Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Metamorphic Intervals

Patricia D'Alessandro


—Pat D'Alessandro

Trumpet morning glories weave a tapestry of purple on the hills
where homes have chimneys that angle beneath terracotta tiles,
and my feet are swathed in bubbles from sea foam rushing in
leaving footprints in sand through a splash of waves on pebbles,
clarifying colors of new spices on the beach in Sabillinas,
where life is splendid on sabbatical in Spain.

A tower rises high above the Mediterranean,
abandoned by the Moors centuries ago,
and its brick and mortar walls crumble at the touch,
spraying dust as thick as moss that rattles slats of wood,
rotted through the ages and dangling like a string of chimes
beneath the broken tiles, their music grounded in the
harmonies of ancient times.

Looking up through mortar’s haze that powders fallen bricks
as if a snow machine is hidden in the wall,
I see the sky through a roof that’s gone
and am startled by a voice that calls

“HOLA” from above,

inviting me to see the view from there.
He guides me up stone stairs that wind through ceilings domed and white,
graffitied through the years with script too faded to be read,
and when we reach the top, from openings that once held guns
we see the sea in cuffs of white that splay to azure blue,
pounding rocks as old as time on shore.

The Spaniard smiles and understands my smile of satisfaction,
cautions me as I descend the stairs, and keeps repeating:

“cuidada, cuidada”.

Here, where men were paid in salt
for fish they tethered into nets,
this ancient remnant stands
as sturdy challenge to the angled chimneys on the shore.
Through years of sun and wind
its salted chimney rim is round
and does not angle
juxtaposing sense of logic
reaching toward a
different time.

—Artwork by Patricia D'Alessandro

—Ann Menebroker

      for Joyce Odam

Her words are dancers and lovers. Ceramic philosophers.
Darkness is over-staffed, way too many corners to fill.

Happiness springs a leak, spills out over the pages
and tell us:  remember this. remember this.

And then forgets and sends up balloons
where there's a fever of birds, heavy with memory

and they are trying to peck the light and airy sacks
bring them down, show how thin the flight plan was.

She is less than five feet tall, is a banker of creativity.
She takes out of the Word—account every day.  Sometimes

she takes out  more than she needs.
She isn't afraid to overdraw. She carries a parachute.


When I read a book,
the words
and the story
are not enough.
I have to inhale the fragrance
of the closed pages,
or open to the middle,
bow my head
and breathe deeply.

I need the smell of a book—
closing my eyes,
taking in the perfume
of the printed page—
some with the newness and magical aroma
of a first grade primer read on a classroom rug,
others carrying the heady odor of confidence
like the library books checked out in fifth grade,
carried everywhere, read at the dinner table,
and reluctantly returned.
Glossy pages exude the tang of bittersweet memories,
yearbooks with faces of friends,
scrawled signatures
first loves.

For me,
a book contains the scent of memories—
meant to be ingested and

—Nancy Haskett, Modesto

"Alleeoop and her one-girl band"
—Patricia D'Alessandro

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Let go, they said. They were tired of my shelves,
how could I keep them? The man paid me small
coins, Judas money, I kissed away the blessing
of my books. He'll sell them for money. What he
can't sell will end up homeless in shelters, like
children who can't afford shelves, or else scatter
to the ends of earth, where girls will hide behind
veils and love them passionately beyond words,
kissing each syllable.


—Taylor Graham

He was tiling the vault of Heaven when he fell
from the roof. Not like Lucifer, no angel,
he had no wings but tiler's garb for his plummet
onto the market square. The gargoyles whisper
still his forgotten name even as his remains
remain, effigy in the cathedral's leaden crypt,
dry arroyo of a body that knew the song of tile
against tile, each a bridge from prayer to sky.
So unexpectedly heaven reached down to teach
him how to fly.


—Taylor Graham

Why does she walk here every morning at first
light? Nothing but stunted oaks in soil so rocky,
you'd think giants spit out seeds of cliffs. And
the creek dry now, drained of the sky's blood,
all that water run off to sea. Even grass is dead
here, waiting for a better life next year. So why
does she come? To see. Small birds passing
through. Places where deer bedded down; gone
by morning. Where coyotes howled at the dark.
Maybe the bear clumbered its great bulk up from
underground heavy as a moonless night. No one
could find this place as she does. It's dawn.


—Taylor Graham

Who jimmied the cocks of weather?
A fine spray from the broken fitting
in the well. The creek's sand-imprint
of its rainy-season self, the stream
that brightened as the darkness fell.
Who owns the water holds our wealth.
All we have are images of stormclouds,
glaciers melting and the ocean's swell.


—Taylor Graham

Don't be afraid to take chances,
the grizzled wind said. It had seen
everything. Stone walls we heaped
as protection against a planet
made of stone: we built around
what we held dear; I held my breath,
crept inside a crypt of dead birds.
Don't be afraid…. I lifted one by its
mummied wing, flung it out of
the way. Underneath, its brothers
and sisters intertwined barely alive,
reconciled to becoming stone.
I cradled each in my hand before
release, flinging it into open sky.
The wind asked, Won't you fly?


Our thanks to today's contributors! Pat D'Alessandro's contributions are from the book she published with Rattlesnake Press, Metamorphic Intervals from the Insanity of Life. Poets and artists everywhere will be sad to learn that former Sacramentan Pat D'Alessandro passed away recently. See her Facebook page for more information. See also


Today's LittleNip(s):

We've lost boxes of books to fire, weather, and the postal service. As Elizabeth Bishop says, we learn the art of losing....

—Taylor Graham

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

Won’t say he had
A habit,
But when he left
Four book stores
Had to close.



—Artwork by Patricia D'Alessandro