—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA
The heart of Cassiopeia throbs in heaven.
Night returns splendiferous in satin folds.
In the grand hall, a jewel chest opens,
golden tureens fill with verse, poetry begins.
The one with a foreign tongue glances my way,
eyes crafting a conversation, soft lines crinkling
sentences. Late Autumn rain, grief is a black
limb hovering, spirits wandering far from home.
Impossible to relax. Someone has entered my
file, exposed my thoughts on social media.
Really a German beer hall west of Napa
near scattered vineyards and new hotels.
On Sunday evenings,
combo plates are served: red cabbage,
sausage, warm potato salad.
The Ump-Pa-Pa band plays polkas
and folks dance until closing.
Field workers come in,
short, slender, hair slicked back,
wearing dress shirts, levis
and polished boots.
They ask any woman willing,
seem to have a partner for every dance.
Dark eyes straight ahead,
they don’t speak English—
yet experts at keeping time.
An occasional waltz,
then thoughts seem elsewhere,
perhaps another village
south of the border,
white calla lilies at the door
mother and father,
and what might be
served at that evening meal.
BERMS, BUBBLES AND BLUE SNOW
Snow poles go up along the highway;
what little sun holds no warmth,
yet the few Aspen leaves spin Midas gold.
I walk between small cabins, mostly
closed for the winter. A bright note,
a green wooden trout tacked to a small barn.
I tie up the Red Twig dogwood
to protect against heavy berms,
yet scarlet stems will emerge from
all this black and white.
Bear sightings are rare, the smart ones.
A few crows bring their shadows,
mark the year’s shortest days.
I hang the faded flag that says, “Let it Snow.”
Among summer’s dry needles,
we sit for the last time at the picnic table,
pull scarves tight and open
a split of champagne.
The frosty glass and silver bubbles
seem right. Yard rakes are silent,
the pipes wrapped. We rig the antenna
to receive the Winter Olympics from Sochi.
They sat in chairs talking, or gathered
around cheese trays and veggies, or circled
the gallery, stepping back for distance,
perspective, giving fancy its space.
The exhibit: charcoal sketches of flight
on recycled paper. Here be dragons?
Reminded me of freeway blowouts, shards
of retread transformed to feather.
A lady asked me point-blank what I
thought of that one, black winged; looked
like it might fly, or hang upside-down
on the wall till we left it in peace.
I hopped astride, the creature came to life –
slipped under eaves; through sky-
blue mind-space it zip-zagged us between
street and belfry, away.
She leaned against a light post
Only her eyes moved
following the flow of words
across the page, rapt
in their current. A golden-
landed inches from her feet,
snapping her raption.
Then it flew off, flashing
its gold crown
winging the poem
on the page, its flight, its flow.
The girl was a light post
in a morning lit up again new.
WORDS BEING WINGS
The cloakroom has no keyhole to let loose
its secrets rattling wordless as a garnet caught
inside the hubcap, or the refrigerator’s hum
when leftovers are turning
in spite of innovations in coldness; or that
seemingly pointless TV controversy
which nevertheless might become history.
What truths and make-believe persist
in a school-girl’s for-her-eyes-only careful
hand? And how could she have forgotten
her diary in the cloakroom?
MUSHROOM HUNTER’S LOG
Those angel wings I found growing
from a mossy stump—pale, ghostly white
against the dark of misty woods. Angel
wings, a delicacy in Japan. I picked them,
took them home. The wife of course refused
to touch them. I fed a tiny portion to
the cat. Next morning she climbed purring
into my lap. So I tried a bit of angel
wings myself. They were delicious. I had
a little more. All evening, wife watching me
watching the cat. Next morning dawned
misty pale, the cat was dead. Wife
—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA
to not see them
just turn your head
as you walk by
they’re not there
Our thanks to today’s fine contributors!
Note that there will be NO READING at Sac. Poetry Center tonight; the community is encouraged to hear Forrest Gander at 1000 Mariposa Hall, CSUS, 7:30pm. In other poetry events this week, next Saturday, the Crossroads Reading Series will present four area Poets Laureate, past and present: Andy Jones, Allegra Silberstein, Viola Weinberg, and Indigo Moor, at Poet Laureate Park on Truxel Rd. in Sacramento, 2-4pm. Also on Saturday at 2pm, Jennifer O’Neill Pickering will discuss her process of publishing an Indie book at Avid Reader at Tower on Broadway in Sacramento. And there’s always Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento on Thursdays, 8pm. 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.
This just in: This Friday, 6:30pm, The Good Earth Movement Cooperative in Placerville will host Sacramento poet Shawn Pittard, 250 Main St., Placerville.
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