Friday, September 23, 2011

Our Gorgeous Garden

Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Do only the obsessives have such interesting
mind grooves, crystal ruts, like rocks,
just a bit cracked through their feldspar?
Why, when I walk my lissome and lovely beagle,
flag of all bugle colors, can I not stop

wondering if, so gorgeously swathed,
she counts as naked, because clothingless?
or owns raiment, since lusciously furred or haired?
Was ever such a maggot as this
(don’t get me started on the Earl of Oxford)

on Shakespeare’s brain? Where he makes Lear
speak of man as that “bare, forked animal?”
When the monarchomaniac shouts, “Off, off,
you lendings!” He’s been long since in the grip
of the divesting itch. Why can’t other obsessives

refrain—but everything’s refrain—from
meandering restlessly over whether they stay
married because loyal, or because lazy? What
makes us ceaselessly wash our hands? Unless
Macbeth’s Lady, OCD. Why all these acronyms
cooked up by odd boffins, science’s
perseverators of naming and placing?

What makes nude Salomè twitch in awaitment
of John’s dispatch, then delivery, gorgeous
head and plate in one united parcel service,
insatiate teen crooning Wilde’s words over
the lightest, chillest of bloodcurdling chords,
double bass whimpering death-watch-beetle
from the rotten murk of the cistern?

Are all us compulsives so much like,
or unlike, poets and spies, God’s
and otherwise?



Meeting with the Ob-Gyn
Is an “obsession”
I will never have

The DMV routinely issues and renews
Driver’s licenses to motorists who are blind
To the fact that they left their lights on
In the DMV parking lot.

Upon entering the department store one’s nose is
Immediately stupefied with flower-scented perfumes
Worn by both employees and shoppers,
Intended more to dominate their neighbors
Than to merge like real flowers into
Beautiful floral arrangements. It is a
Full symphony orchestra of anxious soloists
Who don’t take turns.

I was shopping for a new mattress
And just wanted to ask the salesperson,
“Which of these mattresses are best to have sex on?”
Whoa!! Can’t say that in a public forum,
So inappropriate, I was taught better.
One does not end a sentence with a preposition.

Sitting at the bottom of a poem
Words can get unceremoniously sucked into the drain
Or tromped and swirled by bouncing feet.
It is ice cream fallen from the cone
Sitting at the bottom of a poem.


—Cynthia Linville, with
Bob Stanley’s 10am Freshman Composition Class
(English 1A, sec 87, Fall 2011)

Crowded walkways,
lines wrapped around buildings for miles—
for the next four years,
I am in a place like heaven.

Students and squirrels
both seem to be running in circles.
What do I do now?
I don't want to look new.

Stuffy classrooms,
(the wrong classroom),
blistering sun—
I don't care. Can't you see the magic I see?

Just think of the future.
Just look out the window.
Just pick up your books and study.
Green light. Go.


—Cynthia Linville, et al.

Lots of pencils
and pretty girls,
anxious butterflies,
feral squirrels.
Shuffling zig zag down white hallway,
excuse me, pardon me, move out of the way.

Back row of history class
eager eyes,
first lunch time,
slithering lines.
Chaos, commotion, turn down the heat!
A new feeling—my destiny?

Running to class again
I’m already late.
Greeks are chasing us,
get out of the way!
Being alone among this many people,
concrete dreams feel surreal.

A new friend?
Uncertainty. Stay.
A cold drink warms me,
you show me the way.
We race to your dorm room as if we were lost.
Backglancing I ask—is it worth the cost?


—Cynthia Linville, et al.

The future stands before me,
tall as the trees.
I am small underneath, alone, uneasy,
nearly panicked
like a child lost in the mall.
I almost expect to hear my parents called
to the information booth to come pick me up.

Professors don't remember what it's like:
buy this
do this
don't do this
you need this
can I get this.
On the first day, I was late to every class.

The smell of fresh bread at lunch time
embraced me like an old friend.
Then an old friend embraced me too.
We sat over our meals,
nervous and happy together,
eating and eavesdropping,
as students rolled by in waves.

How will we survive freshman year?
Life speeds up from here.


Today's LittleNip: 

(After reading a list of former Seeds of the Week)

Dozens of weeks of planting seeds
Have yielded what, when, where, and
All are healthy, blossoming,
A beauty to behold.

Who created such a gorgeous garden?
Perhaps Medusa herself has changing images,
Weekly facades to please the crowds, and
Reflections that would scare a ghost.

How can this be happening
So regularly and out in the open
Without the intrusion of
Copyright lawyers
Control freaks
Language police
By-law committees
Institutional settings?


Thanks to today's creators, who are still obsessing (our Seed of the Week) on this and that. Tom Goff writes: here's a little tune on obsession, fueled in part by Deborah Voight's scene from Salome with the New York Philharmonic Weds. night. The performance grand, the KVIE signal reception atrocious, which made us obsessively adjust and readjust the unfixable...

And about "her" poems, Cynthia Linville writes: Bob Stanley and I did a poetry "cultural exchange" where I visited his freshmen classes to discuss poetry, and he visited mine. As part of my visits, I asked class members to write me one or two lines about their first weeks at Sac State, and I wove them into a poem for each class.

Cynthia's photo of the Palace of Fine Arts in SF reminds us that this weekend will be a lollapalooza of NorCal poetry, stretching all the way from Dancing Poetry in SF to the Sonoma County Book Fair in Santa Rose, to Grass Valley, to Placerville, and back to Lodi, and Sac. for 100 Thousand Poets For Change. It's all laid out for you on Medusa's blue board; feast your eyes and ears on, as Caschwa (Carl Bernard Schwartz) says, our (YOUR) gorgeous garden. Medusa may've tilled the soil, but the flowers all come from you...


—Medusa (with greetings to Fall, 2011)

Why is there never a bridge when you need one?
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
Check out our current photo album on 
Medusa's Facebook page: 
Jane's Bridges by Jane Blue, Sacramento