Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Decoding by Dreamlight

—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Locke

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento

went to OfficeMax
a while ago,
got the lowdown
on the latest tech,
or more to the point,
how far behind i am

needed a stack of pages
scanned to disk
he just looked at me all funny,
“we don’t do disk anymore,
need a flashdrive,” he said,
with a knowing smirk

raised my eyebrows at him,

right away, got this nightmare image
of all my treasured CD’s
bitin the dust

got the same sick feeling
the day i was told
8-tracks died,
lost sleep for weeks

here again,
another classic “Coop” moment,
shootout at high noon

grizzled old guy,
with his 2-gun rig,
and pimply nerd-boy,
with the laser-blaster

we paced slowly,
down the hot, dusty aisle
towards each other, then stopped
i stared
into his black, beady eyes,
he drew first, but i was faster

“oh yeah, how ‘bout crayons,
can i still use them?”


—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

            Old age gonna bite you in the ass.
                    —U. Utah Phillips

Gertrude Stein said
(I’ve always wanted to begin
A poem with “Gertrude Stein
Said”): pick an age and you
Remain that age.  I picked
Twenty-six.  Of course,
I was twenty-two at the time,
But was never good
With numbers, so have been
Twenty-six for forty-three
Years now.  A creaky
Twenty-six, but twenty-six

Dog Collection
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

The dogs’ paws abraded
by a landscape of shell casings
and lava. Between unexploded bombs

and stars, a distance of lives, miles
of mirage water. The sky
had its marching orders. Sunset, sunrise.

Wind cried silence to the bones.
At night, the stars encrypted messages
we worked by dreamlight to decode.


—Taylor Graham

I used to hike the fringes
of this camp raucous with city kids,
patriotic bonfire songs hushed
to ghost-stories under stars. The summer-
camp cabins are jumbles of lumber
now, chipped enamel washbasins; rusty
plumbing. Wind’s the homesteader
that stays, working its landscape
of conifer and tumbled rock,
where today I follow my puppy—
how does she know the way?—
up a trail I haven’t hiked in years.
Everything leaves its spoor.


—Taylor Graham

They’d engineered it to astound, to puzzle
and intrigue; to withstand
a thousand-year storm: a pool set into rocks,
deep enough to hold more water
than its depth allowed; its mood shifting
like a mind from azure-clear to sea-
gray melancholia. So pure, it reflected
every thought. If I stepped in….
A sudden rush, cold-boil of water brimming,
simmering to a dark cloud
gathering its weather. Inhuman mind
with laws beyond its makers. So beautiful
it burst their walls.

An Elephant
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—Caschwa, Sacramento
Sitting at the poker table
Playing for coffee money
Which was now big business

I was dealt a hand of random
Low cards that put me at a
Decided disadvantage

Now the role shifted to me to
“Deal with it!” so I bluffed
Everyone else followed suit

It became like a political campaign
Where all the candidates vastly
Overstate their qualifications

This is not what I wanted to
Teach my child, whom I wanted
To graduate college and succeed

Obtain gainful employment
Be a leader in the community
Someone to admire

“I’ll see your nickel and
Raise you a dime”
Calling their bluff with mine

I just have to, have to win this!
So I can afford to visit a
Respectable coffee shop

And not find myself on the street again
Buying funny-looking java from a drug
Dealer of questionable repute

I won $5.35 that night and put it
in my son’s College account
Shhh!  Please don’t blab.


Thanks to today's contributors, and Happy Birthday to Kevin Jones! We're talking about The Tumble of Years for our Seed of the Week, but feel free to send poems/photos/artwork on any subject to Also: please note the various memorial services taking place in Sacramento this week for Maya Angelou; they're listed on the green board to the right of this. And then scroll down for info on the First Annual Sacramento Black Book Fair taking place in Oak Park this weekend; info is in the blue box under the green box. Sac. Poetry Center will be participating in the Fair and is one of the many co-sponsors.


Today's LittleNip:


I sat down to
Write a poem
And was a little
Short on ideas

So I asked an elf
To rhyme with itself
And a fat pig to
Wear a lovely wig

Got my dog
To sit like a log
And of course the cat
Danced well with a hat

Challenged a bee
To spell hyperbole
Then offered my pen
To a dear mother hen

It was hard to translate
Her cluck, cluck, cluck
But the message came
Through, it was WTF



 Auburn, CA
—Photo by D.R. Wagner