Thursday, March 01, 2012

Like A Lion (Or Is That A Kitten?)

Is March coming in like a lion? 
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Rainclouds gather like crows
above the tree in spring blossom—
blooms so delicate, each petal
balanced on old black limbs—

limbs so scarred and twisted
from years of weather, waiting
out the winter, empty coat-racks—
waiting like stones for some

thing beyond a tree's imagining—
who knows what trees imagine?
New blades of grass tickling roots.
Laughing at rainclouds—

an old tree in boa-blossom
dancing for rain.


—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

Meshing multiple monomaniacs
into a seamless satellite
the new center,
the play, becomes a fresher universe
a big bang of talent
which harmonizes
glissandos and obligatos
from different spheres
into a sonata of insight
about personal interactions
heading towards a section
of sky variegated and directed
by the hands of humans
instead of fickle or feckless
collisions in the arbitrary void
around this planet
this plentitude.


—Michael Cluff

May 1971

A clockwork enterprise
the passing of baton
from sprinter to sprinter
must fit, fluid-
fine like grooves
into nooks,
fingers into palm,
a living machine
of synchronized smooth motion.

Even though Bobby and Mark
drop the stick
in the league qualifiers
when the rhythm was good
between the quarter-mile quartet
all the winds would turn to let them by
and the earth gladly released its hold
on gravity just minutely
until they all had passed by.


—Salvatore Buttaci, Princeton, W Va

If only the wind would hush
and we could somehow press
our heads against the sod and hear
the language of flowers.

What do the daisies say
on lonely graveyard hills?
They stand in sentry rows
as though to guard the sleeping.

I cannot believe they are silent.
Their yellow petals wave;
they bend on green stems
like supplicants in need of grace.

What do they say in petal talk,
in velvet-smooth vowels,
in the alliterative rush of consonants
that rise and fall and rise again?

If only they could speak to us,
say sweetly how proud to stand
like guardians of the dead
or how they miss summer gardens.

If only this heart of mine,
this true self who speaks wordlessly,
could decipher the tongues of daisies
and I could suddenly grow wise.


—Salvatore Buttaci

What do they say when no one is there
climbing their steepness or standing
in awe of their majestic beauty?
What do the mountains say in the absence
of sound which they hurl back to the sky?

Or could it be what they feel is too rocky
to share, so they keep it concealed
like they do those old fossils of long-ago time,
hidden like secrets from a chattering world,
deep in the crevices of unyielding stone.

Still it can't hurt to wonder somehow
if they speak on their own, beyond
echoes repeated in kaleidoscope sounds.
I like to imagine from high on their summits
They send up to heaven their mountainous prayers.


—Salvatore Buttaci

some bright star light years away
the dot of a pin in the far-up heavens
that may or may not still shine there

if only some magical incantation
could be chanted, an abra-cadabra
line or two sung to the night sky

if just once I might gaze at this palm
where rests a star of rock like
a prized marble saved from childhood

in a small way be like Atlas holding worlds
or Galileo at his glass bringing home
twinkling stars and giving them names


—Caschwa, Sacramento

It was immediately obvious
As soon as our eyes met
That we were falling
For one another

Fortunately I was dressed
In appropriate attire to make
Such an acquaintance
On short notice

She drew my glance with
A very short plaid skirt
And multi-colored nylons
Over long legs

Her hair was a little ruffled
But she needed no makeup
With an adorable little nose
Adorning her ever smiling face

I took her into my arms
And we hugged forever
Both knowing that this
Was the start of ecstasy

Suddenly our dream was broken,
By a family member who
Did not understand our rapture…
“I want my rag doll back!”


Thanks to today's gourmet cooks! Longtime SnakePal Sal Buttaci ( writes that his new book of poetry, If Roosters Don't Crow, It Is Still Morning: Haiku and Other Poems is published by Cyber-wit Publications and available at (books). And Michael Cluff writes that copies of his new poetry book, Elegant Worry, are now on sale for $5 and all funds go directly to the Norco College Creative Writing Scholarship. Write to for ordering information.

Last minute change: Traci Gourdine will substitute for Molly Fisk in tonight's Literary Lecture Series at the Sac. Poetry Center. Her lecture topic is "The Critical Perspectives of Sweetbitter, a novel by Reginald Gibbons". See the blue board at the right of this column for details.


Today's LittleNip: 

But the Kitten, how she starts,
crouches, stretches, paws, and darts!
First at one, and then its fellow,
just as light and just as yellow.
There are many now—now one,
now they stop and there are none:
What intenseness of desire,
in her upward eye of fire!
With a tiger-leap half-way,
now she meets the coming prey.

—William Wordsworth (1770-1850, from "The Kitten and the Falling Leaves")



 Valley Oak at Sunset
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove