—Michael J. Brownstein, Chicago, IL
standing in line to pay taxes
the weatherbeaten and strong
we saddle up against one wall of chairs
lean our way out the door to another
find ourselves outside in the mist
why do we wait to the last day
and why do we stand in line to pay
these are not questions but answers
the lobby when we get that far
damp with footprints warm with bodies
THIS IS WHY THIS IS
—Michael J. Brownstein
The ice storm begins in the heart
quietly waking its way to the outer limits of toe and finger.
Without a hat, ears soon
fear the crush of heavy cold, breathing
an act of war, breath
an air raid of frost, large chunks of hail, winter squalls:.
Is this the hell of ancient Norsemen?
Somehow the vapor surrounding us
a napalm attack of frost-bitten knives into eyeball and flesh.
A year of fire and water, tornado and hurricane,
snow bombs and whiteouts, asthma and skin on fire,
flooding and erosion, earthquake and extinction—
Mess with me, Earth Oya, the Goddess of Weather
and I'll mess with you two times double.
—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA
A twisted dream!
Too many turns
Or if it’s real.
Try it on
Or take it off—
If left alone
Just run away
And leave you
In this new day.
AN INDEX-FINGER’S IDYLL
A red-headed finch
Perched on your
Regards your mouth.
It appears rather large,
Large enough to
Capture her whole
If you might eat her
If you got the notion
Either now or later?
She doesn’t want
To take the chance,
Just for an index-finger’s
And flies away!
Is coming to our land!
We’ll build our homes
And polish them
We’ll build our
We’re gonna go
And smear them down
With tons of mud;
We’ll plant some
The tastiest of all,
Just like natives!
Slowly but surely
The lights grow
Dimmer each night.
They’re not so bright
And the dull thud
A dirty bug,
Propagates its breed, as
Greater grows my need.
Are all built,
As time betrays—
The bedrock is
And all those
We can’t help
An abrupt ending,
As pin-ball goes “tilt!”
McKinley Park Garden and Arts Center, Sacramento
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
It was just the little plastic cap
from a bottle of extra virgin
olive oil, which met the slick
of my palm and then deftly fell
onto the floor. No problem, or
so I thought.
Then the floor, which had been
perfectly level when this food
prep had commenced, suddenly
shifted, assuming the angle of
a boat launch ramp, and the little
cap dutifully bounced and cascaded
down the ramp until it was totally
out of sight under the stove.
THE MUELLER REPORT
Okay kids, get out your decoder rings
and get ready to set sail for a shortcut
trade route to India for those tasty spices.
Oh wait, what are those other continents
sitting out there? We’ll call those the
Americas and hit them with Spanish
colonization, pilgrimages of tattered
Europeans, and don’t forget those original
13 colonies: the ant colony, the penal
colony, you know the rest…
So we didn’t find exactly what we were
looking for, but that’s all right. Once we
get rid of those savages that were here
long before us, we’ll replace our oppressors
with our own culture, religion, government,
and language and mandate that everyone
conform to just that, period.
“So what about Russian collusion?”
Please don’t change the subject, we have
big money deals waiting to be finalized
and whatever we do, we don’t EVER want
to upset the big money handlers.
NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY
Since the fall of the Soviet Union the new
Russia first promised greater freedoms of
speech and other civil liberties, but that was
only setting the mousetrap to later snap down
fiercely hard on anyone actually trying to
exercise those freedoms or liberties.
Just as before, if one is living in Russia one
is not free to criticize the government or its
members. Sadly, some of this limitation on
civilians speaking their mind has helped paint
the American political picture as well.
On social media, for example, if someone
doesn’t agree with what you stated or the
way you presented your position, they may
go all the way down to the bottom of the
swamp to cover you in filthy expressions of
blatant disregard for your words and your
Our melting pot is having a melt down. So
the Russian plan is already working, lighting
the fire under us to disagree with one another
with such absolute, total, complete hate, until
all this friction serves to erode the very unity
that has heretofore made our nation great.
Once we can ensure truly fair elections, we
can offer our consent to be governed to some
faithful public servants with real leadership
skills, that we might come together again with
renewed unity of purpose, and rid the White
House and Congress of any trace of Russian
At the end of my poem, “Beyond Mad”,
I added the expression “End of rant.”
That is so not going to happen!
As long as the very lives of unarmed
individuals are intentionally or mistakenly
ended by gunfire, the fire fueling this and
other rants will not be extinguished.
conducts inmate reception
considering what housing
corresponds with the required
copasetic prison guards
Thanks to our contributors today for their tasty buffet of poems and pix! Start your third Monday of National Poetry Month with lunch and conversation with writers at Solomon’s Delicatessen in Davis, 11:45pm; then tonight go down to Sac. Poetry Center to help Tim Kahl celebrate the release of his new book, Omnishambles, 7:30pm.
SPC workshops this week include Tuesday Night Workshop for critiquing of poems at the Hart Center (27th and J Sts.) on Tuesday, 7:30-9pm (call Danyen Powell at 530-681-0026 for info); and MarieWriters Generative Writing Workshop at SPC for writing poems, 6-8pm both Wednesday and Friday nights. The Wednesday night workshop will be facilitated this week by Joshua McKinney, and the Friday workshop by Bethanie Humphreys.
Also on Wednesday, El Dorado County Poet Laureate Suzanne Roberts will lead a workshop at 5:30pm at the Cameron Park Library on Country Club Drive, Cameron Park, followed by a reading there at 7pm by Suzanne, Lara Gularte, and Loch Henson.
On Thursday, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar will host featured readers and open mic, 8pm. Also on Thursday, Poetry Overturned with Carol Lynn Stevenson Grellas, Jeanette Set, and Angela James will read at Poetry in Davis, 8pm. And on Friday, also in Davis, The Other Voice will have a poetry round robin at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis library on Patwin Rd. in Davis, 7:30pm.
Saturday at 2pm, Poetic License poetry read-around meets in Placerville at the Sr. Center on Spring St. The suggested topic for this month is "good fortune" but other subjects are also welcome. And on Sunday, the Davis Arts Center Poetry Series, this month with Lisa Dominguez Abraham and Shawn Pittard plus open mic, meets at the Center, 2pm.
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, since the enthusiasm of National Poetry Month is causing readings to pop up all over the place!
—Medusa (Celebrate Poetry!)
Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.