Saturday, January 31, 2015

Time Lies

—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


Come make the room around me.
I will touch your body and we will
Know the sun at midnight and repeat
All that we have known when we were one.

Look at my hands.  See how they move.
They are like Spring around you.
Hold me in your arms.  Use your lips
On mine.  There is no deception, but
Time lies to both of us.  It has its own crimes.

It asks us to choose the treasure,
Whatever we might imagine it to be.
Love will be love and climb
Our bodies to find that light we carry
With our personal pearl-like angels,
Full of landscapes of the delta
With its far views and secret water.

What is uncertain?  What do we choose
To see that no one else is able to see?
If I put my name in this arena, eventually
Everything will become my fault, a thing
I overlooked while seeking to touch you
In the most intimate of your many hearts.

Forgive me, I find myself uncertain
In every argument I have with time.
Sometimes it is like trying to read
A book in which none of the pages
Have been slit, a difficulty in shepherding
Splendor as it pours through our agony
In attaining grace as we attempt
To approach Heaven.

 Lower Niagara River


We knew that if we travelled by roads
That those who were tracking us
Would surely find our communities.

So we put the dogs out ahead of us
And began cutting through the forest
Toward the highest truth.

The blood.
The lakes.
The frantic bird voices like
Joyous fireworks exalting and warning
The knowledge that we were near
The Earth.

Twice the open meadows were filled
With the golden smooth buzzing
Of the honey bees.
Some of us wandered away toward
Flashing lights.
Others, sure that the ghosts
Were their children,
Chose the forest as the best of places.

We continued into the rain,
The chilling nights, knowing
Somehow we would reach

The faces fading.
The fields where
The shadows greeted one,
Looking for things to occupy
That had yet to be heaven.

 Upper River


O the night singing on the balanced air.
The golden panther still walks
With paws of silence down
Into the miraculous solitude
That has no beginning or end,
Only a present, into life.

But this is not seen by man.  They feed
From the treetops.  They become murder,
Empty hallways in dark hotels,
Slashes across the body with
Keen knives, the only shining thing they know.

So quickly they fall.  They become
Arguments, then skirmishes, then war.

The morning cold.
The readiness of the day.
The perfection of a cat or dog
Crossing a street at sunrise.

All of this never glimpsed.
Only, still, the black angel
Closing every gate but that of the heart
Till there is nowhere else to go.

 Mountain Range 1


The sign at the motel was
Burned out.
We were
Hanging out in one another’s dreams
Just so we didn’t have to do the dishes.

One of us always busy.
In the other room somebody
Is trimming souls to make for
Candle wicks.  They seem
Almost disinterested, but you
Were explaining a song lyric
To me and I went back
To my own dream.  You
Showed up for a few minutes
Later with two soul candles.
“These are for you," you said.

Why did this place have to look
Like it was in the middle
Of the desert?

I looked up.
The motel sign
Wasn’t burned out.
It just looked like it at that
Point of the dream. 

 Mountain Range 2


Thread. Rose. Shoe. Membrane
A bird. Two. Fence. Music.
Diamonds. Snow. Vision. Cup.
Twilight. Sticks. Pearls. Stone.

Next stop: Claremont.

Breads. Friends. Machinery. Bridge.
Sample. Staff. Break. Sparkle, Dim.

Just keep riding;
Parkhurst: Next stop.

House. Inks. Reflection. Jump.
Outside. Bees. Funnels. Orange.
Robot. Glow-In-The-Dark

Snow. Tear. Fight. Release.
Play. Build. Walk.
Small. Green, Grind, Space.
Cloth. Song. Breaking Bright.
Shadow. Precious.


Today's BiggerNip (apropros of D.R's current case of pneumonia):

—D.R. Wagner

A shaft of light on a blue
Green mold.  The tiny flower
Heads of this same mold about
To burst into a snow of bacilli.

And here from a tree bark,
A wisdom of contention
With healing, finally won by
A tree fighting off insects.

A collection of broken mirrors
That somehow are able to explain
To our bodies a set of instructions
Needed to address an infection,
Trip a disease into thinking something
Away from our soft selves.

Praise for the mold and the small
Things lurking near the edges
That go unnoticed except by a very few

Who see the light come in, thin
But still able to form prisms, still
Able to open channels of waves
And point directly to the words
Of a song we eagerly await to hear
The lyrics of, learn its sacred words.



