Asking you, again, about love and all that jazz,
barracuda swim like living-room elephants, a tally
considered and ignored; and conches, whose sex––
defense or impossibility––I do not know. Tomorrow,
eternal tomorrow, I’ll ask you, with a shiv
for protection, and maybe then we’ll say adieu.
Gadabout me––ah, in my dreams I’m a gadabout––
hennaed and wearing clothing of colorful dyes.
I can travel far away from you; I can be martyr or
jester. Have I mentioned that I feel antique?
Kilimanjaro's snows are melting, and the ship,
Lilliputian, to take me there, has a captain who
melts away in the morning; like you, he’ll run,
nihilist, from the government of my dreams, and from
otters, from the manatee, the walrus, the sea-snail,
pleasing or not, as is the way of dreams. I’ll walk,
quietly away from you, suddenly on my own hadj.
Rosters of our friends will dwindle to alumni,
shellacked and elderly, torsos on plinths, with
telltale beards and wrinkles, and without rings:
Ur-people, people fleeing Dodge, fleeing the sheriff.
Vibrating ever so slightly, they’ll come to nestle
without shame in the williwaws, without dread.
X-rays are more to be feared, at least in this epic.
You’re still with me, aren’t you dear? Plumb,
zeroing in on me, recognizing my blue aura.
THE END OF THE WORLD
In twilight haze a line of panel trucks,
billboard size, dream-like, stretch up Broadway,
the smell of exhaust and the Chinese Buffet:
"The End of the World is Coming Soon"
painted on their sides.
Once a scared and rash young woman
fell in love, then
inevitably fell out of love; she felt
she had to be wrenched through life, to feel
as if it were the end of the world over and over
for life to count.
many years later:
slant shadows on yellow siding;
how pearly tear drops cling to the undersides
of rose canes and dogwood twigs
after an early December rain; how they
will not be dislodged and it is quiet
as snow; how cars swish down wet streets;
how sun whitens the angles of a tea pot
on a shelf in the kitchen window; how the trees
outside are bare and narrow.
—Linda Jackson Collins, Sacramento
A collapsing of distance
a compression in time,
where darkness shimmers
and silence pounds.
I am suspended
in this breathless void.
There, the earth—
a thicket of furies
lies beneath its muslin sheath.
There, the moon—
no mysteries revealed
on its unveiled surface.
Both seemingly in reach
yet still I cannot choose.
—Laura Martin, Sacramento
She was a Baptist by choice,
saved by grace
and loved to read (especially her Bible),
watch movies, write letters
She never drove a car
she never wore pants—dresses, always dresses
(housecoats mostly, though, in older life)
and she never swore except that one time
when the word “shit” fell out of her mouth
as the sewing machine needle made
a second pass through her thumb.
She was a Southern girl who got sent away
to live with California relatives when her mother died,
became one of the first to cross the Golden Gate Bridge
and one of the last to see Amelia board that flight.
She lost one brother to the war,
her mother to TB
and her father... well... he was always lost
somewhere deep inside a bottle.
She had a passion for Thrifty drugstore brand black walnut ice cream—
“You don’t need a bowl to eat ice cream when you live by yourself,
just eat it out of the carton with a big spoon...”
Those were words she lived by.
Her independence was fierce.
For everything good that happened
she’d lift her hands high in the air
and gave thanks to the Lord.
For everything bad that happened,
she blamed my Aunt.
While my friends read The Diary of Anne Frank,
she gave me the journals of Corrie ten Boom
and reminded me always to always to always
She never wore makeup and wouldn’t leave the house
without first putting on her earrings.
She cried when she talked about Jesus,
had a big crush on Sam Elliot
and was convinced the terrorists would take over America
if George W. didn’t win a second term.
She divvied her tithing amongst televangelists,
Indian orphanages, and local charities.
She was quick to point out that the older black gentlemen
who lived next door was a good Christian man—
sometimes they’d read their Bibles together.
With wild hand gestures she asked me once,
“How does all that information move around up there in the air...?”
then listened intently as I explained to her—the Internet.
She taught me how to make Jell-O Poke Cake,
how to take in a pair of jeans too big around the waist,
how to recite John 3:16 (by heart) and how to crochet
an entire afghan in one chain.
She once visited her own gravesite
so she could see for herself the only piece
of property she ever owned.
On every birthday she’d mail to me
two shiny quarters Scotch-taped to
a birthday card, and when I became double digits
she upped the ante to a $5 bill wrapped carefully
with a blue Kleenex, tucked inside a Bible tract
and a “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” bookmark.
She smelled like Jergens hand lotion, lilac,
black coffee and buttermilk.
She’s been gone six years now and I am $30 in the hole.
—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento
I remember how the rain felt
in my memories,
I remember memories that gathered
dust and memories that should have
been but never came to be.