Monday, May 16, 2016

Pants, Bax and Weed-Eating

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Stevie Krumtinger
Broke his glasses when
A tree stepped in
Front of his bike
As Stevie was jeering
At his brother.

It was prom night,
And Stevie showed up
Wanting to borrow my
Glasses.  “You won’t
Be needing them.  You’re
Not going to prom.  You
Barely leave your room.”
True on all counts. I
Handed them over.
“Anything else you need?”

Stevie looked in wonder
At my 501 Levi’s.  After
Several owners, years
Of beating, stomping,
Scrubbing, they were
Finally taking on the sheen
And the softness of
Pure denim perfection.

“No!  You don’t wear jeans
To prom.  Now go away.”
He backed out, still
Staring at the 501’s.

I have a light grey pair of elasticized “skinny jeans” from Lee that claim to be a size 16 medium
Inside they have front pocket linings with print that say stuff like
“You are glamorous”, “You are sexy”, “You are stunning” and “You are gorgeous"
They’ll fit depending on whether my waistline is bloated at certain times
but I also admit I'm a “fat” vegan who has got to lose weight 
which results in a somewhat “muffin top” look
even though they cover my bottom's cheeks
I’ve kept them for some time, though the fly can sometimes come suddenly undone
(which has led to some embarrassing times leaving the bathroom)
But as long as these second-hand Lee jeans don’t have worn holes, I guess I will keep them
I might still though swap them off or send them back to the thrift store where they were found

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

Men can buy their jeans' or pants’ measurements right off the retail rack—most likely they'll fit
Women often can’t figure out which size will fit them before they try them on
Now, considering current trends with women's pants or jeans:
before buying them, gals have got to check if their butts are properly covered when bending over
For this reason: regarding those gals who don't check this vital aspect before purchasing their “fashionable” jeans or pants
I’ve even seen women at work who unintentionally “moon” their co-workers
For the hard-fought case for women to wear pants at work,
I don’t want bosses to return to requiring women to wear dresses instead, due to ass coverage…

—Michelle Kunert

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Blame it on the moon—that pale last-quarter
sliver of a ghost in upcountry morning.
A year since you faded among meadow flowers
like the moon. We used to hike here,
your voice so I could hear it. The meadow’s
in bloom again, an earthly rainbow.
A photo of old dog Cody long-gone, lost
in Indian paintbrush, meadow-lush, every shade
of red through pink and purple, yellow,
orange. Sunset photos fade
like moons, like dogs and friends. The air
has lifted again toward morning, orographic
lift, full of scents for dogs to play with.
These living dogs, and dogs once living,
running meadow, talking to the wind.
Do dogs catch scent of heaven?

Long-drifted ashes
change so imperceptibly
to blooming flowers.

Call it fantasy, call it truth. Blame
the traveling moon, both moons – the one
that wanes, the one that waxes out of dark –
the blooming meadow that faded you
and brings you new.


5 WAYS TO 50
—Taylor Graham

Living on that ridgetop is a long way
to anywhere. Five ways, all about the same
in miles and minutes, they all get you
to the Loneliest Road. Choose by whim or
weather. The land’s in charge.
From the all-way stop: brake
twisting down to the North Fork then steep,
winding up past deadman’s curve;
at the corner, more choices: the common
way “improved” for traffic; or—if you don’t
mind another mountain, want to test
your brakes—take the big cut; or maybe
the incense-cedar ravine.
The other option, ease into the North Fork
on a wider road, engineered curves,
bridge less likely to flood. From there, two
more choices: the cool-shady creek-
route—watch for ice on downgrades,
dogwood blooms in spring. Or, cross that
creek on a sudden-switch-
back climb without guardrail. What a view!
From here, the way up-country’s
free and clear for weather and its whims.

—Taylor Graham

Cloudy morning, dull gray satin for the birds.
For the birds
silent in the cedar thickets. For the birds
quiet, hunkered down in shadow.
Gone is jay-squall, song of thrush.
January oaks stand leafless.
Not a breeze to break the hush
for the birds.

Heavy waiting, then comes thunder. For the birds,
for the birds
hunched among their ruffled feathers, for the birds—
so few! Where are winter robins?
Where did they all fly last fall?
Sweet-song creatures don’t abide here.
Quail’s gone with his warning call
for the birds.

Now the storm-clouds break and scatter for the birds.
For the birds—
few, but fluttering the branches. For the birds
catch a sunbeam on their wing-tips,
brief as hope for coming spring.
So I’ll walk out with the west wind
whistling as it means to sing
for the birds.


