Monday, June 13, 2011

The Lions Cough

Pat Grizzell: Every poet needs a booklight!
(Pat will be reading at Red Night Poetry
this coming Wed., June 15. See Medusa's
Bulletin Board for details!)
—Photo by Trina Drotar, Sacramento

—Dillon Shaw, Davis

Who says the key to happiness?
                                Is success
I've never seen a warlord
than a stoner
Who says the key to happiness?
                                Is wealth
I've seen lovers who have
in each other
Who says the key to happiness?
                                Is love
I've never seen anything
as much as
Who says the key to happiness?
                                Is knowledge
It certainly wasn't anyone
                                who has
Who says the key to happiness?
                                Is happiness
I feel quite content with my


—Dillon Shaw

I'm dreaming of a girl
and I'm! Ambushed
by a girl I do not know
me                   what
And I see my love and I kiss her
I tell her          “        I        ”
                       love her
and she says  “no no               ”
                       you're doing it
                       all wrong
her lover appears and says
           know                “sorry”
she says
they kiss


(A Trilogy)
—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

The Economy

We were in a new town
called Prosperity, USA
so we hailed a cab
and the taxi driver
took the longer route
and made some wrong turns
all for his own benefit.

Now we are trying to
get back to Status Quo
back to where we can
once again see a balanced budget
and we have a new driver…
will he get us there?


The Election

Our problems are portrayed
as open wounds demanding
instantaneous, direct action.

The candidates line up like
a lynch mob:
results now, justify later
cut out the cancerous tumor
spontaneous gratification
long live the industrial titans

People are disposable…
as long as the numbers balance.


Moving On

It is the bitter, gritty pain
of a felony hit and run.

Bury the dead and move on
dismissed with the cavalier air
of dealing a new hand of solitaire.

Inspired to start over…
emboldened by the promise
of better cards.


Trinity County, 1900
—Katy Brown, Davis

My grandfather rode the ore bucket up the side
of Callahan Mountain. He’d set the charge, then run
to save his life back down the narrow trail.
His job: to bring the mountain down; to blast
the rock—to unlock gold from quartz—and live.
He loved the risk, the high-stakes game with death.
When I was small, I couldn’t picture this:
the bowlegged Irishman with thinning hair
and boxer’s nose from far too many fights.
A smallish man with gravel in his voice.
One gold nugget locked in quartz was all
he kept to mark those days he played with death.
When mining barons stripped the land and thrived
my grandfather broke mountains and survived.

[Katy Brown writes: "The miner in Taylor's poem sparked memories of stories about my grandfather. My grandfather and grandmother were married back in the 1890s. My mom was born in 1908 and spent time with her grandparents (my grandmother's family) on a huge, remote cattle ranch in Trinity county. (This is partly why the wagon train was so impressive to me the other day.) When my mother was little, my grandfather apparently worked for a mining company and blasted ore for processing. One day my mother snuck up the trail to see what he was doing and nearly got blown up at the top when the charge went off. When she didn't actually die from the blast, my grandfather wanted to kill her for putting several of them at risk to save her. They put her in the bucket to ride back down the mountain (which was all she really wanted, anyway)."]


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Her journal is a journey of flight and song.
Glossy Ibis in a salt marsh, Cedar Waxwing
in conifers. Oak Titmouse. By cliff-
dweller ruins, she might have listened
for Anasazi ghosts in the high chambers
of sandstone and mud; but what she recorded
was Gray-crowned Rosy Finch. Life
is not the bone, but the feather, moving trace
of hawk (Northern Harrier) across her
vision. Eyesight migratory as ancient peoples,
as birds. A closing and opening.
Turning of journal pages where she might see
Red-shafted Flicker or a floater (species:
Retinal Detachment). Sight is not forever.
Birds fly, as she will, specks in the great Eye.


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Tonight you are in my heart.
I can feel you inside me
Touching the walls as they expand and contract.
And you will take my dreams,

Bending the fetters that bind them.
They have taken the ladder and lowered
It down to where you are
But you are not interested in relieving yourself
With a higher view.

The lions cough from the cliffs.
The driest of winds unwinds like a snake
Into deserts of sand. The storm
Lasts for days, the “darkness
That can be felt” obscures everything.

They bring the children out to the cemetery
To watch the dead men move from their deep confines.
There are parades of them.
Birds in the air tumble over one
Another, exclaiming as they would
At a fire or the shaking of the earth.

The treasures are uncovered.
My heart has its own fossils.
There is a creaking in the masts
As the winds thread the sails
And the sails beg for reefing.

I do not know how long
You will be here. Desperate,
I find my way back to the simple
Things of the day, wash and
Dress myself, extend my hand
To greet someone and pretend
These feelings no longer come
As they do, and they do,
And push myself to see me through.

*a sail generally used in very light breezes;
it is just above the topgallant on square rigged ships.


—D.R. Wagner

I’m not going to watch this.
I’m not going to stand alone.
I’m reaching the edge of town soon
And I can’t recall why I ever came here

And what it looks like
When you’re falling in love.

Everything that I know
Has changed all its clothes.
The places I visit become new
Once again and I can walk
Through them at twilight when
They turn on the lights.
I can see the big wheels
Roll up to the sky where people
Are kissing, where laughter is right,
When it mixes with meaning
When it brings on new life.

I’m seeing you everywhere. I wear
Out your name. Every flower
Has meaning, every tree can explain.

There we are sleeping. Now here
We are gone. I’m living on essence.
I’m drinking up songs.

Here the sounds can expire.
The road still goes on. It’s not
Blacktop or concrete. It’s dirt
Just like me. I’m going to make
Me a fire, rub my horse down
And read. The stars become
Blue lights that twinkle back on.
I think I’ll sit here till morning.
I think I’ll wait till it's gone.


—D.R. Wagner

I’m listening to a recording
Of lullabies from foreign
Countries tonight. I’ve decided
To sleep far away from everything
With which I am familiar.

Perhaps I will wake up near
A river I do not know
The name of, or high on a
Mountain with Dall sheep
Looking down at me from
A cliff top.

I will humble myself
Before the music and just
Let it do all the work.
That’s what lullabies are supposed
To do anyway and the voices
Are so sweet, whatever language
In which they are sung.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Maggie Frost, Sacramento

There is more to us then the worst act of our lives;
The whole is bigger then the sum—each … one.

To be bitter, to hate, to shrivel up and die inside;
Rather to say no to yes to life to love?

To human spirit—however stained with blood letting;
To focus on the narrow path of love

Not stepping off the path
Where the soft shoulder of hate
Can be so easy.

Focus on doing as this path
Is made by walking … and
Resources come (to you).

Transform the formation
of self … and keep walking.

(Inspired From a Talk by Sister Helen Prejean and her reflections on the film, Dead Man Walking, which occurred at Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento on January 17, 2000.)



White Sun
—Photo by n.ciano, Davis