HORSE SENSE LEARNED FROM A
PHILLY WITH HAYFEVER
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento
Don’t trust anyone.
Don’t touch anything.
Don’t forget to wipe your shoes.
Don’t think you’re better than I am.
Don’t accept gifts from strangers.
Don’t come near me with that cold.
Don’t count your eggs before they’re hatched.
Don’t disturb the occupants.
Don’t fail me again.
Don’t drink and drive.
Don’t tell me, let me guess.
Don’t chew with your mouth open.
Don’t stop now, we’re not there yet.
Don’t leave yet.
Don’t have a cow.
Don’t call me before noon.
Don’t ever use that tone with me.
Don’t mind me, I’m just joking.
Don’t believe a word of it.
Got any Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hydes in your life? Your boss, maybe, or parents or spouse or dog or... we've all got a flip side, a dark side—how often do you let yours out? This week's SOW is Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde; write about that monster within you or someone else, whether it pops out as an abuser or just an occasional cranky-pants. Send those musings to email@example.com or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726.
And yes, our post office is still in action, despite the fact that the Knotty Pines Lanes roof next door to it sank under the weight of all this %*#&^$* snow (and our bank was evacuated because its ceiling was creaking!) So far no creaking at the Kieth house—other than my joints—but our new dog, Chibi, is definitely a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde!
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
grabbing my elbow, Monica,
with your long fingernails
a pecking bird with skinny hands
couldn’t shake you away
pecking at my arm
telling me all that you hated
your mother clutching her stomach, her head
giddy as a May bird
we walked to and from school, Monica
you my friend I didn’t want
sharpened beak of a friend
clawed like a bird
I couldn’t turn you away
others had, why couldn’t I?
now become the yellow bird of my dreams
your birthday party, your 12th—
I was the only classmate who came
other birds were there
your cousin who sang like a nightingale
your raucous aunts picking over their finds
your red-headed robin of a mother,
your brother speckled as a buzzard
Monica, you little yellow bird
dancing in the dirt
pecking away at my arm
gouging marks in my skin
my skin lately like dried leather
little yellow bird long dead,
your pecks still on my skin
pecking my arm
I woke and reached to touch you.
You were in the next room with
hundreds of books sharing words
with poets and authors, where
poems came from sunrise roses
I planted outside your window.
Often poems needed no roses. You
wrote about anything and every time,
images in your mind’s eye. When
you returned to bed after writing four
or five poems, we both could rest—until
Death read your poems and wanted more.
—Don Feliz, Sacramento
Your kitchen window is mine now—
the garden view and our daughter’s
window next door. She signals to me
with a flashlight, invites me to share
a meal with the rest of our family.
Buds explode into scarlet blooms
on the camellia we planted ten years ago.
One floats in your crystal centerpiece bowl
on my table. I hope you still can enjoy it—
from where flowers never wilt.
COMING TO OUR SENSES AGAIN
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
When I touch you, all is mystery.
Ripples through the skin
Unlock one thousand doors
Within, stretches a history
Almost too much to pin
Down, to clutch, fingertips
Whorling, whirling, waking to
Knowing angels, breathing in the wind.
When I see you, see you,
See you clearly, really see
You there, before me, morning
Wound round you, nearly
Pushing up, neat as a hemline,
Every time I see you, me, we, thee,
These, together without sound,
Dancing eyes in the field of delight.
When I hear you, speaking,
Singing, loosing the girdle
Of language, untying the verbs
That wind around us
Like the ghosts of kings,
Full and with their million stories
Moving on your lips, alive again.
A music flaunted by time.
Your mouth moving to shape the fields
Where words are the kingdom and sound
The castle keep.
When I smell you, in the room.
Nothing in the room.
Proust tells us that when we find
A memory from smell alone,
It is the most powerful.
It is the one most kind,
The true bone from which
The flesh is grown to grace
Again. Rooms of you fill and fall
Away to empty space.
A chemical disturbance of the mind.
Nothing in the room, in the room,
When I smell you.
When I taste you, mouth to
Mouth or drawing with the tongue
To find the salty landscapes there,
There is suddenly no room for
Sense to be other than the
Slippery buds unveiling where
All love has wrung itself
From pore to pour against
The door of teeth, the core
Pretends at cooling, but melts
Before the lips and celebrates
Such food that is ourselves.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Take this to your comfort,
the night too is homeless—
suspended over dawn & day,
using its energy to accept
whatever the stars & moon
—Medusa (with thanks to today's contributors!)