Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gulden Brown

—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

STRANGE TOWN (a Semi-Gloss)
—Taylor Graham, Placerville

At the end, an open door;
Squares of sunlight on the floor
   Light the long and dusky lane;
And the whirring of a wheel....
          —H.W. Longfellow, “The Ropewalk”

How did I get here? Factory side of town—
a place I know I've never been before
unless in dream. What workers spend their lives
here on intricacies of gauge and bore?
           At the end, an open door

inviting landscape…. Only mortared wall;
a boarded entrance, shop-front window
like a stage: mannequins as metaphor
for life—a mother, small child in sick-bed,
and a hanging bulb in mockery for
           squares of sunlight on the floor.

The child is dying. There's an empty chair,
straight-back, and a braided rug; half-filled glass
of water to be drained. No word of pain;
they're mannequins. They're riveted and hinged—
not held like us to hopes' thin links of chain.
           Light the long and dusky lane

that leads me out of here. Dolls don't die. This
dumb-show is meant for human passers-by.
What message does it bear, what truth reveal?
The day's grown later. No breeze except
my breath. My shadow, tar-black under heel,
           and the whirring of a wheel.


RENDEZVOUS, A PARABLE (after Joyce Odam)
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

I said I would take you there
to the rainy place
where you wanted to go
you said no
there’s a car going to that place
where you wanted to go
you said a car would take you there

I said I would take you there
even in the rain
the streets dark and slick
reflecting a rainy sky
you said the car would take you there
under a rain-tracked sky

sky over rain-tracked earth
where you wanted to go
I said I would take you there
you said no you would go in the car
that would take you there

go, then, and may sky bless you with rain
as you go there in the car


—Caschwa, Sacramento

Perhaps it was just discontent,
Or maybe even anger
Escaping through the only vent
My good neighbor could find.

But anyway, he was suddenly
Energized by the Giants game
Going 11 innings only to have
It end in a loss to the Braves;
Nothing to show for stellar defense, and
Nothing to show for the coaching staff’s
Infinite wisdom on how to hit that
Next pitch so the announcers could call
Going, going, gone!

We watched that game for 10
Innings only to see the Giants get
Trounced in the bottom of the 11th,
Happily huddling Braves rubbing it in.

Apathy, my rock, I need you now.

Mostly the team performed well
Until that very last inning,
So many pitches for balls
That formidable walks ensued
And put runners on base,
Rounding second to third and
Dancing for the win at home.

Chances are that the
Only Giants fans who
Like this kind of game, who
Relish every moment,
Even the sad ending,
Deem winning a low priority.

“Cutting hedges helps me unwind”
Added my neighbor, busily forgetting
Replays of the terrible loss.


I see my parents are wearing shorts again in their vacation photos
But I wish they wouldn't wear shorts anyplace in public
cause the veins on mom's legs look like a busy metro map
and my Dad's look like they belong to a camel
but at their ages they don't care

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


The neighbors' new calico cat once again zips right in front of a car
its wheels on the street pavement screech to a sudden stop
just like I caught her doing to me returning home
I warned them before to not let her out for this reason
but I'm afraid if I tell them again
they will tell me "Fine, you take her..."
and then I'll be stuck with her for possibly fifteen or twenty years
with yet another cat who often howls, wanting to go outside
but of course can't be allowed to... 

—Michelle Kunert


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Mustard-colored car? Depends what
brand of mustard. I knew both mustard
and cars early: ’57 Chevy, that white-trimmed
“air-blue gown” of a ride Dad drove,

not mustard color; yet mustard beckoned,
the bleacher seat with hot dog to cut
the Candlestick cold of a Giants game,
dog slathered with Gulden’s
(“The spicy brown mustard,”
proclaimed Jim Davenport, for pay).

My right-now car’s a Toyota, metallic dirt color.
Saucy, if dirt’s fit to eat between buns.
“My other car’s a Shakespeare,”
writes a Shakespeare expert,
deriding the Oxford authorship theory,
snob calling us snobs. The usual
condiment, slathered on by an obfuscator.
Arrogant bustard, stewed in his own brown spice.

Did you know Ben Jonson poked fun in a play
at the pretend Shakespeare? That’s right,
the Stratford man come up to London
without car, air-blue color or any other
(to bribe his way to a family crest,
take in a few puppet shows, smirks Ben).

His gentleman’s crest turned down
—“No: without right” reads the herald’s
note in starchy French—Will kneads
the sour man’s crust into dumpling:
re-submits his coat of arms as
“Not Without Right,” and wins.
Don’t let’s ever make fun, you and I,

of Avon’s cleverboots, ungifted at letters.
But honest Ben could, and did:
his bobblehead upstart
sports an oddly familiar crest:
“Not Without Mustard.”

That much, we must give the Stratford man:
car or no car, mustard he had,
and thick enough to spread.

The Earl of Oxford, on the other hand,
liked his doublets that odd spicy
Gulden brown.


Thanks to today's creators! About her poem, Taylor Graham writes: Medusa's poems about mannequins dredged this up. (A semi-gloss is a Tuesday @ 2 invention, variant of a gloss or glosa; Brigit Truex gave our variety its name; we're still discussing the exact rules...) As for the poem, it's based on something I saw maybe 20 years ago, and can't get out of my mind. And click the link over on the b-board under the flying pig to see more about Pat Hickerson on the blog, Desolation Angels.

Lots going on in NorCal poetry tonight, including the release of yet another WTF at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm. Let me know if you're a contributor but don't get a copy, and I'll send you one. There are also some lurking at The Book Collector.


Today's LittleNip: 

When we touch others in kindness, the first person we touch is ourselves.

—Stephen Dobyns



Grog from Flagstaff, AZ
Second Saturday ArtWalk, Sacramento
—Photo by Michelle Kunert