Monday, June 21, 2010

Welcome Back, Persephone!

Return of Persephone
Painting by Lord Frederick Leighton

—Carmela Marie Ruby, Sacramento

Demeter went after her daughter
lying below in hairy-armed
darkness: bargained for half her life.

By the time Persephone rose, released,
blinking in sunlight, pulling
into her scratched chest
breaths of warm air,
the cereal was ready.

She had no appetite,
encircled still by his stink
no spice subdued,

nor woman’s arms,
her mother’s, eclipsed memories
of his cold thighs on hers.

Not a word. She sat on her mother’s rock.
The view of home, once, now fogged.
The river looked like sludge.

“Ah my egg, my blossom,
Give me your hand”
and kissed her wild hair.


Thanks, Carmela! Carmela Marie Ruby is a long-time member of the Sacramento Poetry Center. She coordinated the weekly poetry workshops, submitted a few poems to its publications, received with gratitude a contribution from it along with SMAC’s New Works Grant to produce the exhibit, “Sacramento Streets by Street People” which went to 15 local venues. She’s been a minor but faithful supporter of poetry in the community. Now and then she has been part of readings at local bookstores in Sacramento, Stockton, Nevada City… Her poems have appeared in several anthologies: One Hundred Poems, Watermarks, Deck of Poets, Stockton Arts Commission’s Winning Poems. She coordinated the annual poetry readings by the Friends of the Library at Alexandria, Egypt, and wrote four Introductions to their Anthologies. Carmela retired from a really good career at the State Libraries of New Mexico and California, and took a leave to work in a similar position for the Secretaria de Educacion Publica in Mexico. She’s a native Californian, and has a son and a daughter. Being in art and nature also brings her great happinesss.

Watch for more of Carmela's work in Rattlesnake Press's new anthology, The Ophidian, due online later this summer.

This week in NorCal poetry:

Check the b-board at the right for what’s going on this week; as always, go to for a more complete listing. Do note, however, that tonight’s SPC reading has been moved from Fremont Park to SPC’s headquarters at 25th and R Sts., Sacramento.

Molly Fisk will be reading three times this week—check that out on the b-board, too! Also of note are all the happenings in Placerville and environs: three poetry events up thataway this week, including the new series at ArtSpace, the monthly read-around at Upstairs Gallery, plus a workshop next weekend with Red Fox Undergrounder Brigit Truex in Coloma.

Interested in doing something about the BP oil spill? See the note about Poets for Living Waters, or the one above it about Sunday’s benefit in Petaluma.

I’ve changed some of the photos at the bottom of the b-board. Look for Bill Gainer and Mikey West.

And welcome back from the underground, Persephone; we missed you! Enjoy your six months in the sun. (The perfect marriage, right? Six months on, six months off…)


—Carmela Marie Ruby

Long young skin
unblemished, before
frailty forced him
over the ledge of age

so that the language
of skin — tender laced
with sighs, silence —

stumbled and bumped,
as when an elbow is bruised
in the dark doorway back to bed.

The glide
of romantic immaculate love
is interrupted.
A wound unmended under
the flannel of skin
weeps. Songs flow hurt
on thin thin strings.

Only an elasticity of mind
can conjure
the once-smooth youth
who listened all night
to his own blood
and to mazurkas.


—Carmela Marie Ruby

I prefer to think we build walls
solely with intent
to warm our backs in the sun.

In particular:
plaster and stone,
and wooden walls.


Not long settled against a wall
I lid my from inside
the alterations of light
when birds and clouds fly by, breaking up rays.


Not long and I swell,
lean in like a lover
concede to the wall
the intimacy to scratch my back...
and this is good...

the textures of wood,
stone and plaster differ
from wool, silk, from sheets,
sand and pine needles

where lovers lie,
especially at the beginning.


—Carmela Marie Ruby

In the balm of the island
that resembles an almond sliver
in the haze of sodden air

the chronicler paints
day after day
the same waterfowl, lying
sticky with sand.

At year's end he knows
their naked frames
intimately as a stroking lover

who has also seen them alive,
on the move,

But could not portray the truth
of their colors

while they flourished.


Today's LittleNip:

"The peony was as big as this,"
Says the little girl,
Opening her arms.

—Issa (translated by Reginald Horace Blyth)



Magnolia Blossom
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove