Wednesday, July 14, 2010

An Oracle Contact High

Bird of Paradise
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Fred, an artist, paid a psychic to give
him a past-life regression. Fred thought
he had been an important artist in another
lifetime—maybe even Michelangelo.

He relaxed on a leather couch. The psychic
worked her powers. She told him that in
1930, Fred was a laborer on a potato farm,
working for minimum wages, in Idaho.

When Fred asked her to go back further in
time, she said that in 1856, he was picking
cotton in Georgia. “No, no!” Fred replied,
“I want you to go 'way, 'way back in time.”

The psychic took a deep breath, saying
she saw him as a prehistoric caveman,
returning from a successful hunt, who
proudly wanted to tell his mate about it.

Lighting a torch in his cave, the man drew
a picture of a deer. His speechless wife gave
it a name. Thus began human language.
His wife never stopped talking after that.


Thanks, Richard, for your riff on Consulting the Oracle, our Seed of the Week. It's true—the gift of language has kept us all in the business of talking—women and men!—wherever would poets be.....? So use that language of yours and send poems to Medusa, about Oracles or whatever else tickles yer pencil; this is a 24/7, full-serve Kitchen, and the snakes of Medusa are always hungry.

Did you know that the Cal. State Library houses the World’s Largest Public Collection of Haiku outside of Japan! Ignorant me—I just learned about it Monday night from our visiting Oregonians who were in town to read for the Tiger's Eye reading. Here's the info I lifted off the website:

The American Haiku Archives is the world’s largest public collection of haiku and related poetry books and papers outside Japan. This repository is housed at the California State Library in Sacramento and is dedicated to preserving the history of North American haiku.

The American Haiku Archives (AHA) was originally the idea of Dr. Kevin Starr, former California state librarian, and haiku poet Jerry Kilbride. The archives took shape in 1995 and 1996 with the help of many additional volunteers and advocates, and was founded at the California State Library on July 12, 1996. At this time, the American Haiku Archives became the official archive of the Haiku Society of America. Initial major donations of books and papers came from Elizabeth Searle Lamb and from the Haiku Society of America. Since then, many other significant collections of haiku-related books, papers, and correspondence have been donated to the archives. Library archivists have meticulously catalogued and archived all donated materials using state-of-the-art archival processes so that these valuable materials will be available for generations of future haiku poets and researchers.

The haiku archives welcomes the public through the California State Library’s California History Room, where its rare and special book collections are accessible. The American Haiku Archives also welcomes donations of books, papers, letters, and other material relating to haiku, mainly in English, but also in other languages. The California State Library is primarily located at 914 Capitol Mall in Sacramento, California, and the American Haiku Archives is housed at the Library and Courts II Building at 900 “N” Street. Stephen Addiss will be Honorary Curator through 2010. You are invited to read about honorary curators, learn how to donate to the archives, conduct research, and more at

Two upcoming CLA events:

•••Thurs. (7/22), 6:30-8:30pm: California Lawyers for the Arts presents Copyrights at The Barton Gallery, 1723 I St., Sacramento. Join CLA and attorney Steve Davis as he presents an overview of Copyright Law. Topics include What is Copyright, International Copyright, How to Copyright your work, What does Copyright Protect, Pictorial, Graphic, and Sculptural works, Sound Recordings, What rights are secured for copyright owners, Co-ownership, Collective Work and much more. There will also be a Q&A. Steve Davis is an attorney at the law firm of Davis and Leonard in Sacramento ( Phone 916-442-6210 (ext. 102) or email to register. You may also register online at Fee: $20 general, $10 members of CLA, $5 student/senior members.

•••Mon. (8/9), 12:30-2pm: California Lawyers for the Arts and The Sacramento County Public Law Library present A Resource Tour of the Library for Artists of all disciplines at The Sacramento County Public Law Library, 813 Sixth St., Sacramento. An informative, librarian-led tour of the law library's resources, including self-help books, in-depth guides and useful databases and websites. The library has material addressing special concerns of artists including musicians, craft artists and writers, as well as information for anyone who runs a small business, sells work through etsy or eBay, or works as an independent contractor. Phone (916) 442-6210 ext. 102 or email to register. You may also register online at Fee: $10 general, $5 student/senior members.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Beats me, trying to capture
oracle-lightning of Socrates
for students in a philosophy module
—who the hell dreamed up the word
“module?” It’s a damn lesson packet,

no hiding Socratic truth.
For students it’s a lemon packet:
I’ve seen these modules, even the best
writ, wrinkle noses, pucker

lips a fraction previous, the lips
of eighteen-year-olds, puppy-nose moist.
What they perceive in these crude-staple
pages aromas them Stuporman: suck

that Delphi belly-button air. Can’t
understand what the freaking priestess
is babbling at me from the black squiggles;
I’m getting an oracle contact high,
feel like woozing back on my ass.
What? Socrates?
Old Greek geek?

He came back from earth’s crack
saying I know less than nothing? May I be
excused? My brain is emptying, right
before your very


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Since dawn the suitors are nervous.
That same foreboding in the hectic race of clouds
for horizon, the sea forever sharpening its rocks
on the wind’s whetstone. The tiding earth
speaks subduction and drift. Natural stresses
under land and water, underfoot, in hearthstone
and rafter, in words that lurk in sleep. Remember
what the oracle said about coming back
to where you sailed from.

Today she works the same old myth,
twenty years, her loom unraveling a husband’s
return: threads so often told, untold, retold.
Last night a dreamlike scent of warm nutmeg,
an island no sailor could escape. His name,
Odysseus, slurred by distance and retelling,
Ulysses of a tale worn beyond
the patience of her loom—his name
lost in her own unweaving.


—Taylor Graham

The radio breaks into morning
with more bad news about caffeine, x-rays
and the health risks of living.
Rub the sleep from your eyes, wash
your face. As if life should be forever and
forevermore. Turn off the radio, put on
your glasses against shortsighted
vision. Dislodge the cat
from atop the coffee-maker.
Look out the window where sunlight
illuminates two unthrifty elms.
Is it enough to know that tall trees
somewhere hold a shadow-space
between earth and sky?


man’s world
—charles mariano, sacramento

it occurred to me
last night
while watching
a certifiable “chick flick,”
that it wasn’t all that bad

in fact
at a key moment
embarrassingly enough,
my eyes watered

didn’t wipe
not right away
lest it give away

in the big, bad world
of genderous confusion
a manly presence

and yet,
i’m confident who i am
my wants and needs,
so what’s the problem?

if at times
i sneak a peek
at an old Fred Astaire musical
and get caught,

big deal

i refuse to defend myself
by claiming
a surf accident

go ahead
shed a tear,
tap my feet,
hum a few tunes,

be a man


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

I wish I had words on this page:
Thought vanishes as I think it.

Time is culprit and suspect.
I wish I had words.



Colette Jonopulos and JoAn Osborne
Editors, Tiger's Eye: A Journal of Poetry
Sacramento Poetry Center, 2010
Photo by Katy Brown