreck.

This ancient mariner’s last rime’s a filthy salt.
No point pinpointing a leak to stop and caulk.

All maritime law says, sink. To float is to defy.


Thanks, Tom. We're talking about the old boat in yesterday's photo; send your Seed of the Week poems to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs.

This week in NorCal poetry:

•••Thurs. (5/20), 7:30pm: The Nevada County Poetry Series presents Theresa Whitehill & Lytton Bell. $5 general, seniors and students; $1 for those under 18. Refreshments and open-mic included. The show will be in the Off Center Stage (the Black Box theater, enter from Richardson St.) at the Center for the Arts, 314 W. Main St., Grass Valley. Info: (530) 432-8196 or (530) 274-8384. Open Mic. [See the b-bd for more.]

•••Friday (5/21), 8-10:30pm: Special Event: The Blackout Spoken Word Battle: The poet in Northern California with the best spoken word poems for the night goes home with $100 cash! Come see this first annual Spoken Word War!!!! Poets sign up now by e-mailing Inside the upper level VIP lounge inside Fitness Systems Healthclub, 26 Massie Ct., Sacramento.

•••Fri. (5/21), 7:30pm: The Other Voice (sponsored by the UU Church of Davis) features two of the younger poets of Davis, Dorine Jennette and Matthew Chenoweth Wright, in the library of the church located at 27074 Patwin Rd. in Davis. This is the last program until September. Open mike and refreshments follow the reading, so bring along a poem or two to share. Dorine Jennette is a fresh-air sort of person with a fledgling interest in green design. She is the author of Urchin to Follow (The National Poetry Review Press, 2010). Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in journals such as Puerto del Sol, the Journal, Ninth Letter, Coconut, Court Green, the Los Angeles Review, and the Georgia Review. Originally from Seattle, she earned her MFA from New Mexico State University and her PhD from the University of Georgia. Now she lives in Davis and is a copyeditor for university presses.

Matthew Chenoweth Wright delights in the fluidity of language's shoals and backwaters, currents of words as pictures. His first book of poems, From Under Eyelids, is from and about dreams and the language that we all use to share our visions with each other. On-line he has published in Postpoems, Allpoetry and Paperdollz. He has read in public since 1988 at Word Jam and at Luna's in Sacramento and other events there and in Davis. [See the b-bd for more about the poets.]

•••Sat. (5/22), 2-4pm: Former Sacramento Resident Patricia D’Alessandro will be celebrating the release of her latest poetry collection, Pax Vobiscum: Anti-War Collection (Pacific Copy&Print, 2010) at Underground Books, 35th & Broadway, Sacramento (

•••Sat. (5/22), 12-6pm: La Raza Galeria Posada presents Malo, featuring Jorge Santana plus arts, poetry, dance, food and special guests. Cesar Chavez Plaza, 9th and I Sts., Sacramento. Advance tickets $10; see

•••Sun. (5/23), 2pm: Ina Coolbrith Circle presents Kathleen Lynch at the San Ramon Library, 100 Montgomery St., San Ramon. Bring a poem to read at the open mic and you will have a chance to see it appear on "The Po-Bowl." Sacramento's Kathleen Lynch publishes poetry, fiction, and essays. Her work has been widely anthologized and reprinted in college textbooks. Her poetry collection, Hinge (released 2006) won the Black Zinnias Press National Poetry Competition. Her chapbooks are How to Build an Owl, No Spring Chicken, Alterations of Rising, and Greatest Hits (Pudding House invitational series). She has recent work in Poetry, Poetry East, Alhambra Poetry Calendar, and The Recorder. Kathleen has received awards from Sow's Ear, Spoon River Poetry Review, Two Rivers Review, and a Ucross Foundation residency. She is a freelance editor and workshop leader. You can sample her poetry at


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

(for G.)

Once upon a time you coiffed the stars,
handed the Goddess of Fashion down the runway.
In Monaco you silver-plattered pheasant
and broke golden eggs one-handed into a crystal bowl.
British Lords and St.-Tropez vedettes adored you.

It grew tedious as that same old sentence.
Life behind corporate bars.

Look at you now. Hair wild as a sea-god
bare chested, legs planted at the bow, grinning
in the face of a Levanter. You’ve bartered your ease
for a sailing ship, your crew as brave
and crazy for joy as you are.


—Taylor Graham

The tide sobs among rocks worn smooth
by aeons, and into holes and hidden passages
in the old fishing trawler beached here

against this ocean, storehouse of time.
She’s clambered along the shore
till fall of dusk. Tonight will be black as tar

washed up from distant disasters.
How everything’s linked by ocean.
All day she’s seen no sanderlings

skirting the surf. Where are the gulls,
the pelicans? Has she gone beyond her
depth—hasn’t man gone beyond

his depth? It’s almost dark now,
time to find solid ground, to forget
that everything’s circled by sea.


—Patricia L. Nichol, Sacramento

If you have to write a poem, it’s very, very easy;
do not feel nervous, just relax, and don’t feel very queasy.

Here’s all you have to do:
I. Know about a hundred forms and how to do them swell.
Work one hard and work it right until you have it jell.
II. Know about a million words and all their definitions:
done, Donne, dun, none, nun, Acheron, Algonquin, Balzacian . . .
III. Have a perfect sense of syllables, meter, and accents;
never flounder, put words together in incomparable segments.
IV. Last, know all there is to know about how to do a rhyme:
masculine, feminine, slant, subtle . . . Well, it takes a little time.

Here’s what you do when you are finished:
V. Read it over to yourself and then read it out loud;
whether it’s doggerel or academic, you will be very proud.
VI. Mail it to the New Yorker, Harper’s, or Atlantic.
They’ll adore it, publish it, and implore you to be prolific.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

I should have seen the warning signs
when I expressed my inner feelings
using outré poetic styling.

It was like the incongruity of dreaming
you are wandering about in public,
when you are really in your jammies, or less.

The problem arose in junior high art class,
when they started with lessons on form:
lines of things into the distance.

True art takes its own form.
Instead of following the assignment and
drawing a tree using charcoal,
Art reduces that tree to charcoal,
then has a grand BBQ. Culinary art.

Let’s strip the body down to muscles and sinews,
then it isn’t nasty anymore, because it will have
only the disposition the artist gives it.

Poetry speaks out, sometimes out of order,
out of its mind, out of luck, or just
“I’m going out, don’t follow me.”

Music is vibrating air.
“I’m going out to vibrate, don’t follow me.”

Photo by Katy Brown

Today's LittleNip:

Waking, we subvert our dream experience
by using it. Asleep, it takes us where
we mean to go, the place we mean to be.

—William Bronk