—Caroline Swanson, Sacramento
Who is worried about money
I’ll void my wallet, if you need money, it’s yours
Do you have a credit card? Do you
A credit card?
The seer senses to check the horse’s gums
How do the homeless earn their keep
In whatever way makes cents
Deficit is debt
Heart chambers beat
A need to eat
I've had three square meals all week
A sandwich a coffee
A need to sleep
A blanket a pillow
A ticket home
A ticket in
Whatever it means to you
Whatever it costs
Take it, it's yours
I'll write you a twenty-line poem for all my thoughts
Just to keep me clean
THE YELLOW VAN RECEIPT
—Trina Drotar, Sacramento
Tucked inside an envelope that once
held a Christmas card was a receipt
for money you’d given to purchase
a van, but there was no yellow van
when you moved here, there was no
yellow car until you purchased
insurance and registered it in your
name. I wonder how long it took
before he sold the van, how many
days’ worth of high it provided, how
many memories destroyed.
—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley
If it’s midnight
and you’re looking
look to the moon
I’ll be there—
door open, lights on,
listening to the crickets
talking about their day.
I’ll probably be smoking
sipping a cold drink.
You know how I like my
with my red meat,
for the buzz.
The only thing better
would be having you here,
lipstick just right,
hanging on my arm—
being the brightest star
in the sky—
on the moon.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
The idle drone that labours not at all,
Sucks up the sweet of honey from the bee…
—Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (1550-1604)
The drone parts the air and lets it swirl around
his stone-smooth flanks & over sheer membrane wings.
Now, fly-eyed with desire, he bumblebounds
into the comb, crawls past the young pikes, young stings.
Engorged from long days & lazes of royal jelly
(brief diet), still stuffing on pollen, he feels ripe
to cover his virgin queen: mere vulnerable belly,
to joybuzzers next hive over. Stilting his shanks
he highsteps the waxiest goo, slick six-sided banks;
then scents her like nectar. Must be bee pheromones:
West Nile aroma to make a Pharaoh moan.
But how does he, being so humble, mate a regnant
monarch, seed a bee-body already pregnant?
He drones on until she hymns yes to his hornpipe:
soft soundboard chambers shiver till all that throb
loosens her eggs a layer right in the comb.
His businesses harden: oh expanding knob,
oh buildup, buzz me rover come clover on home.
Fire in the hole—a blown sting—something plucks him
from him. Behold the hive’s chief new eunuch & victim…
AT INDEPENDENCE TRAIL, SALAMANDERS IN DROUGHT
Under the moss-green boulders,
stone doorway only one eon from collapsing
and crushing this whole miner’s trail,
under Ithuriel’s Spear, under the gouged
and splintering bridge planks,
two small puddles, snow-globe clear:
in the wet, seven gliding forms,
small curling wrigglers, little newts,
little salamanders making the beast
with two backs: salamander sex
in the precious remnant rainwater,
love to be made, eggs to be
shaped and seeded and wetted.
Still writhing, courting, consummating,
they slip from the smaller puddle
via teaspoon-slender watery bridge
into the larger. The four-toed front
foot of a newt delicate on the back
of his mate, gentling her through
the silt or deeper down in mudflat,
surging and coming as their urges urge them.
This is copulation, purest and most raw,
yet here there is no rape, at least to the eye
no violation. Yet look at their undersides
& palms of the feet: flame-orange!
Witness how they revolve from flame belly
to brown-and-serve backs and tops of heads.
Why the myth of salamander survival in fire, without
this boiling in juices, this steeping in animal heats?
The sheer pure rain-remnants form a vitrine
to display these animals. Sunlight bulb-filaments
pop atop the waterskin, dotting the wet like orgasm.
Now’s the time: come a week or two,
mustn’t the puddles dry, the eggs cook and shrivel,
the little embryos inside fade, asphyxiate,
never mind how sublime the sex?…King Drought
will determine. Past the sudden wet clouds,
the mid-March late light seems like a skyfire;
a poser, a suspension, a question:
Which event will first happen, preventing the other?
Will the rain rescue or the eggs die away?
Starting in the grasses
Boasting pretty flowers
I don’t remember their names
And they chide me for it:
“You pass here every day
And stare at us growing
Blooming our asses off, and
You can’t remember our names?”
I comfort myself with the
Hard-to-prove fact that
Maybe I am missing some
Brain cells that store names
Not just flowers, but dog breeds,
Cats, clouds, coworkers, trees,
Foreign dignitaries, rivers,
But I know what I like
So I stroll by the flowers
Enjoy the aroma, take photos
And just screw the names.
ONE MORE PLEASE
He was a little taller
And a little sassier
Than the other men
Seemed to have an
Extra lobe in his brain
For toilet humor
Turns out he had
That’s right, three
A lot of effort was
Expended trying to
Find the right woman
Lots of raised eyebrows
Three fingers going up
One at a time
Plenty of gawking
Mouth wide open
The ladies thought
That’s too much baggage
For them to handle
Then he won the lotto with
A Powerball number of three
Didn’t change his luck.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
on the hot seat
of your first audition
doing Marilyn imitations
before your first audition
under strobe lights
roped after one another
in an insomniac winter
with long lines
in a soundproof studio
in red scarf
gives you a thumbs up.
—christopher knab, burien, wa
just think about it
you push a button
when you’re going
as fast as all that
and then you push another button
to make sure you stay that way
i’d say that’s just about
Oh—and Bill Gainer will be hosting Rebecca Morrison and Michele Beyer plus open mic at Shine tonight, 8pm, 1400 E St., Sac. Be there!