Monday, December 05, 2016

Love Letters in Disguise

Window Shopping
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA

—Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA

He offered to go retrieve

a fresh garden worm to feed

our captive-bred finches.
My protest was illogical to him.
I won’t deny the birds the
pleasure of a freeze-dried

but I also rescue worms on rainy

days turning sunny, when they

are stranded in parking lots or

on sidewalks.
“I can cut it up small for them,”

he offered.
Please, don’t.

 Autumn Quilt
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Robert Lee Haycock

But a handful
Incarnadine depth
Caravans of cigarettes
Heaven's anthem
Orchards dreaming
That penultimate tango


much obliged
—robert lee haycock

Sleeping in a storefront
I heard tell the stars
were dancing
painting poems
bullet holes on yellow signs
night's hard watches
unwanted tools
lights of darkening lamps
crowded into dreams
and blossoms on her breasts


love letters in disguise
(an erasure poem by Robert Lee Haycock
and ReBecca Gozion)

very nub of  love
i am right there
to hear your heart
below the moon
firstborn of many
hanging above
as we speak
as you wish
love letters
in disguise.

 Prince Charming
—Quilt by Kellie Willey
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Ann Wehrman, Sacramento, CA

lip of the field
laid bare to clay
now sprouts
brave, fresh pinpoints
of Kelly-green moss
tender sweet
pointillist carpet
defiant in mud
affirming their right to be

just above, ground swells
long swords of flat grass
sparkle with tiny dewdrops
clear, white
iridescent in sunlight
rich loam smell rises
from damp moss

raven catches my eye
landed near
fat nut clamped in his beak
he waits expectantly
but I’ve breakfasted
he nods, takes to air
obsidian wings lap
soft currents


—Ann Wehrman

fresh breeze like water
raindrops glitter
golden arcs
climb verdant sheaths of grass

trees dance in autumn gowns
moss green, russet, pumpkin, bronze
not yet denuded by stern cold
high winds tossing leaves to gutter

morning sky pearlescent, sweet from rain
yet clouds mass gray at the horizon
lush, late moments of the year to crumble
under winter’s black freeze

long autumn welcomes dormancy
sinks toward death
unafraid, certain of spring’s renewal


—Ann Wehrman

The man peered out of his thumbprint-smeared spectacles, through the dusty window, at the sky. His sleek, black familiar slipped under his fingers, greedy for his touch, connecting the man to his own body. Mao, time to eat again, already? the man sighed, and stroked the miniature jaguar’s muscular flank as Mao rumbled in tenor affirmation. The man gazed out the window at sky splashed with maroon, gold, and orange, the infinite dome above deep midnight blue and black. The storm had come as he dreamt in his chair of his long ago love, and it had raged outside all around him—driving water, the house shaken by wild wind. The rain passed, leaving his yard laced with puddles, leaves, and sticks; branches down; small tree uprooted; stone bird bath full to its lip, flower petals and leaves on the dark water’s surface. Mao demanded again; the man tore away from the window, dusty on its inside, washed by rain outside. Sighing, the man keyed a can of Friskies wet.

 Lenticular Clouds Over Mt. Diablo
—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

The walls made one room, muted
sea-green, a chamber unfurnished.
Dream light from a window burnished

the faintly weirdly disputed
reality that rooted
in doorknobs scarred and tarnished.

The room might momently vanish,
yet you stood undiluted.
Your unclothed skin felt warm,

smooth ghost; your fingers hooked
my fingers, your bare shape
heat-haloed against cool form,

clean pane bereft of drapes.
Touch fathomed, where doubt onlooked.
Transpiercing by ectoplasms,

we closed and reopened chasms.


—Tom Goff

Because if there is climax in this life,
the force that propels symphonic argument,
it burgeons by virtue of brass instruments
—the orchestra’s boldest beings, chief lawscoffs—

whilst nicequiet souls desire you kindly stifle
that giggle, piss out of, not into, that leaky tent,
desist from cracking those knuckles backwards bent,
make drunken fifes keep feet off our Duncan Fyfe.

Ephemerals of the trumpet kind?  Lives gnat-
short, our embouchure-facefuls of cheek pain
and lip-by-mouthpiece bruise; and yet the gain

to Mahler, Bruckner.  Danger heat, report
of arms, bell-clangor. Black antlers, fire-glow,
last lightning-cymbal to thunder-drum where we go.

(first pub. in Rattlesnake Review)

    (For my colleagues of the Golden State Brass;
    thanks to Bob Stanley for inviting us
    to perform at Burnett and Mimi Miller’s
    SPC fundraiser)

Reflections of Liberty Station 
—Quilt by Sandra I. Mall
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Tom Goff

No words will shape our ears knowers of notes,
yet we sink back upon decoders, meaning-carriers,
these pamphlets charged, like verbal fire-boats
to drift into musical seawalls, burst the barriers
between us uncomprehenders afraid to listen
and that nerve-wracked, eager orchestra,
about to incite the deep sine-waves to glisten,
brighten the audible beams atop this pergola. 

