—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento
I used to live closer to the earth.
I feel like I never count an insect's legs anymore.
I haven't eaten a rose petal from my grandmother's bush.
I haven't drunk from the white waters under a boulder.
I don't carry a book because I now carry the Emperor's Chain Mail.
I am a white rabbit, missing my lucky foot.
Bloody stump dashing to the next artificial deadline.
I am a child bereft of crumbs, lost but for the spoor of my tears.
I used to live closer to the earth.
—Ann Privateer, Davis
What a fine activity
watching clouds form
and almost imperceptibly
move across the sky
traveling west in November
going out to sea while I sit
in a seven-story tower dining
on stew and buttered bread
alone for days like some lost
one raiding the pantry.
As a kid I liked sliding down snowy hills with an inner tube
Never did I or my family learn how to ski
and we didn’t own any sleds
From Sacramento when we traveled to the mountains
we hit the slopes with inner tubes as if we were too poor otherwise
But we didn’t care
Now resorts charge an arm and a leg for the same experience
It just doesn’t seem right to charge for what ought to be for free
It should be free to slide down snowy hills
to breath the chilly rush of air
and hold up one’s hands to shout out “wheee...”
It should also be free for the mind to be inspired while “tubing" as it’s called
A sport that takes so little effort feels so cool
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
OMG! Macy’s now also carries those ugly holiday sweatshirts and sweaters
You know the kind you beg your Mom not to wear
or at least not to be seen in public with
because they are decorated with tacky winter themes
like penguins, snowmen, reindeer, or Santa
Of course these end up in thrift stores for far less than what they charge at Macy’s
But then again some fashion-challenged women my age and older will buy them
and some will buy them as presents for their mothers
thinking that’s what their Moms really want for Christmas
THE BAD OLD DAYS
—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch
Paul was a white-haired tree stump of a fellow with his tee shirt sleeves rolled up and a racing form in his hand when we didn't have any customers.
We'd sit behind the counter regaling one another with taller and taller tales, waiting for closing in the middlemost part of Saturday night.
His preferred medium was bullshit and he recognized a younger iteration of himself in me because it takes one to know one.
I think he liked me because he'd offered me the job and I know I liked him because you've got to like a guy who delivered Mother's Cookies for years.
He'd shown me the pistol under the counter so that I wouldn't shoot a customer in the nuts while I was reaching for a paper bag.
I'd fill the empty slots of beer and soda from the chiller room while he straightened out the expensive bottles near the register.
I paid for my half-pint of peppermint schnapps.
He decided on his bets at Bay Meadows.
I turned out the lights.
He turned the key.
I went home to my fantasies of Romana and K9.
Who knows what Paul dreamt of?
—Robert Lee Haycock
A bachelor party
A young woman
Her insufficient clothes
Fell around her shoes
She earned her keep that night
Pouring ice into celebrating pants
Dancing down to snatch a rolled-up 20-dollar bill
Out of hungry mouths with her you-can-imagine
Someone I thought I knew gave her a Jackson
Said it was my turn
She grabbed my arms
She took my wrists
I said you are lovely but no
She held my hands
She felt my ring
You are so cool she purred
I was on the front porch when she left with her manager
You are so cool she repeated softly
I didn't feel very cool
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Do I know this place?
A maze of wires and pipes.
What is made of time?
Each room lives blind in the dark
of phantom lights once lived.
This morning the oaks
stand silent in their tattered
brown-leaf coats, in wind.
Why is that horizon-house
lit up like glory?
November’s sun is sudden.
What remains of home
now seems unfamiliar, new.
It opens my door
to welcome winter as guest
with sunlight’s blessing.
Have the bright birds flown?
Must the ones who stay be cloaked
as cold as beggars?
In time they’ll unwind themselves
on wings of wind and weather.
The oak tree stretches
twigs to sky and roots in earth—
The towers rise blind with red lights
blinking where eyes should be—
higher than our kitchen gardens, homes,
even the great oak trees
but not the magic rooted in earth,
visions of air and memory.
Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
When in doubt, play Candy Crush.