 Between the Sister Islands


Friday, January 30, 2015

Riding With the Pros

The Bike That Needed Me
 —Photo by Kevin Jones
—Poems by Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA


Saw it in the thrift store in early spring.
A J.C. Higgins frame and parts
From at least six other brands
That I could count, all held
Together with thick Caterpillar
Tractor paint.  A dead person’s
Bike, a dead homeless person’s
Bike, I was sure.  It wanted
A home, but not for three figures.
I watched the price go down
All summer, to where I could
Finally afford it.  “We knew
You’d be in for it,” the clerk
Smiled (Is my bike lust
That obvious?).  “It needs
Me,” I explained.

 Curbside Comfort
—Photo by Stacie Sherman, Orangevale, CA


When the Tour of California
Had a Sacramento stage, teams
Would practice on
The American River Bike Trail.
Brightly costumed teams
Would flash past me as
I plodded on my cruiser;
Rabobank, Liquigas, Team Mobile.
And that guy in the yellow
Jersey—Lance, back in the day?

Always thought it would be
A great coffeehouse story:
“You know, I once rode
With the pros,” I’d say.
“I don’t think the ten seconds
It took them to pass you
Really counts,” she’d say.

 Happy Cow, Nevada City, CA
—Photo by Stacie Sherman


Was a bright fall Friday in San Diego,
A great time to rent bikes and ride
Around Coronado Island.
Just out on the beach path,
The fog began to roll in,
Dampening and lowering
Visibility on six weddings
That I could count, till
It got too thick to ride.
I’m sure it’s written somewhere
That a foggy wedding day
Is very good luck, though
None of the brides looked
Too happy.  When we
Could still see them.

 Double Phallacy, Rattlesnake Bar, Folsom Lake
—Photo by Stacie Sherman


Bulky waste day is upon us,
And a truck trolls
The neighborhood, slowly
Filling with bicycles and
Parts as the day progresses.
I want to ask, “Schwinn Phantom,
A Raleigh Tourist, in there?”
But it would be no use.
The bicycle scavenger
Only has eyes
For wheels, frames.



Had a friend who liked to ride
So much, he biked from California
To New Jersey, then turned
Around to ride back again.
He paused to admire the view
In the mountains
West of Denver.  Pickup
Got him.  Probably should
Have heeded the rule
Of Sacramento mid-town
Bikers: don’t stop.


Our thanks to today's fine chefs, and also to Trina Drotar for the heads-up about Sac. News and Review's article about aging that included two of our area poets: Kathryn Hohlwein and Martha Ann Blackman (see Kathryn will be reading at Sac. Poetry Center next Monday night, Feb. 2, by the way, along with Alexa Mergen.

Thanks also to B.Z. Niditch for his J.M.W. Turner poem yesterday, which inspired me to hunt up some Turner art. Coincidentally, the movie, Mr. Turner, is playing locally (including Folsom, Roseville and Tower Theater on Broadway). Check that out at Another recent "artist" movie that might be intriguing (though it's not playing in our area yet) is Big Eyes, about Walter and Margaret Keane and their stormy relationship, which included him co-opting her art. Interesting...


Today's LittleNip:

Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.

—Charles M. Schulz



Foot Fetish
—Photo by Stacie Sherman

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mad Country of Colors

The Lake of Lucerne, Moonlight, 
the Rigi in the Distance (c. 1841)
—Paintings by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


Invincible paint
of sky blue haze
with patches of hilly light
splashed on my eyes
still dripping
in my admiring gestures
at the museum's portraits
and now on film
with students surrounding us
at close distance
with questions,
but who can answer
the uncovering of genius.


Shivering sparrows
in my camera's flash light
from the heights of trees
by cosmic intuition
of unexplored waterfalls
by the ocean air
escaping my riffs
in a woodwind of fragility
testing my own shapeless
knowledge of words
in pictures of being alive.

 Snow Storm: Steam Boat Off the Harbour's Mouth (c. 1942)

(For Jorge Guillen,
born Jan. 18, 1893)

Entangled by words
and a metaphors
in a divine parachute
and wounded umbrellas
in the Spanish rain
among sister's wild roses
you wave by the seas
nodding to adolescence
among the presence
of grinning sunflowers
foraging for a glimpse
of bread in a green day
fleeing the charnel house
by knives of civil war
you dream and tremble
for simple things
like butterflies
in the mountains
escaping bitter troubles,
no memory holds you back
among gardens
of scattered ashes
against the quiet river's mouth.



