Monday, December 22, 2014

Something Like Contentment

Christmas Swag
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Locke

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Quiet except for the back-and-forth
of our voices working out the climb. The trees
in winter. Listen—
silk of horses’ ears to whispering of the woods.
Breath visible against cold.
A glint of sun still rising in the creek.


            after Walt Whitman
—Taylor Graham

While I was reading the philosophers,
and trying to digest the heavy sentences, the black words,
wind came up and then the rain.
I shut my book and walked outside
to see what the storm left. I found an old oak fallen
across my path; against dark woods
a wild plum dancing in its yellow leaves,
its autumn kimono, its joy.
That’s the way the wind blew,
that’s all there was except for metaphor.


—Taylor Graham

The beaker of barium almost drowned me but I got to its bottom and lo! illumination of the nether regions, a twisted staircase blocked; pressure burning memory blue as black. Earth’s muscle fiber sliced by a midnight blade until the under-world began twitching, rumbling to erupt its wastes, replenish the soil for a landscape vivid and varied as a box of crayons. This morning I sit at a courtyard window between walls, hooked up in a maze of tubes to my life. It’s raining. What comfort to know that weather still goes on.

outside the window
how many shades of green on this
gray hospital day

 The Season
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

On cold rainy days I miss my grandma’s delicious borscht soup made from scratch
It was something she cooked right, besides pickle beets
I still can’t seem to duplicate the recipe to make it taste the same
(I don’t think she used meat for it after seeing a slaughterhouse)
and some store-bought borscht now has to suffice
Some is too sweet with sugar while others taste too much like a can
However some Wild Veggie brand beet soup I found seems just okay...

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain!
Oh the weather outside got stormy wet
But we should be thankful in Sacramento it doesn’t snow
So off to work I go
to see drivers forget to increase their stopping distance 
I fear a rear-ender
as I hear wheels behind me screech
When I reach my destination
the adult ed students complain—
such as they can’t go out to smoke
or the rain is the excuse why they’re late
Oh let it rain, Let it rain, Let it rain!

—Michelle Kunert

Christmas at Pier 39
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento

Easily deterred by the lure of something more,
Greedy for deeper, faster further from shore.
Seeking true union, escape from hearts so sore.

It used to be buts, now it’s all but what’s
Used to be groove, but now it's bell ringers
Used to be smooth, now it’s dead fingers
Used to being nuts, now what’s, what?

Hasty Approach, eyes spark, space clears, it's echo time
Magnets, air sucked out of the room, buzzing and rhyme
Suede soft skin, greedy lungs and tongues, foil and chime.

It used to be buts, now it’s all but what’s
Used to be groove, but now it's bell ringers
Used to be smooth, now it’s dead singers
Used to being nuts, now what’s, what?

Approach, reproach, pumpkin turned coach, hey my buddy bender
Stripped ego, vapor bond, booze trumps daylight robbery
Encroach, Poach, wanting, not wanting, hey my buddy bender
Eye sting, wedding ring, vanished not missing, misery
Hey, Hey My Buddy Bender


—Lelania Arlene

Always eyed by the entrapped,
Heirloom from the starved before you.
Fervor to bound is seen as attempts to flee.
There must be a guardian.
You are sitting on a gold mine Gal.
Chattel does not fly.
Soon secret caves are torn to gobbets,
Unsteady islands barren of joy.
Learned helplessness,
Bitter as the dregs of your instant coffee.
Rancid as the coffee can of recycled lard.
Smoke to breathe,
Lungs filled with resentment.
I bash at the constructs, creep and excess.
Carve at my skin,
Razor stuttering.
I have made it mine, your words


—Lelania Arlene


I lost my whistle.

Scar tissue built up from too many other mothers' sons……

But my eyes still sparkle with mischievousness

My back is still straight...

I do not hide my breasts in shame

My lips still red

Clit pierced, staking a claim on that which is MY gift to bestow

No bitterness

And no envy

This is how you build wisdom one blow at a time

Defiant like Whoopi in The Color Purple

The color found in labia

My superwoman laughter leaves you cold

I won, Cocksucker.


—Lelania Arlene

The Moke, The Moke… the sky is on fire.
That’s my car, that’s my car.
I count 14 flags, how many you got?
Indeed my Brother... The sky became fire.
All of the wet in the world could not quench the double-
breasted sorrow.
They said your hair was messy and they combed it in grief’s
How many strokes?
How many lashings to the center of the pain.
All of the cars to you, I’d give them all to you to drive
your heartbeat again.
The flags whip like your lion-headed curls, tenderheaded
Take them all and take the snap and sting of loss too.
The oatmeal stared you down and won.
Well done, hot dog bun?


Today's LittleNip:

—Riddle by Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

He who is partial to all needy children
He who is immaculately and warmly dressed
He who is, secretly, not so convivial
He who is his loving wife’s husband
He who is generous… and much to a fault
He who is a lover of domesticated pets
He who is bundled in quilts, two nights before
He who is quite round-about-the-middle

Our thanks to today's contributors of tasty hot toddies in the Kitchen (Trouper Taylor Graham is recovering at home and sent us a haibun about her surgery!), plus reminders that there will be no reading at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, and Placerville's Poetry in Motion read-around at the Placerville Sr. Ctr. has also been cancelled. Details of upcoming readings and other poetry news are on the blue board (under the green board) at the right of this.

I hope you're watching both boards for news, local and otherwise. I've posted a link to Poetry Foundation's seasonal poems that you can get to by way of the red spiderweb's Webilicious feature, and a particular link to Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening". I used to read this poem at every December Rattlesnake Press reading at The Book Collector, and I always used to cry. I have no idea why, but the idea of "miles to go before I sleep" touches something in me. Things left undone? The difficulty of the road ahead? I dunno….. Anyway, there are SO many wonderful links out there to poetry adventures on the Web, and I'm trying to change our Webilicious link almost every week in order to take advantage of some of them. Don't be shy about suggesting links, either—either poetry- or writing-related: the Kitchen is always open at Come along for the ride, won't you? We have SO many miles to go before we sleep…….



Barkley Moon
—Photo by Carol Louise Moon