Friday, April 29, 2011

Valuable Things

Green Eyes
—Photo by Robin Gale Odam

—Robin Gale Odam, Sacramento

bird twines a strand of delicate yarn
into its sturdy nest

cat settles quietly into the morning

bird scolds at the cat, for its cat shape,
for its long tail curling, for its whiskers,
for its green eyes watching

cat stares at a fluttering in the trees


Thanks to Robin Odam for the pic and poem, and to today's other contributors: Ron Lane, Kevin Jones, and Taylor Graham, who writes: Here's an unrhymed rondel inspired by Katy's (and also by Elihu's description of a stranger in Salisbury cathedral). [See yesterday's post.]

Speaking of yesterday's post, if you checked on the Kitchen before 10:45 yesterday morning, you saw Michael Cluff credited for two poems that Tom Goff actually wrote. Oopsie. I fixed it, but sorry for the gaff.

See our Ticklers section at the very bottom of the Kitchen for another Charlie Sheen poem, this one by Michelle Kunert.

And welcome to today's two other contributors, Nicole Yang and Dillon Shaw, students of D.R. Wagner in UCD's "Poetry by Design" class. I attended their class yesterday and they've been encouraged to submit to our Seed of the Week: Where there's smoke... It's always great to hear from new writers!


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

What has he come for, bearing pilgrimage
as a dark habit? His face unearthly
pale, he stands in vaulted shadow. You'd say
a ghost made flesh, as light streams through windows

blue, rose, amber. What ancient tales have brought
him here? Stained glass mysterious as faith.
What has he come for, bearing pilgrimage
as a dark habit, his face unearthly?

How the colors change with shifting daylight.
Will he stay to watch time fade, then strangely
shimmer as moon climbs up the spire of grace?
Will he wear that vision like the bright cowl
he must have come for, bearing pilgrimage?


—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks

It was a parochial school,
So there was always smoke,
From the incense in the church,
And from the eternally
Smoldering little milk cartons
Out behind the shed.

But if you wanted
Real smoke, dangerous
Smoke, outlaw smoke,
You’d have to find
Lenny the janitor
In his room in the cellar
Of the abandoned
High school building.

He’d teach you to smoke,
Teach you to roll your
Own, cowboy-like,
One handed. He’d tell
You how to make
A sleeper wet the bed
By dipping their
Finger tips in
A bowl of warm water.

Valuable things that
Sister Virgilius and
Father Crowley never
Dreamed of. I never
Had much use for
The rolling part,
But have always
Been curious
About the wetting
The bed thing.

Water’s handy.
And there’s a bowl
Over there.


Where there's smoke
there are children
whose mothers left nothing
but asthma and tears 

—Dillon Shaw, Davis


—Nicole Yang, Davis

From bare hands
wood or flint
can smoke arise

fierce determination
rapid movements
some sweat and some force

You work away
in quiet fascination
with tiring muscles
but a hopeful heart

in the midst of a forest
saved from human intervention
thriving hand in hand
with mother nature

And that
is the only place
where you can find


Today's LittleNip: 

I sat in amazement, the translucence that comes when life hardens into a bead of such cruel perfection you see it with the purest clarity. Everything suddenly there—life as it truly is, enormous, appalling, devastating. You see the great sinkholes it makes in people and the harrowing lengths to which love will go to fill them.

—Sue Monk Kidd, The Mermaid Chair



While the moon sets
I awake in the biggest little city
That never sleeps

—Photo and poem by Ronald Edwin Lane, Colfax