Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blood of Our Blood

—charles mariano, sacramento

daddy took off
one summer day
with aurora,
his new wife

“a vacation,”
he said,
“i’ll be back,

they went
to the philippines
strange, exotic,
too far

the night before he left
a bad dream
called him on the phone,
crying, pleading,

“you won’t come back daddy,
please don’t go!”
he laughed, said soothingly,
“i love you charlie boy,
i’ll be back”

after weeks
of worry, non-communication
pictures, by mail
to my sister’s house,

of daddy,
in a casket

dolores called,

“he’s not dead!
i yelled angrily,
burn those pictures!”

then hung up


Thanks for all the Dad poems, our Seed of the Week. Keep 'em coming!

Into every life a little error must fall: We very much regret having posted on the b-board that the Sacramento Poetry Center's Brown Bag Lunch Series is Wednesday this week, when it's actually Thursday. Do NOT go down to the Library today for it; wait 'til tomorrow. (Well, you can and probably should go down to the library today—it'd be good for you—but the reading isn't 'til tomorrow...) By the way, the open mic will celebrate HEAT, Sacramento and otherwise. Bring a poem or two on the subject, preferably by someone other than yourself.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day, poetry-wise! Check it out on the b-board. All of these wonderful events within spittin' distance of us... Life is good. Meanwhile, some things to think about:

Poetry As Spiritual Practice: A Workshop with Ellen Bass:

•••Saturday (7/10), 10am-4pm (and Ellen Bass reading at 4:30): Pacific School of Religion, 1798 Scenic Ave., Berkeley. General Attendance $155; attendance with CEUs $175. Go to for info and to register, or contact Laurie Isenberg at (510-849-8227).

Ellen Bass writes: Poetry is the practice of paying attention. It's the practice of being fully present in our lives, open to the beauty and the pain, the glorious and the wretched. Like prayer, poetry is a path to seeing the divine in the ordinary. Metaphor itself is a way of apprehending the similarities in seemingly unrelated things. All poetry had its roots in religion—as ritual for both celebration and lamentation. And poetry continues to ask the essential questions: who are we? why are we here? where are we going?

In this workshop, we'll talk about poetry as a spiritual practice and read some poems which reflect this. Then we'll write our own poems by paying close attention and striving to be accurate through the use of detail and description. There'll also be an opportunity to share our poems for those who wish to do so. Both beginning and experienced writers are welcome. The practice of poetry, like prayer or meditation, is meaningful whether you are attempting it for the first time or whether you've been working at it for decades. It's good to come with "beginner's mind" and the courage to discover the unexpected.

Calls for Submissions:

Deadline: June 18, 2010 (

The theme: "The Elusive Search for Equality" or "Double Standards In Our Lives." The magazine will consider the concept of equality for women: What is it? What remains unequal? How can equality be secured? Is “equality” enough? The editors want to take a broader look at gender in/equality, how inequality affects women’s lives, whether women continue to face double standards, and whether equality is still a concept worth pursuing—or a limited concept that progressives should set aside in order to focus on human rights and justice.

*Previously published ok as long as you hold the copyright
*All poems typed in 12-point font
*3 poems max (none longer than 2 pages)
*All poems must be sent in a single WORD attachment (use .doc only)
*Send to:

Deadline: August 31, 2010.
Theme: Micro-fiction and Prose Poetry

Micro-fiction: Postcard stories, short short stories, and flash fiction. Maximum 1000 words.

Prose Poetry usually features full sentences and no forced line breaks; focuses more precise attention on language. Less narrative than micro-fiction. Word-count limit 250 words.

PRISM international
Creative Writing Program, UBC
Buch. E462 - 1866 Main Mall
Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1

The Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award
Deadline: July 1, 2010
First Prize $1,000, 2nd Prize $250, 3rd Prize $100

For full guidelines, go to Reading fees of $5 per poem. No simultaneous submissions.
Final Judge: Charles Martin

Reading throughout July
Award: $500

The Marie Alexander Poetry Series has an open submission period during the month of July. An award of $500 and publication will be given for a chosen collection of prose poems by an American poet. Submit a manuscript of at least 48 pages, which can include some lineated pieces, along with a cover letter with complete contact information and an SASE for notification only. Entries should also include a simultaneous electronic submission of the manuscript (MS Word or PDF format) sent to There is no entry fee. Info:

Marie Alexander Poetry Series
Nickole Brown, Editor
P.O. Box 5686
Louisville, KY 40255-0686

Deadline July 13, 2010

Stories and poems should be of no more than 1,200 words, should be true and written in the first person. Stories should not have been previously published by Chicken Soup for the Soul or other major publications.