Motioning my last poem
from my first sight read
green eyes open notes
played all night
huddled now
by shadows of grackles
in front of my doorway
on a bicycle ride
over my exercises
predicates a new existence
as my sax
turn the page
by the wood stove
of last night's attention
in soliciting jazz
as the thawed hearth opens up
though a window's voice
as an early boat goes by
in the home harbor
searching for lobsters.

 The Grand Canal in Venice (1835)

(Born Jan. 22, 1788)

Half-watching the film
Gothic by Ken Russell
with Byron and Shelley
in a horror flick
as Mary thinks on
her future novel Frankenstein
born from these scenes
in nightmarish recognition
from mad flaming curiosity
in a mad country of colors
surprising us
even in abandoned sleepiness
in random uncertainties
we watch with red eye
emoting acting embraces
over flower beds of shadows
wishing to remember poets
with the shine of mirrors
beyond dicey tantrums to share
motioning us for our betters
with men and women
of letters who linger long after
as black comic laughter
falls on us dusting
over a heavy dream world
in sequences of tomorrow's awaking.


(Born Jan. 31, 1915)

On fourteen stations
in a retreat
from the nations
needing to get away
for a noonday's walk
looking up to the stars
and constellations
longing for an angel's presence
and visitations
living in imagination
and nature's shadows
out on the abbey's road
where the young clergyman
after a none's liturgy
sanctions a poet's time
in his own integrity
as a woman in blue
worn from a nun's lovely habit
offers roses and carnations
the day's life becomes all new.

 Petworth Park: Tillington Church in the Distance

(Born Jan. 27, 1756)

My memory
of conducting Mozart
when the baton
embraced my hand
picturing rolling waves
facing surfers in the Pacific
to calm down,
mounting the platform
in my new Italian shoes
on high steps
amid a hushed hall
in my first tux
as the concert lights
go down
with my family
music teachers
and tenacious critics
from the daily newspapers
in the scrupulous audience,
Mozart's spiral of notes
pervades my floating soul
as the solo clarinetist plays
the Concerto in A Major
amid the raucous applause,
and after the party
of laughter from wine,
croissants and cheese
go home and write verse
knowing then the connection
of a tasty bridge
between music and poetry.


Today's LittleNip(s):

Reality only reveals itself when it is illuminated by a ray of poetry.
—George Braque

The world is full of poetry. The air is living with its spirit; and the waves dance to the music of its melodies, and sparkle in its brightness.
—James Gate Percival

Poetry is the art of creating imaginary gardens with real toads.
—Marianne Moore



Turner in His Studio
[For more about JMW Turner, see]

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Scents That Smell of Truth

Coffee Beans
—Photo by Sue McElligott

—Sue McElligott, Nevada City, CA
It took about 10 minutes
For her to say what she needed to say
There was clarity
There was a feeling of finality
And the written words would
Have taken too long anyway

The garbage truck comes by
And the recycle truck comes about
40 minutes later

There is comfort in these
Noisy waste vehicles

The coffee pot spits out
Its obnoxious ‘beep’ that
The coffee is done

She whispers under her breath
Three words

I need this.

 Reservoir Ramble
—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA

—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento

Keeping a Question alive, Existing in a world of names.

Where is our Eucatastrophe? Will eagles dare to pardon?

In finding the sweet spot, where others deign to touch, to claim,

Only there will I forgive, be present in the ugly rock garden.

Rings to marry the world outside of us and within, what remains—

Behind a bamboo curtain, a wind chime of the misshapen, must not harden.

What remains is a larger heart, open to the point of banning shame.

I can absolve those that kill me, perhaps not those that gift me a coward's burden.

Defy to touch the flawed, to embrace not in a loathsome game,

You will exist in bigger waters, vexed not as much, not so much uncertain.


—Lelania Arlene

Living blood runs over our secret scars,

Like rocks in an underground river.

Forever an organ grinder, an orphan marred,

Cauldron fermenting, roiling, sweet, bitter to deliver.

Who shall care if my cuffs are drenched wet? 

Aching, unhusked, never ask to know—neglect.

Your lagniappe, head high, the tip of a whip,

Eternally a callous middle negative, NO of a lip.

 —Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Lelania Arlene

I am chinny with mirth amongst the lupines on Figueroa Mountain.

The poppies and blue-flagged fields are a relief from the shale.

Peeling Manzanita bark is a soothsaying practice. 

The tang of lemon berries with their suede fuzz on my fresh tongue.

The earth warms me, releasing fertile scents that smell of truth.

My finger strokes the belly blue of a fence lizard.

