Monday, August 14, 2017

Are We There Yet?

—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Charles Mariano, Sacramento, CA

remembering yesteryears
during conversations
goes like this,

5 years, is now fairly recent
10 years, just a couple years ago
20 years, a ways back there
40 years, is a coon’s age
50 years, is yikes!

60 years…

well, i’m in a dark,
confined space
where all this damn dirt
came from


—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento, CA

before the ROTC runners
before the student athletes
and the sunrise faculty swimmers
before the leaf-blowers
and the lawn-tractors
before the coffee truck
and the guy selling giant posters

couldn’t sleep
so here I am communing
with the dark dewy peace
of trees and buildings
of thirty-thousand
busy minds

 Tiger Lilies

—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH

September 18, 1881


In my younger days I wrote a poem
similar to the poem below:

My day is fading in the west
The night shades hover near
ready to bring me eternal rest
The clouds of death appear

Thus will end my life's toil and cares,
though with sadness for my heirs


"However presumptuous it may seem,
I am nevertheless constrained
to confess the truth about myself
                I say boldly,
that I claim inspiration
I claim that I am in the employ
of Jesus Christ & Co.,
the very ablest and strongest firm
in the universe"

Tiger Lily

       (symphonic poem by Bax, 1909)
—Tom Goff

I got this mood under Mount Brandon with all W B [Yeats]’s magic about me—no credit to me of course because I was possessed by Kerry's self.

                    —Arnold Bax, in a letter to Anne Crowley

Kiss into the innocent stripling moods of bliss;
lure, nurse, lull him you captivate with perverse,
pure, terse words that spellbind him. Cast the Ur-Curse:
mist over your victim who’s been most remiss
not to suspect some trick too soon to be caught.
Capture the fool, fold him in Irish rapture,
sad hopelessly compounded with the glad,
mad-sprinkled with sweet green spice, dark, sensual, bad.
Aperture. Hill shuts upon you. Overture
shot through with horn-calls, bassoon, harp, elfin-taught.
Fiddle without a lesson, for the riddle
is how you came by that violin your hands quiz.
Gleeful, on fire with Yeats. You orchestra people,
cèilidhe alongside you Sidhe. Man couples with Faery…  

cèilidhe = KAY-lee        Sidhe = SHE (the fairy hosts)


    (Phantasy for Viola and Orchestra, 1920)
—Tom Goff

Into his ardent Viola Phantasy,
with intimations of Éireann’s brown-haired girls
sharing with lads their white breast-curves, dark curls
in hopeless awkward plights of intimacy,
Bax has it in mind to inject a clandestine blow
for Irish culture, Ireland self-rule:
amid the glow of allegro finale-flow,
an overt melodic shred he figures to fool
his British public, John Bull at the premiere
—from the Sinn Féin anthem, Irish rebellion-song.
It might as well be the Internationale.
(He’s dared this before, braved danger, running it near.
“Who fears to speak of Ninety-Eight?” rings clear
from In Memoriam Patrick Pearse.) Not wrong,
his rash forecast. It escapes them, one and all.


—Tom Goff

Bax praises Liszt’s famous “tinsel” Liebestraum:
“Of course it’s sentimental; he had the grace
not to be ashamed of it.” Who has the face
these days to dare say such things? Direct; no qualm.
And why this high-spirited defense of Liszt?
For Bax, there’s denser water where bathos floats.
Liszt does what Bax does: the tune’s built on repeated notes.
The antithesis of melody, says one.
Say I, the audacious gestural force of same.
The Piano Quintet: Bax hammers against the tame
in a “one-finger” fanfare, memorable dark fun.
Such repetition amasses intensity.
Liszt’s tinkling trinket—of hidden immensity?
Well, isn’t Bax out of fashion, like Lisztian mist?
Musicians who champion Franz Liszt’s Liebestraum?
Shunned, as if pleading Hitler’s Lebensraum…


