To defy gravity and
To swim the sky
To race to new discoveries
In the wind
—Poem and Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar
—JoAnn Anglin, Sacramento
When they ask for your help, review
old broken things you have already fixed.
Grab medicine chest items that hold
together, numb, prevent seeping.
Take needles for mending, throw in a tin
ear, a mask. Do not keep score or keep
track of how much of you to offer. Brace
yourself for the dead weight leaning. Make
ready your bosom for purple sobs, fickle
gratitude. Tuck in lace handkerchiefs,
sleight of hand, protective gear, a little
cash. Who could not predict disaster?
Bring a blanket to smother the flames,
green branches to dam the flash flood.
Speaking of rescues—or lack of same (who could not predict disaster! says JoAnn)—
Call for poems: Poets for Living Waters website
Gail Entrekin, Editor of the environmental/poetry e-zine, Canary, sends us this call for poems from Poets for Living Waters (poetsforlivingwaters.com), a poetry action in response to the Gulf Oil Disaster of April 20, 2010, one of the most profound man-made ecological catastrophes in history.
The first law of ecology states that everything is connected to everything else. An appreciation of this systemic connectivity suggests a wide range of poetry will offer a meaningful response to the current crisis, including work that harkens back to Hurricane Katrina and the ongoing regional effects. Please submit 1-3 poems, a short bio, and credits for any previously published submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
[Medusa note: I can't get the website to open, but if you look on the Internet, there are many, many references to it, such as www.goodreads.com/topic/show/338062-got-gulf-oil-got-a-poem. Hopefully it'll be available again soon. You can still send poems, though, to the email address.] [2pm: It's working now. Very cool!]
Boot Camp and Drop-In Workshop:
Molly Fisk's online poetry workshops are very popular! She writes: The Drop-In Workshop begins with a new prompt every Wednesday, your poem due on Sunday, my critique back to you by the next Wednesday. If you need absolute flexibility you can just do this one week at a time, for $32/week. But there are great package deals if you know you want to do some writing. The workshop runs up until Thanksgiving. For more information, visit my website at poetrybootcamp.com
Special deal for Poetry Boot Camp alumni/ae: If you'd like to write with a weekly deadline in my Drop-In workshop, I'll waive the four-week introductory requirement since we've already worked together.
And if you're dying to do another Poetry Boot Camp (my six-poems-in-six-days intensive), go right ahead and sign up: the next one begins Sunday, June 20th.
You can hear Molly read at two events in the near future: Friday, June 25 with Phil Weidman at Artspace in Placerville, and Sunday, June 27 in Grass Valley? How do I know this? I can see it on the b-board (right OVER me in my bathrobe)! Do you sense a theme here, with me trying to get you to watch the Board?...
This week in NorCal poetry:
The events Medusa would normally post here are now on the b-board at the right of this column; for a more complete listing of area poetry events and workshops, go to eskimopie.net/. I might point out two deadlines tomorrow (6/15), though: Song of the San Joaquin (submissions) and Mendocino Coast Writers Conference (early reg.). Scroll down to the "Deadlines" area on the b-board (with me in my bathroom) for info on those.
Thanks to Laura LeHew for poems today, and also to JoAnn Anglin, Ron Lane for the poems and photos, and to Carl Schwartz for the LittleNip.
LOST AND FOUND
A big cardboard box outside the
school office holds the soft heap
of sweaters and coats, gathered
from ball yard and bathroom, from
under a hallway bench.
Things once needed now discarded.
The yellow barrette slips to the
bottom, a striped scarf slides away.
During an unusually cold August
evening, the mother asks,
Where is your green jacket? Her
exasperated sigh is also left behind.
Any found garments have grown
too small, are torn or stained. The child
will ignore her father’s chiding, evade
his mother’s quick hug. None will notice
the altering, one crumpled hair ribbon
later, one missing glove at a time.
—Laura LeHew, Eugene, OR
(after "Migrant mother, pea picking plant", 1936. Photo by Dorothy Lang)
her children burrow into her
thinning frame into her
turned down smile
her left hand on her cheek
as if to hold in the questions
forehead etched with uncertainty
Five feet nothing.
Overweight at ninety-eight,
still a natural redhead at ninety-three.
golden glasses gilded with flowers and pearls,
pinched lips etched in coral,
Ever telling a tale.
Keeping our family history.
Prejudiced and petty,
a teacher with little tolerance for children.
She held a grudge against her sister for over seven decades.
Plastic over the furniture.
Cloth over the plastic.
Yellowing plastic runners over the carpet.
Wanting her life undone.
A spinster mourning the ones who got away.
her brother to marry the right woman,
her nieces to be.
Pessimism and regret.
She wished us all better lives,
though making it clear we’d be no luckier than she.
MANAGED HEALTH CARE
Residents like potstickers—tasty meat dumplings fried or
steamed or both—appetizers dumped at the nursing home.
Eagerly abandoned after the entrée: battered cod, canned
corn, iceberg lettuce with carrot zest; desserts come after:
instant tapioca or chocolate pudding.
They are fading at the edges—the forgotten; chipped chests
of drawers, dark women in wheelchairs collide with residents,
aides; voice disregard with jaded cries for lotion, stamps,
diaper changes, mislaid affection amidst bouquets of pale pink
wallpaper, dimming fluorescent bulbs, antiseptic urine nosegays.
Consigned then to ice cream socials, hay rides, talks with The
Lord, gymboree, activities like a dim sum cart in the hall
available if you catch the waiter’s eye.
Sift through white noise announcements they’re open
twenty-four hours—neon convenience; request today’s special
du-jour “resident-to-go.” Showered, dressed, pills, napkins, soy
sauce? It doesn’t matter, you’ll be bringing her back.
THE CLEARER SENSE OF TIME
eat ice cream when it's cold
fear stagnancy and compliance
regift your friends
always carry a journal and
a pen or a pencil
there is always a story
listen to everyone
write down whatever comes
nothing is sacred if TV
channels erectile dysfunction,
why can’t you
help all those who ask
and those who are too proud
to ask rescue strays but
find them good homes
do not hold on
don’t strive to be a big fish
a pond is a pond is a puddle
savor long hot showers
drink plenty of water
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento
Hands reaching out
Ready to catch the jumper