—Taylor Graham

In a morning breeze, the annual grasses sigh.
Grasses sigh
for the sun’s slow fading of spring. Grasses sigh
as their silver seed-heads ripen,
turn gold, and sharpen their awns.
By June they’ll be brown, flammable.
Waving on unwatered lawns,
grasses sigh.

And from our fields and hillside, the grasses sigh.
Grasses sigh
thigh-deep, resisting our mowing. Grasses sigh
against the spinning line, their fall.
I’ve cleared around the house. Still
I stand in a living prairie
soon to flame the oaks, the hill.
Grasses sigh.

Do they care? Annual grasses die, grasses sigh.
Grasses sigh
for this very morning, for green. Grasses sigh
as they catch the breeze, as they dream
of rain; as to earth they cling
like a lost hope. My neighbors, too –
listen! their weed-eaters sing.
Grasses sigh.

(pre. pub. in Poets’ Forum Magazine)

(Arnold Bax, English composer)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

His themes rise intricately from the Profound,
yet writhe or surge or curl from compact shape:
they look like not much till we hear them sound,
not vast on the page, their profile sunken cape
and low coastline. Unleashing French horn and fife,
he’ll lasso them back—think how arrestor cables
brake carrier planes. Bax, the Swiss army knife:
look, that’s his own kit, crammed full of his musical staples.

Corkscrew melodic gestures, twists and torques,
so many steps up, so many steps back: yet power,
the thrust of the glistening weapon, but furled and cased
till perfectly ready. Unfolded, it pounces, towers.
Something just darted past us. Is it erased?
Re-sprung: and from that same kit—it’s packed with forks!


—Tom Goff

I.             Last Times

We wish we could visit you many more last times.
Whether you rest in ICU or back home,
we want your health to resurge, just the briefest of climbs.
We yearn for your health and talk stuffed with wry gnomes
and jests and stories expressive of all that you
value because appreciably wild, weird, odd.
We want more “home movies” that meld the absurd-yet-true
á la Jacques Tati with a dash of the sitcom god
Seinfeld—your films’ theme, Nothing or Next to Nothing,
a poetics you mastered long prior to the other Jerry.
We’ll keepsake your every last nothing which was and is
We all must ride into the fog that Bay Area ferry:
but of all our family’s evermore journeyers West,
on sundown mist, it’s your silhouette crisply impressed.

II.          In the ICU

We came to visit; it turned out, for the last time.
Not knowing quite what to speak of, besides
our hollow-ringing yet true regrets bedside,
we sought to amuse (just try and feign dying’s a pastime)
with our almost misadventure among sequoias,
thunder looming where strikes can leave these giants
leviathan burnt matchsticks guarding arroyos,
but we could beguile you only so far, then silence…

I wish I’d have said how much you meant for always:
you with your good dog Pat, your mom’s bright roses;
above all things, how immensely Cool you were:
your Mad Magazines, Cracked, suchlike comic proses.
You led me to Marvel Comics, my mind ablur
with atomic-soaked Hulk, his first hue gamma-ray gray…

But gray was your shade now, no gamma rays about.
You had us grasp hands, break silences with skin.
How awfully hard, you allowed, to swallow doubt,
to speak right things. Be awkward now—no sin. 


Our thanks to today’s hearty, beefy stew of local poetry, some of it based on our Seed of the Week: My Favorite Pants. No deadline for SOWs; send me more pants poems (literal or metaphorical—who wears the pants in YOUR house?) at (Today's photos are anonymous and have been taken from here, there and everywhere.)

This week, we have a reading almost every day in our area, beginning with Traci Gourdine at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 7:30pm. Takarra Johnson reads at Queen Sheba Restaurant on Wednesday at 9pm. Then on Thursday at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, the final issue of Rattlesnake Press’s WTF will be released, 8pm. Also on Thursday, Laurie Glover and Linda Lancione read at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, hosted by Andy Jones, 8pm. Speaking of Dr. Andy, he and Kate Asche will be reading at The Other Voice in Davis on Friday at 7:30pm. And Sunday, there will be another release party for Patricia Hickerson’s posthumous poetry collection, Outcry (R.L. Crow Publications, ed. by Cynthia Linville) at Avid Reader at Tower in Sacramento, 2pm. Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box at the right) for details of these and other future readings in our area.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

He sits in a puddle of mud
soaking the butt of his button-fly Levis.
The hose has sprung a leak, he can’t
get the 2-way head off. Can’t remember
where he left his wrench.
The garden’s wilting. You can’t help
him. He’s always been in charge.



Cat demanding equal time with dogs in pants, 
without, of course, having to wear the pants….
(Celebrate poetry this week by attending 
as many readings as you can!)