cabin by the sea
cabin of memories.
Goodbye, amaryllis and wild blackberries.
Goodbye, morning sun
shining in this kitchen window the way
you shined in my mother’s window
long ago in Wisconsin.
Goodbye, you of memories
sweet and bittersweet:
how you loved blackberries,
how you rode the crest of the waves.
beautiful and indifferent to the wreckage
spilled upon the shore.
Goodbye, cabin at Bolinas.
—Allegra Silberstein, Davis
THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS
—Katy Brown, Davis
You gathered drops of myrrh sap
from a bush growing beside
a silver trickle of water
from a cool spring
in a wadi in the desert.
You roll the sap into beads
which you string into necklaces:
myrrh, the herb of personal sorrow.
The pilgrimage, the ritual
of gathering sap, the sleeping
beside the musical water
under desert stars . . . all,
all of this to renew your spirit.
You have to go much farther
from home to find solace, now.
Light falling through stained glass
no longer comforts you.
The shush of wind in the tall cedars,
the song of robins,
the stillness of the oak grove
no longer eases your heart.
You seek something older still:
the silence of desert stones
laid under the floor of time;
the surprise of water in the desert;
the stapled path of a scorpion.
Your troubles go deep.
You have left me with yellow zinnias,
the flower of constant remembering;
yet all I can remember is your restlessness
and sorrow. I finger the myrrh beads
you gave me to wear
and I planted a row of primroses
around the flower bed:
I can’t live without you.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
It's my old cat, climbing into our bed,
purring her language of ancient
time (remember the pharaohs, remember
Cleopatra, failed-namesake of one
small black cat). Her form clings to her,
she makes it her own again. Ribs,
skin, and fur. A purr. For two months
she stalked our deck, would not
come inside. She tried this and that dance-
step, never getting it right. The cat-owl
refused to be her partner. So did the hawk.
She must live a little longer,
consumed by her own shape,
intelligence of that special stink we call
living beyond our slow-moving
selves. Unblinking ancient eye
of cat. Tonight she curls into the back-
side of my trick-knee. She purrs.
—charles mariano, sacramento
for a handwritten
from two days ago
has become today's
of dustfilled pages,
in nooks, crannies
what the hell am i doing
with all these damn notes?
a writer hoarder?
in a sea
and can't get up!
it's a damn shame,
no, we're all
wait a minute, let me write that down
—Trina Drotar, Sacramento
I picked up a 4 on the edge of a desert
brought it home
hung it on the wall
touched the desert’s salt that clung
to the sweat of some unseen AMA rider,
but my favorite numbers are 7 and 9.
MAYBE EVEN A TWO
My favorite numbers are 7 and 9, yet I am the proud owner
of a number 4, lost by an AMA participant who took his
bike to the edge of the salt desert in Bonneville to test his
endurance, his speed, to glide, no fly, at speeds not accessible
elsewhere. Ah, but 4 is part of 7 when combined with 3.
And 4 is part of 9 when combined with 5. The 3 from the 7
may be combined with one half of the number 4 I own
in order to form the 5 that is the other part of 9. It is possible,
perhaps, that the AMA rider flew across the salt desert at speeds
utilizing the 4, the 7, the 9, the 5, or the 3. Maybe even a 2.
Today my reflexes were faster than the speed
you tried to exhibit. One chance given you to
turn the bike around, to pause, to apologize,
to guide an elderly person across a street filled with
cars and trucks that refuse to stop even though
the light turns red, to care for an injured animal,
to take your little brother or sister to the carnival,
to bake a cake for your mother’s birthday, to comfort
a friend, to return that library book that is still in
your closet, the one you borrowed five years ago
with your older brother’s library card and which
caused the revocation of his borrowing privileges,
but you chose to pedal in front of my moving vehicle,
never even glancing my way. You were granted
one more chance when your front tire butted
the front tire of the van in the intersection.
RAINY NIGHT VARIATIONS
—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento
I. Missing You
acrid, mineral-rich, sulfurous, match just struck
window open, rain blows in, wets my cheek
darkness, breeze cools ninety-degree day
rain kisses pressure points along my arm
open window’s ledge, stars hidden by storm
rain balms raging mind, tears fall
car passes, tires swish, rolls through rain
II. Losing You, a Bad Dream
behind the glass, I watch
you grip the wheel lightly
she leans on your shoulder
face turned up to yours
you turn the key
through cold rivulets
I see your car pull out
pass me by, in the rain
III. Self Pity
car passes on a rainy street
note the make, miss the license
walk on, hair dripping
dress ruined, shivering, shoes soaked
you were not there
hoped you’d greet me, look at me
hoped to see you again
snag my toe on sidewalk crack
trip, catch myself
late to be walking alone
streets empty in the rain
car passes again, the same, slows
as if in a dream, I see your
lowered window, opened door
IV. A Car Passes on a Rainy Street, Or
You OK to Drive?
What was that just now?
your kiss in my ear, silence
warm leather under my back
Want to go home yet?
traffic rushes by, through rain
inside, your hands move on me
Love me forever?
beads of sweat between my breasts
your back firm and white, shirtless
What’re you up to?
clutch my clothes, look at the floor
we’re just messing around, sir
Want to spend the night?
rain patters, falls in patterns
lean my head on your shoulder
Thanks to today's contributors! Isn't it wonderful, how many katautas we've gotten? Got yours—or your second one—done yet?
Be sure to check out the Brown/Menebroker/Kieth Photo Safari on the Medusa's Kitchen Facebook page. And don't forget the up-coming deadlines (this Monday!) for Allegra's Davis anthology, SPC's Quinton Duval Chapbook Contest, and one I forgot—the Ina Coolbrith annual contest (www.coolpoetry.org/2011contestrules.html). This is a poetry contest held each year by the Ina Coolbrith Society, named for California's first female Poet Laureate. A dinner announcing the winners will be held in the Bay Area this Fall, but you don't have to attend it to win. Details for all of these deadlines are listed under the "Submissions Tip of the Week" on the green section of our b-board.
Lots going on in area poetry this weekend! Modesto, Murphys, Auburn, Second Sat. Art Bazaar—or peel over to Land Park for the Second Annual Banana "Splitacular" happening today and tomorrow. See the blue b-board for details.
ARE YOU LISTENING?
—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento
Why are you angry?
Acrobats walk a tightrope;
fears tear at their safety net.
Do you fear dragons?
Passion for life feeds the flames;
holes burn in the firmament.
Are you listening?
Hear the stillness of the heart;
aching—not missing a beat.