Monday, April 23, 2012

The Vitality of Imagination

Armstrong Woods
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

A hollow stump—I look closer.
Not hollow, but
honeycombed to its ancient
woodgrain. Gray. No,
silver with sound. Not humming,
infinitesimal vibration
of wings. Thousands. Silver
spurting from the stump, a swelling
chorus without words,
insect rapture rising from a ruined
choir, the stump-core.
Termites erupting too fast too many
to count. Seeking what?
Life. Famished to eat the world.
Renewal. From dead
wood, a silver jet of Spring,
that crazy dance we all
must join in.


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

black sky, hazy, cool, swaddles stars
leaves shimmer jade, cerulean
breathe pale against the night
new leaves on an old tree
canopy still broad green in summer

tonight, new leaves
buds a week ago
open like folded paper
notes passed in class
origami birds

two years ago
our love was new, rhapsody
I wrote my love to you
under this tree
tonight, I watch the leaves
my love coiled, longing, hoping
day after day, we’re apart


—Ann Wehrman

the position was not offered
“They didn’t think you could do the job”
I underplayed my successes, and worse,
confided that it’d been a difficult decade
navigating secondary education credentialing,
a Masters program and an internship in community college
I left out many details of the difficulty
though they would have made a good story—
regardless, the committee decided against me

the irony is that for sixteen weeks preceding
I did do it, at their school; I did teach
called in at the last minute, temporary assignment,
could I take it?  Yes, oh yes!
start the next day, no materials written, text unread
I plunged in anyway,
forced myself awake at 4:30 a.m.
no coffee, hoping my aging bladder would make it
through the ninety-minute commute on public transit
cold, some days raining
one day, rain and wind so strong that power failed
yet I showered in the dark
flagged down the first bus in that storm
umbrella flapping inside out, cold and wet
I caught that 5:30 bus, then the 6:20 train,
then waited downtown, boarded-up windows
everyone but me smoking, leaving no clean oxygen
don’t look anyone in the eye, hold your own
I waited at the station, then caught the next, 6:50, train

ghost-eyed stragglers propped into corners
tough guys with bikes
kept my eyes open and to myself
gritted my teeth, lifted sixty plus pounds
books and binder in my sopping wet
rolling backpack off the train
walked fast to make it through the doors
down the steep stairs before the train pulled out
rolled steady and fast, kept walking in the cold
finally, the gym; ducked into the women’s bathroom
hot water, a mirror, a clean toilet
found myself in the mirror, rearranged my face
as a teacher, not an urban survivor
smoothed my hair, put away extra scarf and sweater
that no teacher would need
since teachers all have cars
put on lip-gloss, took a deep breath

dragged backpack to the coffeehouse
where my students gathered before 7:30 class
where I lost myself talking with them,
warmed up with hot coffee
then we walked to the nearby classroom
others filed in, each with a story—
sixty-year-old who took his chemo treatments
mornings before class
ex-Army man whose haunting memoirs earned him A’s
the warm, the pregnant, the scholarly
the rebellious, the funny, the beloved
my students who, in that class, like all classes
made it worth it

sitting by my window

waiting for you
loving you for the life
that flows from your heart
compassion in your voice
eyes that betray your love

I tremble for your kiss
greedy, unable to wait
I envision your lips
touch them softly with mine

—Ann Wehrman


—Caschwa, Sacramento

The beloved deceased had been a multi-tasker
Extraordinaire, leaving the Age of Specialization
Sitting still in a dark corner of history

To properly recognize his accomplishments
A funeral procession was engineered,
Synchronized, calendared, and refined

Nineteen cars, all different makes,
Models, years, classes, colors, engines,
Some metric, some standard

Each racing ahead in the darkness
High beams boldly lighting their separate paths
No tail lights or turn signals to follow

Would they all converge at the cemetery?
Would any be lost or call in late?
A busload of commoners awaited the answer. 



(Sometimes we need to gather
More facts, more data
Before giving something a name)

This is the poem I was going to write
After remembering just what is was
I was trying to say, to convey

There is always that piper to pay
But they don’t wear change belts
They confront you with black belts

I challenged my spell check to
Provide me a maitre d’ and it
Gave me Waiter Dee, tee hee

Why does the keyboard have
Two Enters and no Exit?
And Caps Lock is a key.

Personal ad:  Single, double chin,
3-piece suit, 4-wheel drive, off at 5,
Seeks perfect mate

Thanks to today's cooks. You can catch a glimpse of Taylor Graham if you go to Poetry in Motion in Placerville tonight! And Cynthia Linville has a new book of poetry out: The Lost Thing, from Cold River Press. You can purchase it there ( or on Amazon ( Linville). Or there will be a book release at Shine (1400 H St., Sac.) on Saturday, May 5, from 2-4pm, and you can get a copy there. 

There are retreats, and there are retreats. May 24-27 is the weekend of Writing Away Retreats in Colorado, which will include manuscript consultations, discussions and ample time to work in an isolated location that includes meals and all the bells and whistles you would expect for such a pricey endeavor. Info: 

Closer to home is the Gold Rush Writers Conference May 4-6 at the Leger Hotel in beautiful, quaint Mokelumne Hill, off Hwy 49 just past Jackson.  Monika Rose writes: It's only $175 for the full weekend, including a picnic supper at novelist Antoinette May's home, buffet lunch, a banquet dinner with guest speaker, Mystery novelist Carla Black, and 4 workshops with noted scholars and writers, networking with other writers and editors—plus so much more. If you just want to come for the Poetry Clinic on Publishing and Marketing Poetry on Saturday, and add in the banquet dinner and speaker fees, as well as the open mic time afterwards until wee hours, then that is $55.00. The weekend will start with an open mic at the Mokelumne Hill Library which everyone is invited to attend, whether or not they are going to the retreat. Go to and contact Antoinette May to reserve your space.

July 28 is the deadline for the 8th Annual Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest, presented by Poets Club of Lincoln and sponsored by the Lincoln Library and Friends of the Lincoln Library. All ages, including a "Young Poets" category. Download the rules at (click on "poetry"), or call Alan Lowe at 916-408-1274.


Today's LittleNip: 


Calico, California
A barren ghost town
Tourist attraction
Prospering from the
Vitality of imagination

Cartagena, Colombia
Another tourist attraction
Where prostitutes shed
Their calico dresses leaving
Nothing to the imagination



 Salt Point
—Photo by Cynthia Linville