A FOUNTAIN FLOWS IN FIVE DIRECTIONS
—Robert Lee Haycock
The gardener tells me to call him “You are that You are.”
I know that’s not His real name nor will He tell me mine.
He calls me “Mud” laughingly, charges me to address
Those who fly and swim.
Those who walk on four legs.
Those who crawl upon the ground.
They come when I summon them
And humor me but I can see in their eyes
That I am not in on this joke.
Even she who is of and beside me
Is willing to lie to me.
So what am I to call this winged one
With sword aflame?
(Wing? Sword? Flame?
That can’t be right, can it?)
Damn me but this apple is bitter.
I NEED A PAPER BAG
—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA
The DJ drives my Pinto down a muddy draw and the snows above us are frighteningly beautiful. Churches and bowling alleys unfold themselves but we must go, must have staples for the journey, piles of staples scattered in the carpet that no one will help me gather. There are hundreds of pounds of unetched circuit boards to load and the keys have been hidden in a bowl full of rock candy. My sister wheels the comatose tattooed muscle-bound drag queen past me and when I say hello he opens his eyes.
—Robert Lee Haycock
Your lipstick hints at the color of your panties.
Does the carpet match the drapes?
Ludwig is in the garage again
For a fifth overhaul of finial fins.
I almost called this a roller coaster
But it’s more of a mad rat.
Beat me wif your rivvum stick.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Inherited my father’s
Irish Setter. I think she
Finally accepted the deal.
On the other paw, several
Cats have inherited me.
Some on the porches
Of places I’d just moved
In to: “Not much, but
I think he’ll do.”
Others, somehow born
In the aspidistra pot and
Who refused to go away.
Others, bush dwellers from
Next door who decided
To become house cats
With the first winter rains.
Old Toms, one eye gone,
A limp, but with a late life
Change of attitude: “I’m
No longer a warrior, but
I’ll let you live with me
For a while.
Maybe you’ll come
Still others have inherited
Me, blue eyed kittens,
Lost or left, and some, old,
The vet simply nodding,
“Yes, it would be good
To do it now.” All gone.
I could begin to count,
But it would make
Me sadder that I am
As I write this.
Still, there is a huge
Spotted guy the
Fluffy, who sleeps
In the bushes out front.
And there’s the young
Black shorthair who
Spends nights out back
On the patio. I think they may
Be considering their
Inheritance even now.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
Where cats disappear into dark of night,
your cat’s gone to the laws of fight-or-flight.
You call from the doorway; you yawn and blink
at morning’s empty light. You pause to think
of owl, coyote, tooth and talon; fright
at what terrors go on beyond your sight.
Your cat—so stealthy in his wander-rite,
writing adventure with a tail of ink
where cats disappear—
is gone, himself, now. Hungry. Does he slink
from door to alley, find a rock-wall chink
to hide in? Listen. When the wind’s just right
can you imagine, his nine lives pulled tight
about him, venturing the highway’s brink
where cats disappear?
MARIGOLD LOVES CATFISH
Look sharp at the pushcarts full of fresh-caught
fish. Forget the organic onions, a dolly loaded
with cases of root beer, bad music blaring from
open windows, and somebody selling gilded
weeds. Felines don’t fall for all that devilry.
A lost-cat flyer on our mailbox brought us here.
Marigold, yellow tabby whose place-last-seen
was the outdoor market. How cats do travel
on a whim. We might not care but for the little
girl who loves him.
of Spring, games of Moon
above clouds, rain rattling the roof
and singing to the hills, finding its way
down grooves in soil that become creeks,
moving downstream, under-
ground, blessed water too much to hold
with rust and metal pipes.
We cup our hands
to catch it, squint at sun finding the knife-
cut between clouds and horizon,
through the blinds of our
eyes; feel the blood moving through us,
what the heart knows: our planet
still spinning on course, no
matter what our roofs do with the rain
and whether we can hold it.
Streams of water,
streams of light through seasons
and the phases of Moon.
THE ARRANGING ANGELS
Come, angels of soldering and welding,
of silver-metallic seams and airtight joints
that once were sundered,
angels of wing-nuts and halo LED lights,
of pressure gauge and valves as sweet
as music; and everything
we’ve broken, neglected till it rusted shut,
forgot until it failed us, all this becomes
an angel’s mending song.
Praise John Sutter
Release the rudder
Coast Guard cutter
And last man
Clean the gutter
And make yourself
And too much
Words to utter
And Yankee Doodle
(inspired by “The Poem Cat” by Erica Jong)
He owns and abuses her
Yet she clings to him
Fearing the dark loneliness
Of a planet out of orbit
Day by day this stoic and pathetic man
Relies on his chattel to bring him
All the creature comforts of the universe
He does not take kindly to interruption,
Especially those Garrison Keillor moments
When she pops his bubble to remind
Him of his immediate household duties
Quiet, woman! Can’t you see I’m composing
A complex poem? And no, it will not
Bring us any money. Saved by the telephone,
She’ll talk hours with her sister
Arise from sleep, old cat,
And with great yawns and stretchings…
Amble out for love.
Gung hay fat choy! Today is Chinese New Year (Year of the Red/Fire Monkey), though celebrations have already started and will continue all week. Fun stuff here:
And tomorrow is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday)! Check out these websites for some history of Mardi Gras:
So our Seed of the Week (this week a day early) will be Parades, since both of these traditions have grand parades at the heart of them. Don’t be afraid to think metaphorically, though—both of these events have a kind of in-with-the-old-out-with-the-new quality about them, too. So send your poems, photos and artwork on this (or any other!) subject—including Valentine’s Day, another cavacade, this one to celebrate love—to email@example.com. No deadline on SOWs.
—Medusa, thanking today’s fine contributors for, as Robert Lee Haycock puts it, their “scribabbling and shutterbuggery”. We can never have too much of that!