Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Selling Snake Oil

 Cliff House, San Francisco
—Poems by David Wright, Sacramento, CA
—Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento


It was so sad; these elderly grandparents had driven up to
       San Quentin
From Lynwood to see their grandson, Ricky.
Ricky was not doing well.
Ricky had tried to hang himself but a guard saw it in time and cut him down.
A week earlier, he sliced his wrist.
So Ricky was in a striped down cell, on Suicide Watch.

Naked bare mattress on the floor.

Every fifteen minutes a guard verified he was alive and checked a box on a form.

Grandparents did not visit for long.
Three sets of teary eyes.
Then four.
All our lives gone horribly wrong.
I walked them silently out the gate and
watched them head home.

 Cliff House, San Francisco


Cloister rules confined us to our rooms or the
Little quad area, where I'd sit at the table and
See our flag blow in the breeze.
The trees would bloom with tiny pink petals,
Sinister to a lonely boy away from home.
I'd roam out at night, climbing out a window and
Crawling under a hole in the fence.
I'd wince at some of what I saw in that old
"Blue Movies" movie house, the floors sticky.
The whores I hired practiced the art of giving
Just what I paid for, not a sigh more.
The sky would open up and cry down on me and
I'd climb back through the window, lay in my bed in shame.
Yet, in being half-sated I'd sleep half-well.

 Berkeley Bone Room


They brought him out of Carson Section,
Cuffed, wearing only his boxers, bloody rivulets,
Dozens of them, front and back,
Bird-shot from shotguns
The way we broke up fights in the '80's.

This man had just stabbed another con to death.
The gun rail guards had fired a little too late, but they really
Lit him up.
Here he is cuffed, bleeding, surrounded by fifty guards, but still his head's high, he's
Walking calmly and coolly, guards escort him to SQ's hospital.
He's walking like he's in charge, and I half expect the warden to
Ask his permission to pee.

The machismo stance, as a way of life, is a miserable failure.
Still, if you could have seen that man...


The answer seemed to float just out of my reach.
Here's me, and over there is the answer, and between them is a
Smoke-filled Ford Falcon, my father chain-smoking through the
Desert to Arizona, just six years old.

Between them is a little boy in the "Slow Class" until fifth grade when
They discover his dyslexia, so he catches up "on paper" but never really catches up at all.

Between them is a teen-aged runaway, getting a job on a fishing boat out of
Point Loma, loving it, being a natural as a deck hand, except he gets

Between them is an 18-year-old man-child on a park bench across from the High School,
Prom night, he watches the others laughing, and oh so happy.

Between them are many years driving a taxi, and he knows all the sports scores, and he
Knows where to take them to score, but he must hide his Robert Frost and Dylan Thomas in the glove compartment.

Between them is the night he gets a call that his wife was robbed at work, and
Finds her in the ER, hair soaked blood red, some bastard with a tire iron, and he
Gets his shotgun and goes to the scene and looks and looks...

Between them are popular TV doctor's selling snake oil an silicone as
Poor people suffer and die for lack of medical care.


Our thanks to David Wright for today’s fine poetry! David's first published poetry appeared in The Literary Humanist,  a literary magazine out of Sac City College in 1975.  Over the years his poems have been published in numerous small presses.  For the past ten years his poems have regularly been published in Coal City Review. He makes his stand in a quiet Sacramento suburb with his wife and four cats.

Many congratulations to Taylor Graham for having been proclaimed El Dorado County's first-ever Poet Laureate! See Medusa's Facebook page for pix by Katy Brown.

Our new Seed of the Week (sorry to be a day late) is Dark Moments. Send poems, photos and artwork about this—or any other—subject to No deadline on SOWs.


Today's LittleNip:


—David Wright

On some hot July day in our prime
We spent the whole day on that little pier at
Hog's Slough
Catching sunfish
Munching snacks and
Making love on a blanket under a
Wincing sun.
Well, my love, I would have died happy that day.



 April is National Poetry Month!