Friday, February 19, 2016

Sweetening the Wheels

—Fungi Photos by Sam the Snake Man
—Poems by Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA


As one who skims and rejects designer cards
with sap that drips from each word, every line,
I want to belong, in love at least, with bards,
those boys and girls of words whose linings shine
by the light of their muses, goddesses and gods
with noses for barbecued calves whose smoke you’ve breathed,
as humans drink hookah dreams that turn fantods.
How oft are the wreath-deservers rightly wreathed,

as you should be, live shrine, my ambling altar?
Ripe plaits of vine and fruit need to embrace,
not trap, your heavenly rose hips, your plum-
and pomegranate blush. Their dungeon’s lace
of flowery effusion lies light as Gibraltar;
it wants to arouse yet operates to numb.

Let words recast love’s curvets in clear design:
your influence, helping strange planets—our lives—align. 


You bring both force and sweetness to my need
in this life’s hour. That sharp, tart concentrate
you pour into my drink just edges my greed
for earliest air. This time, the dawn’s lent great
strawberry blushings, replete with hairlike seeds
that lightly grain sunrise—now, my unspent fate,
burst through these broken gates. Now daylight bleeds;
its blanched, strained aspect mirrors my wrung, bent state,
all radiance, no clarity. I sense
hurts I can’t place: come press me with your gaze.
Late morning sifts through river mist; intense
through folds of brumal glare your face allays
all fear, you charm away worse than what portends
where noon’s blue glass lies shattered on alien bays.

It may well be…that [Hamlet] is attempting to hunt down and bag Claudius’s shabby morality in order to expose it on a public stage. But it may also be an attempt to engage Claudius in a more creative conversation through play (or, to be specific, a play—)...
                               —Salley Vickers, in
The New Statesman


The scholar, athlete, accomplished in statesman things,
the son whereon heaven seemed to set its seal
—notice how she speaks of him: it rings
of every praise the Prince himself can peal
for dear old brutal Dad who sliced the Norwegian;
and how can H2 surrender himself to vengeance
(she knows it without knowing), one-man legion
both NCIS Elsinore and engine
of stab-and-pour-the-poison anointing union?
What of the non-lethal juice he might impart?
Can he not lop the Danish rot just living
for her, for siring princelings of the heart,
not sword? What solo man thrives by forgiving?
Or do only coupled ones press toward communion?

The whale he seeks at best thrashes big white flukes;
he harpoons his lover, her father—freak rebukes?  


Life startled you into pursuit of some deep dream,
something, for all that you tell me your night visions,
eludes most humans, constant as a stream
in winter, yet incessantly in retraction
at the least summery touch of light through blinds.
Oh, the sweet-flowing run of the river wet,
self-refining, self-renewing, finds
ocean it ties to its origin end, that net
of snow it licks its way out of. Yet do grasp
—for we’re still speaking of dreams—your dreams, like soap
they slip, like June-simmering soft creek they shrink.
The touch of dream-hunters is harsh; it is a rasp;
guard vampire-like the dream-darkness; that’s your ink.
Bright light with its friction can’t chafe away your hope.



Safeway parking lot.
I pull into a space: run over a light-brown spill,
chocolate ice cream or caffè mocha clot.
Life behaves, yet it has its own will.
I want to sweeten my wheels.

What sweetens these wheels fattens
or flattens, I’m not sure which,
the spill, as a poem battens
on its own flow, till that spill fills a niche.

In revolutions per minute,
from one to four tread-spins can thin it
and spread it,
that mocha-or-chocolate liquid.
Life rolls cocoa-treaded across our desires.

But gourmet-dipped eighty percent dark Desire
making a mess on the pavement?
Some steer around, some plow through. They forget it.
I’ll keep right on sweetening my tires.

Today’s LittleNip:


When cats disappear, the heavens blaze forth their claws;
no spurs, no talons convene for the deaths of dogs.
Yet don’t cats and dogs alike upon their launch
from sweet ground to plump cloud sense
their sinews relinquish…as if converting their tense
wary habit of bunch then pounce
to deeper sweeter release? Isn’t the haunch
of sundown outlined a bit redder—just an ounce?


Many thanks to Sam the Snake Man for his fine mushroom photos (including the creepy one with our stone lizard below!), and to NorCal poet Tom Goff, whose work appears in the new issue of WTF which premiered at Luna’s Cafe last night. For copies, see editor frank andrick or get a free one at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento before they’re all gone! You can also order them through ($2 for postage and handling). If you’re a contributor, you’re entitled to a free copy; write to me at