—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento
the inevitable knife
through living flesh
making a cauterizing sizzle
when the stalk is
The green, flat edges
spurt with a slice
sloshing in its own wet
of dough, compressed
with all mother’s might.
Tel garam ho gayi?
Is the oil hot?
Ji ho gayi.
Burning to smoke
and like green paper edges
singed inside layer after layer
is the purely kneaded
This while the smell of brackish bile,
uneaten, falls on tight lips
waiting for a bite of
(*palak = spinach)
it might say that too many hands twist its knobs
with such force that its gaskets loosen
it might say that it’s tired of all the goop
never cleaned from around the handles
it might say that it wants to view its reflection
in the chrome but can’t
it might say that it wants to be taller and more
forceful in its flow
it might say that the water is too hot or too cold
or perhaps the water’s just right
it might say that it’s not too old and the new model
is not as reliable, even if it saves water
it might remain silent, grateful that the old dishwasher
no longer needs to cover its mouth
—Trina L. Drotar, Sacramento
—Trina L. Drotar
Bottles were tucked in the back of the hall closet
because, she said, they needed to be kept in the dark.
I like pomegranates, the tiny seeds that squirt and
tickle the tongue with a bit of a bite, that tangy
tartness that arrives each fall. I’d open the closet
every day, check the bottles. They remained
tucked away for months until I was sure they’d
been abandoned. I don’t know how many seeds
gave their lives to be crushed and liquefied and
left to ferment in the back of our hall closet where
coats we never used and suitcases and who knows
what else resided, but that was some sweet drink.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
And here you’re the central child among young children
clutched for a laughing selfie: everybody mug.
Despite that tongue you just stuck out, you could fill men
with Mayan thought fit for a cinnabar burial jug.
Even the jug-eared boy, the littlest one
cuddling you for the lens, his English poor,
divines by waters within just where’s the fun;
looks outward unused to your quivery, spritely allure.
Oh hoyden! Yet you do good things for these kids,
you’re helping build a stout irreproachable house,
of gravity like the dark-braided dark-limbed sister
you’re teaching the classic “rabbit-ears” that lids
her brother’s head. May no one stifle or douse
this boisterous silent noise. Your hands will blister:
The lovingly mortared breezeblock abode will rise.
For them, you’re forever non-Spanish,
fine dimples and joyous eyes…
VIEW FROM A SELVEN HILLTOP
From treetop level, all we see is leaf,
soft lobe or tough blade, tall stalks or trunks, plus long
suave waters: were they not constrained to reef
up against low mountain, distance would gong
out liquidly twisting echoes past the horizon.
What birds and animals there you’ve come to know,
I’ll never know: they’ve hid, they won’t bedizen
the selva Aztec-jeweled as Mexico.
These trees keep poisons and cures: do they have here
what tempts you to drizzle your flesh-of-the-plantain skin
with healing and danger, with untried medicine?
Once long ago, such blue-to-the-depths and clear
warm bays drew my feet in dizzy, as if from height
atop pyramid steps for lost ones short and slight.
—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
Moss green and two shades of pink
past which two white bunnies wandered
clutching silver purses, one on each
open arm, strolling hand-in-hand,
whistling two lovely tunes
on the second day of May.
On breezy spring days my twin and I
would crouch near the garden gate.
I loved Short Bunny with sequined purple vest;
she adored Tall One with periwinkle shawl.
Let us join them. Falling in line behind
we dance into sparkling sunbeam.
(first pub. in Updrafts, 2007)
ONLY THE SHADOW KNOWS…
Only the Nose knows,
The Nose knows
what it knows, Madelyn.
Well, it goes to show
when it snows
the Nose knows best—
If the Nose knows best,
then put it to the test.
Does the Nose know
what the Shadow knows?
How do you know
what the Shadow knows, Brian?
I think you’re lyin’, Brian.
I think you’re just mad,
the Shadow knows more
than your stupid Nose knows.
—Carol Louise Moon
COOKIE CUTTER DREAMS
—Carol Louise Moon
Wasn’t it Grandma who told us
about cookie cutter dreams—
where you go to bed with
cookie cutters near your pillow
(hopefully the plastic kind)
and you punch the air with them
so that when you fall asleep
it’s easier to dream about
Scottie dogs and daisies?
POOH BEAR ON SNOW SKIS...
...slides down my pajama leg,
his turquoise muffler wagging
from his little stout neck.
The light-blue flannel hillside
bespeckled with oversized
is a delight to both our eyes
this January day.
I sit in my kitchen—
kettle of water boiling
warming the air of our delight.
Farther down my pant leg
I see that Pooh has turned around
facing uphill, one ski
overlapping his other.
What… tea? he shouts from below.
ZARIAH: THE MARCHING PROPHETESS
—Carol Louise Moon
Beyond the zeal of Joan of Arc marching
through echoing halls of trial and defeat;
likened to Queen Victoria in hair and
precise pronouncements of edict,
And I’ll not clean my room;
the prophetess turns on blistering heels
and retreats to pink chiffon-windowed
chambers. Barbie-statued walls and a
portrait of a big, green affectionate ogre do
little to console this loneliest of maidens.
Falling on unmake chenille and a goose-
down pillow, the tiny maiden weeps droplets
of irreconciliation. Why this—the heaviest
burden of all three-year-olds! The heart
has not known, nor the eye seen, the misery
in store for those made to miss
Saturday morning cartoons.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Wets the bed.
“Hi, I’m here to take your blood pressure.”
“Oh, good morning, Doctor.”
“No a doctor. Just an orderly.”
“Come in, Justin.”