Monday, September 14, 2015

The Ghost of José Montoya

Poet/Musician "Mouthpeace" at the Urban Renaissance,
Sacramento, September, 2015
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Caschwa, Sacramento

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

Aztec Dancers, Fiesta En La Calle, Southside Park
Sacramento, Sept. 6, 2015
[See for more about this year's Festival.]
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—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
of oldness.

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,
reassuring me
of her presence.

Luz Maria Gama, Fiesta En La Calle, Sacramento
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—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
Folsom Lake.

Rancher bought
A new Cadillac every
Year, for some
Twenty-five years.
Just parked
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
Caddies, everything
Else, behind.

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
About it.
And I wondered.

Folsom Lake’s gone
Now, or thereabouts.
No ranch. No Cadillacs.
Friend’s gone too.
Got to call him on it.


—Michelle Kunert

   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…

Ann Galfin, 1929

—Ann Galfin

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.


—Ann Galfin
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.


—Ann Galfin
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.


—Ann Galfin
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?

Car on Display at the Fiesta En La Calle
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—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
Smoking mirror


—Robert Lee Haycock

Jerusalem is burning
We breathe it in
Gold Mountain melts
Black dross


Our thanks to today’s fine poets for sending us their diverse work, and to Gary Agid of Sacramento for the poems from his mother. He writes: I just went through a box of old family photos and found these poems my mother, Ann Galfin (maiden name) wrote when she was 19 years old in 1929. Also attached is a photo of my mother when she was 19. My mother died in 1972. Our thanks also to Carol Louise Moon for encouraging Gary and helping him get these ready to post on Medusa.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Robert Lee Haycock

My two eyes are deaf
To sounds of faded feathers
Dreaming of flying



Sac. Poetry Center drawing at Chalk It Up in Sacramento
September, 2015
—Photo by Michelle Kunert
[Check out the new Chalk It Up photo album 
by Michelle Kunert and Cynthia Linville
on Medusa's Facebook page!]