Friday, April 24, 2015

April in Paris

Jeanine Stevens, one of the featured readers at
Sac. Poetry Center's "April in Paris" reading
Monday, April 20
—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

On Sundays after mass,
We’d travel, usually with Ock
And Jeannie Anderson, the fifty
Miles to Rock Island, Illinois.
There, high atop
(Well six floors, actually)
The Fort Armstrong Hotel,
Was The Sunday Buffet.

Ock was a meat cutter,
My father a boilermaker.  And
They made straight for
The prime rib stand.
“Blue, please” would say Ock.
“Bruised a little,” my father
Would grin.  The chef had
Heard it all before,
Was not amused.

Jeannie and my mother
Would go for lighter fare,
Usually Chicken Kiev,
Which they pronounced
Like my name, giving
My self-esteem no
Help whatsoever.

As for me, I was just taken
By the view from the
Wrap-around windows.
Big river over there,
Moving slow, color of mud.
Other buildings, almost
As tall.  One proudly
Proclaiming itself
“The Rock Island Argus.”
Turns out it was just
The local newspaper.
Was always disappointed
No giants or spare eyeballs
Ever appeared on their logo
Or the masthead.

Eventually I’d calm, pocket
My clip-on bowtie and be
Persuaded to have maybe
A grilled cheese sandwich,
Some macaroni, wisely
Saving room for desserts.
The things that could be done
With chocolate, with custard,
With cream even back then.

Best of all, though, were the
Exquisite parting gifts
For the kiddies—a treasure
Chest (Rock Island was
A river town with a reputation,
After all) of flashy gewgaws
By the cash register:
Squirting flowers, handshake
Buzzers, mini whoopee cushions,
Plastic ice cubes with colorful
Insects embedded.  Everything,
Everything I’d need
To continue my unpopularity
Back in fifth grade on Monday.

 Ann Privateer, featured reader at SPC
Monday, April 20

—Trina Drotar, Sacramento

She hadn’t planned it.  Not really.  Just pointed
to a spot on the much-folded, out-of-date, map.

She wanted to go. Get out of the big city with
its small mindedness, its noise, its anger, its joy.

She looked at the spot, ran her finger over the
letters that were too small for her weak eyes.

She pulled the spot closer, squinted, fingered
the letters, spelled the town’s name out loud.

Like the couple in the song, she was surprised,
but not really, to find her escape was her home.

 frank andrick, featured reader
Monday, April 20

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Having annoyed us early with its warmth,
premature summer masquerades as spring,
or rather, back to winter it feigns to bring
us who aren’t fooled: behind those clouds the balm
and calm of preternatural vibrant green,
ripe solar plumes, no humans harmed in making
arthritis-quieting sun come early, taking
its ease behind this decoy bay-fog screen.
Yet eerie disquiet lurks behind fake murk,
and, behind that, false notes of mirth too soon unurned.
From Bax’s First, movement two, have I not learned?
That elegy for the Irish dead, which torques
discord almost to savagery, tears me apart:
those clouds, if they could, would cry out their heart.

Some years, long repressed, a season wants early escape:
still it hides in robes of dense cloud its rock-black cape.


XCIX. Quite Far from Here (Bien loin d’ici)

(after Charles Baudelaire and Clark Ashton Smith)

It’s here, the sacred space of spaces,
here where this young girl frilled with laces,
tranquilly pampered into stasis,

with one hand fans at her breasts,
while on cushions her elbow rests;
she hears far fountains brim distress.

It is the chamber of Dorothée.
—The breezes, fountains, both intone
their songs that sob caressingly
to lull the girl sprawled languidly.

From top to toe, with great devotion,
her dainty skin is chafed with fragrance,
with oil and benzoin’s spicy resin.
In a corner, some flowers, a swooning motion.


CI. On “Tasso in Prison” by Eugène Delacroix

(after Charles Baudelaire and Clark Ashton Smith)

The poet in the dungeon, ragged in sickness,
beneath whose convulsive foot a manuscript rolls,
with gaping eyes inflamed by terror unscrolls
a staircase to dizzy the spirit toward the abyss.

The drunken laughs that flicker in this prison
tempt reason toward the strange, the absurd misprision;
Doubt surrounds him, then Fear, horrid with ridicule
and multiform, traps him in its dancing circle.

This genius doomed to a malodorous slimy cell,
these grimaces, cries, specters swarming, dodging
in mephitic turbulence next to his ear,

this dreamer aroused by the horror of his lodgings:
voilà! Your emblem, deluded soul, is here,
dream-mumbles snuffed out by the Real, in these four walls!


Today's LittleNip:


—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento
‪ ‬

Monday's moon, and the‬
grind of every wind.‬

‪Tuesday lost, and yes kindness
‪ ‬

Wednesday sharing in sin, dreams
‪ ‬

Thursday brokenness and sleepless‬,
sleepless nights.‬
‪ ‬

Friday, the heart forewarned.‬

Saturday, GOD is quiet.

Sunday, others don't forgive.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors—magnifique!