Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Roses Love the Heat

Mojo Master
—Photos by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

AC FAILURE (with Fan Intervention)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

This airless house a century
deep in heat no gadget stirs,
I conjure archaic rotary
surge from a squarish fan in whirs:

its corners curved, its wiry mesh
defends a bladebloom fit to turn-
screw miniature Titanics; thresh
the grain of Sopwith flights yet spurn

the gravity chaff. Before it I sit
with little else to do but speak
to myself. The odd self-conscious fit
takes hold: a mixture vain and meek,

when have I declaimed as I do now?
I stutter poetry in the teeth
of synthetic breeze. A clipper prow
—carved maiden wooden breasts beneath

the stars, above the spray—might forge
wave-shavings as I barber sound.
On setting 3, the fan’s a gorge
to train my reverb and confound,

a waste ravine churned by sandstorms
that chafe and fray my rope of voice,
make anechoic my throat-song forms,
break keels of words in yards of noise.

And isn’t it noise, white noise that hounds
our music, the flood-surge from stars?
Or tunes whales pipe up from vast sounds,
black depths, to where hulls scrape sandbars?

I’ll never speak out to a working fan
without the frisson that only gods
send downspine—as if one last ban,
lone taboo never lipped, outlawed

nonetheless—it’s that line I’ve crossed.
This fan’s melodic wavelength grace,
now that Aeolian harps are lost,
pulsates around a thin ground bass:

its monotone hypnagogic hum
occludes the near-human voice it vents.
Wind rings down the gate to which I’ve come,
trespasser, sleeve snagged in whirlaway fence. 


—Tom Goff

I want to see Crater Lake again,
see the iris-and-pupil shape
not only cup fine summer rain
but distill day’s gold, red, azure scope
of sky, condense it to its pure form.
I’d witness the scentless blue perfume
—compact as is an earthstored corm—
still echo murmurs of infinite room.
So clear beneath its glazier’s cover,
that tensile massive invert sky
cradles like you: young double lover
my view pools in these twins of eye.
Clean, compact as marble, wet
yet solid on all windless days,
the sapphire lake lies foiled and set,
as rings come crusted, by arrays
of lesser gems, the whitebark pines
whose branches house Clark’s nutcrackers,
those ash-white tiny passerines
wing-chevroned with their ash-black laquers.
Jewel after jewel around its rim,
serenest lake, yet Wizard Island
disrupts the primal silent hymn,
more thrusting splinter than rugged highland:
hear Wizard’s whitebark-inlaid cone
(even mantled with brume or snow),
its upside-down sacred megaphone,
transmit to the magma gods below
shreds and snatches of cloud-song.
If you lean close with your every ear
attuned to the beating fork’s each prong,
you too may hear the vibrating strain
so unmistakably fine and near:
the whole crater shimmers this refrain;
Wizard Island itself revolves
its conical sole chameleon’s eye.
What next? If ever that eye dissolves,
will all this caldera retract and die?
Let me see Crater Lake while death
spares me one lakebed-spacious breath…  

  Glam Bike Rack
—Sacramento, CA

—Tom Goff

I can’t think of you without wanting some little thing more:
more time to spend with you, learn your precise fouette,
your clean low-velocity spin. All subtle vignette,
never tainted or blatant; if barbed, never settling a score.
No brandish or flourish of wisdom; you glided wise,
sang sotto voce. Your assaying, receiving gaze
sifted life-substances right. You never would praise
as we do crude self-semblances: you loved surmise.
Oh settle me inside with your soft dowser’s song
kindling a glistening far below water table.
I’d dive deep as you’ve been if you made me able.
I need your word-contours, plain as they’re fine and strong.
I need your own naturalness, hilly, light gold-green in shape:
your verse eases my windpipe while it feathers my neck-nape.  


—Tom Goff

(After remarks by California Poet Laureate 
Dana Gioia at his poetry reading, 
Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, 6/26/16)

How many more times will we see you,
Dana Gioia, the sage, the refined,
most vigorous of the gentle few
whose lyric hearts wed lithest minds
—here in our Sacramento blue
of collar, replete with popular arts?
You wield the essential humble, true
still lofty style: lightsaber it darts
through solid hearts and limbs yet stays
its stab with its own healing glow.
With fine supernal force you raise
those revenant banners, Bliss or Woe,
to brandish against our trite Despair.
But you are our Laureate now; we must
resign ourselves to see you fare
and fan into all our counties, dust
to redden your eye, impede your drive
in even your swift convertible.
We’d clutch you to us, but you must strive
up California verticals
from Beach Boy coast, up Alpine terrain
to highlander poets. Could tread-fresh tires
help sweeten exertion up that montane?
Goat-foot or four-wheel, speed your desires;
loft poetry news, that Muse of yours,
upward to listeners rarely as yet
confronted with verse so clear it cures
those cravings it sates the while it whets.
Safely may you and poesy roll
on golden wheels to emboldened goals.
Old English: Lightly may you thole!

