Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

 Noah Purifoy Foundation
Joshua Tree, CA
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

I had a window office;
He didn’t.
Department politics,
Roll of the dice,
But Cecil was an up-and-coming
Soon-to-be poetic voice
Of a generation. I
Was an aging,
Regional, maybe
Just local poet
Who simply wanted
To finish the degree
And get on with teaching.
But I had
A window office
And Cecil didn’t
Forget it.
He was polite.
I was generous.
It was a Midwestern
University English department
And these things were expected,
Maybe even required.
Every afternoon at three,
Cecil would knock, Smile,
Ask if he could borrow
The window. I would smile,
Nod, be charming
(Always. Even then).
He’d come to watch
The trains: the university
Bordered on the railroad.
(Ship them in, educate them,
Move them out for the next
Batch). Cecil was a railroad
Buff. He’d go to the window,
Open it, hook his hook
(Did I mention he had a hook
For a right hand? Pirates, poets,
Much the same, when you think
About it) into the masonry of
My fourth-floor English
Department office window,
Balance his Reeboks
On the lower sill, hang out
And watch till they’d finished
Making up the freights for the
Afternoon. The trains would
Whistle, leave. Cecil would
Unhook himself, smile, and
Go back to his windowless
(Gave him a poster
Of a Tiffany window once. He
Was not amused) office.
I was always relieved I didn’t
Have to rescue him again.
I knew what the papers
Would say: “B-list, minor
Poet killed in fall from
Even more minor poet
Colleague’s window.”
Cecil would not have been
Flattered, though flattened.
And dead. I would have
Been inconsolable.
And arrested.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Immense blue sky over dry fields.
But at the western treeline, this afternoon
cloud-castles are building, anything but
sinister after months without rain. My puppy
senses changes; all day she’s been
whining her dog-persistence: let’s climb
a beanstalk, chase a dragon, get out
of the house, and make-
believe! So here we are, running past
the schoolyard jungle-gym—climb the ladder,
slide down the slide, through a back gate
into woods beyond. A sudden
wind, as if to slay the dragon, blow the turrets
down. Already the first leafy Rapunzel
is shaking loose her golden hair.
My puppy’s running wild with fall,
it’s going to storm a real-life fairytale.


—Taylor Graham
It used to be the first free breath after the last red
stoplight, driving home. Winding country road
without a warning zone; houses in tones of tree and
loam, half lost in leaves and thoughts of their own.
Now there’s a traffic signal.
No more open gateway-welcome,
unbounded road, a spirit’s license to roam.
How shall I ever find my way home?

Noah Purifoy Foundation
Joshua Tree, CA
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

Mangling melons with machetes
Mitch is made for the Marines.

Slamming Slurpees into Susan's scalp
sent Saul to Stanford
as a study specimen.

Tomas is taking time
to work on his trigonometry
the test is next Thursday
time to transfer is tantamount.

Yvette is yawning
yard sales yield
yellowjackets and fever
the yearning yammers
equal yokes and yolks.

Shari shields strangers
from the sting of stratification
'specially those who would not
settle for the sidewalk or sewer
'stead of seeing they do not
slumber Sundays upstairs here.

And Adam refuses to see the velvet eve
that belongs to all
reserves it only for
diamond cutbacks


—Michael Cluff

I hate that your last dance
is over and MacArthur Park
is going to fade into final black
for you, I wish
you did not have to work
so hard for your money
but heaven knows, you did
your job so well
that I will enjoy
the gender sexuality awareness prom
I am chaperone tonight
and will definitely save
that last dance before midnight
for you and your memory
even if I have to do it alone.

And the air all around
the former Twin Towers
will weep for you
and all the several thousand others
it malignantly affected
over ten years ago.


Today's LittleNip:

The flies flow
guppies of the air
and pink paper
outside a museum
near a caboose
strutting its tongue
towards me,
indicating I need to erase
unintended cliches
and fill it up
with validity and impressions
that are true
not filtered through
mental augurs skewering
what I am ordained to say.

—Michael Cluff



Noah Purifoy Foundation
[for more about the Foundation, see
—Photo by Cynthia Linville