With pollen brushed cheeks... and pinon scented breath, I scramble on big boulders,

Each a friend with its own charms.

I follow the damp fastness, the Fir Canyon Creek is my anchor. 

Sycamores, bays, oaks and conifer are my siblings.

Small yet safe under cover of deer-brush chaparral,

I’ll never be bigger as part of life, I will never be smaller unless I forget.


—Lelania Arlene

Where are Gozion’s Rings

Do they hide and sing in the pepper trees?

Where are Gozion’s Rings

Do they giggle and distort amidst succulents?

Perhaps Matchka plays with them now,

He knows nothing is lost, not the true things.

They just roll and ring and open for our eyes to adjust.

Where are Gozion’s Rings

I see them now, do you see too?

She told it herself lookit for the Hobo’s passage.

I hear their peals, warmth of silver in the twinkle lights leaf bringer,

Up high with Daddy, you placed them there with working fingers.

Where are Gozion’s rings?

They are only to be fetched with wonder, skew and the work that lingers.


—Lelania Arlene

I don't know that it will not always be the same.

Stubborn girl with neglect ringing thin arms, in a party dress and Buster Brown Patent Leather shoes.

Agile, gamboling amidst and atop boulders and stones.

Under every rock, a cave.

Every cave a potential new home or friend.

Water sliders glide on creek waters, barely dimpling the surface. 

I am envy....

Dozens of waterfalls tumble over every slick brother rock.

Squatting, the feathery fennel brushes my cheek.

I grasp it and pull it towards me, fragrance wafts.

I chew, licorice, water from the white, cupped in hands that are likewise scented.

There is nothing more than this.

In and Around the Lake
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

Roadblock laughs spinning lights
Red and blue
Red and blue
Red and blue

Feather boas run over bloodied limbs
Bullheaded man vomits up his teeth
Passersby sit on jersey walls
Holding heads in hands

Empty shoes
Broken toys
Someone's dresser
Schoolhouse on that hill

Farmer and his two sons
Standing in their too, too green fields
Stare longingly at the highway
Far away from here


and tomorrow
—Robert Lee Haycock

The stars still wheel across the sky but the moon and the sun are gone.  No shadows darken the constellations where they ought to lie.  I do not like the feel of the ground under my boots and we worry about the flames in the windows high above us.

 —Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock

When the refugees began stealing
Candy from the children we decided
It was time to leave but the bus was full
And wasn't going anywhere anyway
The roads were rife with giants and highwaymen
Who only asked that we be brutally honest
While in the movie studio runaway trains rained
Down upon the gambolers in the forest below
The judge wore a mask of clay that the man
With the flower in his beard broke open
Drawing a stone out of his mouth and
Although the carved jade soldiers told me
I had once worn a uniform just like theirs
I couldn't believe it yet what do I know


—Robert Lee Haycock

My dreams are much
Too loud and full of smoke
Chinese opera and putty noses
Blood everywhere
But everyone brings gifts
Offering to help
Call the knacker's cart
If only I knew where I am


Today's LittleNip:

—Robert Lee Haycock

Our prayerbooks are stacked and
Anointed with ghee and flame and
The stars dance up with the smoke and
Tonight the sky is on fire and
I might find my way home



Plain and With Mustard
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tales of Forbiddings

—Poems and Photos by Joyce Odam, Sacramento


You are white carnation in winter,
pure of memory.
Soft light falls upon you.

You shine in twilight,
bother no one with conspicuous colors.
You are subtle in your whiteness.

Your blossoms fit so tightly together
as if they
warrant no description.

There is only
your perfection
which has no proper language.

We come upon you
in our darkest moment
and cry whatever name is dearest to our loss.


The salesman’s voice
comes softly on,

turning the merchandise
like a ripe plum,

twirling it for
the hungry eye—

describing its taste—
letting his smile

caress the greed
that transforms

his merchandise
to a need.

(first pub. in Lyrismos, 1967-68)


Stylized—in blues—pale as time—ago time. Rimmed
by a swathe of pale yellow; holly laid about, a bowl of
plastic fruit, a pear, some grapes, and apples, red and green,
candy canes in a vase—a lit candle inside a lantern—all
literal, all horizontal—on a blue-tiled base. The scene is
patience, patience, patience. The candle burns down. The
tin box holds only its emptiness, and many Christmases
have passed.