These essays are, and are not, guarantees
the performance or composer will prove wholesome.
They are, and are not, stories as we read stories,
more like pledges, promises of structure,
signals that fist or caress—impassioned, fulsome—
all delicacies or overbrimming glories,
with hopes of suspensions yielding into ease.
This contract, both parties must honor, must not rupture.

Each verb-heavy manifesto a semaphore gesture,
an understanding a language, without that language.
Yet some—Jane Vial Jaffe; Donald Tovey;
Arnold Bax, his programs laced with prose poetry—
can initiate, reconcile, swathe fit vesture
around rich music with notes that do not sandwich
the vital essence in moldy verbal buns,
nor do they omit choice anecdotes or puns;
the heard and the said compare notes without anguish.

Sometimes, when I languish, jaded with olden tunes,
I fret in the darkened auditorium,
wishing someone would relight the electric moons,
and then, oh happy me in the scriptorium,
my ears would buzz music, the eyes flick program notes.
A parade, with bands to match my mountain floats.
At the old-time singalong, I’d thrill to wallow
in doubly warbling, two bouncing balls to follow…

[If I the listener drift a moment idle,
do I read, in mind, mine or another’s supertitle?]


    (heroic piano sonata later reconceived as Bax’s First Symphony)
—Tom Goff

Sweet one, you should hear the pianist Michael Endres
play the difficult music of Arnold Bax.
He transcends mere pianists: he dwells among airbenders.
His technique, his musicianship: no lacks.
Sweet, you should hear Michael Endres play the tour
de force, the Symphony Sonata. Pyramids
of sound, tone clusters, he wolfs down, devours
only to request more. Ask, and he here unlids
double trills in all fifty fingers, arpeggios
that sigh and rise, subside again, all touch
as tender as I’d touch you. Abruptly there he goes
from Irish wonderlands green-golden, such
is his gift, to erecting, assaulting citadel gates
as Mussorgsky’s Kiev embraces, iron with fates.

Triumph ensues: the siege succeeds: surrender
in Firebird strains. You may bow, love, to the airbender.

 In Memory of Lee 
—Quilt by Mary Fish
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

We looked up into the sky
Canvassed the clouds
And came up with the usual
Conclusions about formations

We wanted to believe that
The puffiest clouds
Like the tallest trees
Were storehouses of history

But something was different
As if countless grandpas in heaven
Had conspired to blow smoke rings
To send us a message

And so here were these odd clouds
Like Mother Nature playing a joke on us
Casting shadows that
Defied the laws of physics

They would not only block the sun
But they seemed to reach out
And seek out darkness
Deep in the souls of men

Corral those men in that darkness
Confine them there
Long enough to diminish
Even their memory of the sun

Then the rains came, clouds cleared
Sunlight once again warmed the Earth
Unseen by those mired in darkness
Searching only for more darkness



Starting to write a poem
With a group of words
Collectively symmetrical
Hardbound in a lexicon
Chipping away the pieces
That don’t fit

Flotsam, jetsam, dust
Debris, hubris, ego
Politics, religion, sex
Foreign expressions
Technical talk

Name the 13 colonies
Which one was nudist?
Don’t say we weren’t doing that
The ancient Greeks did it
And we founded our
Democracy on their design

Change the station
I get terrible headaches
From squeaky high violins
Or trained operatic voices
Give me Whitney Houston
Or the Girl From Ipanema

I just can’t tolerate any of
Those elevated pitches
Sharpened like a
Guillotine blade
Ready to take
My head off

Maybe it was from
One of the head injuries
I suffered in my youth
Before the experts knew
What to look for
Or how to find it

The outdoors is besieged
With sharp edged plant parts
Maybe from palm tree trunks
They gather on chair seats
And cup holders

I sweep them up
With my cordless leaf vacuum
Again and again
They have become a permanent
[Damnit! Ctrl-P print instead of Shift-P initial cap]
Part of the atmosphere

Clear my throat
Flush the toilet
Run the garbage disposal
Wash my hands
Get rid of it
All of it
Still here


Thanks to today’s many contributors for fine poems and pix, chewing on recent Medusa themes such as Bubbles and After the Rain as we plow into December!

Area readings start off this week at Sac. Poetry Center with the American River Review crew from American River College, releasing their 30th issue, 7:30pm. Tomorrow (Tuesday), Poetry Off-the-Shelf, a poetry read-around, meets at the El Dorado Hills library, 5-7pm. And of course Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe meets on Thursday, 8pm. 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.


Today’s LittleNip:


Too much free time
On busy hands to spend
Much better spent
Putting knots in a rope

The truth didn’t suit me
So I gave it a bend
But straight truth bent
Doesn’t help one to cope

I pursed my lips
A bubble to send
Done, it was sent
Mouth washed of soap

One never knows
How all of this will end
Perhaps it has ent
New words give us hope


Celebrate poetry!

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