—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Says Kathy, I remember when Black Friday
referred to the day Christ was crucified…
yes, and black, deep, deep black, was summoned
when streamers of crepe ran up the cross
from its one seeping foot. How did black
blood from the most sacred outrage become
mere matter to splatter the pages of ledgers,
prove the bleeding books of red
healthy and black with blood sausage?
Pray, dear friends, that the Savior figure
may come to rule again the saintly season,
dethroning the bloat-belly. Remember
Howard Nemerov decrying satyr Santa,
who wears, cries Howard, a beard of cotton
waste! See if you can what sleight of name
excises from this jellied elfin fraud the names
“Jolly” and “Saint,” leaving, as we suspected,
only “Old” and “Nick”… Distend your nostrils
and breathe! as the scents of coconut candle
and Glade ineluctably recede, yielding place
to molasses—and sulphur…
—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks
I’m not saying
I bought out
The store, but
Dim the lights
As I left.
Just a matter
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Tonight Raccoon goes shopping.
Endless corridors under dark
of a fluorescent moon. Sweet-nuts,
birds at ease, at roost. Cut short.
This season the shops never close.
Power-play of strung stars, ripple-
effect, reflections off white floor.
Desire in glitter-wrap snow.
Raccoon fingers the coins of
hunger. Bandit-mask. Hesitation
is a prey-word. Raccoon tracks
overlap themselves in running.
SHOPPING FOR THE FEAST
I’ll take a livre, s’il-vous-plaît, of French,
a Pfund of German (all in the same bag, bitte)
for my sisters/grandfathers/great-greats
of Alsace, or Elsaß, as the borders shifted
with each war. Throw in un peu d’ail – ein
Bißchen Knoblauch – a little bite of garlic
to savor the tongue. A borderless feast
for friends and un-kissed cousins on each side.
For old-times sake, half a cup of Latin;
a dash of Greek. And a pinch of Sanskrit –
distant kin – for its grace, a dancing script.
Credit this to everyone who comes, bringing
some new accent, exotic spice. If potluck
pleases, next year more neighbors. Family.
we get past it all: zigzagging like
little yellow taxis down crazy
city streets: swerving around
bicycles and crosswalkers and
shopping carts into bus lanes
and one-way alleys: back up, then
back out into it: closing ears to
angry buzz of motorcycles—riders
with no helmets, nothing but
raggedy jeans between them
and the asphalt. . . Somehow
we weave these rickety tin cabs
in and out of narrow lanes: feet
to the pedals and then the brakes:
get past it all, despite that sudden
slam for a toddler—blue eyes
and baby curls peeking up
over the bumper—those sudden
slams and near-misses that come
back to follow us, day after day:
dog us, night after night. . .