—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento, CA
Sitting on a porch between two flags
I watch a man ride by on a bike,
a box of magic tied to his back.
Should I stop him and ask about it,
Dad? Should I ask God how you are
getting along in heaven without
a bicycle? Without me?
Last night I forgot how it was—
the shape of your face, the slant
of your nose, the way you would
laugh in the back of your throat—
these days of forgetting more frequent.
You laughed as you agreed that my
observation of rug makers, or
scrub jays, or magic trick artists was
from a different perspective than yours,
one you had not thought of before.
But now, I cannot recall what your
perspective was, as I balance grief
and insanity in my old age.
I’ve forgotten so much since your
absence, so much of what we shared
our many years. But one thing I do
recall, as I was only eight. You said
that you believed in a parallel
universe and asked if I could believe
it. The sun was warm on my shoulders
as we stood in our small dirt yard.
—Carol Louise Mandala
On a well-lit desk I lay out tools: graphite
and colored pencils, various quills and ink.
I love the smell of my colored pencil
set, certainly not the smell of graphite—
and let’s not go there with the ink.
I make sure I have a sharpener for pencils.
On a wedge of paper, #2 graphite
is used with pad beneath my fist so graphite
doesn’t smear. I sketch a dying cat—ink
black on a side table, next to a cup of pencils.
Her back is turned, graphite
colored eyes closed, her life drains as ink
into a blotter, her days penciled
in the month remaining. This graphite
and colored pencil drawing, highlighted in ink,
will be a six-paned mandala: my gift, a pencil-
perfect way to say this cat, named Graffiti,
is entered in Life’s book in ink.
(prev. pub. in Time of Singing Journal)
—Carol Louise Moon
What do I see in the light
of these candles you have always seen?
The rocking chair, the crib, the broom,
pots and kettle on the old black stove.
Our life is here in this cabin; our joy
fulfilled in this room.
What do I smell in the cool night air
that I’ve never smelled before?
You lie with long hair dripping sweat,
breasts full of milk, sheets in disarray.
You are a new creature whose eyes
hold firm, whose limbs relax.
I am only here for a while
and you have shut the door.
What do I hear that I have not
heard before? The wind
has carried the birds away;
only silence remains in the pines.
He is strong—the babe—his cries
in the morning. What dream? What pang?
I endured a winter once before
and have heard the cry of a rabbit.
(prev. pub. in Poetry Now)
TRACK AND FIELD AND SWEATS
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
In spring, in high school,
Back in Kewanee, Illinois
You went out for track,
Three, maybe four times.
When the ice broke on
Rock River, when Spoon
River melted, and the
Stadium track showed brown,
You’d go to the coach,
Say “I think I could
Throw the shot.”
He’d look dubious, of course,
Coaches are trained in that.
“You think?” “Yeah, I’ve
Always wanted to toss one,”
You’d say with as little
Irony as you could.
Coach would hand you
A set of sweats—all cotton,
Heavy. Grey and orange—
Pretty cool back then.
If you were lucky, a pair
Of early Adidas. Less lucky,
Or if you somehow showed
Talent, a 12-pound shot put.
They’d come looking for that.
You’d promise to train, they’d
Call when it all began
Officially. Winter would come
Back, and all would be forgotten.
Until picture day. You’d show
Up at the equipment window:
“I do field events; I’ll need
Some sweats for the group
Photo. A manager—actually
Some hapless kid caught, and
Working off detentions,
Would hand you a set of sweats:
All cotton, heavy. Grey and
Back then. You didn’t
Go for the Adidas, just argue
For the right fit. Picture day
Was always poorly attended;
No one knew why. No matter.
Winter was about to come
Back, with an Easter weekend
Vengeance. You’d look
At your sweats, your Adidas,
Your somehow rusting
Shot put, and smile.
Early, probably far too early
In track season, Kewanee
Hosted the Brockman Relays,
Named after the late, beloved
Long-time Athletic director,
Helmut Brockman. Who never
Wore one. There’s a caution
There. You’d dash to the
Fieldhouse. Every respectable school
Has one; it’s where legends
Are made, remembered.
“It’s last call for the discus!
I overslept! Quick! I need
A set of sweats! Now!” Rattled
Out of a Saturday drowse, the
Kid working off detentions
In the fieldhouse (Something
Major, something bad,
To be assigned to the fieldhouse
On a Saturday morning. You
Didn’t ask, just gathered
And ran). I confess: I never
Did well in field events.
My discus went about as far
As most folks’ shot put. And
As for shot put, well, if
You can retrieve your throw
In one long step, there are
Probably no scouts out
There taking notes.
I kind of miss it all, though,
The bright spring air, the
Midwestern blue sky, its
Two or three false springs,
And the sweats, all cotton,
Heavy, grey and orange.
Pretty cool, even now.
REORDERING CAVALIER REALITY
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
Kings should be
higher faster beautifully silver, a moon
not in hiding
from the ones in power
now, who would dance on his
head, cut it off,
I could feel the tides rushing
so I gave him homespun
filthy from swilling & slopping
the hogs with garbage,
stuff that’s real
so he could feel the fit of common folk.
I stuffed his grace
under my humble floorboards,
so at last he might rise
to cheering of night’s minions,
mount the sky, hie
himself faster higher on a borrowed horse,
safe away beyond the border
They’ll kill me if they find him.
We sold them the old house—the one
we built by hand among forest. I couldn’t
pull the door shut, hollow space
empty and cold as an autopsy room.
He walked in with music under his arm,
she with tomato-starts and pots of paint
yellow gold blue to slap spring all over
dingy white walls. Was she already growing
a baby? End of winter, leafless oaks, months
till lupine would burst knee-high purple
all over the clearing. They’d shovel snow,
buck up dead-fall, split it for the stove.
*** In a little theater, high school kids
recite poetry; the stage set for a domestic
piece, an empty room. At the edge,
a guitarist playing interludes is the man
who bought our house, filling this
house with music. Never shut the door.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
A resident walks around
our senior complex
I ask: "Where did
your baby come from?"
She: "I ordered her."
Next day I show her
four months older,
also a real-looking/
feeling baby I found
face-down in a cemetery
wire trash can
while walking my sheltie.
—Claire J. Baker
We parked near a man
shuffling his truck load
back of an old drive-in—
with heavy accent,
a small black and white
mongrel roped to tailgate,
a cute mutt, alert to the
man's frequent call: "Oreo!"
The man shifts more stuff,
then, smiling, pulls away
into the sky, Oreo tucked
under his left arm
beside steering wheel.
LOOK, A RAINBOW:
—Claire J. Baker
A tasty buffet of poetry and photography we have this morning, and many thanks to our contributors for that! This is one of those weeks when we have plenty to do in our area, rain or no rain, starting with tonight’s Sac. Poetry Center celebration of Women’s History Month, then Poetry-Off-the-Shelves in Placerville on Weds.; Terry Moore and Friends in Old Sac and Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sac. on Thursday; Las Lunas Locas from LA at SPC on Friday; and, if you’re of a mind to ride down to Crockett, Allegra Silberstein and John Rowe at Valona Deli on Sunday. Plus whatever poetry events pop up during the week. Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box) at the right of this for details, and enjoy!