Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Secret Agents of the Open Air

JoAnn Anglin, Danyen Powell, Anne Rudin, Allegra Silberstein
at the SPC Fundraiser at the Miller Home, Dec., 2010
—Photo by Trina Drotar, Sacramento

—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

Yesterday was
December 7th
not a lot of noise.
December 8th
and all the talk
is about
where you were
when John Lennon 
was shot?

As a generation dies off
so does its memories.
Hang on John,
you got 35-40 years
Then they'll just have
to imagine....


Thanks, Bill! Bill Gainer has a reading coming up in Davis on Thursday, Dec. 16; check out the b-board under "More Than a Week Away".

Speaking of readings, don't forget Ron Peat tonight at The Book Collector, 7:30pm, with other fun things besides! It's not too late to sign up for the Medusa's Kitchen Seasonal Reading, either. See the b-board for more about that. Taylor Graham will be one of the readers, by the way (see below).

This week we're talking about Self-Portraits. Send your thoughts on them to Herewith are some stunners (more tomorrow):


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Sometimes it started as an echo
slipping from under the bed
a slur of taps
not sharp and clear enough
not in time with Mother’s
drumstep heart

The not-so-famous child of the ‘30s
in the night vault
my bed the coffin
for kids who failed to smile
roll their eyes as they danced
Mother frowned at me
from across the studio floor

When sleep couldn’t come
still seeing workers
on the catwalk high above
the Flatbush soundstage
they stared down at me
just one of a dozen toy soldiers
tapping out a stair dance
for the camera’s roll
don’t fall, don’t look at the steps
klieg lights blink my eyes
take after take with stomach churn
sick after a day’s shoot
sick on the long ride home
sick on the Brooklyn Bridge

In the night,
just in time to the bathroom—
(body still burnt orange
from the 6 am makeup)
spill it all
into the toilet

How it started onstage
five years old dancing with Mary
the piano played
“Two Little Girls in Blue”
the spread of darkened audience
the wave of clapping
became hands that squeezed the dough
of my yeasty core
Mother’s head, her mouth a round O
head sliding along a high taut wire,
Mother’s head with its blue-lit eyes
glaring down at me from above the coffin


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Stubblefield left over from the war.
Sticks stuck in the ground at odd angles
as if no one could agree on a word
for upright. Concrete upended, barring
the way. Isn’t that what war’s about
in any language? Unbreakable ashes-of-
a-war extinguished, still smoldering
after years. Who knows the name
of the place. French or German
as the river flowed. I’m in manteau
d’hiver, mittens clasped to the knee.
Perched on a dragon’s-tooth.
An Ur-Ahne wrote dirges on her face.
No one survives a war.


—Taylor Graham

I gather December-tarnish leaves
and broken twigs
letting more sky shine through,
making new of leftovers
to feed us through the solstice,
punching a rising dough;
writing shortened lists
in diminishing light,
waking to longer nights
and news of friends lingering,
pale green ghosts
of April on the wild plum;
making do with
metaphoric spring, mancha-
mantra, mustard
gold in the creek. Words.


—Taylor Graham

Deer? fox? Is there a season
on crawdads, or only oilslick waters?
I calculate particulates rising
from smokestacks, and outstretched hands
reaching for nondurables from the
factory. I estimate populations
by their landfills, and recite the dangers
of too much. Can you see
me? Two eyes peering through
sumac, secret agent of the
open air.


Today's LittleNip: 

it isn't that we're alone or not alone
whose voice do you want—mine? yours?

—Ikkyu (translated from the Japanese by Stephen Berg)



Mary Zeppa and Sandy Thomas
at the SPC Fundraiser
—Photo by Trina Drotar