Thursday, December 01, 2011

If I Taste Your Toes...

Panjarnata, Vajra Mahakala 
(The Great Vajra Black One, 
Lord of the Pavilion)
—Painting by Dave Boles, Grass Valley

—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA

The dirt pig and Wally
had a trait in common:
the love of sleep
and the desire to indulge and luxuriate
in it as much as possible
without penalty of loss of independence
to outside entities.

Therefore both were happy
when winter wandered in
with wet weather and wide umbras
until Groundhog's Day
leaped up and grab each
by their adenoids
or the rodent equivalent
if such should exists.

Wally got a job
after forty months
on the dole
as his bigoted Uncle Horatio
described it
as a night watchman
near a light bulb factory
while Phil the groundhog
refused to rise at all—

so winter never left
all were happy
except Wally
and his soon-to-be
wife Lorena.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

In your world, fog’s
a toothed thing, aiming
centripetal, tightening
its gray-sworded bud around
the heart of the winter
weatherer, closing down
around you, chill flames
licking, fastening & clinging
to the red pump.

Down! cries Lear to this
mother, feeling her tight
tightening, choke choking
fingers knotting their fig signs
in left arm and left chest lobe,
not quite lung-high. Breath
comes curt, its heyho
briefer than December
Wednesdays in Riga or Fairbanks.

Never will this be the knee
knob, great toe, shin spear
proclaiming the cold snap,
the wind shear, no, it is the vast
great sign of All Curtains’ Day
closing. Shadow corkscrews
in one silent-cinema iris,
and no mistake. Soon an agony
of happy sun as the dome
halves itself and scuttles the shell,
one last egg that broke open

on twins. Behold, little man,
the wonder of you here alive,
your ghost twin sunk back
inside silent Mother. Equal
miracle, your having lived
so long inside the black geode
burst open now and alive
in sixteen splintery


—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento

Morning sunlight fills our cozy room
sweet, the sacred spirit of our love
my eyelids closed, your fingers in my hair
like a cat, content to sleep and purr
then suddenly—and you must come with me
I stand, and stretch, and step into the sun
stride slowly through the yellow, summer dust
and run, again and always, through the rain.


—Ann Wehrman

rare cold rain with thunder
May, Sacramento
spring sun quelled by
press of weather
rainstorm will not be denied
speaks its mind like the big river
straining against levees
drowning farms
snowmelt swells from
Minnesota to Louisiana
my high school dreams
on the Mississippi’s bank
buried by decades of life’s storms
melted into earth

years later, I wait here for you
in rain-soaked Sacramento
love welling in my throat


(for Kara)
—Ann Wehrman

in the dentist’s chair
reclining back to horizontal
suction tube in mouth
my hands clasp each other tightly
mouth stretches open wide
face turns toward
twenty-something dentist
decades my junior
who closely resembles Kara
flute friend, younger girl
with whom I played
for several years, growing together
in confidence, artistry
supporting, not competing
unusual for the arts

my dentist zeroes in,
with Kara’s eyes, brows, face
asks again, are you OK
reminds me again, I don’t want to hurt you
let me know if it hurts
begins to use the laser, deep cleaning
teeth’s roots below the gum line

she could burn a hole right through my cheek
one slip, one heartless move
I’d be maimed for life
does that ever cross her mind?
can we control our dreams?

steady hand, pure heart
like Kara, power and ambition
clean and strong to heal
like the laser’s focus
like the sweet, strong notes of Kara’s flute, piccolo


—Ann Wehrman

I want to cook supper for you,
but don’t know what you like—
so I’ll make what I like:

stew of beef, carrots, red wine
bread all crusty, yeasty, dark whole grain
with soft, sweet butter
apple juice
salad of deep-green romaine
with lemon and oil
chocolate cake, home baked.

But maybe you’d prefer pasta, white rice
beer or gin
maybe you like those horrid,
fruit-flavored candies
maybe you don’t drink coffee,
need a cigarette, or cigar—
maybe you won’t have a good time.


—Ann Wehrman

I wasn’t a Dead Head for real
I have a life
I don’t worship Jerry Garcia,
nor did I spend the ‘70’s following them
across America and the world
I’m too self-conscious to buy their gear in head shops
or through discreet mail order,
but I’d love to sing with them

I missed much of the Dead shows that I did see
on acid, or when the hall was too large,
yet I have spent hours lost within
the intricate harmonies of their jams,
listening to a weekly Dead radio show or a CD
not “Truckin’,” the three-minute version
that actually made the charts,
but Jerry singing “We Bid You Goodnight”
like a prairie patriarch tucking in his brood
with their flowing homespun nightshirts
in a log cabin in the woods somewhere
or his genius pedal steel riffs
balanced by Lesh’s ethereal funky bass
on the “Dark Star” they stopped performing—
its meaning too treasured perhaps, or a lost hope…

the Dead I remember
were about driving from Illinois to St. Louis with friends,
blowing off homework sophomore year in college
to see them perform in the tiny, exquisite Fox Theatre
that showed Gone with the Wind non-stop for decades
about passing through the baptism
of Krishnas selling incense before the door
once inside the charged, expectant darkness
feeling mescaline kick in and the barriers begin to melt
about standing in my velvet seat,
the gorgeous, colored light show,
swaying, dancing—
the entire theatre on its feet, one body
about feeling so right
that I could drive home across state lines, still tripping,
secure in the center of The Dead’s cosmic love

they played to thousands, summer 1973,
Des Moines state fairgrounds
my lover and I in the top bleacher row
sun baked, rain poured, then the sun returned—
how symbolic, we nodded
trooped down, at the end
drove home over flat plains, back to Illinois
endless sunset unfolding behind us

the Dead were I,
selling clothes in a boutique in the ‘90’s
when the Classic Rock radio announcer choked up,
then tried to explain to us all that Jerry had died
unexpectedly, since his latest detox was working
and we had all hoped—

they are those who survive him,
fellow band members and all
who couldn’t imagine the group without Jerry,
yet tried to pick up the pieces
the Dead are I, in my fifties,
introducing a ten-minute track of “St. Stephan”
to a twenty-year-old musician
who’s only heard “Truckin’” on the radio
they are Jerry in the next world,
jamming with Hendrix and Janis,
waiting for everyone to get there
they are all of us,
listening one more time
as Jerry’s “Crazy Fingers”
caress the nerves of our souls


Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff

If I were
(Descartes would say I am)
to eat your heart
would I feel love again?

If I were
to baste your brain
in basil and bay leaf
would I grow smarter and wiser?

If I were
to taste your toes
could I walk away
a better man?


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors. About his paintings, Dave Boles writes:

Panjarnata, Vajra Mahakala—The Great Vajra Black One, Lord of the Pavilion: the special protector of the Hevajra cycle of teachings and principal protector of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism. A powerful protector that evolved from India. Ancient Sanskrit texts were adapted when the deity was introduced into Tibetan culture and the Lord of the Pavilion was created as a purely Tibetan deity with its own unique characteristics. It is most associated with the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

The Snow Lion resides in the East and represents unconditional cheerfulness, a mind free of doubt, clear and precise. It has a beauty and dignity resulting from a body and mind that are synchronized. The Snow Lion has a youthful, vibrant energy of goodness and a natural sense of delight. Sometimes the throne of a Buddha is depicted with eight Snow Lions on it, in this case, they represent the 8 main Bodhisattva-disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni, the historical Buddha. Associations: main quality is fearlessness, dominance over mountains, and the earth element.

Medusa wishes you unconditional cheerfulness and fearlessness today, and a mind free of doubt.

 The Snow Lion
—Painting by Dave Boles