Friday, August 31, 2012

Calling CQ

Cynthia Linville

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

Everyone knows how to wrestle an alligator, Kid.
Bill’s been telling me that for years.

Well I finally got a chance to see him in action
down in Florida last May.

Hey Look, Bill! I said. There’s an alligator.
Now you can show me.

Nothing to it, Kid, he said,
and jumped right into the swamp.

First, he rolled onto the alligator’s back.
Then, he gripped shut that big toothy maw.

He was careful not to cover up the gator’s ears, though,
because Bill had some stories to tell.

He talked and he talked and he talked.
He talked until that gator cried crocodile tears.

Now they say that once you’ve subdued a gator
the hard part is getting away.

But for Bill?
That was the easy part!

(True story!)


I want to be Red Riding Hood, he said.
So I helped him into the too-short cape,
rubbed Hollywood Red on his thin lips,
and admired his size 13 heeled ankle boots.
Now come show me what’s in your basket,
I said. Closer, I said.
I looked at him with my big brown eyes,
smiled at him with my big white teeth—
and then I ate him up.

—Cynthia Linville

—Cynthia Linville

There have to be mom-mermaids, she said
as she wriggled into her spandex
safe-for-water pencil skirt.
I mean, they can’t all be girls.
Mermaids with a bit of heft to the hips
with a knowing quirk to the lips
with a raised eyebrow.
Mermaids with breasts so full
they can’t be covered up with a seashell.
MILF Mermaids! he said.
I think it’s time for adult swim.
Are the kids in bed?

 —Photo by Katy Brown, Davis


—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento


Writing is labor. But, I remember

other work: sweet ether-dulled childbirth,

it’s rubber hose, gauze mask,

cold crystalline droplets—the odor, tannic,

like old wine in glazed bottles.

Above the Aegean, pitch pine

lands on grassy banks. I’m sipping retsina

in a sunny café.  A milkweed explodes

this brown seeded dream,

kernels scatter like miniature hooves.

I grab the nearest, twist my hands
in moth-spun fibers,
slip through seven bright planets
hovering near the horizon—
silverfish wounds ordered… to open… a slit
in the velvet sky. Accelerating
into an inconceivable orbit, cracking
past a white star, I hear singing.
It’s the Perseus galaxies moaning in B-flat!
(the lowest measurable note)
Like an aerolite
in the void, I’m drugged
in song, dread to disappear.
Then a thought—Chicago! Ella Fitzgerald!


—Jeanine Stevens

Evening TV reports a low—
a dense pressure hovers,

steel doors blast hinges
sashes bulge, water breaks

atmospheric equations.
In chintz birth chambers

a quick kick, rosy smile,
the first one drifts

down, dazzling emeralds
in golden honeycombs

gossamer spirits
in full-length mirrors.

Glass beads crack
shed eggs green as frogs

trees sprout timber—
cedar and balsam.

The monitor flashes:
Six baby girls born early. 



—Jeanine Stevens                                        


The study of bioacoustics: monkey,                                    

sea lion and gull voices against distant,                       
haunting Moog synthesizers.

Waiting for nature, the first light

shatters, a lone sparrow
chirps distilled splendor, a biophany—
each animal strumming its own sonic bower.

The rush is on to record soundscapes masked

by Arctic drilling. Where are the quiet places?

A congressional team listened to a 95-decibel
recording of snowmobiles racing in Yellowstone,
then another, wolves, ravens, and winter wrens.
(A bandwidth—nature’s own tone poem)

Some personal stereos play at 120 decibels
20 hours without recharging.
Aircraft, traffic, action films, jackhammers,
car alarms drowned out the wild.

Yet, few still wince when cell phones amplify
graveside services for old folks.

10 Million Americans suffer hearing loss, high blood
pressure and heart disease from excessive noise.

What races past our frequency range?
Hearing is blur, bruised ears and souls, a state
of disease, missing ancient breathwaves, the lost pulse—
the sighing in prehistoric caves.

Some have placed small red stones
to mark one square inch of silence—a silence
redefined: the elk’s bugle, the wolf’s wail, the pronghorn’s
charge, the wind’s whip and whistle.

Maybe silence is just song-held codes
of canaries, or simply a lull in birdsong after first light,
a silence that just hovers, then moves on.

(Found poem: “Stop, Look Listen.” AAA Magazine, Bill Donohue, 2007)


—Ann Menebroker, Sacramento

Suddenly we're on a steep San Francisco hill
in a stick-shift car, hitting a red light; me, promising you
we weren't heading for one.
But it's here.  Clutch.  Gas pedal.  Brake.
Fog.  Car ahead of us seemingly not worried.
The perfect day together just started and we're already
in trouble.  We're going up, honey.  Up the rest
of the hill, up to go down.  Up to the Cliff House.
Down to the ocean.  There could be a murder
happening on the sidewalk next to us. Someone could be running
naked, not even breathing hard.  All we know is the fear
inside of the car, your feet
working the car's pedals.  Clutch burning.
Our phones useless.  The GPS useless.
You want me to trade places.  The car behind
us honks.  The light has changed.  I look sideways 
at you and say, "No way!"


Our thanks to today's cooks! Cynthia Linville will be reading with Tim Bellows at Sac. Poetry Center this coming Monday; then she'll be at the Poetry Night Reading Series in Davis (Natsoulas Gallery) with Christopher Lu on Thursday, Sept. 6. Details for both of these are on the blue board at the right of this. Cynthia is one of the editors of convergence, and she reminds us that the Fall issue is now online at

Another poet/editor is Jeanine Stevens, who has helped put together Squaw Valley Review 2010, featuring Lucille Clifton. Ordering information is at

Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) is sending out signals to planets far and wide. About the Seed of the Week, he writes:  I first read the SOW "On a planet like ours" as meaning not ours, but another one like ours.  Then when expressed as "On this planet of ours" that takes it much closer to home.  How about open up the Kitchen and serve "On this planet hors d' oeuvres"?  Any way you cut it, there's always room for poems.  Isn't that interesting—I never saw the alternate meaning! I kind of like the idea of talking about another planet like ours.

Katy Brown's calla lily was taken at Darling House, the bed and breakfast in Santa Cruz that faces the sea. Katy returns from Michigan today, hopefully with many photos and poems in hand.

And Annie Menebroker? I've always liked Katy's photo of her, taken at a Book Collector rattle-read back in the day. Annie's poem, written about her and her daughter, Sue McElligott, reminds me of why I no longer have stick-shifts.


Today's LittleNip:

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Calling CQ, calling CQ
Paul, Ocean, Edward, Tom,

Calling MC, calling MC
Alfred, George, Edward, Nora, Tom

Calling QT, calling QT
Harold, Uncle, Sam, Sam, Uncle, Harold


Annie Menebroker
—Photo by Katy Brown