ON AGENT ORANGE
—Michael H. Brownstein, Townsville,
N. Queensland, Australia
Once I listened to a poet
(but I cannot remember her name
or the title of her poem)
who wrote lines about Cincinnati
using the Yellow Pages,
the names of corporations,
factories, the outpouring of chemical
into the early evening sky.
As I listened, I saw the sky
she saw, the setting sun,
the slow motion vibration of light
through pollution, the setting sun
caught in prisms, the end of day
wonderful with color, a drizzle
of compounds, everything
rainbowlithic. Years later a river
in that town caught fire.
So I ask you, Monsanto,
Dow Chemical, Uniroyal, can you
hear the beauty in that poem, too?
Did you see the splatter of spray
over American soldiers,
Vietnamese, the now extinct forest
wildlife and trees a display
of beauty? Did you not know
what it would cover, its effects
on people and life, the evolution
of humans to almost humans?
Did you not think the fish would change
and the water buffalo and the small peeper?
How could you not comprehend
the spread of poison down the Saigon River
into the oceans, the threads of life,
spreading its wealth into all of us?
The poet read a poem about dusk
in Cincinnati and I a poem
somewhat different, but still laden
with chemical and its rainbow of defects
that refuse to go away, but continue
until even rice might hold fire in its seed
burning its way slowly into all of us.
1942, RUDOLF REDER RECOUNTS HIS
ARRIVAL TO THE BELZEC DEATH CAMP
—Michael H. Brownstein
Dandruff mottled sky
Cold sweat of late winter
A fencing of dogs and sharp teeth:
How silly! We paid to ride the train,
Departed at Belzec, and knew immediately
“We were struck by the terrible truth.
Women naked and shaved, rounded
Up with whips like cattle.
Two hours was the time it took
To prepare for murder and murder itself.”
How did Rudolph Reder survive this?
How was he able to write down these words?
We paid to ride to our deaths.
This was Business. Nothing personal.
Just following orders.
The sky was not dandruff mottled.
Warm air permeated later winter.
He did not remember a barking of dogs.
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
A black president
Had never been elected before
So how do you top that?
We held a convention
And tossed out convention
In favor of a new scenario
That brought in
With no political background
It baffles the pundits and commentators
Like having a table perfectly set
But missing name tags
One by one they struggle
For that ideal household word
That will define this unique anomaly
But it doesn’t exist yet
So they hold up the mike
To stream questions
But no answers
No time-tested expressions
ONE DAY A YEAR
The newborn year is given a diaper
Strange and different will make us hyper
Chocolate candies flood the stores
Puppy love is esprit de corps
Everyone must wear something green
Or face pinching that is downright mean
Remarks abound to sound like candid
As if everyone is born left handed
Each adult female is titled mother
Don’t complain, there is no other
Summer vacations are the dream
Though that river may now be a stream
A costly war has set us free
If not for you, there’s more for me
A harvest of babies, meteors, and crops
Better have spares if you wear flip flops
Haven’t yet found your labor of love?
Keep on looking and take off the glove
Three little ships under very strict rule
Headed up by a fellow that was not such a jewel
Giant gatherings of family and food
Some will smile, some will brood
Joyous praise to God, one holy day
Red and green displace all shades of gray
Beyond the sliding glass door
Lies a cement, covered patio
Covered with “things”
Covered with tarps
And the typical folding chair
Upon which I sit and stare
At a lizard
Who performs little pushups
To prove its dominance
This is its home
When it moves it is always top speed
No lights or sirens
Quickly out of sight
It parks itself sometimes under a cover
Sometimes out in the open sunlight
Sometimes somewhere on a raised bed
Watching human activity
We are the floor show
Serving to entertain the lizard
CASEY AT THE BAT IN OTHER FORMS
—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH
Casey at the bat—
failing in the game's crunch time,
no hero today
today not so mighty:
struck out in the ninth
The game hung in the balance in the bottom of the ninth
as the superstar stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game
But it was not to be, and the fans files out disappointed
one pitch taken,
a second pitch taken,
on the third a home run swing
SONGS FOR THE SILENCE
—Michael H. Brownstein
She hums in her sleep
thin lines of wheat blowing
thick lines of corn knotted
a fence of insects and songbirds
surrounding her praising
everything good in life
until her humming ceases
leaving them alone
with harmonies no one hears.
Our thanks to today’s fine poets and photographers for their contributions to our Monday brunch! Poetry readings in our area begin tonight, 6-7pm, with Poetry in Motion in Placerville, then continue at Sac. Poetry Center (7:30pm) with Amanda Nadelberg and Claudia La Rocco, plus open mic. Thursday, Speak Up presents poems and stories on the theme, I Quit (Sacramento Avid Reader, 7pm), or head on over to Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe for frank andrick, Paul Aponte/Wolf Fox plus open mic, 8pm. On Friday, The Other Voice in Davis presents Carol Frith, James Lee Jobe and open mic at 7:30pm at the Unitarian Universalist Church, as James Lee takes over hosting duties from Allegra Silberstein, who has hosted this series so well for many years. (Thank you, Allegra!)
And then it will already be Memorial Day Weekend! Saturday morning presents Writers on the Air, a live radio podcast/broadcast with Azin Rametipour, 10am, at Sac. Poetry Center. That afternoon, Poetic License in Placerville features a read-around at the Sr. Center, 2-4pm. Then on Sunday, also in Placerville: Poetry on Main St. open mic for poets and musicians at The Wine Smith on Main St., 4-6pm. 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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