Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Adventurers of the Page

Carol Louise Moon and her obsession, the dark

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

I'm wound up tight tonight with
fright, but that's the left side of this
same site, where the night before

held in store more than had been
bargained for—with bears and tigers
who had climbed the stairs to my

one-room room, and my tiny-twin bed.
The large tiger held his ugly head high
to the window ledge counting the flies

that had died there the day before. Eyes
fixed, he gloated with glowing eyes as he
thought about how he would match

that count with my body parts. So I
shot out of bed, and I switched the light
to a higher glow, so that I would would know

if they came the same way tonight—or through
the window, left slightly ajar for the air
I need on this awfully hot autumn night.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Haut ton equestrians move in perfect
squadrons up and down the pellucid course.
Gentlemen in top hats, ladies in sidesaddle-
skirts that almost trail the ground.
And such horses! Sun glints off glistening
flank—big bay gelding, dappled mare….

And all you can talk about is language?
You're obsessed with words. Names
and their derivations. “Rotten Row”—
does it mean a row of rat- (raton) infested
cottages, or a place for mustering (rotteran)
the troops, or roundabout (ratten) way?

Or, as you speculate, did it come
across the Channel: Route-au-Roi, Kings
Road, Saxonized to Rotten? Sunday
riders let such imaginings canter
past them, tongue under snaffle, head-
strong chestnut with a flaxen mane.


SEPT. 21
             for Mexico City, 1985
—Taylor Graham

It's almost total dark tonight, before
a moon in our Green Valley. No buildings
collapsed. I'm just walking my dog—
and I'm back there. Storefront spilling
shattered glass can't glitter in so little light.
Streetlamps out. Department store.

I aim a flash-beam—human figure
sprawled inside the door. How can my dog
ignore it? why are we here? But it's

a mannequin, high-heels scattered among
beads. We'll try to find a human
alive among so many thousands dead.

26 years later, I'm still trying to fix
the image, find words. Crawl
out of the ruins with somebody alive.


—Taylor Graham

We adventurers of the page—obsessed
with transformations that happen
syllable-to-syllable like cloud-lightning,
a candelabrum that hovers above

the table. Dilettantes of a factual world,
we destabilize sequiturs, we go wild
with words. No false prophets, we could

ride the railroad tracks to Arcturus,
marking our route with sea-salt, rose-

pollen, flakes of mica, moonglow.


—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

Orville obsesses
over wingtip shoes
argyle socks
paisley ties
and sweater vests
all in Bostonian hues.

Must be perfect in their fits:
the tie dimple
the shine of the shoes
the quality of the shirt—
he finds short sleeves
so lower class and
Hush Puppies
a sartorial sin.

If unachievable
tank tops
and bare feet,
cleanliness level optional,
became his touchstone
tarnished yet natural.


—Michael Cluff

Irene indulges
in lemon chicken
from Sbarro
in a second-rate mall.
Nonpariels from a Walgreen wanna-be
and pineapple upside-down cake
with a cherry in the tangy fruit's core.

Becomes wrapped up
in Italian soft porn
Mayan fertility rites
and Pee Wee Herman reruns
especially ones with the salty sailor.

love of her family,
friends and fried fingers
is her driving focus
that makes mojitos
all that more favorable.


—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Can you forgive me for not living to see his own bitter end?
As I laid dying, he took hold of my hand with our wedding band
and he stared at me with teary eyes to proclaim "Oh Virginia, my beloved"
as if acting out a scene to make the angels cry
and to plead with God himself to change his mind
but alas it was too late before he realized what my worth was to him.
Had it been the reverse,
would he to whom I once wrote, " Dearest my life is thine..."
breathe his last to utter the same?
There were many times he left me begging on my knees
"Please, please just tell me, what is her name?..."
We were cousins who married
yet more like an older brother and a younger sister
that is why it shouldn't have been.
He adored to serve women his soul, just as he liked to pour them wine
Oh yes while serving as a soldier
he became accustomed to being a great charmer
and claimed it was sharing his love among his admirers,
among them women who'd drink him up into an empty cask or shell of a man
Alas, such of them also being the death of me
though he probably knew it also wasn't for the sake of his survival
but was as if burying us together
One night, praying during those nights where he was again away,
as if being repelled by being consumed into an almost invalid state
Laying alone and struggling to catch my breath
I swear I heard a raven caw at my bedroom window
It was a sign that, at a mere twenty-four, I was doomed to an early grave
yet ironically I'd be the reason why he'd gain an immortal life on paper


Today's LittleNip: 

Gerald Bennett
from the Senate
not a pedant
sex, would rent it.

—Michael Cluff


Thanks to today's contributors for sending us their thoughts on various obsessions. You can see Taylor Graham in Placerville twice this weekend—Friday at Red Fox Poetry, where Susan Kelly-DeWitt will be reading, and then on Monday for the Poetry in Motion read-around. See the green board for details of those readings and everything else that's going on this weekend, including the two 100 Thousand Poets For Change events that will be happening in our area.

Michelle Kunert has gotten interested in Virginia Clemm-Poe, about whom she writes: Interestingly the Wickipedia entry tells the story of how a writer named William Gill had to "save" the bones of the Poes in 1875 when the graveyard where they were buried was dug up. Gill kept their bones in a box under his bed until he could get them reburied in Westminster Hall and Burial Ground in Baltimore Maryland. Seems like a tale one could use for a "poetry tale" with! See

Sacramento Poetry Center has a new program organized by Frank Graham, called Literary Lectures. This eight-event series begins February 16, 2012 with a lecture on T.S. Eliot by Dr. Joshua McKinney. Single tickets may be purchased for $20 ($18 for SPC members). Season tickets are $99 (10% off for SPC members). The Mix/Match Pack (any way you like) of four lectures is only $65. Other lecturers in the series include V.S. Chochezi on 2/23, Molly Fisk on 3/1, Emmanuel Sigauke on 3/8 Susan Kelly-DeWitt on 3/15, Judy Halebsky on 3/22, James DenBoer on 3/29, and Tim Kahl, with closing ceremonies, on 4/5.



Virginia Clemm-Poe