Saturday, March 26, 2011


Photo by D.R. Wagner


Huckleberry heart,
your sketches cartooning life,
playful and diverse,
a silent, stoic artist . . .
my poet extraordinaire.
Love of poetry
brought us together one day.
I enjoyed your verse
and we began a journey . . .
lost in love of poetry.

—Patricia A. Pashby (first verse)
—Richard A. Zimmer (second verse)


NorCal poets will be saddened to hear that Richard Zimmer passed away this week. His friend and fellow poet Pat Pashby wrote us this beautiful letter:

Richard lost his battle a few days ago. He put up a good fight since November 4 when he was admitted to Mercy General with heart failure. He was in and out of the hospital, in rehab at two nursing homes and in an assisted living facility before a series of infections took him. His immune system could not fight them.

I have sent along a Somonka: an epistolary love poem made up of two tankas and written by two authors that was made into one of her "bookmarks" by Joyce Odam back in April 2004. I wrote the first verse and Richard wrote the second those many years ago in Joyce's Wednesday class [at the Hart Center in Sacramento].

Thank you again for doing the Broadside in his honor. It meant so much to him. I miss him so much, such a wonderful friend for eleven years. But his memory remains in his writings on Medusa and Rattlesnake etc. He had a special way of seeing things.

Thank you, Pat, for keeping us informed. Richard's littlesnake broadside, A Bench Called Henry, is available at The Book Collector, or write to me at and I'll send you one, free.


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

outside her window
they’re strangers

in Betty’s studio
cerulean sky
cadmium clot of sun:
they land on her canvas
above a burnt sienna tree—
cobalt slipper of leaf
tiptoes across the shaggy grass
little spotted dog stands ready
venetian red tongue forked out
for his bone-shaped biscuit
in a forward-stretched ochre hand
all acquainted
inside Betty’s brush


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Tell me how I look.
Tell me if I’m a car wreck.
Tell me if I’ve paid the price.
Tell me if you hear this.
Tell me if this whole thing is wrong.
Tell me if we’ve made up our minds.
Tell me if we’re only dreaming.
Tell me if we’re out of doors.
Tell me if we’re making love.
Tell me if the plane is going down.
Tell me if we’re drowning.
Tell me if we’re really doing it.
Tell me if there is blood.
Tell me if you can smell this.
Tell me if it is night.
Tell me if we are frozen solid.
Tell me if we are not moving.
Tell me what our half-life is.
Tell me where to put this.
Tell me if this heat is our bodies.
Tell me where the exit is.
Tell me if we are high.
Tell me where the spaces are.
Tell me if we are boys or girls.
Tell me if the lights are on.
Tell me if you believe we can stop it.
Tell me if this is religion.
Tell me if we are traveling.
Tell me we’ve lost our way.
Tell me if it is morning.
Tell me if you speak any language at all.
Tell me if we’ve been poisoned.
Tell me if this is all blurred.
Tell me if this is for here or to go.
Tell me if we are kissing.
Tell me if we are lightning.
Tell me if the pressure is too much.
Tell me if I’ve been lying.

This is as pure as anything.
This is a cloud.
This is not a machine.
Let’s do this again as soon as possible.


(apologies to Elizabeth Bishop)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Across the Google map, storm warnings fling
more radiant colors than any known
to the ancient paper map-makers. Central Coast,
green faintly blued; in one small zone, chartreuse.
Pink pinkens the Sierras, southern Cascades
wildest pink, like seaview flowerbox blooms in Carmel.
But oh! delight to be of the Central Valley: tawny
orange all through our sodden lowlands. More radiant,
yes, than paper colors are the Google Mapmakers’
onscreen colors. More delicate, not so much.
Indelicately, then, come strong rain, hail, snow!
Fling apricot-hued tents over our field floods.
Smother our unbegun rice shoots
with the fakest of virtual fruit leather!


—Tom Goff

Fiddling on Google as usual, I savor, even in silence,
click-fingering the link to the Szymanowski First
Violin Concerto, which I love: especially as Youtubed
with a talented then-sixteen-year-old Scottish fiddler,
Nicola Benedetti. Oh for a bow as adroit
as my mouse, or for the words ipmoic supplies
in the comment-string: I think that Szymanowski's
music is very challenging for the listener. It has
many influences—the lyricism of a Chausson,
the perfume of a Debussy, the harsh realities
of a Bartok. It is troubled and troubling music.

God of poets and musicians, I beseech thee
pound me into perfume, grind me against
the harsh realities, above all stamp me
troubled and troubling; don’t much care
whom I trouble, but someone, quick. Is this
not to be fiddlestring and tightrope, the bow
my inner Wallenda shakily crossing plangent E,
resonant D, A, and nude vibratoless G? Is this
not also to be rosin, cake scraped across
horsehair gradually waferthin unto death?


Today's LittleNip: 

Have you forgotten the way to my hut?
Every evening I wait for the sound of your footsteps,
But you do not appear.

—Ryokan (trans. from the Japanese by John Stevens)



An Evening Sky
—Photo by D.R. Wagner