a drop of blood, a scrap of memory,
a pear blossom in moonlight,
and snakes, always snakes
for motivation. . . .
dance naked on the page,
drop mask, pretense, intent,
everything learned about
civilized behavior . . . .
write by candlelight, streetlight,
brilliant sun, half-dark moon,
the faint light of a distant comet . . . .
write on the back of a map,
margin of a photograph,
utility bill, notebook, computer screen,
grocery list, underwear receipt. . . .
the poem always existed,
waiting in the void,
waiting to be heard by the poet
who is quiet enough,
trusting enough to coax it from
the underbrush where it
crouched, hidden since the first dawn
when all that existed was a single word . . . .
—Katy Brown, Davis
Open the spiral bound book
the pen is close by
begin writing or
stare at the blank page accusing you
until you must turn away.
Twist your pain into a square knot,
secure it to the crossbows of a kite,
wait for a sudden wind
to send it aloft.
Trust to flight in an amethyst sky;
bring it down once again
it holds sky within.
Let it be caught
in the spirals of your book
let it shine on the blank page...
take up your pen and write.
—Allegra Silberstein, Davis
—Michael Cluff, Highland
Between the banging
I smile at Martine
she never returns
but the extra cinnamon
in the buns
usually tells me
on a comfortable
confirmation of coinaged
citizenship colliding in copses
of cornfield confidences
and cobalted chewable caraway
ceded coronets collapsing
into codas and catastrophized
baleful bassoons bollocking Baal.
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento
Here is a street lady
trapped in a web of abuse,
her shivering body painted
over with several thin coats of rehab.
She became alienated from preachers
whose sponsors provide them food,
shelter, clothing, and a home to come
home to while they elevate their knowledge
and skills at the university. She gets her
religion where she gets everything else:
from the dumpster.
Today is her birthday. Tomorrow she
graduates high school. The next day
everyone at the office wishes her well
on her promotion. Whatever is in there
mixed in with the usual garbage.
A bold but undisciplined tongue
faithfully articulates the utter pathos
of having to shape one’s hopes and
dreams within the confines of other
“A CENTURY OF DOVES”
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
A tearing at the windows
That opens to a particular jewel.
We can walk there. Even the air
Smells sweet as if the clouds were charms.
Here the Forlicon hills seem
To challenge the sea, almost taunt
It with hard, nearly leafless scrub
Plants that never seem to notice
The wind and cold rains. Like truths
That have seen all fools, they never
Shake in their perfect occasions,
At spring, they have the smallest
Of yellow flowers, four-petaled.
I caught it in my throat
And it was a birdsong, one
I did not recognize and I thought
It my own and perhaps I had
Made it and then afraid to look
Down, but doing so, I saw myself
Fully fledged gazing at two pure
White herons perched in the branches
Of a tree nearly submerged in
A pond. There was only a moment of this
And the hills returned around me and I wept.
We will hardly notice when this
Is over. A sudden flurry of description
As if a poem were an uncommon species
Of bird that hardly ever visits these
Colder climates, even during the short
Summer days when insects form dense
Clouds in the air and conspire to
Be the noise filling the night. Clouds of them
Blocking sunlight and even the moon
For moments at a time and then
There they are shining again against
The buzzing darkness with its curious
Movement, wings through the thickness
Of the air. The ground littered
With hundreds of thousands of
Tiny winged bodies in the morning
Just as new clouds begin to
Form close to the surface of the lake,
Fish rising through rainbows to snap at them.
LOST & FOUND
—Carl Bernard Schwartz
A few nights ago we stepped out
into the cold backyard, looked
up and saw the moon, a beautiful
The very next night we once again
stepped out into the cold
backyard, looked up, and saw
no moon at all. We knew it was
way too soon to have reached the
new moon phase, so we tried
looking from all directions around
the house, but there was no view
of the moon.
After consulting the almanac, we
discovered that in this season the
moon didn’t rise until about 10:20 p.m.
That was the difference.
Forget about the virtue of being
early. From now on we’ll be
happy with the rewards of being