       (Robert Browning’s “The Ring and the Book”)
—Tom Goff

“Do you see this Ring?” Well, no, not for some time;
that is, I hadn’t seen Browning’s famous Book
for ages. Now I read Book Six, Guido’s nook,
next-to-last haven of dodging husband: crime,
that of murdering wife Pompilia,
his seventeen-year-old wife supposed run off
with a young priest—the tale is Rome’s one scoff—
for carnal bliss, batting her eye-cilia
at Handsome, as well as escape the spousal cage.
How plausibly Guido defends with Shylock skill
his honor: I catch myself smiling, though I should be frowning.
An old nobleman’s attitude, ownership, for ill
or good, of one he deems a whore’s daughter (the baggage!)
and yet prize bird. He somehow works his will
on judges’ (and our) minds. Don’t let’s forget his kill:
she’s dying by fevers and traumas from five deep wounds.
I think he felt qualms enough to not scar her face:
mere murder sufficed for him and his cutthroats. Zounds!
This Guido Franceschini pleads for grace,
the O.J. Simpson of his Roman day.
Meantime in the world young men routinely slay
wives for Honor—where? Bodily organs, or lodged in the soul?
What would you do, good sir, great Robert Browning?
Unteach the possessor-destroyer? Patch the dead whole?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

"The journey to the airport
Takes about fifteen minutes,"
She told our guests.
"But it begins with
A single step," I said.
Suddenly everyone
In the car began to hit me.


Many thanks to today’s poets for their tasty mélange to start our week off right, some of them celebrating our Seed of the Week, “Are We There Yet?”. Today we have some news items from Sacramento Artist/Poet/Publisher Jennifer O’Neill Pickering, who will be reading at Luna’s on Aug. 31, and at SPC with Patricia L. Nichol on Sept. 4 (Labor Day!). Her book,
Blooming In Winter, is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble as well as at her studio show and reading events—plus it’s for sale by contacting her at Here are the poetry news items she’s passing on to us: 

Calling all poets: take the monthly Ekphrastic Challenge on Rattle's website (! This month my pastel, Street Folks, has been selected for your poetic inspiration and will be on the website during the month of August. The two poems selected by the Editor and myself will be featured on Rattle's website, and you will be paid 50.00 bucks! Looking forward to reading your writing. (Deadline is Aug. 31.)

 Street Folk by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering
This month's Ekphrastic challenge on Rattle

Ongoing and every 4th Saturday, come read your writing (prose or poetry) at Writers On the Air (WOA), 10am-1 pm, with host Todd Boyd. (10 minute limit per person.) Readers will leave with a podcast link to their writing. This event also includes a featured reader each meeting; Aug. 26 will be Jackie Howard. Here is a link for more information:

I also want to remind all writers who are also visual artists to submit their work for the annual Sable & Quill, a reading and art exhibit at the Sacramento Poetry Center in January. It is the 9th year of the event and I hope to begin assembling a comprehensive book of all participants to celebrate our 10th anniversary. If you are interested in participating this year, please send 3 samples of your art work and writing for consideration to: Thanks always to the Sacramento Poetry Center for providing a space for the event. We are able to make a nominal donation to the Center each year.

Thanks, Jennifer! It’s always a sunny day when people send calendar and publishing announcements to the Gorgon. Don’t be shy about sending mention of poetry books, readings and other poetry events that you’re involved in, either. In addition to being an open mic, Medusa’s Kitchen is also a bulletin board.

Another Ekphrastic challenge comes from Placerville: El Dorado Poetry has posted some artwork by Michael Paul and is asking for poems in the ekphrastic mode. Go to for info and to see the art.

Sacramento Bee has an article by Stephanie Taylor about the annual Squaw Valley Writers’ Workshop. Many local poets have enjoyed attending the workshop over the years. Check it out at

This week’s poetry readings in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Allegra Silberstein and Patricia Wentzel, plus open mic, 7:30pm. Thursday brings choices: Third Thursday at the Central Library at noon is still on hiatus (until September), but Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe meets at 8pm with featured readers and open mic. Or, also this Thursday, Poetry Night in Davis presents William Greene and Lauren Swift, plus open mic, 8pm.

On Friday, The Other Voice in Davis presents Lisa Dominguez Abraham and Shawn Pittard (plus open mic), Unitarian Universalist Church library, 7:30pm. Then, on Sunday, Poetry in Placerville features Sue Daly and Carol Louise Moon plus open mic, 1-3pm, Love Birds Coffee and Tea Co. on Broadway. 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!

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