PRAISE TO ALL
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA
who feed geese
for winter migrations;
pass Peace Pipes;
hungry kids saving pennies
for other hungry kids.
Praise to all who surrender
to amazing grace.
—Claire J. Baker
Despite a chaotic world
we bake brownies,
make tenderness and love,
sing, dance, paint,
fashion poetry, pottery
and promises. We rock
with music and rock babies;
change diapers, outfits
and change our minds.
Wild horses we rescue
are adopted. We donate
blood and $$, feed
and clothe the poor.
We sponge crude oil
cleansed birds rise
I was upset at Capital Christian Center for holding a “petting zoo” at Singing Christmas Tree
There were alpacas, donkeys, sheep, goats, and a miniature pig agitated in a pen for this
No one in their right mind of course would do this to dogs because they’d get dangerously agitated
I told the ignorant humans, “Hey, how would you like to get poked and prodded at by strangers like that, huh?”
Also explained that these supposedly gentle animals can become dangerous and bite or kick children
(Those animals at any minute looked like they might just decide to break free and the people might have to chase them into a street with busy car traffic)
Of course they looked at me like I’m nuts—like I’m some “extremist”
I said “I can’t believe this is the 21st century and I still have to explain that animals are not mere things to “perform” at your pleasure…”
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
(Milan, Italy, c. 1505)
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA
All three of them, old Anne, the Child, the Virgin,
nest inside outlines pounced through this cartoon.
They’re hatched, these nestlings, in a welter of versions,
reshapings, reposes. Think of the cartouche
a pharaoh must disfigure to eclipse
a forerunner’s ruling signs, those double crowns,
all sanded to shadows, reincised with glyphs
that blare the new monarch. Fragile crackling brown
palimpsest our painter blurs and scars at once.
He urges his Family Unit by ostinato
Again, but make this Triangle. Near fainting,
they oblige, angels that they are; he blunts,
he deepens. Pentimenti, smoked sfumato.
Can their dark bodies survive in the consummate painting?
(recording from 1963, Vladimir Ashkenazy)
Under his supple hands—young Ashkenazy—
Rach’s best D minor plainsong, Volga-boat-
evoking, sings out: above the vulgar afloat…
Briskly subtle, applying each lightsome pause he
intermingles with rain-kissed rippling pedal
and yes of course the twin-handed rise from calm
to climax, aches where fingers root in the palm,
he arrays his most non-metallic, un-showy fettle.
My long-ago pianist almost-love,
young Amerasian of the celesta voice,
I remember you well the day you came to rejoice:
when Ashkenazy, still young—his suit seemed to you shoved
in a suitcase (no tuxedo), washboard-warped—
played Chopin angelically: if anyone carped,
ear-circuits misfired: what should route chords that glistened
to the brain read the wrinkles, bypassed the part that listened…
I AM A CAMERA
Oh!! What did I just see?
A car suddenly changed lanes
Hit another car
And kept going down the freeway
Hit and run
The car that got hit
Pulled over to the right
And so did I to help, and
To jot down notes
About the other car
What kind of car?
Make, model, year,
When I had lessons to learn
And time for rote repetition
I tested pretty well
But in this scenario
My mind just went blank
I was like an old generation scanner
Hooked up to Windows 95
That would display a tiny bit
Then stop and freeze
Several minutes later
Only a fraction of the image
Did I even see the license plate?
I often convert license letters
To silly acronyms
When in slow traffic
But not at freeway speeds
“Thanks for stopping.”
Sure, glad I could help.
They marked their route with
flagging tape, the kind surveyors use.
It was Pink Fluorescent-Glo,
a vibrant rock-rose pink
they tied to underbrush and over-
as they made their way
through the dark of November oaks,
daylight dimming, a mist
rising ghost-glow from the canyon.
And when they found
the missing, one man carried her
back in his arms
as the other collected
the bright pink streamers. Pink
ribbons he wreathed on
his hat, pink ends waving
as they walked the
You showed me the heart
of the wild plum tree. I’ve seen her
in November, dancing in her citron-yellow
kimono, dancing and yet hardly
moving, autumn breeze stirring her leaf-
robes. Blood-red her heartwood,
red as cedar, redder than black willow.
Does she dream of her pucker-sweet fruit
in June, those crimson-purple globes
that release from her fingertips
to drop in my hand? Enough for birds,
enough for me. They’re gone. At last she
lets fall her robes. Her fruit was not
too sweet. Her heart was grained with mellow.
Mysterious as December thistle, it waits—
the artichoke that in spring bore small, tough
fruits, then detoured around the solstice.
By June I declared it was done. Through long
summer swelter, it sheltered in place.
In late September the whole garden began
its decline, but I let the hose run a trickle
for what remained: hide-bound zucchini and
tomatoes split at the stem. Under cover
of old fronds brittling, the artichoke began
its preparations: new stalks rising for
next year. And the old revived. As if thanks-
giving, it crowned November with
three final artichokes, small but deliciously
tender. As if the fruit
of well-aging, of saving the best for last.
Overnight they’ve come, interlopers
pale as moonshine
out of the canopied forest floor.
They push up from all the years’ leaf rot,
so many heads
crowning—look, kingdoms, globes unfurling.
If they have voices, I can’t hear them.
What do mushrooms
sing to the woods’ dying that bore them?
I look for the mouths of pale gilled fishes
They seem to live on nothing at all.
Walking the woods after rain, I find
their slouch-caps cupped
to hold the full blessing of water.
LOOK UP, YOU SAID,
that constellation looks like a skeleton.
I thought of the burning rites
for the dead, ash rising. Star-gazing
nights of myth and music, a tribe passing
its history down by voice
and elderberry flute, deer-hoof rattles
and the hunting bow plucked for its song.
The buck I watched once
moving slowly up the green swale
is grazing among the stars.
The snow grows deeper.
A fitful sleeper
pulls up the covers and the quilt—
a sleeper with his roof and walls,
who dreams below the oaks that tilt
and shudder, downcast
under snow but steadfast
against chill winter as he sleeps.
Oh what’s that voice that cries and calls
from some near distance, ghostlit deeps?
Go back to dreaming
of starlight gleaming.
Our thanks to this fine herd of poets today, and to Taylor Graham for her lovely seasonal fotos!
Area poetry begins tonight with writer/artist Stan Padilla and open mic at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm. Then on Weds., it’s Poetry off-the-Shelves, a poetry read-around at the El Dorado County Library in Placerville, 5-7pm. Thursday is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sac., 8pm, this week featuring The Hosts (Sho Nuff Marques Davison, Jenny Davison, Geoffrey Neill, Lawrence Dinkins Jr.), or Poetry in Davis, featuring readers from the Sacramento Voices anthology (ed. by Dave Boles and Phil Larrea), also at 8pm. Plus open mic. And scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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