A Lady of King Arthur's Court, 1907
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Restless Heart Syndrome afflicts me worst when
fate strikes the poetry community. Oh, I suppose
I’m the Emmeline Grangerford of the region,
too often inditing poesy on a departed comrade
I’ve seldom met, but whose bright fine verses
I’ve really read, a fair number of them, usually.
But no: the pang is real, the aspiring-outward ache
of living secluded, as one might in the weeds,
in the bayou, missing a poet, skald, or bard
always by fractions, hearing the not-far fiddle,
knowing all I need is to bend or beat down
a few cane stalks to bust clear, one more sucker
rivergrass bewilders, leaving the tobacco shack
to hobnob with a Real Poet. Yes, my life’s lived
beside a poet-love; but what of the soulmate
at the barricade? Just us masculines, four elbows
under gunfire, smoke blossoms along the river,
you punking the hot touchhole, me
yanking the lanyard, cannonading Philistines?
Ah, doesn’t every Sacto poet long for
the forgotten once when every coffee shop
and juice bar promised a steady reading,
when life was Raymond and Carver
and unstoppered jug staining
the chin glug-raw with the red?
Thanks, Tom, and thanks to the rest of today's contributors for playing along with our Seed of the Week: RHS (Restless Heart Syndrome). Been afflicted with RHS yourself? Or maybe you're one of those serene types who's never heard the call of the wild. Whatever shape your heart's in, write about it and send it to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726; no deadline on SOWs. You can hear Tom Goff read with some other poets, by the way, when the Tiger Comes to Town next Monday night at the Sacramento Poetry Center—see the b-board for details.
Speaking of SPC, the newest issue of Sacramento Poetry Center’s journal, Tule Review, is out. Members will receive them through the mail; other copies will be available at SPC readings and, I assume, at The Book Collector.
I keep reminding people to subscribe (free) to the Poets & Writers’ online newsletter, which always has lots of possible venues for submitting poems to contests and journals. Email email@example.com to sign up.
Friends of poet/publisher Tom Kryss will be saddened to hear that his wife, Carolyn, passed away July 3 after a long illness. We'll be thinking about you, Tom.
AN EXPANDING UNIVERSE
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Once upon a timelessness,
once I had flashed upon
the concept of "once"
I began at once
on a journey of onces
multiplied by millions
from an essence of one.
—Claire J. Baker
Gangsters used to be trigger-happy—
now it's policemen, "afraid" their prone
subject may reach for a cigarette,
gun, handkerchief, a cell phone.
A neighbor allegedly heard:
"Stop fooling with that thing."
Then five shots: a cell phone,
bunched officers glaring.
A sidewalk tarp covered
the "used up" youth.
Near the crowd where I watched,
in shock, a cop relaxed, drank
bottled water in the shade.
“A KIND OF WANDERER”
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
(Elihu Burritt to the people of Harborne, May 1869)
Not yet daylight, but birds are calling
their goodbyes; wild geese northing, burdened
only by their bodies. Your life
has been split by oceans, borders. How many
Atlantic crossings? On which side could you find
peace? You’re sailing again—this time, west,
leaving the only home you’ve called your own—
the rented cottage in Victoria Road
where your nieces kept house for you,
Mr. Lincoln’s agent to Birmingham.
The parish folk of Harborne hope to hold
your thoughts here with their parting gift,
Knight’s Illustrated Shakespeare.
It weights your luggage like a heart
as you wave farewell: St. Peter’s church
of unstained windows and leaf-vaulted trees;
the village children, the library
where your own books are shelved.
The little legacy of my life I shall leave
in the books I have written.
The wanderer sails back to America.
Your widowed sister—how she’ll greet
her daughters after these four years.
Will you find a home there, and peace
to settle in? Or will you still be traveling
in your mind? It’s daylight.
The birds are singing goodbye.
GHOSTS IN MY KNEE
These declining autumn nights, I tuck
long wool socks under my pillow
for when the chill won’t let me sleep.
How many years of hiking the Sierra,
Vogesen, Chugach, Blue Ridge—
midday I’d pull off boots and socks,
let snowmelt wash the miles away.
These nights, my right leg feels like ice.
Is that the point that came down
hard on granite? Sometimes it’s the hip
that hitches. The trick-knee grips and gripes.
The whole leg’s haunted. Ghosts gather
in my joints, whispering, remembering
overlooks and waterfalls; keeping my
stitched history alive. One in the morning.
Stars reflect on ceiling, moonlight seeps
through shingles. Voices long gone, thin air
shivers me awake. I pull on hiking socks.
THE PUGNACIOUS POET
—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento
slips on syllabics . . .
trips on triteness . . .
snuffs out similes . . .
mutilates metaphors . . .
staggers into stagnation . . .
rebounds in a rematch.