(Edith Wharton, poet and novelist of The House of Mirth)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Strange to read Wharton’s poem, “Terminus,”
turn right away from that to her Lily Bart
and see evolution made flesh, one novelist’s art.
Her antennae go quivering equally stern in us
and in old New York; they probe through verminous
strata in rich and poor. Delve deep as the dart
of the fatal chloral now stopping Lily’s heart.
No, deeper, to Lily’s last moral thought—her worm in us.
Fine gradations of downslide, from well-bred to poor,
three years before “Terminus,” a brief clutch of lines
orgasmic and blushing, enshrines the writer’s own lurch,
the clench of a woman under a man in spoor.
The mildewed hotel-bed inveigles odors like vines
into her nostrils, confirms what she thought research.
ON A LINE BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
This tall, oblivious gaoler eyed with stars
must have human form…transcending the known?
If I could just see the operative through bars.
But no bars contain me, just sheets of airy stone.
Those stark, dark backlit contours seem to hew
a strongly feminine swerve out of light and dim it.
Still I spy a fine-boned woman shape, far too
translucent a flesh for mortal skin to limit.
I strain my gaze below the hoyden hair
massed in a rough sweet cap; I’ll penetrate
those eye-stars. No: in her pupils, a naked pair,
myself by myself, two fetal, coiled small fates,
that’s all. Doubly repelled, twice mirrored, I’m sped
back to the lockless cell of my own head.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
Old aunt gave me
A diary to take
Lost the key almost
Roommates all read
It of course,
Said it was all
Lies. Curious thing,
The people I made up
Said the same thing.
EDDIE ELLIS WAS FROM
For years, he was known
By Guinness, by
The New York Times,
As the world’s most
1927 till his death in
1998. A thick volume
A year, every year.
Needless to say,
Very early on.
recalls children's laughter
echoing from the dunes
where pelicans and cormorants
glide on wind currents.
memories pounds in my head
like the lighthouse moan
lament the moment
to mingle with the ocean's
pulse in an hypnotic ebb
and flow, to know what shore
birds know, to dig in silver sand
where spoon bills walk, unmindful
of our migration. I discover
my girlhood vitality mixed with womanhood,
the bitter sweet Passover herbs,
the forgotten cliffs where I once
reached to catch the gulls.
It was often just “too hot”
Especially if they had no air conditioning—
Interesting why so many classes had heating instead when it was rarely ever needed!
I couldn’t yet wear my “back to school clothes”
and I could get in trouble for having too-short shorts outside of gym class
In my freshman year the first day got over 100 degrees
and in that afternoon a P.E. teacher I had told the students to run laps around the football field
He said something like “You’re all so lazy, get running…"
The other students and I protested that he had to be f—crazy!
Did he want us to possibly pass out in the heat?
(Getting overheated and heat stroke in late summer is a real risk in Sacramento)
We even found out the water fountain in the football field was totally broken
which ought to piss off the school football team players in this heat
and we agreed to tell our parents on that gym teacher who wanted to show a “lesson” to new freshmen
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
In my second year at Arden Middle School
There were students who still didn’t get into the flow of things—
They wouldn’t go to school prepared
and weren’t my friends—
but they’d bother me in class with, “Do you have a pencil?” or “pen?" or “paper?”
These kids obviously had their own money, too
For instance many would go buy lunch at the nearby Taco Bell
I’d tell them, “You go over to Taco Bell,
but not to the Payless across the street to buy stuff for school?!"
They’d do nothing for me, either, to deserve to get something from me
even name-calling me as a “sped” when I was in advanced classes
Even if their mothers sent them to school with notebooks with pens and pencils
they probably ditched or “lost” those things
and of course they wouldn't do their homework either
because in their minds it wasn’t “cool” to do
Another weird dream: peerless social gathering
in the formal gardens, all the ladies in war paint.
No one walked among the flowers, or noticed,
over the koi pond, the intricate choreography of
insects skinny-dipping to bullfrog bass and cello.
No one delighted in the full moon light but just
its madness. I woke up wondering, why are so
many flowers born to blush if no one sees them?
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
He chases ice cubes around the floor, does bark-battle with empty stainless bowls and garden soaker-hoses (how I loved to play in irrigation ditches!). He found a pair of soft fleece shoes—I’d almost forgotten those long-ago survival nights, bivvied in the snow, till he dragged them out to chew on ancient histories. He wakes me at all hours of the dark to Nature’s calls, owl song or a sudden August breeze, a full moon walking the deck. Before dawn he’s ready for the day. Good morning, Trek!
Splash in the bird bath—
could it be wren, warbler, thrush?
Just the new puppy.
From the sweet
of summer’s tang,
tramp a creek trail
that’s lost in the dim.
Your empty pail,
all spring’s blossoms gone.
A voice says, you’ve seen this
before: night and dawn,
evening settles to snow
or a hard, dry freeze, then May
again as seasons go
from the sweet
of summer’s tang
WHAT THE CHARTS DON’T SHOW
This river—boats we run aground on a sand-
NOT THERE YET
A frozen daiquiri, please.
All we have is lemon ice
and a bottle of whispering
angel rose wine, shall
I bring you a frozen rosary?
Miss-read the phrase
What to say
—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors for today's fine morning potpourri!