Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mad Hullabaloo

—Photo by Viola Weinberg

—Viola Weinberg, Kenwood, CA

A black velveteen river of tarantulas
coming down El Valle Grande, one
after another, the road eclipsed
cracking on our tires like eggs

Flying up the vents and smacking
the closed metal, dear god
They were on the march and we
were in their way, as they tumbled

Creeping, a mob on the dark road
in a column on the asphalt as we
migrated bravely against the black tide
Crunch and drang, a bad dream with

The foil of little freaky creatures
their insect fur and all their bright eyes
rimmed in brash sun, headed south
with their egg sacs and twitching limbs

Like Scorsese’s eyebrows jumping from a script
treacherous, disturbing, stomach-turning
We stubbornly drove against the grotesque
as they whirled, wheels of hairy little, tiny legs

Click-clacking against the windshield
and bumpers, the headlights and truck bed
We shouldered on, became angry, we sped
for 15 minutes in shivering intarnation until

We passed out of the storm, the sandy road ahead
clean as a beach, and we were quieted, but
even now, just the thought of it, the madness of it
will possess a stray hair to tickle us to death


—Viola Weinberg

She sways, a pendulous lamp
of amazed happiness so bright
astonished and embarrassed
breathing through a pinhole
pretty as a ripe apple, eyes
on fire like sunspots, she
staggers backward
hands on breasts
her lips in o’s

Everything spins around her
swollen tree rings of watermelon
a bushel of chips, a gallon of salsa
arranged and rearranged by
a family of women in love’s kitchen
heavy Chinette paper plates stained
with tomato and tuna finger sandwiches
the intoxicating unction of covered dishes
nestled down on red cloth—
a beating heart, quivering

And here he comes
dragging his boots, pausing
as painfully long as possible
shy though handsome even now
emulated by men, loved by women
unbowed by life or loss—
Only a few know he will die
soon, only I know why
so like a leaf, only his trembling
voice broken by the rasps of time


—Viola Weinberg

With a sharp taste of a fearless, young wine
I conjure the delicious salt lick of heaven’s skirt

I’ve remembered it again, that kiss, that old longing
a longing made of eggshells and capillaries, but

tonight was different, no thumb-screwed sadness, but joy
I fought ego’s stubborn need—the need to need and won

The kiss hovered on the opera of my imagination, finally
throwing down a velvet curtain, crushing propriety

Instead, a world of flowers blew open to scent my little
moment, a sense of poetry in the arms of beauty

The conjured kiss lasted well over a minute, it smeared
my lips like sweating plums in a hot kettle, almost jelly

I went for it, and in my white-headed thrall, reached out
Love’s penny was being spent foolishly, lavishly, brilliantly

I caught it between my teeth and remembered the taste
I still can; once in a while, it visits, that foolishness I shake off

It’s a story told by the planets, starring gassy Venus
in her blue sweatshirt and Mars ruining her reputation

As she twirls away, a bright diamond on summer’s cleavage
Hunting down that last, long-ago memory of the first thrill

—Photo by Viola Weinberg

—Viola Weinberg

The trees fling their leaves
In a bruising wind, the sunflowers
Are skeletons—flesh ripped away
No petals, leaves or seeds
The birds huddle under the shed
The shed rattles and squirrels fly

In the village, everything is dark
Families huddle by hearth and stove
The cat is wild with the crash and jingle
Of branches coming down everywhere
We batten down, watching the bells blow
Off the trees, seeing the vines stripped

Somewhere in the woods, vultures
Are driven off their grisly perch
We hear them high above, coasting
On the currents, racket and echo
Far away from our hunker against
Each wave of wind, mad hullabaloo


—Viola Weinberg

The tiny basil flowers, for instance
that I will pinch back for the sake of the plant
The little carrots deliciously ready, but very short
The one beet that stands alone in its bed
bursting from the soil, red and bleeding
The last French radish, which has gotten
rather large, but can still be sliced
in two and set in a water bath to crisp
or the dead heads of carnations on a plant
that once looked like an explosion of red paint

My plans involve the garden shears and clippers
grown gamy now from pruning sappy limbs
or watching the little dog, who lies in the sun, still
as the sleeping Buddha or the pea shoots
trying to latch on the old willow teepee
or the little figlets still shapeless and vague—
but surely ready to be counted, their perfume
preceding their womanly bodies, their forming seed
I will rediscover the lost glove with a patch
and measure the cucumbers just set in a row

I will not think about things so big they are unimaginable:
Death, dearth, why some are loved and some are not
I will continue my subtle movements, small and tender
As if they were cilia in the ear of a thirsty honey bee
In this small world, I shall gather, cut, water and harvest
Entire life cycles of their little universe of mulch and dirt
I will hum a modest tune and clip the ragged thyme
No one will be saved; there is no winner’s bell to ring—
just the soft breeze with an insinuation of the ocean
a small planet of things to tend, one sleepy clover at a time


Today's BaseballNip:

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Uncle Alfred
took us on vacation
from the East Coast
to the Pacific,
and here
at the St. Francis hotel
a boy cannot sleep
sneaks a slice
of Black Forest cake
from dinner,
and wants to watch
the Giants
on the screen
play the Athletics
imagining bat and ball
bouncing and whizzing
to pass by him
as an earthquake
rolls him out of bed
and the announcer says
a seismic shift has occurred
between Oakland
and San Francisco,
has even hit the books
at Berkeley,
and the houses
by Santa Cruz,
the game is cancelled
and the boy
in his imagination
watches the sea ascending
striking the minutes
by the broken mirror
underneath his breath
there is a lid of tears,
gets down on his knees
to say a prayer
of St. Francis
Alfred taught him
on the plane.


—Medusa, with thanks to Viola and B.Z. for today's kool kuisine in the Kitchen! Both are huge baseball fans, so we posted B.Z.'s baseball poem on this, the opening day of the World Series. Batter up! It is also fitting to hear from Viola this week, as Sacramento inaugurates another Poet Laureate (Jeff Knorr this coming Friday, which is also Sacramento Poetry Day); Viola served (with Dennis Schmitz) as Sacramento's first PL, back in 2001-2003. Scroll down to the blue board at the right of this for details about Friday's PL Inauguration in the New City Hall.

 —Photo by Viola Weinberg