Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Jellyfish of Your Griefs

School Steps in Chico
Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

Roy Myer is dedicated on a bench at the Arden-Dimick Library
    I only knew him late in life as a Russian teacher
    He'd probably wonder why he deserves to be there
    out of all the library's teachers and supporters
    But he liked my poetry
    including the one about a wayward whale in our Bay
    I didn't learn Russian as good as I had intended
    I wouldn't eat Russian treats he brought to class
    (of course because they weren't vegan)
    and I hated his big, draping Soviet flag,
    a gift from his class he would proudly display,
    still insisting Russian territory was the U.S.S.R.
    despite the news of the struggling separate Eastern republics
    he thought they'd demand it come back some day
    Myer said he served in the German luftwaffa
    but since he had not been a Nazi or an S.S. officer
    was probably how he got American naturalization
    But he probably felt he had to make it up for it
    He learned Russian to serve the U.S. in its Cold War
    But he was surprised when Russian refugees
    suspected him for being a spy for the KGB
    Especially when he said he sat in their churches
    wearing shades and sitting in a back pew
    thinking he was just being cool
    He and his wife would invite students
    for potluck dinners at their home
    where they'd play and sing along with the accordion
    and at Stolichny Restaurant near McClellan Air Force Base
    He'd say Russians asked him about religion
    and if he "went to church"
    He'd explain, laughing, "Well I go to church everyday…
    it is wherever I choose to be in nature…"
    he'd say in a Robert Frost kind of way
    Perhaps instead of a bench, a pew set in the woods
    right next to his beloved Volga River
    where apparently the year before he died
    he took one last cruise
    He said he felt bad for many on board,
    especially an otherwise rather polite young prostitute
    and he gave her payment anyway for no services
    I heard he died following a celebration on his return
    which is likely what he wanted.
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Thanks, Michelle, for helping us wind up our bench-musings this week. Our new Seed of the Week is Katy Brown's photo of steps. Where do these steps lead? Up, or down? What is the next step in your life? Send the fruit of your seeds to kathykieth@hotmail.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on SOWs, though, and for past ones, click on Calliope's Closet under the SNAKE ON A ROD over at the right on the skinny blue box that is our b-board.

Thanks also to Claire Baker for the poem that I've posted as Today's LittleNip. Claire has suggested we might post her email address, which I did. Feel free to do the same, if you want to increase communications for yourself that way.

Shawn Aveningo was scheduled to read at Luna's Cafe on October 14, but unfortunately her dad needs more surgery, so she'll be in St. Louis that day. So her feature has been postponed until next year. Please keep her and her dad in your thoughts.


—Ruth Stone

Still in October, the woodcock,
Silent in the gold leaves,
Waits for the last breath of summer.
In the wet grass a firefly signals like Betelgeuse
Across the darkness; late lover,
Saving his flash for the death-boom
In the Northern lights.
On this ridge the nights flicker and fall with the Orionids.
Here on the ground I look up
Into the white haze of the universe.
The summer is in me like a readiness for flight,
And I search among the signs
For the flare, polestar, pulley toward the edge.


—Ruth Stone

Like cutting the dry rot out of a potato,
There is nothing left in a moment but the skin
And a little milky juice. How awful to slice it open
And find the center fustating, malevolent.


—Ruth Stone

My love’s eyes are red as the sargasso
With lights behind the iris like a cephalopod’s.
The weeds move slowly, November’s diatoms
Stain the soft stagnant belly of the sea.
Mountains, atolls, coral reefs,
Do you desire me? Am I among the jellyfish of your griefs?
I comb my sorrows singing; any doomed sailor can hear
The rising and falling bell and begin to wish
For home. There is no choice among the voices
Of love. Even a carp sings.


—Ruth Stone

A basket of dirty clothes
spills all day long
down the mountain
beating the rocks
with a horrible washer-woman’s cry.
Now two riders go by
horseback on the dirt road.
Young women talking of antique latches,
blind to the dirty linen,
smells of urine, bedsores,
bowels of old women
left on their backs,
fat and lye,
lies of doctoring men.
Strange weather mid-summer
is summer spent.
I open a book of poems.
All lies on the psalter, I say,
the dead are silent.
The riders come back
chatting like birds.
What would I not give
to return that way.
Their horses trot in a break
of sunlight over the road.
And I think, what’s done is done.
It won’t be changed with words.


Today's LittleNip:


Wish we could mercifully
point a "street remote"
at all the homeless—press
for them the escape button,
beam them to a haven
in calm suburban heaven
near the evening star.
The rest of the journey
would depend upon
how fast, how far—
who else they can become,
and who they really are.

Claire J. Baker, Pinole



Spray Paint 2
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove