LATE WINTER, LAKE TAHOE
—Jeanine Stevens, Sacramento, CA
Anticipating a clear-cut summer,
warm mornings with new bird songs.
I remove antique beads from the chandelier,
put a bright flag with a lazy canoe in the window.
A new book of poems sits unopened,
instead I read about the last days of Bobby Kennedy.
In the rain, you unload wet logs,
the mountain black,
simmering like a Japanese woodcut.
I fix a pork roast, listen to the weather report
from Reno. Nothing is as it seems.
Winter’s losses won’t let go: a faded ornament,
bent photo, plaid necktie. I say
“We don’t honor the four in-between seasons,
just call them early or late, like we’ve misread
Winter’s snow spreads
white shreds on the sagging roof, lays
vertically in crevices that should be green by now.
Brown puddles etch with chartreuse pollen,
slate clouds boil over the summit.
A rare woodpecker lofts
in the Tamarack. A lone parasail floats
over the lake. One lilac
in bloom, a dandelion in bud.
Mountain sunflowers at my cabin door,
stout and yellow—make an announcement.
Maybe this is what mid-seasons are for,
to notice remnants and not let go—
the season of old bouquets.
THIS IS THE STORY OF MY LIFE
—Michael H. Brownstein, Chicago, IL
water fills me with you
actuaries of mist and drizzle
Christmas light in prisms
listen to the water fall
the edge a pool of glimmer
smooth skinned and happy
when I drink this water
I wear your hand in my glove
your impression on my love
God created life out of water
good from the earth
you because he knew of me
water silvers the skyline
the city and town
the branch you sit upon
because of you
is more beautiful
THE BIG DANCE
My parents paid good money
for me to attend dance lessons,
and I didn’t miss a session,
but there was a giant
between basic instructions to move
this part and that this way and that
according to some evil plan devised
by folks who possessed certain native
talents missing from my system
analog clock ….. digital settings
Maybe if I had had a nice guide dog
patient to no end, nonjudgmental
I could have mastered some steps
and made everybody happy, but the
result was more like asking a person
who lacks keen depth perception to
back up a big rig
Today, watching people dance brings
me the same enjoyment as viewing
other humans eating things I would
never put in my mouth, or watching
predator birds swoop down deftly for
prey, or hearing a huge bomb blast from
far enough away I could casually say
What was that?
BELOW GRAY GREEN
(Images discovered in Taylor Graham’s
stream photo in Medusa’s Kitchen,
First met by two, large, teary, empty eyes,
eternally condemned to cry
a rock-steady cat is ready to pounce
this may not be the first try
tall grass at the base of the tree
cloaks the faces of animals hiding
off to the right are 2 brown horses
resting after long days of riding
back at the tree base those square like shapes
must be an encampment of elves
across the stream, to the right of the fall
a cluster of teddy bears admire themselves
He has it all figured out
the house always wins
and he is head of household
or so he keeps reminding us
so when the cards look bad
he scoops them up and
shuffles them a few times
careful to bury the bad cards
then lays them down in the
usual 7 column pattern,
tweets that all is now in order
and tries again, over and over
He has it all figured out…
MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT
(Sacramento Police shot and killed
Stephon Clark for holding something,
Construction workers are mandated
to wear hard hats and steel-toed
shoes to prevent serious injury
Beekeepers are fully covered
with the proper protection
to confront swarms of bees
Divers retreat to tempered
steel cages when visiting
waters where sharks abound
Police dog trainers sport
oversize, bite-proof gloves
when practicing attack exercises
So why would our local police
develop the protocol to enter a
“known bad neighborhood”
as if butt naked, insufficient lighting,
shielded only by the weapon of
last resort? Let’s light them up!
ON THE MENU
Hello, I am an earthworm
There resides in me
a great fear upon
hearing the dawn chorus
like children of
going to school
Maybe I can hide underground
with my fellow worms
and just act like
nothing is happening
let the world pass me by
Is there a loving God
who will spare me
from being eaten alive?
The underground it is, no Plan B.
CHANGE THE SUBJECT
The old family car
home of fond memories
a few hardships
stolen by felons
and used in a crime
as the getaway vehicle
raped once—forever in fear
forced to question what
used to be innocent
nothing is anymore
neither you and your motives
nor me and mine
news facts get distorted
to make them more
newsworthy, a better read
entertainment is king
just ask them
God, law, sex
NRA, ego, KGB
—Michael H. Brownstein
Genghis Khan was not buried here,
the sand deep and colorful,
an archive of water, jade, helmet and bone.
The last man standing did not follow orders.
When he finished his job of murder
and no witnesses to the burial remained,
he did not kill himself as promised
but walked away to a quiet valley
where he mated a quiet woman
and had six quiet children.
Many thanks to our bouillabaisse of poets on this, the second day of National Poetry Month! About his photos, Caschwa (Carl Schwartz) says, “Too tardy for the chorus in the canopy, these handsome dudes show some tail on the trail.”
Michelle Kunert of Sacramento writes: “Civil rights organization are marking the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. this coming April 3-5. Here are some inspirations for poems about asking for racial justice (these prayers and meditations are offered by Catholics, but anyone of any faith could be inspired by them):
And an article about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassination_of_Martin_Luther_King_Jr.
Poetry events in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, when the Redwing Poets read, starting at 7:30pm. On Tuesday, Poetry-Off-the-Shelves read-around meets in El Dorado Hills at the Library, 6-7pm.
On Thursday, you have your choice of Kings & Queens of Poetry in Old Sac., 8pm, or Poetry in Davis, also at 8pm, featuring Richard Robbins and John Dooley, plus open mic.
On Fridays, Apr. 6-27, 6pm, Sac. Poetry Center’s NaPoWriMo Generative Workshop will take place in honor of National Poetry Month. Multiple prompts will be provided; bring pen and paper. No writing experience necessary! 25th & R Sts., Sac. Host: Bethanie Humphreys. Free; no need to sign up in advance. Info: www.facebook.com/events/204821293623037/.
Also on Friday, Wendy Patrice Williams (plus open mic) will be featured at Good Earth Movement Poetry Night on Main St. in Placerville, 8:30pm. 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.
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