reading at Sac. Poetry Center
—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
Its throat was red,
but not in a disastrous way,
shining as it was under the beak.
And below its bib,
not as if lunch would be messy,
was a light-brownish body.
And within, a tiny heart
not that I was in the habit
of carrying a stethoscope,
but by common knowledge I knew
was beating to the patter
of a brief summer rain.
Its wings were whipping the air
into a green sea foam color
of suspended vibration.
It seemed preoccupied
with getting its needle-nose unstuck
from the blue megaphone-shaped
flower that was determined
to hold it in its grip.
—Carol Louise Moon
I meant for her to have it
but I kept it for myself.
Tiny and square, brass-framed
panes of etched see-through.
And into it one could see
tiny fingernail shells of ecru,
beige, brown and pink.
Spirals, bivalves, baby oysters,
little caps all thrown together
in one-and-a-half inch cubic
all-windowed room with a little
etched glass lid that lifts up—
to point to, to touch, to want.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
in just this way. One assumes a complaisant husband.
This granted, the bed grew hotter, better, and bitter,
while comebacks to the homedaddy, since she was fond
of her big Netherland lug, were exquisite: sitter
of pets, exotic plant-gardener, minder in illness.
Such good-luck heapings and humps under the quilt
of winter. Eugen meant rest and ease and stillness,
George signified petulance, liquor, sugar, and guilt.
But sometimes, husband and cavalier’d change places,
while our Vincent stayed making love in a fever
of climax—or climacteric?—while nude graces
still outpaced age-spots, freckles. Press the lever,
speed the one time machine that sends far back
our wishes, in skinnier selves, to that snowy grassy
realm of oxymoron where the lack
is only the imperfect life, the life unsassy.
No, it’s all magic and wisdom and creativity
here, Hindu unself-consciousness at sexing
lovers in tandem. Tantric poetry!
Girl, grant your love a lick of that perplexing
savor, salt chutney, sweet curry, that only infidels
taste in their infidelity: let him chase you,
lady, like a white tiger, string a bell
around your throat. In what lingerie he’d lace you,
princess of nakedness—and what would a wife
claim in trade for his double-dealing their life?
But you, sir, seated on cushions while the nautch
girls dance to the tabla, are you part of this debauch?
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
“See, the problem is we can’t always know we are in a labyrinth,
even when we crack up full against its walls or see the dogs that
it keeps so we won’t notice where we are.”
“What the fuck are you talking about?” she asks, pointing her
index finger directly at his head, making a gesture as if she
were shooting him. “You’ve cracked,” she adds, as if it were
a kind of announcement.
“Shhh,” he says. “Just because you can sit there at that desk all
day and make money doesn’t mean that I’m wrong. If I left the
room, you wouldn’t know where I went. It’s a labyrinth. Give
me five minutes and you couldn’t find me for a week. That’s
how it works. One minute you’re here and the next minute you
are just electricity existing only as an email or a digital blip on
a surveillance camera. Somebody looking into your bedroom,
somebody with an idea they can frame you, blackmail you in
some way. Know what I mean?”
“No," she answers. “You’re floating off again, dreaming, Bill,
dreaming. This is a real world. You just don’t want to live in it,
do you? You just make up shit and hope it makes sense.”
“Well, you don’t make much sense,” he says, pulling a rather
large bird from his jacket pocket and stepping to the window to
release it into the gray afternoon. “If you could be that bird,
you could see the labyrinth. You could see where they have
placed the mirrors to confuse you. Forget it.”
She crosses to the window to watch the bird flying away.
“Every time we come to Venice, you get this way. I don’t like
to bring you here. I think all those islands and all that water
fucks up the way you think. I want to go back to Paris. It’s
easier to work there.”
“There is a labyrinth right in the floor of Notre Dame,” he says.
“Will you shut about about that labyrinth?” she says, looking
directly at him.
“Yeah,” he says. “I will,” and walks across the room and out of
the room. “Now you can’t see me. Try to follow me.” He is
“You wish,” she mumbles to herself and sits down to resume
typing. “You wish.”
—Carol Louise Moon
Long-tailed, broad-winged moth of a
light-green color, her dark out-
lined spots for camouflage. Now
listen for her voice—silence
lilting in her chambers dim.
Look now, and see the moon rise—
light shed on her leafy bed.