—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
it was still morning
and he began to burn
in a room of many windows
looking out on a side street of the city
watched her with those shoes
she was barefoot in jeans
and a flowered pajama top
flowers red as a cat’s tongue
as though she had just hopped out of bed
husband a minus since dawn
they were gold spike-heeled sandals
she held them in her lap
played with the straps
as she might play with any man
her hands small, fingers tender soft
in the room a brown leather couch
an upright piano, stool to whirl
a TV set on a bench
a chair upholstered green
where he chose to sit
after she answered the door
and invited him in
she took in his rap
from a deeper chair
where she nestled careless
her scorched honey hair kicking back
across the cushion
turned toward him, gave him the once-over
he began to burn
it would happen that night
they would meet on a corner
the flowers on her pajama top still red
red as a cat’s tongue, that’s what she was
a kitten he could throw high in the air
catch in his arms when she fell,
and he would explore her
find her parts as hot as a killer’s tongue
pulsing blood-red as last night’s sunset
She could be your mother
but only for a shuttered afternoon
she could be lattice-work
framed for climbing moonflowers
their broad purple petals
alert in the dark
like her sky-wide eyes
shrewd with hurt
iced with brilliant intention
she could be a peacock
(the male perhaps)
spreading her tail
for a rainbow
or a warning:
there could be no gold
at the end of this journey—
but something close to it
Thanks, Pat! New York City native Patricia Hickerson holds degrees from Barnard College and San Francisco State, and a doctorate from University of Southern California. As a child she danced in Warner Bros. movies, and has worked as an artist’s model, teacher, copy editor, fiction writer for Penthouse publications. Her poetry has been published in the broadside, At Grail Castle Hotel, from Rattlesnake Press, and the collection, Daughter and Mother. Some of the present poems have appeared in Echoes, Convergence, Medusa’s Kitchen, Rattlesnake Review, The Ophidian, WTF, Poetry Now, and The Yolo Crow. Join us at The Book Collector next Wednesday, February 9, to celebrate the release of Pat's new chapbook from Rattlesnake Press, Dawn and Dirty. That's 7:30pm at 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Free! Be there!
Friday is Submissions Opportunity Day on the b-board. This week it’s SPC’s book contest; check it out. Deadline is March 31.
I also notice that O, The Oprah Magazine, will celebrate National Poetry Month in April with a poem-filled issue, “Express Yourself”, guest-edited by Maria Shriver. They will accept submissions of original work or a favorite poem through Feb. 11 at www.oprah.com/poetry. Competition will be stiff and strange (Demi Moore and Mike Tyson have already submitted), but I’d pit our NorCal writers against the rest of the world ANY day. Give it a shot!
Another opportunity, this one for high school youngsters, comes from American River College—their literary contest for poetry, short stories and personal essays. Winners will receive $50 and publication in ARC’s American River Review. Deadline is March 30; entries must be submitted by the students’ teachers. See english.arc.losrios.edu for entry forms.
“WHICH STAR DO YOU LIKE THE BEST?"
(a poem in many voices)
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
It seemed, at that moment
As if everything that was going
To be said would be of great
Importance, verging on a profound
Discovery, a sudden understanding
Only seen when the night
Reached in the way it did now,
Casting about the rooms for
The shadows it kept under beds,
Behind doors, inside of mouths
That had seen too much today
And were hobbled knowing so much
Could be possible but no
Way of knowing what it was they knew.
We left through the carved
Door to the portico that ran
Along the side of the house.
Silence held everything in its hand.
This was hard to bear. The soft
Cloth of the year was only dust
Inside a barn turning from red
To gray, unlacing itself to be the night,
Allowing all of that star light to enter
Through shrinking ceiling boards and doors
That no longer quite closed.
“Which star do you like best?”
She opened the night with a gesture.
“All that heat where there is
No atmosphere, a gleaming from
So many stars.” She moved her hands
As if she were touching all of them.
“That one,” he said as the night
Doubled their numbers.
“Or that one,” as it did it again.
“How beautiful,” he thought
As he wondered how it was possible
They could not have been here every night
Looking at the stars this way,
Feeling as if all things were forever.
It would seem that even
If we could understand
How the sky held on to such
A beautiful blue we would
Find it hard to feel so wonderful
Whenever it comes into view.
Broken like a promise is broken,
Left leaning on the window sill
Watching rain once again, we
Are unable to escape the drumming.
It becomes a deep-throated humming.
Lifting the atmosphere to our lungs
The deep cool of deep April rain.
The day is too cold and too gray
To offer much in the way of solace.
It just helps the Winter look very old,
The Spring, further away, despite
Dogwood in bloom, plum blossoms
Already long abandoned, petals in the streets.
THE GOLDEN CHILD
What have we forgotten?
The way back to our room?
The round blue ball covered
With water that we kept floating
In space, spinning it the while?
The little watercolor we used
To keep in the kitchen near the door?
It showed a meadow with a small
Lake just beyond where that fence was.
The field near the woodlot where
Summer could always find us
In the late evenings sitting together.
Sometimes we would talk about
The future as if we might find
Ourselves there someday, still together.
The path to the barn covered with snow.
How anything could look like that,
So white it was almost blue in moonlight.
The box on the top of the dresser.
You said it was for dreams but it too
Has become lost. Perhaps the wind
Knows something of it or that breeze
That comes just now as we fall asleep.
Yes, perhaps it does know after all.
—Mitz Sackman, Murphys
Sometimes the big markers in life
Are not those famous decade events
Some start with an accident
An illness, a loss, a gift
An unexpected happening
Allows a new perspective
Creates different circumstances
A crossroads of life
A choice of resentment or gratitude
To notice life with grateful hearts
Live a more fulfilled life
At each new milestone
On the journey