Monday, February 27, 2012

How Love Saved Me

Oh to have the stamina of an apricot flower in February!
—Photo and caption by Caschwa

(If California eventually slips into the sea,
Its finest treasures are not the kind
That can be recovered by divers)

(after Stephanie Hoogstad’s "The Three Californias")

If you live in California you are defined by your
Local geography and its provincial wordplay
Holding that everyone who lives where you do
Gets it, and everyone else is clueless

This dates back to the rotary phone days when
The entire State was covered by only 3 area codes
And we continually ranked so high in the world economy
We didn’t have to give any thought to being global

This is also what today prevents California from
Having serious consideration of hosting a caucus
Because any position given support by one faction
Is sure to be vehemently rejected by the other two

Will we annex Colorado so we own their river?
Will California finally divide into different states?
Will bullet trains unify the state like mandated integration?
Will foreign banks end up owning all rights to the John Muir Trail?


—Stephanie Hoogstad, Cottonwood, CA

Just to set the record straight,

"North" doesn't always mean "cold,"
and "near mountains" doesn't always mean "snowy,"
especially when you live in the Valley.

SoCal-ers seem to think NorCal is cold
and that we NorCal-ers have not clue about heat.

They're the only experts.

Think again.

Summer in the Valley?


No less than 90 degrees,
Often over 100

We NorCal-ers go to SoCal
just to escape our heat;
at least there
there's something to do.

Even when it's hot
the lake gets boring.

Trust me.

Still don't believe me?
Still fooled by the mountains and the word "north?"

Then spend a week in NorCal
in the middle of July with no air conditioning
and watch it get to over 100
just inside the house
and eat cold tomato soup for dinner
and take icy showers every night
and take a drive every day
just to keep cool.
And sleep on the living room floor,
the fan set on high,
'cause your bed's too hot to sleep in
(You won't sleep anyway).

Do that and then answer me these:

Still think NorCal is cold?
Still think NorCal-ers don't know heat?

Didn't think so.

I just wanted to set the record straight.


—Stephanie Hoogstad

There's a little book in the closet,
Dusty and covered in dirt,
And no one has read it in a while
Or, indeed, knows of its existence.

Beside it lies a ballpoint pen,
Its ink is all but dry,
Well-loved and yet unused
In the years that have just gone by.

From both there is a beating,
The rhythm of life,
So quiet and yet so steady,
So faint and yet so proud.

They are both so tempting;
The beat is hypnotizing,
The book is begging to be read,
And the pen is longing for the attention
It has been deprived of in recent years.

But life is too demanding, too quick,
And too much is more pressing
Than these starved little friends;
And so the closet will remain unopened
And the book will remain unread
And the pen's ink will just dry up,
Never to be used again.

But the beating will go on,
Relentless, mysterious, and hopeful.


 —Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Morning is a spiral stair, the whorled
shell of a freshwater snail on this pond-shore.
We’ve come to take our scientific
measurements in spring-light. Late February.
What dominion has winter, or night?
Wind. Invisible doors opening and closing, silent
clicks and locks. A kingfisher rattles at us
from overhead. Shiver-blue water
riffles the passing of sky.
A gutted crow, wet-black shiny as if it just
slipped down the birth-canal. Its feet
are blue as dawn. Wild courting geese
make joyous noise on the far shore. Coiling
and unraveling of small red worms
in our water-sample. The instruments
show this pond is purer
than tap-water. And now, a skein of eight
geese, pausing in the long
flight north to summer. New life
consuming each second. The crow
lies folded, ready for night.


Thanks to today's cooks; the Kitchen is a-bubblin'! Cleo Griffith from Salida sends us all these goodies from down her way:

•••Song of the San Joaquin is accepting submissions for the Spring Issue through March 15. Three poems per poet per quarterly issue. California Central Valley themes. PO Box 1161, Modesto, CA 95353-1161. Info:

•••Snail Mail Review is accepting submissions for Issue 4, three to five poems, no more than 35 lines each, one to seven pages of short fiction, to The Snail Mail Review, 3000 Coffee Rd, Chateau Apt B6, Modesto, CA 95355. Cover letter and SASE. Deadline June 30, 2012. Info: or their Facebook page.

•••The California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc. will hold the 2012 Convention at the Radisson Hotel Ontario, 2200 E. Holt Blvd, Ontario, CA 91761, 800-333-3333, April 20, 21, 22. Open to the public as well as members. Info:

•••Modesto Poets’ Corner Contest is underway and accepting entries from any Stanislaus County residents; deadline is midnight, March 13. Winners’ poems will be published in the annual contest book and poets will read at the McHenry Museum, Sunday, May 20, 2012, 1:30pm. Send to City of Modesto, Parks, Recreation and Neighborhoods Dept., c/o Poets’ Corner Contest, PO Box 642, Modesto, CA 95354. Info:

•••The City of Modesto is accepting applications for the 2012-2014 Poet Laureate position. Applications (deadline is March 9) at McHenry Museum, 1402 I Street, Modesto, CA 95354, or see info:

•••Second Tuesdays continue on March 13 at The Barkin’ Dog, 6pm, 940 11th St., Modesto. Gillian Wegener hosts guest readers Turlock poet Elizabeth Sousa and San Francisco poet Keith Ekiss. Opening for them will be Enochs High student Kathryn Harlan-Gran who recently won the Stanislaus County Poetry Out Loud Contest. Info:


Today's LittleNip: 

—n.ciano, Davis

the music made me love again,
brought me back from broken sounds.
in a crowd held by only one set of eyes
i watched it consume his soul and then, 
through his voice as it rose into the sky,
emit the sweetest light.
And into my eyes
there was a settled sound,
and that is how love saved me.



 —Photo by Caschwa