—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA
Sculpture by Jean Marais, Le Passe-Muraille,
a tribute to Parisian writer Marcel Aymé
It’s October in Paris,
I skip the grander museums,
and make the trek up Montmartre
to the ram shackled warren
where Picasso and Modigliani
painted early works, and writers
tested new verses in open air.
I imagine conversation, the smell
of linseed, the clatter of cooking pots.
In the small square, pale stones
glimmer, polished by worn soles.
The platform gone—a single tree
remains. The only audience—
birds lofting on wet rooftops.
Off to one side, a metal sculpture—
a writer partially thrusting
from a wall, one leg, one hand,
one shoulder protruding.
With a jutting nose he seems
to wave farewell, the torso
still trapped in mortar, hesitant.
It’s a tenuous passage,
like any leaving. I had questions,
but his eyes focus on Paris
and the red windmills. I notice
his one loafer is rubbed
to a high gloss by others touching
trying to pull him through.
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
I tried to compose a beautiful poem about how
The strength of our undying respect for older things like
Creation, Old Glory, Antiques, Good Ol’ Days,
Respect your elders, and even whiskey and cheese
Was great enough to overcome the disputes
Arising from sex or gender differences
And ultimately my half-assed poem personified
A little boy atop a tiny stepstool trying to peer over
The tall wall of sexism, which conspicuously
Bore the unrelenting reminder that
It is grown women who will slap you silly
If you praise their age
The mighty oak was our home
Our family’s home
For as long as we could remember
Solid, tall, lush
Until the storm
Thunder and lightning
Bolt after bolt
Fake lightning, too
Gutted the trunk
But left the leaves and fruit
Fresh as a new billboard ad
To help us find our savior
A true chance of a lifetime
Just give them your savings
As a down payment
We tried to warn the others
But they were tuned out
Like karaoke motorists
Singing “Pedal to the Metal” while
Racing to cross a newly broken bridge
Smugly disregarding squirrel chatter
—Katherine Breger, Davis, CA
We live in a melting pot
and I’m wondering why
you would want to stay pure?
Beautiful a rainbow, all different colors
beautiful a stew, melting together.
Flavors complementing one another
diverse sizes, feels, tastes
together all combined we are a
force to be reckoned with.
Strip us down to be alone
we are tasteless, we are bland
bringing less to the table.
When we combine
we are one
I am one
and we are all together.
Dark in the night
we crept to the green course and white labyrinth
which lit the path to sexual disasters. It was a dare.
no one thought we would have the audacity
to strip and run across the green sea. Your full moon
lit the way as I treaded behind. Looking back, you stared
as my breasts bounced falling in line with the moon.
They were moons of my youthful body. Guiding the hands
of male peers, while they tried to arouse me. But I’ve never
loved by touch. It is a mind game; you captured my mind and
threw a lasso around my lighthouse capturing
my light so you could abuse it.
MUSICIAN IN RED
Sitting on the gray weather
rocking chair splinters enter
my back as it
creaks back and fourth
keeping the beat
Sun fading, nearly down,
but that don’t stop
the heat from rising, as
sweat meanders down my forehead
to my chest and underneath
my white stained linen shirt.
The moist air brushes
out the smell from inside
the kitchen, Grandma’s gumbo.
Silky smooth the red juices will
stream side to side in
my mouth, streaming through
the walls of my cheeks.
My mouth salivates waiting
to be called in.
Grandpa’s timeworn banjo
sits comfortably and warm
upon my lap as callouses
begin to form again on
the tired tips of my fingers
I think of this past
cold, dry, winter.
They say every girl desires for her wedding day—
that she is a “princess” for that moment in time
showing off the dress she bought for the occasion
awaiting the gifts from the guests
The minster preaches the Bible, says the bride joins "one in body” with the groom—
And then, thanks to this “patriarchy” my family believes in,
in the ceremony when the woman says “I do”
she is as if chained to her husband's foot rather than becoming his equal partner
I was pressured to become this wife
I want a man who is mine as much as I belongs to him
I don’t want to become one of those bitter “divorcees”—
I shouldn’t have gotten this far with a man I don’t even know—
it’s best not to go through with a marriage in the first place
The man I thought would be mine lied about everything
I left church and ran to a park bench outside.
We sat apart like the estranged at a funeral
I’ve decided "unconditional love” for this man is up to God instead of me
I told him “Jesus loves you, I don’t.”
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA
President Trump is building a “wall” to keep out Mexicans as if they are all illegal criminals
So many indeed want to build a “bridge” instead to our neighboring countries—
Trump, you know, is designing it after Israel’s walls to keep out Palestinians the Jews hate because of religion
Though America is supposedly a Christian country—
Whatever happened to practicing “love thy neighbor as thyself?"
However, many Mexicans are right now trying to literally “walk though walls” to live their American dream
America was built on immigrants—
For certain nations, America puts out the welcome mat and invites them in
But for its poor Southern neighbors whom it works in its agricultural fields,
America puts up barriers to their desires to rise up from low-wage labor
The U.S did not begin in order to keep out Mexicans from also wanting to succeed
or else it would have been written into our Declaration of Independence and Constitution
Why should certain immigrants still have to attempt to move through so many barriers both physical and mental
even in the 21st century?
The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does.
Our thanks today to these fine, diverse voices with their lively opinions! Jeanine Stevens brings us an ekphrastic poem on our Seed of the Week, Walking Through Walls. "Le Passe-Muraille" is the title of a story by Marcel Aymé about a man named Dutilleul who discovers that he can (you guessed it) walk through walls. The sculpture, Le Pass-Muraille by Jean Marais, is situated in a place named after Marcel Aymé in beautiful Montmartre, which Jeanine has been lucky enough to visit. (For more about Marcel Aymé, see www.britannica.com/biography/Marcel-Ayme/.)
And Katherine Breger from Davis visits us for the first time today—welcome to the Kitchen, Katherine, and don’t be a stranger!
Allen Pieroni has an article in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee about Sacramento Poet Laureate Indigo Moor; check it out at www.sacbee.com/entertainment/books/article141860084.html/.
This week’s area poetry begins tonight with Emmanuel Sigauke reading at Sac. Poetry Center, plus open mic, 7:30pm. Then head up to Placerville on Wednesday for Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around at the El Dorado County Library, 345 Fair Lane, 5-7pm.
Sac. Poetry Center will be supporting River City Food Bank this month, so please bring cans of food to SPC events.
On Thursday, Luna’s Cafe presents Poetry Unplugged, featuring weekly readers and open mic at 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8pm, or you could drive over to Winters for their weekly open mic, Winters Out Loud, 15 Main St., Winters, 7-8:30pm. This open mic is hosted by Deborah Shaw Hickerson; some of you may remember her mother-in-law, our pal who passed, Pat Hickerson.
Saturday will be a busy day, as Diva Market First Anniversary Celebration features poetry by Straight Out Scribes at 2pm, plus musicians and more from 11am-6pm at Carol’s Books, 1913 Del Paso Blvd., Sac. That same day at 4:30pm, Sacramento Voices will feature Joyce Odam, Robin Odam and Norma Kohout at Sac. Poetry Center, and Placerville will host Poetic License read-around from 2-4pm at the Placerville Sr. Center, followed by an open mic at The Wine Smith, 346 Main St. in Placerville, 4-6pm. Wow! Lots to do on Saturday, which is only fitting, given that April is Poetry Month.
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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