—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Overhead, a weave of cloud and wings
above the delta. You crane your neck, trying
to untangle migratory call
from somebody’s cellphone—there he
sits as the birds pass over; keeps
asking questions as if expecting a response.
They—the birds—look like
El Greco saints in full heavenly flight. Now
you’re weaving fancy with their
fancy weaving in and out of cloud.
A change of weather. Are they cranes?
You’ve never seen one close. Plenty
of human birds with cellphones, their calls
of mating or territory, or just keeping
in touch on a long-haul journey. But now
these—even from such a height
they touch you. How are you supposed
ROOM FILLED WITH NOTHING
I woke up under the wind
slipping away from night. It sounded
like history. Nothing personal,
just axes and hands, a lost world—or
was it worlds lost in equations
of thinking and failing and making
something stay? Then waking
as if nameless I was drifting toward
a glow I call sunrise, and
the wind rushing to meet it sang yes.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
The Jeffers impersonator has taken
His check and departed.
The string trio accepts foil-covered plates
Of finger food as their
And the wine servers
Gather behind the tower
To finish the wines in a manner
Jeffers would have approved.
Last out, the director clanks
The gate one more time
To assure himself
A shadow figure emerges
From the warrior stairway
In the tower, looks left,
Looks right, smiles as
Haig the Housedog,
The bull dog the family
Buried outside the
Living room window,
But who never really
Went away, snuffles
Across the lawn
To his master.
“Easy, boy. Rest.
Let’s sit here and
Watch the ocean
Gather the darkness.
They were just ghosts.
And now they’re gone
For another year.”
(After seeing "Richard III: The New Evidence", BBC)
Richard, breaker of horses, and I do mean battle-horses,
spur your overbig charger against the odds, force
the twist in your back so like an egret’s neck in flight
to sustain the charge’s glowing sword-forge fire and momentum,
the heavy-metal, heavy-water gallop breakneck, full
in the face of six-foot-seven Sir John Cheyne, smash his
teeth with the force of your oak-beam, sunbeam lance.
Did I say the egret’s-neck crook in your back? But your bones
have grown their adult predator strength on feasts
of egret, peacock, boar’s flesh, wild hare, salmon
and sturgeon. This last once, let the meat of your spinewarp
fuel you far beyond what your wine-bibbing, ale-saturated,
roundworm stomach tells you you can: you are steeling
yourself to spear a wide blood lane to Henry of Richmond.
Oh you are goading your beautiful horse into a crevice,
into the domain of No Horse, your iron courser and corset into
the No Armor, the nude vertiginous kingdom. The narrow
wood throne snugly enough cradles your pelvis, your genitals atop
the seafoam skin of the beast—then steed spills and you sprawl
athrash in a red ocean of brawl-roar, tumbled corpses primed
to liquefy. You’re about to become sword-cushion for that
cold-eyed seamstress, that contemptible ladyface Tudor…
…all the while you’re penetrating with lashing rage Hell’s membrane
as it was whispered you tore apart your mother, exiting her,
with a gauntlet of infant teeth. As you subside in a crimson pool,
as Henry’s myrmidons pridefully, vengefully pierce
a king who can’t stab back, your teeth-baring, gum-baring
primate howling snarl drains with your spinal column
into a parking lot some leagues and centuries distant
from Market Bosworth.
And is this verse spellbound to be silent
about the soil that trembled minutes before,
stretched tympanum to the overthunder? Sprung from
the news of Richard’s exhumation, up leaps the one
dragon-tooth sown and rooted down in: Dominic
Smee, a youngster, battle-reenactor, a stripling
with the same longbow back, aiming to prove so
bent a man could ignite an army, fight through his own
ribcage prison and stand to the armweary last. This
re-creators’ game if brought to consummation, what is it
to You, Lincoln green spinney, emerald field where
the plow or the electronic probe turns up shards
of knight’s helm-smiter, bishop’s mace and hilt-splinter?
You, sweet sheaf-matrix, Mother Bosworth and more,
will go on sharpening Your round horizon smile,
staying whole all the while Richard, Henry,
and their many minion descendants labor carving out
blood-pie slices against the grain of Your natural
rounds, cylinders, cones and angles. World-woman,
womb to so many deluded warriors You wholly overmaster,
do as You do and touch as You touch, sanctifying
in Your death-embrace the least hallowed
of all the vicious blood-harrowers, turning
his moldering crumbles
all Stonehenge and holy…
—Ann Privateer, Davis
things stay the same
and that fuels confidence
like the organist
to bring up bass cords
and comforting moss
falling back to G7
and in between
we live and breathe.
ACROSS THE WIDE DIVIDE
we face each other through
wind and rain, squarely, focused
yet alone, each in our own
little room with sky perception
your furrowed forehead
your detective's private eye
my hurried dressing
your sleepy smile
while a litany of winks
and blinks fill the space
empty thoughts taken
to the trash, what can we
say except the kernel of truth
we did not know
when we were happy.
concentrate your play
infuse it with kernels
that will not stray, away
principles, dance today
to moody melodies
the crux of the beat
fast or slow
with no espresso
and dream of Romeo.
Our thanks to today's potpourri of contributors! Kevin Jones will be reading at the annual Robinson Jeffers Fall Festival in Carmel this weekend; scroll down to the blue board (below the green board at the right) for details of that and other coming poetry events. And Ann Privateer's artwork, some of which we have samples of today, will be shown at Davis's Avid Reader, 617 Second St. in Davis, beginning at the Second Friday Art About on Oct. 10 and running until the next show begins in November.
Our other photos today were taken by Katy Brown, who attended the 21st Annual Dancing Poetry Festival in San Francisco on Sept. 19 to read her third-prize poem. Dancing Poetry is a spectacular annual affair that is not to be missed; you need to go at least once in your lifetime. Check it out at www.dancingpoetry.com and plan to enter poems next year.
Fortunately, our many autumn readings have brought out the cameras of some of our local poets—keep watching Medusa's Facebook page for new photo albums. (And thanks to our fantastic fotogs!)
Sacramento Voices 2014, the huge anthology of area poets which was released last Saturday on 100,000 Poets for Change Day, is now available from Cold River Press. See www.coldriverpress.org for a complete list of contributors and purchasing info. There's also a new online issue of the Bay Area poetry journal, Ginosko, posted at ginoskoliteraryjournal.com/downloads.htm/. And Oct. 15 is the deadline for the next issue of Rattlesnake Press's quarterly journal, WTF: see rattlesnakepress.com/wtf.html for submissions info or to order one or more of the 23 previous issues.
And don't forget that October 26 is Sacramento Poetry Day, which was officially proclaimed in 1986 by then-Mayor Anne Rudin. To celebrate, Medusa is planning a Marathon Post on that day, which happens to be a Sunday. Send poems and artwork and photos about Sacramento to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll post 'em all, no matter how many! A good day to show the world how many wonderful poets are in our area!