Thursday, May 10, 2012

What is Inspiration?

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

NORCO POEM #8: Swan Lake Mobile Home Park
—Michael Cluff, Corona

A name to bring
ballet to inland California—
it is a place
where some believe
the dying
in all but fact

There are many in the interior
the sun is good for the joints,
the lungs,
the eyes
until the smog
rolls in
and never
leaves on its own.

The old become silent
and more so
as the decades rachet up
on their odometers.

Swans do the same
until the last moment
before death shallows them
and floats them effortlessly away.

They break out in song
like Robin Case did
last Sunday
who died in the water
in the central lake
in the mobile home park,
hoping some one would finally
hear his hoarse voice
after some odd eras
and pay attention to it.

No one really did
and Swan Lake
soon moved peacefully again
deep and clear.

Avoiding a range of unpleasant,
unexpected sound
uncomfortable to myriad aspects of man
is done easily.

We all know that.


—Michael Cluff

Since Milt's new vested glen plaid suit
with blue silk tatterstall necktie
(bought through credit formed by a lie)
was repossessed by burly brute,
he hopes no one will stop and glare
when he saunters sans underwear.


The following horsemen still frown,
their knight on an ignoble quest—
never stops to eat, drink or rest.
All for the celestial crown,
he imposes harsh ravages
to save infidel savages.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Michael Cluff

Nadine Valdez
came into class
after we had finished
the poetic unit
on war poems.
Forché 's "The Colonel"
and Jarrell's "Death of A Ball Turret Gunner"
for that day,
the usual approach of under-the-surface
meanings and the up-front anger
over all the human waste involved.

She gave me her orders
for return to Rhode Island
for ultimate deployment
out to the Afghani lines
thanked me for letting her
add the class although she
was far below
most on the also-eligible list
how she enjoyed the lectures
and unforced discussions
that sometimes followed
in varying viewpoints
but decent respect
of difference in philosophies
and propaganda.

I was unhappy—
aghast that my job
is so intellectually ironic
and removed from the wounds
and gore, the tenuousness
of some other people's lives.

I am unworthy
of students
like her.


—Michael Cluff

Hortense notes:

A second string pearl necklace
cameos of somber ladies
a charm bracelet that would weigh down
Godzilla or Gargantua
musky geranium
or the like
crushed roadkill flat
a marriage certificate
or two
from men I never knew.

Mother's Day will be
quite interesting
and entertaining
this year.

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

I was eight or nine
When I noticed
The dresser in
My parents’ room.

My mother’s jewelry box
Was top left,
Full, heavy, the
Size of a Costco
Cookie tin.  My mother
Had worked
For a jeweler, and
While I wasn’t
Much interested in
The contents, I
Wondered if they were
Somehow the reason
The jeweler was no
Longer in business.

On the right
Was my father’s
Box.  Under the
Foil-wrapped circles
And the Polaroids
The druggist
Would sell you
If you knew
The right questions,
Was another box.
Small, dark wood.
It was full of teeth.

They weren’t mine,
Weren’t my father’s
Didn’t seem to
Belong to anyone I knew.
Years later I realized:
My father
Was the tooth fairy.

Thanks to Michael, Kevin and Katy for today's Kitchen fare! Katy took the photos of the swans at the Kieth's Senior Park this week (we have four black ones); ironically, Michael Cluff wrote an appropriate poem without even knowing about where we live or that we have swans. 

Yesterday's photo of the Golliwog caused concern in one of our readers, who wrote to say she hoped that it didn't offend anyone—a good point with such politically charged memorabilia. I don't have any answers about right or wrong, but here are some of the questions I asked myself before posting it:

•••How much should we try to shape our work to the sensibilities of our readers? Should we avoid certain images because they might "trigger" unpleasant memories in someone or ourselves?
•••Which parts of history should we leave out when we write? Which subjects are taboo? Is censorship ever appropriate?
•••Our reader wrote that she goes to Medusa for inspiration, not offensive material. What kinds of things inspire us; what exactly does that word mean? 
•••What is our job as writers? Does the word "comfort" even fit? What good can come out of being uncomfortable?

These kinds of questions keep coming back and back, and that's a good thing. It keeps our thinking and our writing fresh and relevant, yes?


Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff

Alena bought no farms
took no primrose path
or ever wore violet-colored glasses

she fell into loin lust
heat heavy
soul-strafing love—
that was enough
to send platitudes
to the far edge of the
Crab Nebula.



 —Photo by Katy Brown