The television was turned on
Vacuum tubes started glowing
Dull orange, then brighter
Finally an image began to take shape
On the cathode ray tube
Out on the front porch there was
The sound of chilled glass milk bottles
Gently touching cement
A prelude to the quiet hum of a small
Truck continuing down the street
A stack of black 78 rpm vinyl disks
Some with exciting titles
Others not so much
Lower the needle slowly
Over and over and over
Get up early, onto the bus
Which picks up your classmates
Answer “Here”, Pledge of Allegiance
Quiver each time the black board is scratched
Rote repetition, again and again
The newspaper arrives
Packed full of documented reports
Of things not going well
Each new day the same news
Written by the same people
The Korean War finally over
Communism, Cuba, cold war
Sniper attacks and kills JFK
Suicide terrorists destroy the WTC
Inflated tempers over deflated footballs
—Nancy Haskett, Modesto, CA
There were no doves in my suburbia neighborhood,
but at my grandma's house on inner-city Gaviota Avenue,
their soft, repetitive cooing
would awaken me
into her back bedroom of flowered wallpaper—
the soft scent of lavender,
small, satin sachets
mingling with wild roses and berries
tangled in the backyard,
along with an undefinable odor
Lying in her double bed,
I would think about the hard molasses cookies
in large Mason jars,
old issues of McCall's magazines
behind glassed-in bookshelves,
an unfinished jigsaw puzzle on the dining table,
and the rhythmic creaking of her recliner,
of her presence.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
In memory of Dr. Bob Chilimidos
Had a friend who told a story
Of a rancher with a spread
Somewhere back of
Mormon Island, before
Folsom Dam, before
A new Cadillac every
Year, for some
The old ones
Behind the barn.
A Cadillac ranch.
He wouldn’t sell,
Wouldn’t take papers,
Wouldn’t move on.
Finally the U.S. Marshals
Came to drag him
Away, just as the
First waters began
To rise. Leaving the
Friend told me,
Cold clean water
Like Folsom Lake
Will preserve Detroit
Iron, Detroit design,
As well as anything
Else. They’re down
There. If we could just
Find a way to get
Them out (We?).
I knew it was a story,
But he was a car guy,
And he had this look
When he talked
And I wondered.
Folsom Lake’s gone
Now, or thereabouts.
No ranch. No Cadillacs.
Friend’s gone too.
Got to call him on it.
When I ran into local poet Luz Maria Gama at Fiesta En La Calle at Southside Park in Sacramento
I didn’t tell her that I thought I saw in the audience a man who looked like poet José Montoya
That moment I said to myself of this smiling man watching an Aztec dance performance,
“No, that can’t be José Montoya, he’s dead!” and I closed my eyes a moment
When I opened my eyes this man who looked like José Montoya just disappeared before I could say anything to him
If artist Richard Herrera or local poet Josh Fernandez were there I might have told them
(I forgot also on Monday to tell Esteban Villa who was performing at Chalk It Up about this vision)
No I don’t believe in ghosts,
but is it possible that the spirit of José Montoya was there?
If so, why did he appear to an Anglo like me who has only written a couple of poems in Spanish?
Or perhaps it was a “miracle” like the sudden sightings of the Lady of Guadalupe or Elvis…
Why do I fret and always regret
the day I met The Man I Love.
In my love song I’ll always belong
to that man so strong, The Man I Love.
Dreams don’t come true, that’s why I’m blue.
But I’ll still love you, The Man I Love.
Sure as fate, soon or late.
I’ll never hate The Man I Love.
Gosh, can’t you see—he doesn’t love me.
God. Must he be The Man I Love.
FROM MY HEART
You’re growing into womanhood, and leaving all your teens,
I’m wondering, dear Betty, if you know just what that means.
For you, I’m hoping it means life aplenty.
I wish you every happiness the day that you turn twenty,
And tho’ I searched in all the card shops
not a single card would do.
Tho’ they all expressed good wishes, but none, my love for you.
So, with this gift, I’m sending something precious, too.
It comes straight from my heart to Dear Little You.
Love brings the love light into our eyes.
Love brings the sunshine out from the skies.
Love makes us slaves to only one.
Love is the greatest thing under the sun.
‘Tis true that love makes fools of us
whether we be great or small.
But we humans would surely rust
if we were not loved at all.
I know you love me not as I love you,
I know it, and the knowledge stabs me through.
But life is short, and tho’ the fruits not mine,
must I resist from tasting of the vine?
THE BONES OF MIDDLETOWN
—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA
The bones of Middletown
Gnawed on by char and smoke
Enwreathed with toyon and oak
Weep fire to the sky
—Robert Lee Haycock
Heart of glass
Feet of clay
I am an ashen effigy
Of this my once and future self
—Robert Lee Haycock
Jerusalem is burning
We breathe it in
Gold Mountain melts
FOR ANNE AND GENEVA
—Robert Lee Haycock
My two eyes are deaf
To sounds of faded feathers
Dreaming of flying