Friday, August 17, 2012

Unfamiliar Surroundings

—Photo by Susan Graybeal, Davis


—David Iribarne, Sacramento

We haven’t spoken in so long
so much silence built up between us.
You still have a piece of me
wrapped up in you.

We used to be so close
now you have driven to a place
where it is difficult to reach you.
You have put your guard up
pushed me further and further away.

So many questions:
Why are you angry?
Why have you drawn so many new lines between us?
Do you remember the way we were?
Have you thought about me lately?

I just want to see you in your own skin.
Not so jaded
not so burned
not so on edge that I can’t even touch
you without getting cut.

I miss your warm the smooth strokes
of your fingers as you traced
your love on my body.
I loved your soft sweet kisses
as they graced my lips.
I missed the smell of you
how it stayed with me long after you left.

You still are under my skin
deep in the fibers
difficult to know where exactly.
Difficult to know when you might
make your presence known.

I used to know you so well
know what you would say
what you were thinking
which direction you would go
what path we were destined to take.


—David Iribarne

You were crumbling down
your walls were finally breaking
conversations were smooth
both of us felt more secure
You were more familiar.

Only wondered why it took so long
why had you had your guard up?
why did you turn into a porcupine
when I tried to touch you?

Why had you covered your body
with so many layers
that it took me so long
to cut cut cut
my way through to scratch the surface.

I often couldn’t get past the pleasantries
you would cut me off
before I could get my arm in the door.
You would push me back before
I was able to go forward.

Tonight was different
the fog, the storm had lifted.
Temperature just right
No chilled winds, No mugginess
I felt comfortable talking with you.

I was able to take steps
without feeling I had stepped
somewhere I shouldn’t have.

No more was a mystery in the room
no obscurities, no wondering
you were there clearly.

—David Iribarne, Sacramento

You jumped around,
skipped about,
played air guitar,
rocked out to the music.

You did not care what people thought.
You just did your thing.
You danced blindly around the room
and ended up on my lap.
You lip synced
opening that little mouth of yours
ever so wide and bobbing that
small head of yours back and forth
ever so fast to the music.

You almost stole the show that night.
I watched you, trying to lock every move
every jump, every smile securely
in my brain hoping it wouldn’t
be lost or fragmented or broken into bits and pieces
by unbeknownst happenings.

I wanted to be like that
not care what people said
not care how I looked.
Be always comfortable in my own body
I wished sometimes I could freeze time

Hold your seven-year frame
tightly letting go but not wanting to
worried about what you will face
what will come later?
Will you dance as freely?
Will you fall too fast?
Will you keep afloat in the fierce ocean?

I looked at you again
You were smiling
as you twirled about
leaping into the air

—Photo by Susan Graybeal

—Susan Graybeal, Davis

You, a softer red. Red from a place
that doesn't know sirens. Already
the water of the Cahaba, sweetheart; milk
of the galaxy. You are skipping
to the glad parts, to someday.
To all the days that will whisper your name
and the ones who will love you back,
you are. Unbridled tornado, lightning heart:
that lifetime before you pass this way again.


—Susan Graybeal

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." —Desiderius Erasmus

And if he ever really spoke to you, perhaps he'd speak of the northfield. Would list the ways its shadow changes. How it tangles around the stems of the roses. That the water is rushing, is racing. Is mindless, then, of cliffs in the near distance. Or maybe he'd say the way the stars are candles. How the wind of his walk does set them flickering, flickering. Calling him to the only stillness he can bear.

In dreams, it seems you are forever reaching. Are conjuring the topography of his beautiful face from the same thin air, the same thin way you conjure yourself worthy of his moment. As though you were not beneath him, but simply beneath his weight. The way "if only" becomes the purest term you've ever known.

And if only he could hear you speaking, perhaps you'd speak of the sound. The step-slide-step of the shadow and the rose when they are dancing. The way the movement speeds and slows just like the earth itself and how one always loves the other more. Or you would tell him what the water knows. That everything born is born for falling. You would talk of the stars. Of the cool rush when you have called them closer. The creak of their turning heads when they are looking for him. When they are begging him in your way, in your voice: Turn around. See me.


—Susan Graybeal

The ad, which read: born in captivity. And maybe you didn't see that part or maybe it meant the world to you. Maybe you're the only one who can say what it's like to want to save something so bad. You ached with it and consider the way you threw your money down. How you bought that strip of land on the edge of town, where the planes fly low and the grass lays down as if to say to heaven: fall for me now. You had her crated in and in your fastforward way, you gave her a brand new name. Because you wanted her to run, you said, because she was born for what sun hits that place past the fenceline. That place where humanity gives way to solitude, to otherness and maybe it meant the world to you, jogging a bit in that general direction. Calling and calling as though you weren't coming back to her sleek cowered self. As though you hadn't filled your fists with smooth stones. Hadn't thrown a few and that she wasn't just a shadow of you: just slipping into the pain. And maybe a thousand years aren't enough to erase the shame of a bloodied muzzle, the memory of how something dearly dies with its eyes gone wary, wide open and maybe it was only you after all. Trapped there in your bruised skin and looking out from the bars. Saying to heaven: fall for me now. Maybe you're the only one who ever wanted to save something so bad. You're the only one who can say.


Thanks to today's chefs for our fabulous fare! David Iribarne will be reading at the Super Love Jones Love Poem Slam tomorrow night; details over there on our blue board at the right of this column. And the City of Davis is well-represented around the Kitchen table today—our thanks to Ann Privateer and our welcome to newcomer Susan Graybeal! While you're looking at the blue board, be sure to notice the new reading series beginning on Saturday at the Avid Reader in Davis, called Avid Voices. Check it out!

During the day on Saturday, head on up the hill to El Dorado (just this side of Placerville) for Poetic License, a monthly read-around.

Then on Sunday, head on down to Book Passages in Corte Madera to join Trina Drotar and other readers from the new journal, Fault Lines. Again—all the details are on the blue board.

This just in: the Surprise Valley Writers' Conference has a last-minute cancellation in their poetry section, including a partial Steve Turner Scholarship. If you or someone you know would like to apply for the scholarship, now is the time! The scholarship covers $225 of tuition, leaving the recipient with a balance of $225, plus their personal expenses. Please take a look at and click on Steve Turner Scholarship for details; also, click on the Surprise Valley Writers' Conference button on the site for information about the conference, which is Sept. 13-16. Send questions to Ray A. March at 

Today's LittleNip:


A butterfly floats
and swoops gathering
beauty near a solitary tree.

A she humming bird
scouts for honey suckle
two sashaying referees.

A caterpillar can sting
I sat on one once
and my leg screamed. 

The garden explodes
singing a seasonal anthem
colors pulse, bees swim

into sunflowers, seeds
drop, spent petals fall
to earth.  Heads

droop, stems crack, seeds
volley as if life depends
on them to reign us in.

—Ann Privateer, Davis



 —Photo by Susan Graybeal