—Photo by Taylor Graham
about the bird mess. Christ Almighty—
where would we be without a bird mess?—
detritus of days passed with
full stomachs and passerine gossip:
sweet comfort of birdsong and easy shits
and quiet nights of contentment… Who
cares about the bird mess?—it’s just
little white dots on the deck
and tiny black hulls sticking to the
lawn chairs. What the hell are brooms
made for, anyways…
—Kathy Kieth, Diamond Springs
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
(for Neruda’s clock)
When she rose from sea it was not within sight of land.
The white-lipped foam passed back into the great blue.
The vestments of the deepest ocean had nothing to proclaim.
All of time was waiting for room where understanding could help
Its pitiful argument for constant change, but there was no argument
Coming. The swells returned to whatever they were doing before.
There was no difference. There was no scanning of a horizon,
Frozen or tropical, it made no difference to whatever had life.
There was not a finger raised, no scent of sea or cry of sea birds,
No ship, no vague information that could be given to the moment.
But we were there with our fleshy instruments and eyes filled
With vitreous humor, more sea than seeing, a skimming of the
Way to the retina from the lens that tries so hard to convince
Us of the world with electrical changes and images such as this.
On the far beach, heaps of kelp near the water line and clouds
Of sand flies and midges, the grumbling of the waves upon the shore.
We will keep returning here to hear the story one more time and pour
Over the marks upon the sands, pour out our deepest thoughts,
Harvest the vision of her rising from the sea and disappearing
As perfectly and completely as these words do even now.
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
across the sand
a possessive tide of ocean
those waves I used to ride
enmeshed in foam and seaweed
beyond the sand
sun glitters on the water, blinding
I wish for a determined tide of ocean
sweep the sand and clean it
draw it back to mother ocean
a school of fish scatters against my legs
I am far out to sea beyond the sand
now riding up and down in a seaweed tangle
waiting to be swept inward
to land in a tide pool where kids play
where I sat with Jack
we splashed each other, washed off the sand
while he told me about fondling girls
in the shadows of the boardwalk
years ago as a teenager
rousted by chaperones
What do you think you were you doing under there?
did he need to tell them? no secrets in the sand
feel the tide grow stronger
whipping the beach in a frenzy
of desire and designation
film of yellow chiffon
soft shoe of rhythm
girls dancing in the light
ripple of applause
they fly up to the sun
they drop to the floor
their dance is complete
sun motes cover the stage
applaud the flight
the pile of sun
molecules of color
that’s Damien Hirst’s art
you critics call them “spots”
like chickenpox or measles
you think he’s whorish;
he has his team do his work
in-your-face art, a joke perhaps
some pay millions for it
who’s to say it isn’t as good as Rembrandt?
or Warholish art
what’s the difference?
you have to love those molecules
light and color
whether a dozen
dancing gleefully in the sun
Damien’s cool, man
THE WAGES OF SIN
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA
After eight years
of stranding facts
into hyperbolic noodlings
with no connection
to breathing or sleeping
or showering or eating,
Monique and Maynard
received their doctorates
from Petrie University
and the next day
went down a road to chronic
semi-employment until her death
while Maynard became
an elbow-patched tweed wearing pendant
only after he had got his position
lying on his back
in the dean wife's bedroom
while Dean Fish
made it with Monique
on an infrequent basis
HOSPITAL STAY (for SB)
She is licking crooked fingers
turns masses of pages
between sips of a cobalt milkshake;
days are nights to her
McCalls has no patterns
to cover over
"the unnatural body,"
she hears well enough though
the nurses found out—
they deal with candor and death
one becomes the other.
The mind, spirit alters
from the body,
a trap springing
shut at macabre angles
a few times they work as one
parallels the flow of her memory
better times come after such as these;
the dogma of her soul
keeps her above torture
imposed by recently defunct deities
upset at science.
Thanks to today's contributors for vittles both SOW-ish and otherwise. D.R.'s reference to Neruda's clock refers to the poem posted here last Sunday. For further inspirations, don't forget to check out our N-SOWs in the green box over at the right of this column. Yosemite! Wow!
Tonight Primal Urge presents its Poetry With Legs bi-weekly reading series, this one featuring Annie Menebroker and Kathy Kieth plus open mic at Shine, 1400 E St., Sac. One drink minimum. Host: Bill Gainer. Be there!
A COOL DRINK
—Dewell H. Byrd, Central Point, OR
laughter in a paper cup
honey eyes dance
above the rim
on cool water