Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Meeting Midrope

—Photo by Roger Langton

—Roger Langton, Louisvillle, Colorado

When on a train, I
snuggle by a window
and watch the flickering views.
Farm lands shutter by
with dark and brown soils
plowed in neat rows
ready for planting.
This was once a prairie
with yellow-brown grass
swaying with the wind and
tall enough to hide creatures
not wanting to be seen.
Buffalo may have lived here.
Remains of once living towns
identified by cracked concrete
remnants along with rotting
wood silent in decay.
Other towns survived
looking like sets
in a cowboy movie,
left stranded when the new
highway stole their customers.
(Two Stiff Selling Gas are long dead)
Further along the track
is the place of wild horses,
deer, antelope, snakes and scorpions.
There is no peace for them now.
No sign of the tribes that
used to live and breed here.
The stream beds stay dry.
No panning of gold anymore.
I scope for signs of a large city,
first the buildings of small industry
warehouses, vacant lots
the outskirts of growth like
the edge of a whirlpool.
Tall buildings come into view.
The train slows
as it nears the station.
I listen for the sounds of steam;
those sounds are only memories,
there are hints of electric motors,
wheels on the tracks,
echoes of horns honking.
The city used to be a trading post,
later a military fort.
When the railroad came
hoards of cattle started
pouring in and the place had a future.
Now it looks like many other cities
full of opportunity and despair.
Some get on and some get off
and the train is moving again. 


cats cradle town
—Evan Myquest, Sacramento

tightropes from house to house
tightropes from houses to schools
stilt houses built over canals & watery ways
like certain towns are chocolate makers & brewers & mills
here is our town of graceful rope walkers of world renown

a friendly people in tights & stretchy boatnecks
who meet midrope & beg pardons
with both offering to backpedal or do the daring slide-by
allow me no allow me no no allow me
how about both of us pass over under (on the count of three-shall I count or shall thee)

they show off (o how they love to show off)
praise to the practiced back & forward flip while groceries are flung & caught
with never a loose flying orange or drippy yellow cracked egg
a glance at a rope waver says uncle van gained weight since last august
he telegraphs his turn about and his way clears at everyone’s dire warning shout

ah the pretty parasols & bunted balance poles
the rich and royal draperied pyramids of families arriving to church
with grandpas & grandmas topping the chairs
and such venetian fest nights out past dark with ropes of neon glowing lights

alas what to do about the tourists
the weak-kneed visitors want to grab & swing on our cats cradle ways
as they dismount from their water bounced boats
less than good vibrations for our fido walkers & (shudder) nannies with multiple prams
but an effort at accommodation is made
a guest is a guest after all (in spite of the number who fall)

o watch out for mr zapirowski
he sleep jogs the ropes the night long
with eyes closed wandering as you please
our version of magoo the blind driver
now doesn’t every town have one of those

tightropes from house to house
tightropes from houses to schools
teachers count heads & wag tongues over clumsy (& absent) bullies & fools

Across the Rooftops in Oakland
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley

For their sake,
I hope I never hear
the diagnosis,
"You only have
six months
to live."

There are scores
to settle,
to be made right,
favors to return,
lessons to teach.

When the end
has its date,
begins to mean
The penalty
has already been

I have a list,
you may be
on it...


—William S. Gainer


our time 

was a
death threat.

The eastern wars


You were
to go.

They gave us


We waited.

To survive
was the game.

After the gamble—
the only thing left
was time. 

The future 

gives little, 

it's free... 

To pass


our prize...

who cares,

The old ones

have their


It's theirs 

to love...

Ours is to know—


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

I dreamed I saw Bill Gainer
As the champion of the moment
And the moment was a mountain
Made of hearts, some broken,

Some soaring with the morning
And with first love or held
Together in long evenings
By both love and bailing wire.

And Bill was there.  He was speaking
Almost singing and the air
Was purer for it and every
Morning new and every mountain
Able to be climbed.

And I dreamed I saw him flying.
And I dreamed it was a perfect
Dream, unable to hold lies.


Our thanks to today's contributors! Roger Langton, illustrious Colorado cousin of the equally-illustrious Sacramento poet, Annie Menebroker, sends us a beautiful seasonal photo and a poem about that long-lost art, train-riding.) Bill Gainer is all over the place this week, including reading at Phillip Larrea's new venue, Capitol Beer and Taproom, on Saturday. Bill will also be hosting Poetry With Legs TONIGHT at Shine Cafe in Sacramento. Readers there will include Kelly Freeman and Karin Stevens, and Karin's work will also appear in Rattlesnake Press's WTF, the newest issue of which will be released at Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento on Thursday (tomorrow!), hosted by WTF Editor frank andrick. (Will Bill be there, too? Who knows, but he has work in WTF as well, as does Evan Myquest! As does Annie Menebroker...)

By the way, Grass Valley's Todd Cirillo will be reading at Capitol Beer with Bill on Saturday, and he will also be reading in Folsom TONIGHT at Verse on the Vine—with Phillip Larrea! Wow—such intertwining! Be sure to scroll down to the blue board at the right of this for all the details on these and the other fine readings this week, including Crossroads on Saturday, which will feature Dennis Schmitz and Kathryn Hohlwein. I've left out a few, but you know—they're down there on the blue board. Check 'em out!

Oh—and thanks to D.R. Wagner for the ode to Gainer.    :-)


Today's LittleNip:


is only

as long 

as I am.

—William S. Gainer



WTF cover photo by Wendy Rivara, Sacramento