The air tongues me light
I who am thin and
married to the dark

the sweet air comes down
with its innocent surprise
to find me bent against the sky
for all the weight that’s in me

when I feel the
damp coolness of its word
I alter for reply
Yes, I tell it, Yes
and begin to cry

I am a priestess of pain
an endless child creates in me
its poetry for life

but I am thin
and have no womb
the child will die

now the air is raining upon me
as if it were tears
it slides down my skin
and binds me to the grass

I feel my child
creating itself again
finding its way
through the light

I alter myself for this
I am maternal

(first pub. in P.O.W. Mother Poems, 1980)


The public mama fusses over her toddler she
plumps into the shopping cart in diaper only,
its smeary face all wet from recent crying as
the mama picks up a tiny sack of candies she
tears open with her teeth that the baby grabs
and whines for the one dropped on the floor.

        The baby squirms in further fits of
whining and the public mama wipes the
chocolate from its drool and smacks her
finger to her lips and smiles, cooing her
baby-talk back to the child who has such a
solemn look.

        The line barely moves as the harried
checker at the register sorts-out the hang-up.
The baby studies everyone with no reaction
and does not smile. The public mama flutters
about and oogles to the child with baby talk.

        The white-haired toothless man who
is with them keeps adding last-minute items
to the cart and keeps joking down to the public
mama who laughs back, flirtatious to both
man and child, glancing around to share her
role of what a caring mama she is while the
candy-appeased child sits back and stares about.



You take the babe to the sea for baptism, or the release
of drowning—you, the dangerous mother, running into
the black shadow of the sea—chased by what . . . ?

chased by what . . . ?  and the sea, rushing to catch you,
tugs at your skirt . . .  pulls at your feet . . .  and the babe
clings to your neck in trust and fear.  How the night

thrills at your intention.  It opens up . . . opens up
its wet wing for you.  How deliberate you are . . .


At night the golden bird brings the stolen apples
back to the palace tree and fastens them brightly
there in the moonlight.

       I don’t know why she does this; she is
so patient and tireless, and her slow wings lift
so beautifully against the softly shining sky as
I watch her from my window.

      Why does she not tangle in the branches,
I wonder; and why does she not fall broken
under the weight of such a task.

      And I know that in the morning the
saddened tree will have been redeemed of its
theft—and no one—not even I—will have to pay
for the King’s old grief and unredemptive anger.


Today's LittleNip:


Like the shadow of a flower at night
when blue is trembling on the fence,
and the sky is closed away from
the moon, which will not show
itself, and you are as lonely
as this, and try to say it . . . .


—Medusa, thanking Joyce Odam for today's bonbons, and noting that our new Seed of the Week is Trikes and Bikes. Got any bike (or trike) memories about your own life, your children's, the neighborhood? First freedom! Wind in your hair? Nasty spills? Send poems/photos/artwork on this or any subject to No deadline on SOWs, though.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Imagine Gladness

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA
Silvered hair in braids that
were anything but simple,
the woman with the wrinkled
apple cheeks watched
as the Rose Bowl Parade
floats lumbered along a street
on her television.

“That must be some place,
California,” she told her
first born. He looked at her.
He was still hungry from the
night before.

She wrapped her shoulders
in a shawl with long tassels,
and picked up her basket.

“Too many red ones today,”
she muttered as she tried to
arrange the carnations to her

She came back, after hours
in front of the cathedral, with
fewer flowers, a loaf of bread,
a wedge of cheese,
and a new-found interest in
parade floats.

 Chandelier, Pier 39, San Francisco
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

My soul went
Had long time
Cream color
Likes to cuddle
Sorry no  photo
Won't bite
Please call
No ??? asked.

(next day):

We found your soul
In local park
No leash
Lonely but friendly
Meet at park pond
9 AM. We'll wait
Not seeking reward.



—Claire J. Baker

God, what is so elusive
about lasting peace,
the same in any language.
There is always great need.

Lie down beside us.
Whether we sleep, reach out
or whisper all night
our blood flow listens.

Surely, God,
you can hear us
shaking mountain tops
with our listening.

(first pub. in Pudding Magazine)

 Chandelier, Pier 39, San Francisco
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Richard Hansen, Sacramento

When I feel the most intense sadness
I enjoy the rain

When I feel the most intense sadness
I enjoy the rain

When I feel the most intense sadness
I enjoy the rain going pit pat on my head
look at clover with lush green leaves
covering the ground

When I feel the most intense sadness
en joy

the rain

When I feel the most intense sadness
I enjoy the rain going pit pat
say to myself it's just circumstances
no one's to blame
no one's to blame

When I feel the most intense sadness
I imagine gladness
used to sit on the couch for hour and hours and hours
couldn't get up
didn't feel this sad
must be

a good sign

When I feel the most intense sadness
I enjoy the rain going pit pat on my head
makin' strands of hair coagulate into
thin limp brown icicles I

brush to side of my eyes

Anonymous Photo

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Don’t ask her what these flowers signify,
what myth or legend, arcane symbolism.
The woman’s just a peddler of bouquets.

