—Ann Privateer, Davis
Days play hide and seek
from each other maintaining
interest in spite of wild claims.
Nine-tenths of appearances
babble away claims
we speak, tremble, pierce each piece.
The waiter offers diners
ground pepper from a giant
phallic pepper mill.
Too much phishing past
data dancing the polka
with okra beaded bracelets.
A flash mob moves out
into the street dancing free
and easy, it's your birthday.
a road map I stick
to watermarked days
rely on warn out phrases
try to survive, to keep
it special, even spectacular.
Rejection slips pile up, become
discarded words, I refrigerate the trash
the light stays on after the door
closes, I bang my toe sewing seeds
run a business harassing people.
No one's heard of the word sleuth
in the local desert booth where nothing
but exhaustion grows from fallow fielding.
Too much information, no give and take
debate, no worthwhile conversation.
Explain, elaborating can be food
for thought, even a cockeyed agenda—
ready, aim, fire renders meaning.
Provide a haven for exotic birds
green ones are especially engaging.
—charles mariano, sacramento
while helping a friend
move tables and chairs
to a formal event,
she stopped me
to introduce me
to a room full of strangers,
“this is Charlie, he’s shy”
why would someone introduce me
made me sound disabled
could’ve simply said,
“this is Charlie”
next time i help someone,
i’ll have to set some ground rules
you will not look at me,
you will not say my name out loud,
you will not use cute, descriptive terms,
you will not smile at me,
you will not wink, point, thank, or embrace me
you will not wave hello, or goodbye,
and most importantly,
you will not assume i care to meet or greet
i’m just the help,
feel free to tip generously
i haven’t died
or don’t expect to today,
despite recent scares
from the doctor’s office
“made you look,”
that i’m sure
shaved a few years
this morning i glanced (not leered)
at a young woman passing,
admired her smile, the beauty
of her eyes, but also,
the contours of her shape
for obvious, unholy thoughts
was that lust? unbridled longing?
even more important
should someone standing
on the precipice of death,
as recently as last week
(or so i thought),
be even allowed to look?
have i reached an age
where this mind and body
should stop craving, wanting,
perhaps, an explanation,
“young lady, i have not ravaged you
with my eyes,
nor lusted wantonly,
i am just, forgive me…not quite dead
This morning as usual
I cooked up some breakfast
fried egg, tortilla, melted cheese
salsa, so fine
When I cracked open the egg
there was the yellow yolk, translucent white
I was reassured, not amazed by what I saw
baking in the pan
I turned on the TV news
same old same old, trying to shock
scandals, biased ads, spin-o-rama
hard to discern fact from fiction
Then I went to the beach
where a lady removed all her clothes
I was reassured, not amazed by what I saw
tanning in the sun
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
My favorite fish is called a gar,
gar being Old English, I think, for spear :
in error I thought of the gar with fear,
its nose no sharper than a thin spar.
The gar’s reputed a quite slow fish,
though not of too bladdery bulk like blowfish.
Yet it can muster the speed to thrill,
breaking the surface with prismy flash;
Harrier takeoff turns passionate splash,
though only a dragonfly be its kill.
Though once I thought the gar a swordfish,
alas, it’s a commoner, not a lordfish.
Yet you, my love, my baby gar,
I love to call my baby gar,
thinking you wholly, entirely milady,
harking back to when gars seemed bladed.
And gar’s an endearment for my gal,
a term that charmed you when, pal to pal,
I said that word dates me. But you like gal,
and girl, and that British formation gel.
From gel it’s never too far to gerl,
and, summum bonum, a girl, a pearl.
And so you remain my baby gar,
breaking the tension, stunningly free,
shattering brightly the mirror in me.
Pierce me again with that soft sword,
spear, needle, or spar, just one look, just one word…
A small spotted mare dozes under the red-light
of stop-signal by the closed-up filling station.
The light turns green, her rider flicks the reins,
she resumes her progress up Market, between
parked cars and lanes of traffic. She would
never choose this route, herself,
and always nods her head in rhythm
to her hoof-clatter when gutter gives way
to gravel shoulder. Then, on up
Prospect, soup-kitchen and beyond—
vacant lot. Derelict places cherished
by the homeless, dreamers, and horses.
Her rider wonders if today's menu might be
his favorite, fish—tilapia is cheapest—
flaking on the plain white plate. His mare
picks up her pace, she scents green
drifting off the hillside. Unfenced land,
where—if her rider lifts the saddle
from her back—she might roll in free wild
grass as a horse was meant to do.
left on the vine,
enduring; muscling its way toward redness.
begging a treat—
It couldn't have been the puppy playing
on the keyboard, typing ??? across the screen.
So maybe it was the old black cat who used to
tap out typos until we drove her away
with eucalyptus oil that tings the nose and—we
now learn—is toxic to cats. We didn't know.
This democracy of living in our world, yet not
understanding its messages. A world
of storks, hedgehogs, cliffs and swamps,
of rattlesnakes and barn owls, horizons, trees,
as well as humans. Now the keys play
the computer all by themselves, it seems,
making black-cat ghost-music. The puppy cocks
her ears, listening to tones we can't perceive—
a beautiful mystery. Delicate rain of meow.
This morning, a bone-white stray skulked
the dry creekbed, a shadow, blue-sky cloud
over dusty field, like fluently moving water.
THE GUARDIAN MOON
I woke before dawn to golden fields outside
the window, pale as harvest lost in sleep.
The moon in full-dream phase, above beyond
my field of vision. I could only see its light
reflected in dead grass, silver sheen on fleece
as my sheep lay in round moonlight.
Did they contemplate the moon's reasons
and its rhymes? perhaps its tides and cycles,
how the seasons turn and turn again, September
to October into fall. How some night the moon
would sleep behind rainclouds, so sheep
might shelter from a blessed storm; so grass
might grow again. Wordless poets
of the moon. Tonight the harvester lays its
pale light golden as dream over dry stubble.
Meanwhile, two of our poets are thinking about naked women. Taylor Graham, however, is writing the tetractys (our Form to Fiddle With), plus answering D.R. Wagner's Sunday prose poem/story about the moon by writing about her sheep. (See the N-SOWs for news of Dixon's Lambtown Fest this weekend, with its sheepdogs in action.)
And where better to find fish inspiration than in the Bay Area?? Tonight is Dominican University's Marin Poetry Festival in San Rafael, hosted by Snake Pal and Sac/Davis expatriate Judy Halebsky. Then head back down there on Friday to explore the SF Litquake scene which begins that day—and you might as well spend the week by the Bay so you'll be ready for Lit Crawl on Oct. 13. Lots to do by the seashore right now! Get all the info by looking under the brain on our green board at the right.
Locally, Every Fourth Woman presents a display of art and poetry called "Creating Freedom: The Art & Poetry of Domestic Violence Survivors". The reception is tonight from 6-8pm. This show includes the work of Jennifer O'Neill Pickering and California artists and writers throughout the state. The exhibit showcases personal journeys to healing and features the original images and words of survivors in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). It will continue through Sunday, December 10, at The California Museum, 1020 O St., Sac. Info: www.californiamuseum.org/creating-freedom. Jennifer Pickering's work can also be seen at jennifersword.blogspot.com and fegallery.com/node/22
In a Yale co-op
(first pub. in Rolling Stone, 1984)
Tom Goff: Yes, especially when the missed little bones stick in one's craw? But are those not really the good parts? :) —TG