Monday, August 05, 2013

Each Other's Words

—Photo by Ann Privateer

—Catherine Weaver, Palo Alto

Time goes on with each beat of the clock,
With each pounding of the hooves of the horse.
I'm kicking but can't get out of the cupboard,
I feel like the genie trapped in the bottle.
Time turns things that recede from me red.
I once was the daughter but now I'm the mother.

And now I'm grandmother where once I was mother,
With the relentless beat, beat, beat of the clock.
I have gray hair but dye it red,
Dragged through life by a powerful horse.
My figure, once lithe, looks more like a bottle,
Like the ones I forgot in the back of my cupboard.

The doors bang shut on my old cupboard
Filled with things from the time of my mother;
I pour a drink from a sparkling bottle,
Hoping it’ll help me turn back the clock
To times when I rode fast on my horse
With wind through my hair and my face burnt red.

But the rhythm of time like hoof beats of the horse,
Moves with the water poured out of the bottle
And keeps its time from mother to mother,
And I could scream until I’m red
Or try to shut reminders deep in a cupboard
But yet another second ticks on the clock.

So I’ll forget the pouring bottle and ticking clock,
And let the horses run and throw open the cupboard
And love as a mother and paint every rose red.

—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Shakespeare’s Brutus listens to a freshly struck clock.
His fellow assassins seem sprung or materialized from cupboards.
Not once does hospitable Brutus offer them a bottle.
Their midnight plot lacks even John Wilkes Booth’s horse.
So off they trudge, good walkers, into the red
morning after the black goodnight, good mother.

I was born in the morning and pulled from a mother,
so unkillable Macduff seems like a corkscrew clock.
What I loved was the velvet-dark green I read
more deeply than the words, in a lavish bound cupboard
of fairy tales, green shimmers on the black storybook horses.
I wanted green cake, and green milk in every bottle.

But the milk was green only inside the curves and bottoms of bottles.
Bottles like bones were brittle, and so was my mother.
Brittle she saddled me and astride rode me horse
at the piano, where the Metal Gnome conquered the Clock.
The vanilla and licorice notes had a lid like a cupboard.
Their blacks and whites were soft, but mistakes were red.

My mother had a softer side. Her cupboard
melts molasseslike in my memory, softer than Dalí horses
constructed of beans. And Dalí ants trickle down my mother
in nightmares, but she was real, and not always red
with frustration. She could be an edible bottle,
a fund of crisp things like the cone holding the scoop. The clock

sometimes struck white fun, or a murmuring-wise red.
And sometimes the milk stayed green even out of the bottle,
but no one can make me live again inside that clock.


—Jane Blue, Sacramento

Leaves fall from green-leaved trees; the clock
ticks this first day of August, the cupboard
inside stocked with flour and rice, with bottles
of soy sauce and wine vinegar. There's a horse,
blown glass, on a shelf near the window; it's red.
I bought it as a souvenir from camp for my mother.

She died in late July twenty years ago, so Mother
is much in my dreams; stopped for her, the clock
measures my days now. Sunrise and sunset red
with smoke from a fire, the shelf near the cupboard
picks up sun beams, only intensifies the red horse's
bright color, blown by a craftsman like a bottle.

Kept on a mantle for forty years, the bottle-
red horse sparkled above the fireplace. A mother
to the end, she circled it back to me, stalwart horse––
eternal; my daughter may have it when the clock
stops for me, shown off in a glassed-in cupboard.
The old roses on my porch are blooming, true red,

as the blown-glass horse is still red, red
as my mother's lipstick, red as those bottles
of port wine lined up on a shelf below a cupboard
in the house where we lived with our grandmother,
so dark and quiet you could hear all the clocks.
But when I was ten I gave my mother the horse;

always yearning to escape, we went away, rode horse-
back by a river, played loud music, made red-
flamed campfires on the beach, had no clock
and Mother drank Burgermeister beer from a bottle,
freed from work for two weeks, freed from her mother,
who stayed at home neatening the cupboards.

My life is good, books everywhere, cupboards
messy, the kitchen sunny and the little horse
winking in the sun on a high shelf, gift to Mother
now gift to me. How many ways can you say red?
Deeper than roses, like a gem, like an old bottle
washed ashore on the beach. It's near the clock.

I will not listen to the ticking of the clock
but think of that old cliche about time in a bottle
and be buoyed by the color I chose as a child: red.

 —Photo by Ann Privateer

—Tom Goff

Listen to the stones for their alone-song.
Our beagle did, and shied away from one,
last night, on the river parkway: active and strong
as she hasn’t been of late, she found her fun

sniffing away at, no, sniffing toward all things,
among them patches other dogs had marked,
tufts of grass vibrating old piss. Old picnic leavings.
Then this upstood stone. I don’t think she barked,

just backed away from it, most likely her neck-hairs
bristling. One isolate rock, but ocelot-
tawny, without the ocelot stripings. Just there
amid countless longago round worn stones tossed woodlot.

Still this stone sang to her, and it was alone:
orange-blotted & spineless—but a rolled hedgehog, to Skaidra?
We decided we’d go. Leave it to its rock-ribbed moan.
But to sing like that! Sing just like the dark liquids in cobras…

—Ann Privateer, Davis

Feathers and curls curl
                         from her hair, unnaturally

She pushes an empty
stroller down the street
wearing an ethereal smile

her face radiates
as she races with time, with
hashish, without a place.


—Ann Privateer

Unafraid of the Everglades
ordinary serenity sets
the erstwhile day on fire.

The sky reddens wildly
the penumbra heaves
a tumultuous heave.

Winter, gone now,
Springtime reigns
over earth's swollen

pride growing rows
that sing, “god lives
in every he, she and it

to fill your heart with joy.”


Our thanks to today's contributors, including Ann Privateer for her poems and pix, and Jane Blue, Tom Goff and Catherine Weaver for their sestinas, which Jane started by giving all three of them the six end-line words to get them started.

Don't forget that there's a reading at the Sacramento Poetry Center tonight. Scroll down to the blue box (below the green box) at the right of this column. If you keep scrolling past tonight's reading, past the "More Than a Week Away", you'll find SPC's future readings listed, too. And go to Medusa's Facebook page for a new "album" of photos, this one taken by Michelle Kunert of last Monday night's SPC reading.


Today's LittleNip:

—Ann Privateer

All that has been
and all that will be—
a melancholy so vast
brings tears of sorrow
tears of joy to we, renters
on this planet, all.

The stranger's shy smile,
the pestilence, the harvest,
all together and all apart,
the wheel of fortune, the tragic
truth, judge not lest you arrive
late, the water wheel of love
spins not for mine alone.

Don't count, don't measure, change
sides, there's nothing to prove.


 —Photo by Ann Privateer