Don’t ask her where the name comes
from, whether corone (coronation,
garland) or carnis (flesh, incarnation).

Don’t dither about colors—do white
carnations mean pure love, or luck?
do pink carnations recall Mary’s tears?

Don’t ask if carnations are meant for
weddings or funerals, sorrow or joy.
Don’t even ask if she loves carnations.

Just ask the price of a bouquet, and does
she take plastic (don’t bet on that; she
likes living cash for real-life flowers).


—Taylor Graham

Pyramids of gilded apples, lemons and limes
keeping their tang inside puckered jackets.
Arrow-quivers of green onions, bouquets
of cauliflower. Celeriac, full of pith and fiber.
Beets and kale and chard, such plenty
and perfection, see, of grass-green sun-gold,
as if each crop were self-addressed to your
kitchen. The challenge, what to take home
today? What vegetable as necessary minor key
to a plebeian table whose centerpiece will be
homegrown hen who just stopped laying,
or mutton tough as the land you live on?
Arms full, you’ll pass the old woman who sells
carnations—as if the whole open-air market
weren’t Eden’s flower.


—Taylor Graham

Fe, the hard faith of Crusader swords.
The uncorroded Iron Pillar of Delhi, India.
A miscellany of legends.
Atomic number 26.
You stepped out of anemia and fell in love.
Necessary to life, it binds to flesh.
An iron-man climbed Earth’s high crust,
by fusion of stars searched out the secrets.
Human hopes and history,
their arms are inscribed by the blade
as water rises in rusty pipes,
runs red to soil as if a sword, a battlefield.
Hammering, grinding, a kind of music.
From forebears, that iron bedstead.
Steadfast, a girl says her flickering prayers.


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Open sea without a coast,
in every direction the tiding horizons,
blistering cold & heat,
imaginary ships, angels of cloudless light,
a sandy shoreline where a tree
rises in the eye, whatever in the mind
without a coast, a limit.



How to Catch a Lizard (with a blade of grass, of course...)
Katy Brown reading at The Other Voice in Davis, Jan. 23
—Photo by Dr. Andy Jones, Davis, CA

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nocturnal Carnation

—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA

—Pablo Neruda

Carnal apple, Woman filled, burning moon,
dark smell of seaweed, crush of mud and light,
what secret knowledge is clasped between your pillars?
What primal night does Man touch with his senses?
Ay, Love is a journey through waters and stars,
through suffocating air, sharp tempests of grain:
Love is a war of lightning,
and two bodies ruined by a single sweetness.
Kiss by kiss I cover your tiny infinity,
your margins, your rivers, your diminutive villages,
and a genital fire, transformed by delight,
slips through the narrow channels of blood
to precipitate a nocturnal carnation,
to be, and be nothing but light in the dark.



Saturday, January 24, 2015

In the Hollow of a Dream

Ning Hou Workshop, Locke
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


It was never as we had expected it be.
Initially, it had appeared as the blue
The oceans had laid claim to so long ago.
So perfectly clear but with a sense of not
Being able to see at all, a miscellany of legends
Bound together to resemble fine steel but unable
To find its own way.  It depended on our hands.
It was totally unaware of itself and of us.

Certainly it was to be used to take life from
Things, living things, not moon or stories
Or history for that matter, but it could change these
If it found them alone or strung out on some voice
Bound to flesh and willing to give up everything
Just to be discovered centuries later as a footnote
In a book about the sea or the defeat of, at best,
A down-at-heels empire suffering from insomnia
When the sharp edge was introduced and could
Be forced to sink into a great death.

We had the pyramids, which were certainly not
An illusion, and they were ruled by swords.  Even
Islam itself and the Great Norsemen all saw
Themselves armed with the sword and always
Terribly frightened by the unknown.  They wanted
Eternity but had had no lessons in it and so did
Not obey any order but their own.  Campfires on
The deserts or upon the cold of blasted plains,
Drawing maps with the tips of their great blades.

