—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
(After reading a few poems and interview of a young poet who aspires to get his MFA)
—David Wright, Sacramento, CA
In taking a look at a few of your poems,
What you need most is not MFA instruction.
What you need most is time alone.
What you need most is to write ten thousand poems in
Dimly lit rooms.
Burn them. Then...
What you need most is a time machine to take you, to drag you,
Back, back, back...
This world didn't used to blow smoke up
Just anyone's ass who wrote anything at all.
Fuck it! It's too late.
Not your fault.
So, get that MFA. And later, if you march in step, you can
Teach others to get one just like it.
And don't worry,
Today's sleepwalkers won't peek behind the curtain.
With every academic subject
I was supremely taken for one
But then fell again to some other spell.
Hell might be like this, but I
Called it heaven.
Every day I count to seven.
Every day I wear my cross,
I have to fight to bring myself to wear it,
Hanging heavy from my neck.
I am careful not to let them see it,
I am too much a wreck and it will
Say things to them I don't intend to say
(Or can't admit).
Despite my need to stay apart,
"I" and "They" are the same common clay.
CENTER OF STONE
You ask me why I sing this way
Seem to aim for darkest gloom.
Have you been stampeded by
Elephants in the room?
The senses are real but only hint,
The center of the stone is where it went.
We can not see it or hold it in our hand,
You ask me how I know this
I become a rubber band that bends, bends, bends
But never breaks.
Senses are real but not what it takes.
SHADOW OF THEE
Better yet, quiet statue, than
Stone like thee,
To be your shadow...
EXCERPTS FROM EIGHTY DAYS
—Michael Ceraolo, S. Euclid, OH
July 2, 1881
I was walking with Secretary Blaine
through the depot to catch a train
to New Jersey and my beloved Crete
when I heard a sound I knew was a shot,
though where it had come from I knew not
(I found later the bullet had grazed me)
A second shot I felt enter my back,
and I buckled under the attack
In and out of consciousness and in shock
(though they tell me my eyes were never closed),
my next recollection is of lying
on the well-trod floor of the train station
Doctors probed the wound with fingers and tools
(have they never heard of Joseph Lister
and his new theory of antisepsis?)
I asked one my chances of survival
and he replied "One chance in a hundred"
I said back "We will take that chance, doctor"
further adding "and make good use of it"
Many men would soon remove me, first to
the depot's second floor out of the way,
and then, once the doctors deemed it was safe,
to the White House to fight for that one chance
* * *
"To General Sherman:
I have shot the President
I shot him several times,
as I wished him to go as easily as possible
His death was a political necessity
I am a lawyer,
I was with Gen[.] Grant,
and the rest of our men in New York
during the canvas
I am going to the jail
Please order out your troops,
take possession of the jail at once"
FOR MY FATHER
I shall envision us
Together at Huntington Beach.
The Perch are biting and the Corbina too.
And high in the sky will fly
A box kite
Just for you.
Many thanks to today’s contributors for their fine potpourri of thoughts this Monday morning! There will be poetry readings this week, Monday through Friday—if you’re willing to drive a bit—beginning tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with Patrick Grizzell and Mary Moore (plus open mic), 7:30pm. On Tuesday, Second Tuesday Reading Series in Modesto meets at Barkin’ Dog Grill and features Gordon Preston and William O’Daly, plus open mic, 6pm. On Wednesday, Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in El Dorado Hills at the library, 5-7pm.
Thursday is the monthly Winters Out Loud Poetry Open Mic in Winters at Berryessa Gap Wine Tasting, 7-8:30pm. (Some of you may remember Sacramento Poet Pat Hickerson who passed away a couple of years ago; this open mic is hosted by her daughter-in-law, Deborah Shaw Hickerson.) Also meeting Thursday at 8 is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, this week featuring the release of a new book, Poet City, from Little M Press by NSAA (Lawrence Dinkins) plus open mic, 8pm.
And Friday is Terry Moore’s Love Jones Experience in Elk Grove at the Double Nickel Smokehouse/Pins N Strikes, 9-11pm, with several poets and musicians. 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.
For more about moon gardens, our Seed of the Week, see
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