—charles mariano, sacramento
on the surface
i'm mostly good
looks can be deceiving
i still don't dance
crumpled old notes
none of it
of scrap paper
of scribbled ink
so threw them all
in a pot
made this crapped out,
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Why did you have to be an artist?
Why should you, already beautiful,
want to mix beautiful paints? When
you smiled at me, my inward colors ran mud.
I still count precious all the days I wanted
to kiss your softly dark face, the part
of your hair, font to twin perfect
brunette waterfalls; wanted to
erase yet praise your soft hint
of monobrow: and Frida Kahlo, for me,
didn’t yet exist! You wore man shirts
girlishly, unvarying hem-dragging
bell bottoms. Sometimes, bare feet.
(How I longed to echo one boy
—lovely loud lout!—who upsized you
the once-only you arrived
in a miniskirt: “Hey, Chrissie! You
look really good in a dress!”)
So what if you had a mean
hairy boyfriend I loathed and feared.
So you kept a cafeteria table for
all the marginal ones you loved
listening to. I at least was on your menu,
side of pineapple cottage cheese. You
alone in that high school spoke lovingly
agendaless to the Special Eds.
Your coffee eyes softened
your sugar-sharp cheekbones,
your gracile soupçon of chin cleft.
Even now, I will happen across your brother
Guy, like you an artist, Guy whom I
love some, for your sweet sake.
Yet never, in all the years since,
have I once dared ask Guy how you are
and where in God’s holy name you went.
“I CHOSE A LONELY HOUR FOR LONELY POEMS…”
I chose a lonely hour for lonely poems,
thinking to write of you to not think of you.
How can I not dream of you, how you come
sunbeam through a chill glass door, too
sweet and happy and intellect-driven not
to hound the heart out of my heart like Furies,
Furies of loving kindness. Face turns hot,
and so I long to dissolve inside my cheeks
the red that makes my facial hull one length
of rust I wish I could scrape to the dismal metal.
But come to me, drain my reserve and build your strength;
you in your darling innocence have set all
the world’s torturers peeling away my layers of sin.
You give me this ecstasy, stripping my last steel skin.
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
There's this trend called "theme weddings"
where all are to dress as fictional characters from popular media
—yet not stick to romantic stories such as Cinderella, nor others with royal princesses
but themes once spared for birthday parties or something else other than marriage vows
Not held in churches, attending has really not impressed their guests
For instance once this woman told me of friends who had a wedding with a pirate theme
She had already paid into the couple's gift registry
but refused to come dressed in a costume like a dirty "wench"
She went anyway, in a formal gown of course, to find it as dreadful as she expected—
the atmosphere had no emphasis upon the idea of a lifetime commitment
nor indication at all that the couple was even going to stay together
when all the "fun" was over
and therefore wasn't always going to be "happily ever after"
Perhaps the only thing worse, she agreed with me, would probably be a "vampire" wedding
No matter how so-called "romantic" they're considered now in pop culture,
It's frightening to think people are getting wed to the horror theme of the blood-sucking "undead"!
JUST ANOTHER TWINGE
—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA
"Valentine's Day does not
work well for me,"
as the bus put her down
on Spooner Road.
Jeremy put the nonpareils
back into his tweed suit jacket's
next to the sailor knots
and spare striped tie
he usually brings along
on such journeys
from the hospital and home.
Twelve days earlier
he had cried at the death
of a groundhog
but no, not ever
at his two grandmothers'.
He let all important women
pass back and left/right through
his mottled life
easily and without regard
MASS MARKET PAPERBACK
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
She gave me a copy of
Sonnets from the Portuguese
And passages marked
In coral lipstick (It was
The sixties; she worked
In a bookshop; a drug store
Was right next door).
I was smitten.
But she used
Her employee discount,
Gave copies to
Everyone she met.
Thanks to today's contributors, and welcome to Kori Haylett, an ex-Sacramentan who now lives in Acampo. Also be sure to check out Michelle Kunert's photo album of SPC's Black History Month on Medusa's Facebook page. About her poem, Michelle sends us a video clip: go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=wqepqsYxcJA/. And Kevin remarks: Cheap edition: binding gave way even before the relationship ended.
Tonight, The Other Voice in Davis presents Laverne and Carol Frith. Go to rattlesnakepress.com and see their pages (rattlesnakepress.com/Laverne_Frith.html and rattlesnakepress.com/Carol_Frith.html) for more info about this dynamic duo, publishers of Ekphrasis (www.ekphrasisjournal.com) and poets par excellence, and see our blue board at the right of this column for details about tonight's reading. Carol has a new chapbook coming out; I'm sure she'll tell you about that tonight.