Monday, June 05, 2017

The Labors of Our Lives

Can You Find Jane Blue?
—Photo Courtesy of Jane Blue

—Jane Blue, Sacramento, CA

White roses near the porch arch up to the sun,
folding their petals out and out like crochet.
They wish to be cut down so they can start again,
pleading with their tattered petals to fall, to fall
and start the cycle again. The strong sweet smell
of spring has faded now. You must be on as intimate
terms as I am with them, to catch a subtle odor.
The buds, sparser than in spring, are tinged with pink
like human babies. Their necks sway in the breeze
as if they’re trying to talk, to tell me something
about life and death. The sycamore leaves
have begun to fall, crackling on the walk. A sudden
perfume bursts out of the east on a gust of wind.

The canes of old red roses climb up to the roof
in this late light of a dying summer. Hidden lower
on the vine are mottled rose apples, a bitter fruit
we do not eat. There is the smoky feel of autumn.
A lone crow barks, sounding angry. The sycamore
has grown very large; the forecast is for wild storms
this winter and I wonder if a limb will come crashing
down on us. It’s Labor Day and I’m thinking
of all the labors of my life, the four the pain
of their birth which they say you forget,
and everything that came after.

 Poetry Reading (Jane is on the right)
—Photo Courtesy of Jane Blue

—Jane Blue

She marks up library books with a number 2 pencil,
thick with disdain. She corrects British usage
to reflect what she considers proper, that is,
American. She crosses out typos, adding letters
and schoolteacher exclamation points. She reads
the same books I do, but seems to take no joy in them.
She is the type of person who sees grammar lapses
as personally affronting. But language is glorious,
like people, in its variation and its flaws.
In a novel about Daphne du Maurier the author
refers to “the azalea-scented handkerchief”
and the secret editor inserts a question mark,
an upside-down caret, and the words,
“azaleas have no scent.” But I remember,
in southern Oregon, being overwhelmed
by the cloying smell of wild azaleas
even before I saw them as I came up over the hill.

(first pub. in Umbrella, Winter 2009-2010)

 January, 1952
—Photo Courtesy of Jane Blue

—Jane Blue

Marinas make him sad––
the helmsmanless boats in rows,
claustrophobic, undulating
gangplanks, the tubular aluminum
railings; tied-down and folded masts
of sloops and catamarans,
canvas sheathing cabin cruisers;
they should be free, skimming
the center of the calm, mirrored lake;
we are driving around the lake
in early spring, scanning
for wildflowers: redbud, lupine,
poppies, the wild white lilac––
talking for a change, incessantly
about the insanity of the past; the past
doesn’t make him sad. Marinas
make him sad. He drives on,
averting his eyes from boat ramps,
blue canopies, boat storage,
keeps driving into the hinterland,
so green, so empty, the pavement
crumbling and narrowing; he fords
the creek, again and again, which has
ceased to be dammed, jolting us
up, down, and up again, water
rippling and splashing in fountains
onto the doors of the car; away
from the lake, into the hills:
a glimpse of brilliant orange, it’s
Mule’s Ears; “Donkey’s Ears,”
he says, as we find ourselves
out in a broad valley, fields
of mustard in smooth yellow lakes
without marinas; we laugh and laugh.

 —Photo Courtesy of Jane Blue

—Jane Blue

He has grown too menacing for friendship.
He watches men in the woods
and women in their pantries.
He has no way to speak to them
but he wants something.
He lumbers into their houses. He tries
out a church, breaking the handle from
the church hall door. He goes to a table
and eats 22 jars of peanut butter
to be packed off to the poor. He is the poor.
The lids fall apart in his claws. He has
no idea how strong he is. He sniffs
and slurps. No one is there to see
his bad manners. He walks to the kitchen
and opens the refrigerator the usual way,
pushing the handle, releasing the sweet
odor of oranges. He punctures
a dozen cans of concentrate, licking
the cardboard, as easy for him
as raking a hive of honey. He swipes
a few sweet rolls, then leaves,
damaging little except his own wild
heart. The pastor asks his flock to pray
for the bear. Pray for him to stop ravishing
their homes, be caught and returned
to a paradise that no longer exists.
The wilderness has abandoned the bear.
He is alone and hungry.
He no longer knows what he is hungry for.

