Saturday, September 25, 2010

Bougainvillea and Scuppernongs

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

I linger
tripping dung beetles
away from their assumed masses
towards the glare
of a cracked neon plate
of words
declaring bankruptcy is not here to stay

it has read so a year now
every since I parked
my decaying carcass here
the brown wingtips
now grey lichen and moss abounding

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA


Richard Hansen writes that he’ll be back from Scotland this weekend! Of course he’ll need some time to adjust to life on this side of The Pond, but we’ll keep you posted about the progress of The Ophidian.

Also in the ‘Way Cool Dept., frank andrick’s computer woes are resolved, thanks to Josh Fernandez, so he’ll be able to get the WTF#7 info to me in time to release it at Luna’s Café on Oct. 21. This also means we’ll be able to get back on schedule, so the deadline for WTF#8 will be Friday, Oct. 15. Go to for submission guidelines.

The latest issue of The Dirty Napkin is online, with SnakePal poets Cleo Griffith and Gillian Wegener plus others:

Davis PL Allegra Silberstein sends us this announcement from Kurt Ridgeway:

•••Mondays 10/4, 12/6, 2/7, 6:30-8:30pm: The Well of Poems workshop open to Unitarian Universalist church members and the community-at-large at the UU Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Rd., Davis. Free. This is an opportunity for a deepening conversation about poems meaningful to your life. Each person will bring a poem (or two), read the poem, relate any story associated with the poem, and reflect on the poem’s significance to their life story. This can be ANY poem, yours or someone else’s. The intent is to invoke a dialogue through the power of poetry and perhaps provide each other with some greater understanding and appreciation of the human journey.

• Open to poets and non-poets
• There will be no critiquing or writing poems
• Poems are to be no longer than one page
• Optional: Bring 10 copies of the poem(s) you present

Facilitator Kirk Ridgeway (530-231-5679 or is a worship associate at UUCD. In Pleasanton he was co-chair of the Annual Poetry, Prose & Arts Festival, was Poet Laureate, and values the oral poetic tradition. Register at or (530) 753-2581, x104.


—Michael Cluff

(for Jose Saramago)

Crouching on a newer island
where California once was,
Bruce waits
for a tide
that never comes.

Sagebrush and yucca blossoms
aren't enough
the chalky stream
is starting to run low to
lower to lowest.

Helicopters will fetch him up soon
and Margo as well
he suns himself
under the Hollywood sign
while she scampers by
on a camel
freed from the zoo.

Waves of heat
caper kilometers away
and Catalina is closer
than it has ever been before.


—Michael Cluff

I heard a painting talk
in the cadence and inflection of a Spanish fern
and the Doric pillar was unreceptive
until the moon went auburn.

Stellar cauliflower
was a nice touch
on the edge of a Elgar piece
tetanus will always wilt the lily.

Anger was the fourteenth concept
in the muskegon's gall
and he, the zero dog,
kills only when the wind is to his back.

Applaud sauce
holds a daylight advantage
but pink earshells
caused, once again, against dirigibles.



—Michael Cluff

Joab glares non-stop
at me while picking the inside
at a week-old pork and beans can,

I am ashamed of myself,
I have been reduced to this,
it hurts more
breaking kosher rules,
yet it does not really matter.

"I am Minsk,"
he stammered,
"I thought it would be better here.
It is not
the hand of poverty
is just as heavy.

"My coat should be so thick
the newspapers I cover my feet
at night between twelve and two
with what I can not read.

"Unemployment rides my back
like a mad wolf on the edge
of the brown forest."

I am mute,
another sleeper here
cut my tongue out
a week ago
he does not recall doing so—

I do not either

I think.


Lucy and Ron are playing footsie
underneath the mosaic-topped table,
she's gay and he isn't
it makes life more intriguing.

Irma finally came back
she's been gone for about a year,
she has a blue streak in a forelock
it just makes her look fatter.

Gilbert wants to rewrite the world
it never measures up to his standards
which are lower than he suspects.

Sondra isn't saying so much
that's not quite like her,
the usurper of anyone's power,
she controls all such situations.

April then slaps Peter
hard across the groin,
he'd rather be with Irma
rolling on her bedroom floor.

The fountain isn't running
it always shuts down in hot weather,
Ron wonders what April and Sondra look like
naked in the airport lobby
days when Rick flies in alone.

And the gunman lurks in the bougainvillea
right inside the aspe door.
Father Milo saw him leave there quickly
and Gilbert, fetal, dead on the coldest stones.

Lucy plants a scuppernong
for Gilbert within a month
and moves away from Ron and all
except Sondra and Peter who are no more.

—Michael Cluff


Today's LittleNip:

Never in the history of humankind have we had so many means of communication, yet we remain islands. There is little real communication between the members of one family, between the individuals in society, and between nations. We have not cultivated the arts of listening and speaking. We have to learn ways to communicate again.

—Thich Nhat Hanh



Under Our Redwood Tree
Photo by Sam the Snake Man