Here are some suggested topics, but we know you can think of many more:

* The True Meaning of Christmas
* Holiday Traditions
* Memories of Christmas
* The Love of Family
* Holiday Humor
* Gift Giving
* Decorating
* Eat, Eat, Eat... and Be Merry
* Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child
* Here Comes Santa Claus
* ... and any other stories you would like to share

If your story is chosen, you will be a published author and your bio will be printed in the book if you so choose. You will also receive a check for $200 and 10 free copies of your book, worth more than $100. You will retain the copyright for your story and you will retain the right to resell it.

Select the Submit Your Story link on the left tool bar and follow the directions. For any further questions or correspondence, contact or visit our website at


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

With his settlement
From the boiler shop,
My father bought
A new wooden leg
And a liquor store.

Our status
In the


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

He never went to war, or even sailed
a merchant ship from port to port, Pacific
or Caribbean. He never hunted
a trophy buck. But he taught his daughter
how to load a cartridge in the chamber—
just in case she’d ever need it.

Why on earth would a man of stethoscope
and eye-charts go off alone,
that mysterious Saturday? to check out
a black & white pinto named Cricket
before he paid good cash
for a horse-crazy daughter’s very-own.

In the family album, this picture
of him: with his back up against a Sequoia
like the son of a tree-father rooted
head-in-the-clouds above him; grinning
with a secret too big for words
to tell a daughter.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

You always seemed larger than life,
with your booming, stage-trained voice,
florid face, and those extra fifty pounds.
Waking everyday at 6:00 a.m. to go to work,
no matter how tired,
or how drunk the night before,
what made you go on,
like a German tank,
or a Russian foot soldier in the snow?

You privately mastered all manner of evil,
used whatever means necessary to succeed.
You preferred to retire at night to your solitary bed
with your glass, your bottle of booze;
the radio soothed you with smooth jazz.

In the final years, you fought it out
in that hotel halfway across the country,
I heard that my brother found you;
you’d been lying on the floor for days.
When you came back home to die,
you wouldn’t even talk to me on the phone,
made Mom give your apologies,
yet I remember waking in fear
the same night, the same time,
that the vein in your leg finally burst,
and the blood spurted.

Blood of your blood, I am your child.
Although your heart was all wrong,
you showed me that a man should fight to provide
for himself and his own.
I remember your sins,
but still admire, love, and forgive you.
My father,
I salute you.


—Ann Wehrman

We lived five miles out of town,
a drive down winding blacktop
lined with chamomile, ragweed,
soybean fields, winter wheat.

Often at predawn or after sunset
fog appeared; wisps of white curled, settled
into heavy, moist clouds,
obscured dips and curves
in that two-lane road,
slowed vision to arm’s length.

Dad drove home in the dark,
taking the road by feel, or memory;
even after eight hours
marked off by martinis
and with the dinner clash to come,
he never had an accident,
driving home through fog.

I balanced on the edge of my seat, though,
body urging me to understand,
mind refusing to see
his hard hands on the wheel.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

orphanage boy hands
taking care of things
to light up the Christmas tree
to stoke the coal furnace
Miss Minturn yelling from upstairs
“Charlie, turn down the heat,
we’re roasting up here!”
to set the table in the boys’ cottage
acolyte in white robes
carrying the Episcopal torch
Best Boy he won a watch
two years in a row

broad and safe
warm, steady at his workbench
as they hammered a wall shelf
for Mother’s trinkets
or built a hen house for a wartime
Victory garden
cuddled baby chicks
or as they held me up to the mirror
after a bath
and curved a spitcurl on my forehead
or with thumb and forefinger
clicked my photo
with his 1920s Kodak camera

telegrapher’s hands
labored in a brokerage house
punching numbers and letters
45 years on Wall Street
clinging to buildings
as he walked the canyons
during an icy wind that tore at his heart

grasping a newspaper as he died too young


Today's LittleNip:

Every man has an equal right to the necessities of life, even as birds and beasts have.

—Mahatma Gandhi


—Medusa (with thanks to Pat Pashby for Today's LittleNip)