(first pub. in Women Artists Date Book 2013)

 A Sanrio "Chococat" Rescued From a Local Thrift 
by Michelle Kunert
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA 

—Michael Ceraolo, Willoughby Hills, OH

Fine dining—
a bluejay eating from
a garage gutter

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

Suburban pastoral—
a deer lying in the backyard,
munching grass

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

Urban pastoral—
pieces of a large truck tire
strewn on the highway

* * *

—Michael Ceraolo

Robins' smorgasbord—
heavy rain washes the worms
out of the ground

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

We pay our fair share, collectively
Millions, to fund public school systems
And it is not nearly enough for

Books, supplies, lunches, helpers, nurses,
Security products and services,
Retrofitting buildings, legal expenses, etc.

Ads depict giant tear drops
Kids with special needs, children left out
Donations urgently needed

In addition to the continuous stream of
Millions from Lotto to help support, no, save
Our multi-millionaire school system

Yes we need lots and lots and lots of
Expensive help for those kindergarteners
Who were left in charge of the money!

And one can only wonder why the DOD
With its budget well over half a trillion dollars
Also needs our bake sale revenue
To make things work well

Oh no! More giant tear drops in those
“Support Our Troops” ads, while we already
Know that any and all Items with market value
Shipped over to the troops

Will meet the same fate as groceries and
Medical supplies lovingly sent to African
Third World countries to fill unmet needs:
Only a trickle down reaches the intended people

At the top of the chain of command are armed
Corporate business financiers who swallow
The lion’s share while our brave fighters lie
Mortally wounded, never again to savor a

Home cooked meal, or home, or family—


Today’s LittleNip:
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

My wasted youth. . .And
The great thing about it is
It's still going on.

[Happy Birthday, Kevin, whose birthday was Sunday, June 4!]


Many thanks to today’s fine contributors! About Chococats, Michelle Kunert writes: Chococat (チョコキャット Chokokyatto) is drawn as a black cat with huge black eyes, four whiskers, and like his counterpart Hello Kitty, no mouth. His name comes from his chocolate-colored nose. Chococat was first released in 1996 and his birthday is May 10. His whiskers are able to pick up information like antennae, so he is often the first to know about things. When Sanrio releases new Chococat lines (the background colors and designs), Chococat's collar and fur color, and his accessories and friends, are often altered. Chococat was originally pictured with a blue collar, but he has since been depicted wearing different colored collars, scarves and even a lei. Sanrio has also produced new Chococat products that portray him in a greyish-brown color. In the Momoberry version, he is pink with a top hat, bow tie and cane. Line names are often heavily relied upon in internet sales descriptions.

Chill on, Chococat!

Poetry readings in our area this week begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, with a Gay Pride Month reading featuring Eric Orosco, Joslynn Howard, Malcolm Gingras plus open mic, 7:30pm. Tomorrow night (Tuesday), Poetry Off-the-Shelves takes place at the El Dorado Hills Library in El Dorado Hills from 5-7pm. Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe meets in Sacramento on Thursday, 8pm, with featured readers and open mic. And on Sunday from 3-6pm, there will be a Poet vs. Band Birthday Bash Fundraiser for NSAA’s community gear upgrade, presenting improvisational poetry (Straight Out Scribes, Bob Stanley, Vincent Kobelt, Anna Marie) and music (Clark Goodloe, Kerry Kashiwagi, Victor Contreras and more) at Gold Lion Arts on Riverside Blvd. in Sacramento. 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.


 Celebrate poetry!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.