Monday, March 25, 2024

One Step At A Time

 Charles Blondin crossing the Niagara River, 1859
—Public Domain Photo

* * *

—Poetry by Nolcha Fox, Stephen Kingsnorth,
Sayani Mukherjee, Caschwa, and Joe Nolan
—Original Photo by Caschwa
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Joe Nolan and Stephen Kingsnorth
—Nolcha Fox, Buffalo, WY

One step at a time, umbrella in my hand,
I walk the line from infant to old age.
Below me is disaster, let me pick one,
maybe monsters or volcanoes or a stroke.
A monkey on the right is sawing through
the line,
it trembles, when it spills me it will spill way
more than
Death is on the left, rubbing his hands.
He’s salivating to dine and wine on little
crunchy me.
There is no good direction, flip a coin,
my only exit is an airplane
that promises a ride to outer space.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan

—Stephen Kingsnorth, Coedpoeth, Wrexham, Wales

The tightrope’s all about the gap,
from crossing line to where might drop;
but also if the word divides,
another gap for tight rope scene,
for how it’s seen gives us its mean.
My college trunk at porter’s lodge—
did tight-tied knots hold fast as chains?
Or trussed up victim, kidnapped, shot?
And trusting hold in abseil leap;
again, ascent—less mountain goat?

But Blondin’s name synonymous
with entertainment over rifts;
Niagara, the showman’s walk,
on foot, in sack, wheelbarrow wheeled,
his manager on piggyback.
At Crystal Palace—near my birth—
he crossed the rope by bicycle,
a model, engineered, New Cross—
and where I went to school indeed—
another tightrope, by report.

The tests, sobriety, I’ve seen
as tripping some fantastic line;
need balance, bar both light and long,
but not that hangdog look, like noosed.
So can we talk without offence
as Blondin walked without a fence?
So try the ply, how thick that strand
and set out on toe-curling trail.
In stirring air and atmosphere
we recognise risk, overspill.

It is all in the grip, you see,
a sampler of the knots displayed,
their anchor in those crampon stakes.
And if you’re diplomat at large
you’ll know the score, the gauge employed,
a talker, knowing strains involved,
each accents hanging in the air,
a charmed snake, Mesmer, swaying thrill.
As concentration, words unspoke,
with conversation, silence gold.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kingsnorth

—Stephen Kingsnorth

Like iceberg, topmost only seen,
you know the swan, serene above,
web madly paddle underneath—
that’s not the case, topcat with cream.
But here the balance must demand
a concentred feline mind,
no errant swish, even of tail,
for pole beneath, not tightrope width.
Who cares the pinhead, angel stand,
when you can watch me steadied, sat,
and as brigade is called to tree,
am I, in air, out of my depth?
But why consume myself with this,
when you show only topside self,
your calm exterior a mask,
and balanced view easily swayed?
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Sayani Mukherjee,
Chandannagar, W. Bengal, India

My suburban areas full of life
One pace at once
The mismatched codes of conduct
The daisy drowned too much
A paper flower flowing across
The bemused spoken cave
For the fallen tree had its source
The sounds and choirs of unsung tree
A tattoo-laden western upfront
I had the time of my life
God's favorite flower child
The Apollo journal of white lies
A heavenly hero of downtrodden youth. 
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy 
of Joe Nolan

—Sayani Mukherjee

The autumn towers burned down
The asphalt over my tea cup towel
An ever-growing stained glass
The dizzing morning atmosphere
The yellow fence of dark dribbled mouth
I asked for a green-waved stream
For the burning atmosphere
I don't know the price of mountains
Or the sea-grown weed skins
Signs marched over the ivory towers
For the vigil of a sun-scratched smile. 
 —Photo by Caschwa

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Our Declaration of Independence
boldly declared that the 13 British
Colonies were now states, each of
which had complete independence
(like the ancient Greek city-states).
Didn’t make that up, go ahead and
read the Declaration of Independence
for yourself.

in an instant, the new states felt
they’d been bamboozled because
now, some hand is quicker than the
eye negotiations had reduced them
to the status of being one state among
13 united states, each having to share
the same Congress which had full
authority over all the states to declare
war, contract alliances, conclude peace,
establish commerce, and make other key

gone was their full and complete
independence, and in its place was
the bombastic, disgruntled voice of
“we didn’t agree to all that!” which
has pervaded the political landscape
ever since.

adding fuel to this fire, the bigger, new
and improved government freed the
once legal slaves without paying the
slaveholders, and mandated, as if magic
could make it happen, that freed slaves
were now full citizens and were even
entitled to vote; we all know now that the
magic was AWOL and the changes set
forth in the new laws didn’t just happen,
but instead simmered stewing for centuries
to follow.

in the mean time, “free” blacks faced fiery
discrimination, segregation, brutal attacks
and death when they tried to assimilate as
per the law of the land; they were forced
to the back of the bus literally and figuratively
in all manners of how they were to conduct
themselves, put in the plight of Sisyphus,
pushing huge boulders uphill.

Well don’t feel badly, people have finally
come to their senses and things have now
changed for the better. Oops! spoke too
soon, per the current news, millions of
Americans still blame the government
for being stuck with the same old shit.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan, Stockton, CA

A tree can be killed
By cutting its roots,
By burning its leaves,
By grinding its seeds
Into dust.

Who will mourn
The death of a tree
That was in the way?

One that had
Grown too tall,
Become diseased,
Lost its charm,
No longer pleased,
Its time to go away?

When a tree is gone
Tractors will roll on
Over fresh-found dirt
Without the shade
Of leaves, above.
Wind will not be swayed. 
Ancient Tree Hugging Itself
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

Another smiling face
To put in place
To mark a shining

What we need
To replace
We felt
Had grown
Too dim.

It’s just another election.
We need a winning ticket—
Something we can sell,
Another hollow shell,
Marked by smiles
On the outer wrapper.
—Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

In this land
The soil is mixed
With tears, blood and sweat,

The restless sound of
Roaming armies,
The pounding of
Their horses’ hooves,

The screams of the wounded
And those who’d soon be dead,

The running fear
Seeking escape,
From genocide
Without warning,

When a camp
Is set for slaughter
Amid cavalry’s laughter.
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan

My daffodil, my darling!
The yellow’s in the field
And taller trees
Must bend and kneel,
To beauty, they must yield!

In early Spring
Over meadows
Run and sing
Up and down the hillsides.

Upon the green,
Bright yellow, seen,
All across the glade!
The sweetness of Spring air,
Of beauty, all is made!
My daffodil, my darling!
 —Public Domain Photo Courtesy of Joe Nolan

—Joe Nolan
A jigsaw puzzle,
Once completed,
Had been scattered to the wind.

The cover-box with picture,
To provide a clue,
Had its picture skinned—
To glue on post-cards,
Describing recent trips.

Shall we begin?
It only has a thousand pieces,
All of them down-wind.


Today’s LittleNip:

Life is always a tightrope or a feather bed. Give me the tightrope.

—Edith Wharton


—Medusa, with our thanks to today’s contributors as they celebrate life as a tightrope (our Tuesday Seed of the Week), rather than a feather bed.
—Public Domain Illustration Courtesy of Joe Nolan

A reminder that
Sacramento Poetry Center
will feature members of the
Hart Center Workshop
tonight in Sacramento, 7:30pm.
For info about this and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
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