 Berkeley Marina
Berkeley, CA

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA

“Today there is only one type of train,
and it always includes army, convict, cattle, 

and passenger cars.”
—Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago, 
trans. Max Hayward and Manya Harari

stench of cigarette butts, filth, gasoline
chokes me at the covered bus stop

six lanes, four ways
trucks roar on tractor wheels
racing SUVs, a cherry-red Kawasaki
flies around the corner
helmeted rider faceless
full leather gear
heat waves undulate
like belly dancers before
RT mega-buses that ooze
across intersections like giant slugs
too big to fear anything in their paths

bus pulls up, yawns open
I yank, drag grocery cart up and in
cool darkness envelops me
bow my head


—Ann Wehrman

radiating from roots invisible
our energies intertwine, hearts pump
hips rock, we roll over and over
summer’s sweet sweat gleams
skin flames, eyes glow
love’s oven tempers lust to
spirits’ fire, weaves through heart to heart
necks, earlobes, tongues
taste, smell, sound of your voice
saying my name, again and again

 Sea Shell Inn
—Point Arena, CA

—Ann Wehrman

woke up with a start
mind still in the dream
you were coming to visit
I had waited for you
I somehow lost my purse
with all my money in it
you were here somewhere
but I could not find you
I went by the restaurant
I was not sure if I recognized you
you were sitting with a group of men
eating, shoulder to shoulder
no room for me
I waited, sat in a chair, just outside
afraid I’d miss you
I went into the restaurant
you were not at the table
I somehow had coins in my pocket
but had lost my purse
I had no phone
around me were only strangers
I was frantic
heart bursting out of my chest
I scanned the tables
walked up to the kitchen
you were suddenly there
turned around, taller than I
stooped a bit, your hair in your face
I moved close to your chest, your heart
I was wordlessly sobbing
you wrapped your arms around me
enveloped me, sheltered me


—Ann Wehrman

on the bus I watch a baby girl
cradled on her mother’s knees
lean back without condition or fear
until her own backbone flips her upright
child’s liquid silver eyes unperturbed, serene
her mother’s fingers lace a bit more tightly
against the tiny back

like the child, I lean away
through the long nights of our separation
your spiritual caress enfolds me
your ghostly cheek against mine
your words of love reassure me
float into my mind’s ear

and you, as well, remain alone amidst many
barricade your heart
blame yourself, grow tighter still
I must reach through infinity
to touch you
until I seem to feel your body relax
as you breathe and believe

perhaps each of us, loving,
sometimes allows the beloved to venture too far
lost in the desert, under a hot full moon
striving to do the right thing, to be sure
as the other waits to catch, hold, restore

 Through a Glass Darkly

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

(As I tiptoe into old age
I find myself head over heels
In death notices bearing names
Well known to me)

Death toys with us like a
Well fed housecat does with a mouse
Several close calls, just for fun
A powerful pounce

Then it moves on
To seek greater satisfaction
From other targets
Livelier amusements

It claimed my Alzheimer’s stricken mom
Three years ago
And while we were honoring her memory
It caused a large tree to fall

And take the life of a dear friend of my son
The mark of a most decidedly
Well fed Reaper seeking
Livelier amusements

Recently dearest Ann from our poet family
And today is the funeral of my nephew
Countless close calls
More and more pounces

All to keep the cat amused


Today’s LittleNip:

—Ann Wehrman

spread balm
on my morning
lowered the step
kneeling bus
returned my thanks
tone sweet and low, her
You’ welcome
dipper of water
from well of compassion
liquid song


—Medusa, with thanks to today’s fine chefs for their poetry and pix!

—Photo by Cynthia Linville

Celebrate poetry tonight with a ride up the hill to
Placerville for Poetry Off-the-Shelves poetry read-around
at El Dorado County Library's main branch, 
345 Fair Lane, Placerville, 5-7pm. 
Bring your own poems, or those of a favorite poet; 
or just come to listen. Free; all ages welcome. 
Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box at the right) 
for info about this and other upcoming readings in our area—
and note that other readings may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.