Friday, August 24, 2012

Carving Our Initials

—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

two little girls in blue
onstage in organdy side by side
puffed sleeves and swelling skirts
black patent leather shoes
black grosgrain ties
pale blue socks
silver taps under the toes
taps power the sound
pale legs flail
before them a dark crowd watches
swathed in darkness from seats row on row
to the back of the great arena
arena of dance
where people clap
when they hear first taps
the time step tapped and tapping
to the piano rhythm
fever of spotlight on small girls                                                         
five year old girls singled out
smaller than anyone else
looking out on the big people
a swarm of watchers
watch them dance the time step
the first routine learned at the studio
when it ends a wave of applause
reaching to the far back row 
watchers clap
fever of clapping
fever of first taps
contagious fever of tapping
never ends


—Patricia Hickerson

say goodbye to Uncle Bill
he taught you all you know
it wasn’t much; he never preached
he told you dance is good
can’t get enough
go for it that’s the way
let it ride in and out
over and under
feel the pain feel the glory
in the cabin out of the cabin
under the trees
over the bridge
across the water
in the snow
in the rain
now you’ve got it
never stop
it’s all about dance
okay, kid? 


—Patricia Hickerson

don’t know what it’s like now
from 40 years ago
still drunks sprawled along Nevsky Prospekt?
cops throwing them into paddy wagons?
midnight New Years Eve
toasting with vodka the everyday drink
red velvet hotel’s long tables crowded
next morning what a layout of breakfast
hot cereal, eggs, sausage, golden caviar
for lunch borscht in a workers’ restaurant
later sitting in a crowded cafė 
across the table from an elderly WWII soldier
honor medal on his lapel dark-eyed blonde at his side
Beatles’ music, dancing
hot with vodka and loud voices
stamping of feet on Red Square bricks
St. Basil’s cathedral onions
catercornered to the Kremlin
Lenin finally serene in his glass coffin
guards at the ready
yanked my hand out of my pocket
cold air and snow
babishkas sweeping the streets
their raggedy straw brooms                             

 Nicole dances Dracula, Sacramento Ballet
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Michael Cluff, Corona

In July 1967
the first beach sunset
seen with adolescent eyes
marked me until
the present
and, I know,
into my limited future.

The star dashed
into the emerald
tossing sea
minutely turning itself
and the waves
into hues of henna
a tide of tans
and an ocean of orange organza.

I sat until the sea and sky
became one
the line between
a deep purple
that had no definition
like my life
back then.


—Michael Cluff

The first day
of teaching
at the start
of the semester
an extra four swipes
of deodorant
under each arm,
a sharper razor,
the freshest of breath that
a plastic bottle can evoke,
a better polished
pair of brown wingtip shoes
and the perfection of dimpled knots
in the middle price range
of not-quite-so-outdated paisley ties.

After the third day
old ways reassert
a reality of their own
that I will defy
on my own impulse
until the middle of December
or early weeks in March, when they
expire in their own natural ways.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

My dog has led me to a useless place.
Deserted street of houses; bungalow
with peeling paint, front yard a disgrace
of weedy lawn. My dog goes sniffing, slow
and thoughtful, as if anything could grow

here. Side gate's hanging by a hinge, the fence
leans to block my passage—but childhood-bright
with honeysuckle, mint, remembered scents
from—where? My dog still leads me, eyes a-light
with seeking. Memory is a second sight.


Thank you to today's contributors! Don't forget to check out Medusa's Facebook page for Michelle Kunert's beautiful photos of orchids.

Congratulations to Sacramento City College Professor Jeff Knorr for being appointed Sacramento Poet Laureate for 2012-2014! There is more info about Jeff on our green board at the right of this column.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff 
The sky is above
the evil red sea
sage brushes both
and does not care
which is right
or will win.

 Sleeping White Lion
McKinley Park, Sacramento
—Photo by Michelle Kunert