But we had come here late.  Few of us could speak Latin,
Read the sagas or the ancient books.  We had only been
Playing at a war that started long before we discovered
Ourselves here; pulling the swords from the sand, out of the
Ice, the mud, standing in terrible rains.  When the rains
Finally stopped, there were thousands of us standing
Together on an endless plain, all armed with these
Weapons, praising nightmare, building hells larger
Than any empires.  We had arrived much too late.
We believed the swords to be ourselves and not others.
We live in the hollow of a dream, constantly killing
Each other, constantly weeping for losses we cannot
Understand, unable to find the words that would wake
Us, to find the curve to trouble eternity with such a single
Desire as the understanding of a single word: peace.

 Shark Mouth


The open sea.
I should not show you
Places like this.  You can find
Your own regrets without
My showing them to you
As a doorway too crowded
To pass through.

All that noise
Is your memory.

 Looking Upriver, Fog


The day blackened with a trembling
Of a gambler's cards, an opening
Rose.  These things made perfect
Being out at the rising of the sun.
Honor this.  Tick.  Tock.

They have torn the clothing
Off the sea.  And all we see
Are the ships in the mouth
Of the story teller.

“What is the limit?” he says.
“Have we reached it yet?”

You can have your own galaxy
If you’d like.  All you have
To do is find love someplace

Here on the earth...or even
A beautiful word.

I’ll tell you what I’ll do.
I will dream yesterday for you
If you will dream today.

I didn’t want to wake you
But there is a lot of blood coming
From your mouth.

 Looking West Past Stuart's


When they tore the door off
The Yellow World
We surrounded ourselves
With flaming birds.

They quickly found wilderness.
One day was not different from another.

They annihilated the armies.
Oh Angel, Angel of light.

We came as far as the gate.
Looking into the garden,
We could see the guardians
Of morning.

They could not be called quietly
For what they had killed,
But they could not be forgiven.

Your mother may be in there
Looking through the eyes of the trees.



Does it matter if we find
Out the meaning?

This is sand we are walking upon.
The ecstasy is our eyes
And the echoes they toss
Back and forth.  We can
Wear hunger like clothing
And no one will notice.

We are naked like yesterdays
Swept beneath the sword.

These lacerations are Sunday morning.
I will watch these battles for you.
I will tell you when they have become dust.
I will sit in the garden behind the others.
Flashing, as your landing light.

I will be your child.
You will hold me to watch
Me breathe.

 Twin Cities Road


No one will let us pass.
I hate to tell you this, chaps,
But I don’t really have
Any idea what is going on.

The sky is looking around
For something to throw at us.

We have no weapons
That can help you now.

Our steps become quieter
And quieter until only the tiger
Can hear us walking through
This creation.
Listen to that breathing.

I’m not here to tell you
Something beautiful but
I recall that years ago
Tiresias showed us a flaming bird.

Sit here for awhile again.
A flame.  Look!  A flame.

Some joy right under your chair,
I am beginning to feel all golden.

Today's LittleNip:


Two peaches or plums
In a hat store or shop.

She said one could say
one or the other.

Firefly do your work.



 D.R.'s New Desk and Workspace


Friday, January 23, 2015

Archipelago of Bones

Mercato Centrale, Florence, Italy
—Photos by Stacie Sherman, Orangevale, CA
—Poems by Donal Mahoney, St. Louis, MO


January day
not a leaf left
on this skeleton

tree teeming
with sparrows
chirping and hopping

branch to branch
waiting for the deck
feeder to be free of

cardinals and jays
bickering for seed
while on the floor

four doves
stroll in silence
feasting on spilled

seed near the railing
where a fat squirrel
sits with its tail high

in a question mark
ready to dive
and scatter them all



Danny the pruner
fell out of a tree
bounced only once
lay in a lump for
gapers to see

a lover was Danny
renowned in the city
the ladies confirmed
two men and a gurney
swept him away

spoke not a word
till he woke in hell
yelled at the devils
dancing in circles
chanting with glee

a litany of names
of other men’s wives
told Danny he'd soon
have horns of his own
no chance to flee.

 Bad Hair Day


Gallivanting again
she’s now 33

where she goes
ever a mystery

Her parents bewildered
are ill and retired

they watch her kids
seven so far

quints and twins
sires unknown

this time it's Nome
the twins were told

to meet her soulmate
found on the web

she was a nun once
cloistered in Rome.



