Thursday, November 14, 2013

Succulent Spices

Marcene Gandolfo reading at Sac. Poetry Center
last Monday, Nov. 11
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento

A stranger put a poem in my braid
I carried it to the mountains where
I prostrated
I waited
I wailed slowly in the night calling as
I unraveled everything, and loose
became the words that he had spoken.
Silken words that embraced

The wild did not speak
The water did not speak
The minerals in my blood did not speak
The afterthoughts in my imagination did not speak.

My hair rose to the sky
My bosom became full with the milk of leaves
My teeth chattered a code to the dead
My eyes became zeros

The poem hung in the air
speaking one syllable
fraught with polarity.
It simply was the man’s last wish
that I had carried with me
in my brimming arteries.

(rasta = path, ahimsa = non-violence)


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Look past the sweet bare bodies,
the soft odalisques you have made love to
or simply, painfully desired. Look past
the naked skin and into their souls. Brush aside
the velvet door of each woman’s spirit
as you’d part the lace or beadwork or gauze
at the door of the sex-chamber. See through
each transparent avatar of passion—the Italian,
the Mexican, or (foremost of all) the Latvian—
and you will penetrate to the Inward Form:
youngest yet most immortal, she
whose Greek dark hair brushes over you
in an eclipse of shivers. Her sensuous mouth,
for all her tall shining grace, is the charm
bracelet spanning the slim wrist of
a three-year-old girl of Thessaly; those
rose-quartz bracelet stones melt and merge
in a kiss. Her hands, blossoming large and fair
on her slender wrists, might belong
to the sweetest of Cavafy’s beloved boys,
warm, strong, agile. Their caresses,
gone as soon as they’ve touched you,
are the tenderness of the last dawn
the heavens will ever steal.


—Tom Goff

Come greet me with “Sweet sir” at my door again.
Your voice then was daybreak in a sunlit night.
What was it we were talking, Elizabethan?

Your dark eyes coin starshine to the power of ten.
Mèlisande, you’ve run to dark forest, out of the light.
Tell me you’ll call me “Sweet sir” once again.

I’ve seen your cinnamon mouth on the cheek of a man.
Boy, really. You need the desire you have to fight.
Why don’t you come and talk Elizabethan?

At finding and mating you’re still in your earliest matins.
Might you need a knave with knowhow to set you right?
Come greet me with “Sweet sir” at my door again.

So long a twilight year it’s been, and so lone.
Held in where your soft, fraught words touch, I take fright.
When will you speak again, my Elizabethan?

Yet you have the right to wrest from me my own.
Please bid me speak or bottle-stopper it tight.
When will you come and intone “Sweet sir” again?
What is it I want to reply, my Elizabethan?

John J. Bowman reading at SPC last Monday
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

I couldn't stand seeing it at the traffic light
a black man lying down on city street sidewalk
right next to a turned-over shopping cart
and people walking by like he was garbage
I couldn't let him be
So I turned around my car and parked
or else I'd be no better than those who ignored him
I thought to God he's somebody 
and it could have been me
I prayed 
and it was answered when a white guy came to help
We were both relieved to see he wasn't unconscious or dead 
but merely sleeping in the hot summer weather
could just give him some money before going on his way
—Michelle Kunert



than lima or butter,
the jelly makes the tedious time
between the end of office hours
and start of a resistant class
much sweeter than the deciding
if a question on prepositions
or Sonnet 118 should
be addressed by example
or exploration.
The black, blue and orange orbs
are succulent spices on this
mid-November day
the edge needed
to keep the extra hour
of imposed darkness
a bit longer

—Michael Cluff, Corona


—Michael Cluff

They have never mixed well
into Julia Child and Martha Stewart's lexicons
as they did not seem to  mention
their comingled existence
in this sort of state—
except maybe
as a garnish
alongside an upside down
pineapple cake
or the edible eyes
of some simpering turkey,
Santa or weak-willed ghost.
Red or black
or white
were too gruesome
to place on any of these
innocent three.

Today's LittleNip:

Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples and yellows and greens and licorice and grape and raspberry and mint and round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside and sugary and bouncing jouncing tumbling clittering clattering skittering fell on the heads and shoulders and hardhats and carapaces of the Timkin works, tinkling on the slidewalk and bouncing away and rolling about underfoot and filling the sky on their way down with all the colors of joy and childhood and holidays, coming down in a steady rain, a solid wash, a torrent of color and sweetness out of the sky from above, and entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad coocoo newness. Jelly beans!” 

—Harlan Ellison, "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman



  Andrew Kenton reading at SPC last Monday
—Photo by Michelle Kunert