—Tom Goff, Carmichael
You knew you must episode these brave
now-old ones back to Manzanar,
so they can see their names engraved,
each darker-than-Rapa-Nui scar
scratched boystick decades into cement:
that American twist in Japanese spirit,
that treebark Valentine intent,
initials our hearts. You bring us near it.
You walk the highest orange catwalk
holding up to our inspection
vibrating cables, swaying stalks
set harpstring into the Golden Gate.
We know we’re not tossing dice with fate:
old silver halide film emulsion
turns blurry, grainy, yet vertigo
rivets our lookaway heads gaze-on:
the Bay far below in panorama.
And what of Troye, for we should know
he too sashays that span, though a camera
skews his personal gravity?
Wind-buffeted, how do you walk serene,
your shouts all drawling suavity?
I don’t think it’s the ex-Marine
in you. Let’s call it truth of heart?
Trick of nature, freak of art?
The essential condition: poetry.
California’s Gold, you’ve gone
where Bear-Flag California dawns
have gone. Only one Sunday ago,
an instant reaction, just above breath,
to news of two church elders near death:
Oh, shit! a woman murmured, behind us.
We’re a liberal church. But try and find us
stunned ones phrases more apt, more fit.
Amazing Huell Howser, we mourn: oh, shit!
—Patricia Hickerson, Davis
the girl and her mother take a bus from Verona
up the eastern shore of Lake Garda
wild beauty of topless girls windsurfing
up to the north end Hotel du Lac et du Parc
running over with ducks
babies with mama
escaping male clutches
the girl calls it “Duck Motherhood”
poolside the girl stunning in her bikini
and the Dusseldorf soccer team looking on
blond giants staring at the girl
Thomas the soccer player
eyes the girl again
follows her out to the lake edge
thinking her to be German
yet they are able to talk
they understand each other perfectly and…
Mama goes to bed in her room next to the girl’s
does she hear voices?
at midnight she dreams of the Eiffel Tower
erect and towering at the other end of the lake
at play on the beach at Varna
yellow on dark waters
Black Sea that wore its way finally
through the Bosporus to the Mediterranean
hot and surly lake that became a sea
and in it dazzling life
hot and yellow
deadlier than vampires
saltier than sailfish
with claw and tentacle reach
stretches to deadly, my sweet, the skillful skate
weever through weeds
oops! stingray hiding in the rocks
hot and yellow
deadlier than vampires snarling at midnight
as you grope through the tangled darkness
Black Sea bitterness rolls out
clutches hot yellow sands where you think you run free
remembered glory of inland lake all to itself
without bother in its aloneness
hey, get off the beach!
ride a car ferry miles and miles across the sea
up one high wave, deep down the next
from Genoa to Sardinia
touch the island at its northern tip
women in hooded black swarm ancient buildings
that line the curving streets
head southward along the western coast
mounds of rocks, stunted valleys
round the bend head for the eastern shore
a wild boar runs from the forest
enter an empty hotel
someone comes out to register
no other guests
flowered tiles on the bathroom walls
at the Meditteranean
walk to the shore across stony ground
dribbles of calm clear water wander in
shiny round pebbles line the bottom
not a real beach no sand
wild Sardinia warm and sunny
wish you were here
Those photos you showed us once, tombs
carved into cliffside for Lycian kings
and their queens—a whole town of tombs;
a stopoff on one of your adventures,
as if kings and queens popped out of solid
rockface almost every day, a shutter-
click and then you sail away without asking
their names, or how they got there.
Statues cut from stone, eye-sockets empty.
Tombs ravished by grave-robbers.
Generations of kings whose dynasties failed
centuries ago. Even the Romans
are gone, leaving sulfur baths for a sailor
to ease himself out of the present,
before returning to his ship. Another photo,
of you on deck, gazing into the wind
that fills your sails, pushes you
toward what coast, what harbor?
You're gone now, too. Time changes
everything but the wind.
Spar-varnish winks in the sun,
the boat rocking against its mooring
waiting for the tide, for a haul
of fish to sparkle netted on deck,
then freshly laid on ice while the butcher
arranges bone-in chops and plucked
hens. So much evening hunger
in a world at risk of running out of tide
and salmon, songbirds, air. Not
fisherman nor butcher, not councilman
nor mayor is specifically to blame.
None of us, specifically. Why
does the sparrow hawk
swoop overhead, accusing me?
ON THE FIRE-CHAIR
Volcanic uplift, natural highrise
overlooking endless sea—this island
isn't enough for all of us. Instead of crops,
we make war among ourselves.
We even make war against the weather,
so the rains don't stop for months,
storms lay siege to our foundations;
or else the rains stop altogether,
soil wrinkles up like an old woman
dying. Sea and land don't want us here
any more, we've forgotten them so long.
At night I dream sinkholes that used to be
jungle; plague and bone-yards
of trash, drive-by shootings where sheep
once pastured beside clear streams.
In dream we build an ark—just the few
of us still speaking to each other—
over unfathomable waves. Water
ever higher, cold as glacier-melt.
We, remnant spinning into black sky.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
He leans against the door.
The sun throws a huge shadow
Against the wall.
The queen is attended to assiduously.