Monday, October 07, 2013

Poems Hovering On Air

Stan Zumbiel, reading at Poetry With Legs
September, 2013, Shine Cafe
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

In dream last night your body became
a weather-map, its ever-changing contours
drawing a world above your topo of boney
ridges and soft hollows, your subterranean
heart still beating. Frontals—vibrant storm-
colors—red, blue, purple as blood.
In dream a hurricane centered on your left
thigh just above the knee. Weather
permeating air, then skin. You woke
exhausted but unharmed. The house held.
Your car—now you start the engine,
feel a tiny stab in your left thigh. Insect bite—
metallic? It eases; finds a nerve to ride,
tingles your foot pressing the clutch. Your
head lightens. Lightning forks. How
did weather slip inside?


—Taylor Graham

I came, hoping my dog would show me
something better than where we came from—
city-woods running with jackals, teeth
of broken bottles, mask of scum.
Here was sun on burned-dry grass. A lonely
Frisbee course waited for wind to skim
the next bright disk its way. All was
still, even a plank bridge over dry ravine.
My dog inhaled every scent without sharing.
He said it was a dog-thing;
rivers of dust-motes floating on air.
We almost ended where we started. Except
for the walk, the sun, a bridge
to the other side,
an old friend we met along the way.
Gold on gravel-path, cottonwood leaves
in a hurry. Even I
could smell a season changing.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Summer. I’m driving Green Valley Road,
speeding to our sister center, racing for
the chance to tutor students previously
unreachable during so short a session. Speeding
up the sweet windabout like an animal-length
quick-coiling, the dangerous emotional simmer
triggering serpent signs inside me. Climbing
away from any place I might encounter
you, my one hope of rescue and wreck.
I pass the town of Rescue, relay post
for the Pony Express, almost a wooden egg
in the swallowing snake-throat, this dizzying
longueur of hill and ravine. Only you can
dizzy me deeper and faster, both languid ridgerise
and careening downslope past all salvation.
Not even the detour into Lotus can ever bring
me release from the tender hold of your
eyes, from your soft strong hands, not even
for one slim second, healing, reprieving, forgetful…


—Tom Goff

Miraculous, my Corinna’s eyes,
for when you turn aside your head,
step shy yet forward single-minded
to your next mental enterprise,
I seem to see your gaze trail after,
impossibly dark at side of head,
never having swiveled with
your face in swerveaway from this
poor worshipper so plainly blinded,
bathed in that gaze, he’d be wise
to break off looking, courting laughter.
But long after your face has turned,
there sidelong I still see your look
direct and pouncing as a raptor’s
trailing strangely about your cheek
(air, sparkler-afterimage-burned!):
Eyes dark-brown & sweet, defiant yet meek,
trace love’s impossible oblique.

L Brown reading at the Shine in September
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Never feeling at home
but like an exile
made my voices low
in whispers
and longing gestures
with laughter's innocence
near a rock garden light
with my suitcases
always packed
all exile depends on you
filled with the tremor
of space and travel
you take another ride
on your leather hog,
a motorcycle madness
stifling all farewell answers
amid parental storms
clouds gather
your eyes now bloodshot
nursing a nectar drink
of a former life
in padlocked expectations
which cannot hide you
in snapshots or tapes
even taken from yourself.


—B.Z. Niditch

An asylum
of racing thoughts
from painted crates
questioning every loss
when you move
what you have sheltered
in a helter skelter attic
from a rack pack
of a cathedral of poems
being jilted on altars
of your own pile-ups
from unmade beds
as an unexpected observer
by used book shelves
you built from scratch
from unearthed wood
by tinted knapsacks
and sleeping bags
concealing an aquarium
of favorite fish
and there is the Japanese fan
and comb given to you
by a seasoned playgoer
at the Original Theater
now frozen on geraniums
this airy October
who saw you in
Midsummer's Night Dream
and waved to you
on your motorcycle
on your short drive home.


—B.Z. Niditch

I carried in my backpack
scratched-with poems
down half-blind roads
pulsing against
Fall's branches
impoverished from the breeze
under a sunlit trek
trying to find answers
to a thousand riddles,
that a pack of playing cards
has fallen on the joker
that when a boy lifts his eyes
grandma is in serenity
father counting her pulse,
sister insists
on taking a sunbath,
I'm still breathing in
lost relations
mother expected the day
to turn inside out
expecting a random invasion
from my Beat poet friends
needing a meal
with jazz records of note
she puts on Louis Armstrong
with lightning speed
cooks Boston baked beans
now porch-watches
gold butterflies
scaling above our windows
in our zigzag world
knowing at the last day
we will all be as the wind.


—B.Z. Niditch

Can anyone understand
one short October dawn
of counting the hours
before our cats are found
on cold pine branches
near the pine needled forest
within an auditory voice
of rumors, signs, suspicion
on every day's admittance
when belts of sun
beat on an earth-wise poet
in his half-sleeve
of a James Dean sweat shirt
losing his specs
to locate Tiger and Lily
with a labor of sighs
through twin islands
along chimeras walls
of tall grass dunes
for a giant sorrow
from watchful eyes
not wanting to be bothered
by this crazy venture
when this poem
comes up as if spotted
out of the sea
and the cats
are nearly sighted
by togas of swallowtails
sunning themselves
on agate rock
by blushing fountains
being served milk
by Bay children
with yellow kites
preparing for a festival
to share the same sky.


Our thanks to today's contributors, and thanks also for your patience with the nonsense that has plagued Blogspot (our Web host), paralyzing all changes to the green and blue boxes at the right which house, among other things, the calendar. Blogspot's problem is not fixed, but I hunted around various forums and found a way around it, so I think we're back up to date. Please let me know if you have a reading which isn't posted, either for this week or for "More Than a Week Away"; I know some things must've gotten lost in the chaos.

One thing that definitely got lost was the title of last week's Seed of the Week, which I couldn't change from the previous "Rescue" to the newer one, "What a Circus!" So if you have any thoughts about the various circuses we live in (including the Internet!), send 'em along to No deadlines on SOWs.


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Crickets are cutting the fabric of night
that dropped so quickly as I clicked the keys
to a black window. As if the keyboard
disconnected from the screen, my poems
hovering on air, insects of darkness and light
caught in a soundless box with its language
of one and zero, circuitry that mocks my brain
untranslatable as any poem. A word slips
through some permeable membrane,
clips itself to another word for safety as
they venture across the void.



 Damien reading at Shine in September
—Photo by Michelle Kunert
[This week Poetry With Legs will host
two more readers: see Medusa's calendar in
the blue box under the green box at the right
of this column for details.]