Every man
needs a cane
and a German Shepherd
to ford the mind
and engage the maze
of any woman
single or married.
It doesn’t matter

which maze
which woman
as long as he
trundles on
when he marries
supports his children
grows old
and then rises

one hot morning
blinks in the ether
and asks himself
why did he marry
this maze
of a woman
only to find alas
she’s gone

 Falling Heart


You thought you knew her.
She thought she knew you.

Neither was true
but this happens at times

at Happy Hour on Fridays
after a long week of work.

The rapport was strong.
Amazing, you thought.

She might be someone
you’d see more than once.

She had a nice apartment
or maybe it was a condo

a big double bed
with a canopy yet.

You slept soundly until
the key in the door

and from the other pillow
you heard a whisper,

“He’s not expected
until late next week.”



For years Ollie worked
late into the night
ringing up his sales
of wine and liquor
cigarettes and condoms
sometimes overcharging
addled customers who
had nowhere else to go.

He invested profits in
gold and silver coins
hidden in a box
under the attic floor
of the house he bought
for a crippled son
who never married,
never climbed a stair.

Now the store is closed
and the son is getting old
but the coins are
shining in their box 
under the attic floor.
Ollie too is in a box,
a sea of dust, an
archipelago of bones.

 Travel 'Gator


My wife told the mailman
she plans to leave me

and my boss said Friday
I’ve been laid off.

My doctor says
I need four stents

even though
I’m not that old.

My son hates our nation
and plans to join ISIS

and my daughter says
she’s three months pregnant.

Last night I told my story
to a drunk at the corner tavern.

He used to be a preacher
and now can’t find a job.

He says I shouldn't worry
about life’s ups and downs

because if, like him, I'm saved,
why sweat the small stuff.



If I have to die
let it be on Monday, God,
so I won’t have to work

or call in sick.
I want the weekend
to think about it

over steins
of cold Michelob
and a carton

of Pall Malls,
two things I quit
decades ago

the day I got married.
I can’t remember
why I did that—

get married, I mean.
I know why I quit
Michelob and Pall Malls.

Sometimes we do
the right thing
for the wrong reason.


Today's LittleNip(s):

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth.
                   —Jean Cocteau
Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history.
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.
                   —T.S. Eliot



I Am Beautiful...

Thursday, January 22, 2015

My Castle of Dreams

Michigan Road
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


The darkness is complete
from a full moon's largess
shining strong and floating
outside my open window
with a Cupid over an arch
of stars as sprinkled dreams
divide between two coasts
washed from nostalgia
on cross-country skis
with a wavy wind
at my translucent curtains
lining my unresolved dreams
magnify my undaunted vision
on this January's sailed imagination
in a Blakean stained mirror
for a fiery airy moment.



A peaceable kingdom
in my castle of dreams
higher than a dark night
of Juan de la Cruz' soul
when mirrors of my past
sleepwalk through rooms
as dancing clouds pass
my telescopic memory
reminding me of Malibu
as a beach-blanket poet
surfs from living waters
in a quick light of infinity. 

 Lighthouse Fence

(Born Jan. 13, 1893)

Expressionist artist
of still life and landscape
with infinite blue
shining through nightmares
of endless war
and fascism's blight
you carry on in dream visions
etched in our skins
of earth, sun, rainfall
with art's portraits
as your friend Modigliani
drew yours.


(born Jan. 15, 1891)

Dream on in snows
Osip, in deceitful vodka
from visitors
around your table
weighing in by angels
chasing a half moon
on a Russian winter's day
forgiving all slander
and gossip,
imagine love's readiness
on the divan
hearing a cat's music
on the piano
not missing a note
of his furry footing
in moments of peace
your voice persists
in a kind of hour's joy
writing by the windowpane
in a sunny January thaw.

 Bannister Post, Maine

(born Jan.18, 1916)

It is morning
child poet
of Nicaragua
your night dreams
are water drops from
the trees of life
following rain
sweeping from dark skies
over the roof,
you invented modernism
on such calling days
of Spanish-American verse
your room is empty
for new generations
shout your name.

(Born Jan. 19, 1809)

Unveiling your statue
"Poe Returning to Boston"
this year seemed
to record the right notes
of a Gothic dream
on white and black pillows
with names of angels
dusting over the city
the January sunshine
propped us up
in your spotlight
by Charles Street
as we visit you
in memory of stone.


Today's LittleNip:

"I Have a Dream" speech
(Born Jan.15, 1929)

No water hoses
on our faces
will stop a sit-in
to bring love
from sons and daughters
over all races
of our kith and kin.



One Way, Locke, CA