—Ann Privateer, Davis, CA
accept or reject
a sweet pandemonium
an eating war miasma
so sweet, so crunchy
we unmask beauty
delight up to our elbows
and if it's yes then
how much and how high
can we fly over mountains
kill all of our prey
then make another
on another day
left to dig in the garden
until next season
catch a river in our claw
to confess it all
one seed at a time.
OUT OF THE BUBBLE
—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
You might think we each live in a bubble
of our own thoughts.
I was just remembering your old felt Stetson
that I borrowed for Gold Rush Days—
when you broke
in. What was your favorite hat doing
on the bathroom floor with teeth marks—
that blasted puppy Trek!
So permeable our bubbles,
I guess Trek ran away with the thoughts
I kept inside mine. My
thoughts let loose on thin air
for anyone to snatch—like an old felt hat—
SHOW AND TELL
“It’s all I have to bring today,” but he held his
jacket close about him. Some whopping
story full of nothing—the kid who never was
quite with it, bubble-head—hey’d say.
He wouldn’t hang his jacket in the cloakroom,
kept it under cover till his turn to share.
“Safer this way.” Then slowly
he pulled it out. A feather, nothing more.
Long striped feather—
an ordinary wild turkey feather.
But when he held it up against the light,
how it flamed bronze and golden
glittering as ore all barred with sable. Who’d
ever seen such a magic thing before?
BOTH SIDES OF QUARTZ HILL
There, miners dug into the mountain
through the dark for color.
No guarantees. Some found gold,
on a hill above the old hospital
where I find graves
of the indigent who died
in the pest-house—marked not
with names but numbers on iron spokes
rusty as a dead season.
That morning I came to see
the museum with its historic mine.
It was closed. The museum,
not the mountain, which put on
shooting stars for spring,
every oak-branch tipped with soft
green-gold. The creek ran
bubbling between grassy banks
at the sun-gold it mirrored, rippled,
and carried away.
All night it stormed. We woke
to a windfall of clouds moving out and away
across the ridge leaving mist in a swale
that caught sun rising.
My iPad worked the magic
of its lens which gives me less and more
of what I thought I saw, transforming it quicker
than the slant of sun on clouds still moving.
We were so far above
the river carrying yesterday away,
I unclipped my dog who’s taught to work
on-lead. What a day to range free!
“Track him!” But Trek
knew better ways to work the magic
of your scent on air that’s always ferreting out
nooks of landscape as it goes.
Everyone’s sky is different.
My dog dashed, head high, over field and
around a fall-down barn, quicker than I could
find a foothold on the windfall ridge.
FREEWAY MORNING PANTOMIME
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
Pleasantly heavy with pre-Thanksgiving dinner
you made last night, a kind of spell against
all holiday disharmony from sinners,
I drive to work in full daylight, not tensed
but, for a rare reprieve, at ease with life.
Into my speeding Highway 50 view,
a graceful curve, pedestrian overpass,
and on the walkway, waving from some strife,
a suicide-to-be? Thank God for enclosure,
high chain-link fence, rolled over high atop.
I muse what harvest comes of this to crop.
What attire adorns our freeway cynosure?
An orange-is-the-new-black tee shirt, verse
bold-lettered big across the front, a New
Testament something. Yes, John 3:16.
All right, he’s okay, wielding a cheery wave
serene he’s finding commuters ripe to save.
I think of Samuel Johnson, who’d as lief
pray in the asylum with Kit Smart as with anyone,
Smart whose poems could make cat-manic fun
and then again, I suppose, decline toward grief…
But now, good morning! With this man, may I rejoice?
He pantomimes glee, with traffic-muted voice.
POST NO COMMUNIQUÉS
Our college walls were designed for our displays;
the spongy surfaces for when thumbtacks
pin paper butterflies, bred monarch-thick
as wintry Santa Cruz orange-winged arrays,
to countenance and speed communiqués:
something least Internet, close by bike racks,
for tearoff phone numbers to browse and pick,
one more way we the furtive say our says.
Bureaucrats out of love with the messy true,
you pounce each time these fluty mirlitons
may propagate, rip down these bulletins
in favor of sterile aesthetics recognized
nowhere else here. True, clutter mars a view,
like Frank Lloyd Wright panes flyers victimize…
But before you strip away our freedom windrows,
gaze on the souls, the needs inscribed; what windows…
READING “WHAT IS THINKING?” by Riccardo Manzotti and Tim Parks
Inside, but what is an inside, here in this room,
my colleagues are helping with papers, that is, listening;
they suggest, but what is suggesting? Outside, glistening,
pink-tinged puffs—they plump, or do they loom—
suggest in the sky. We prompt so fiercely here,
yet break off, watching shapes, the unprompted Near;
that silence, I handle, fondle, re-revolve
and will till my moment, the last of my lengthy dissolve.
Easy to say the summer is for hearts
made manic, drugged with sensuous-endless days;
that obtuse angle feeds a hog of pies,
thins dark down to a last sliver, warms the arts,
and every outdoor animal that darts
to steep with bassarids in glowing rays
bounds, dawn to noon and back, as do our thighs
and minds, convulsing with delights and starts.
Soon, slow fist-shut; the silent iris-out
of sun brings the extinguisher, December.
But I refuse this bondage to some ember.
I serve my muse through hip-deep winter doubt,
track her star-traces into sinister mists that veil lights:
lost cars down pitch-black roads pin hopes to red taillights.
Our thanks to today’s fine contributors! Poetry festivities in our area start tonight at 6pm with Poetry in Motion in Placerville at the Placerville Sr. Center, followed by the weekly Sac. Poetry Center reading, this one with Geoffrey G. O’Brien, Alli Warren, Brandon Brown plus open mic. Speaking of SPC, Weds. is the annual fundraiser at the home of Mimi and Burnett Miller, 6-8pm, with food and drink and music by Golden State Brass, poetry by Susan Kelly-DeWitt. Gen. admission is $35, or $30 for SPC members. This fundraiser is a long-standing tradition of the holiday season, and as always, our community is grateful to the Millers for opening their beautiful home to us.
On Thursday, Poetry in Davis presents Joshua Clover at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, 8pm. Then on Saturday, if you're down SF way, stop in at Alley Cat Books to hear translators William O'Daly, Arturo Mantecon and musician Arturo Balderrama. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
My task, which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.
― Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim
spend all our money!
(Celebrate how little it costs you to write a poem!)
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