Monday, January 06, 2020

Palaces of Ghosts

Butte Meadows Trees
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

From A Period of Trees: Boise, Idaho
—Michael H. Brownstein, Jefferson City, MO

One day we will gather within the wild country—wander from the center of the city to its stone edge.

The largest of the cougars will watch from behind a pine marked by the easy burn of black bear.

We will climb the hill country together, the hard brace of rock, the entrance beyond ponderosa, the space where light divides

Quaking Aspen—
...leaves move to the slightest intimidation
and my son has plotted a path for us so we too can hear.

Oceans City Centre—Population 7, maybe 8:
...and we think to how this perhaps person came to be,
if the town is dust and dune,
a palace of ghosts and maybe.

 Bark of the Blue Oak


when one hears there is finally a
treatment for mild memory loss
due to aging,

that sure would have been quite
useful those times in high school
when the salient points of the
teacher’s lectures had aged so
much by the time of the big exam,
one was put at a loss to retrieve them



when you are a gear with
teeth of a size and shape
and spacing quite different
and apart from another
gear you are assigned to
mesh with 



when you light a candle and
everyone knows it will shed light
until it burns out and then
it won’t give you more light

but when they see an arthritic person
running briskly on a good day
they think he can run just as
briskly on any day



We started with the
Indians who already
called this their homeland

and turned them into
aliens that don’t belong
here whatsoever

A man owns a house
legally bought and paid for,
then the government

asserts eminent
domain and takes away the
man’s right to live there

A man owns some slaves
legally bought and paid for,
then the government

claims liberty and
freedom and takes away the
man’s right to own slaves

To some it may seem
like our forefathers drafted
the Constitution

to have an excuse
for our big government to
deny us our rights 


It will not require
faking anything
confabulating facts
contorting the truth

just let the real
actions and intentions
speak for themselves
and soon enough

he’ll be Prisoner Trump
and our nation can
get back to the business
of minding our business



I am not a stone
though I lie here paralyzed
inert to the bone

memories stay clear
of the daily routine of
reshaping my beard

with mind and body
linked together, unified
as one entity

whimsies and fancies
drove me to great distances
feet not in cement

please come visit me
upwind from euphemisms
tell me a story

about your glory
how you overcame the odds
and turned out normal

do not let my pain
limit your own adventures
they are what soothes me 

—Joseph Nolan, Stockton, CA

Enormous apostrophes
Dangle down into space
Barely large enough
To keep adjacent letters separate
And proclaim,

“This space is mine
And I intend to hold it
As long as letters
May remain
On this page.
Keep in your own places,
Beside me!

There is order in this madness
Even if you have no idea
Why I am here,
Suspended above you all,
Freed of the gravity
Of supporting line.
It is in the nature of apostrophes
To be free
Of gravity.”


—Joseph Nolan
Which horse shall I ride to the sunset?
Which horse shall I ride to my grave?
Which memories shall I remember?
Which moments, in heart, to save?

It seems the years
All slip away.
Though I smile,
Nothing, I save.

No need to worry,
So they say,
Each morning
Brings a new day,

But each morning
Comes the mourning
For what has gone away,

As I try to savor,
But can’t remember,
The flavor
Of yesterday.

—Joseph Nolan

It’s not easy
To squeeze oneself
Into a place of

A lower dimension,
Whose entryway
Is a crack under
A door,
Just above the floor,

Where mice and rats
Can slip in,
Their bones being
Very compressible,
Almost magical!

How they can hit a crack
And push themselves away—
Under a doorway?

If it has not been previously
With a towel,

As you pursue
The escaping vermin
With a butcher’s knife,
To take its life,
And keep your
Boarding-room clean,
Deep in downtown Brooklyn.


—Joseph Nolan

Withdraw sounds,
One reverberation
After another,
Disappearing distance,
All spread out
As far as their
Can carry them.

They keep on going
Into infinity,
Below our auditory threshold,
Into a giant wall of sound
At the end of the universe
That sounds like a big bang,

Where they are absorbed,
Recycled and reflected
Back into space,
As cosmic static.

Have you ever thought
Your every final-scream
Would come back around
To greet you and your lover
As static?

—Joseph Nolan

It was ugly, cheap and nasty,
That thing her Father drove
Up from Albany,
To take her lunch
Once upon a month!

Once upon a month,
But it was every one,
With his bouffant hair-do’d girlfriend,
Who looked like
She never learned to swim.

How could you possibly swim
With a hair-do
Up like that?

But at least he came to see her
And bought us a burger
At Bubbles’ Restaurant
On the far stretch
Of Central Avenue
On the way out of town.

He didn’t have much money.
That was plain to see,
And he might have come more often
If that were his

But I felt
Something was broken
That could not be

So we went through
Friendly conversations
To try to bless the air.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Joseph Nolan

There are those who are mad
And those who go mad
And those who are in-between
Surrealistic fantasies
And some who are just mean.

Few would like to say
They all were born that way
But it’s as good a guess
As any that I’ve seen.


A big 2020 thank-you to today’s contributors from far and wide, and welcome to the new year! Poetry events in our area begin tonight at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm, with Jorge Quintana and Rebecca Blanton (aka Auntie Vice), plus open mic.

Tomorrow night (Tuesday), Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets in El Dorado Hills, 5-7pm. Bring poems from yourself or others, or just come to listen. The suggested topic is “variant versions”, but other subjects are also welcome. That’s at the Library on Silva Valley Parkway in El Dorado Hills.

The Placerville version of Poetry Off-the-Shelves meets on Weds. night at the El Dorado County Library on Fair Lane, 5-7pm. Also on Weds. is the debut of the new reading series, Thee Word Thing, hosted by Lob and featuring Patrick Grizzell this month, plus open mic, 7:30-9:30pm. That’s at the Shine Cafe, 1400 E St., Sac. Also on Weds. is the Invisible Disabilities Open Mic at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th. St. in Sac., a chance to share poetry, music, comedy, etc. about your own disabilities.

Thursday, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe & Juice Bar will present featured readers and open mic starting at 8pm. But Wellspring Women’s Writing Group has been cancelled for January; next workshop will meet on Feb. 13. Interested in workshops? Check the green box at the right for a listing of local ones which will be held this week and/or later.

And this coming Saturday, Brandon Leake will read at 2nd Saturdays at the Brickhouse on 36th Street in Sacramento, 7-10pm. 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.


—Medusa, celebrating a very lively poetry scene in our area ~!

 —Anonymous Fellow Sufferer

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