Saturday, April 13, 2024

Rules For Lonely Dancers

 —Poetry by Trish Saunders, Seattle, WA
—Public Domain Photos Courtesy
of Trish Saunders

Traveling to Portland on the Coast Starlight
Express, I fall asleep and dream that I’m dozing
on a train, drinking G+T, reading the same book
I hold in my lap, a Ruth Rendell mystery I've read
a dozen times. Knowing the villain’s fate, where a
nd how the mean, murderous girl will be caught, is
soothing to me, like tea and toast. I prefer life

I have no idea why I grab a stranger’s case from
the baggage-go-round; it was so easy, even elegant, 

the way the Bakelite handle nestles into my palm.

Yes, it seems to wink, let’s go somewhere fun!
You Red-Caps keep silent now, here's a fiver to
nod politely while I walk away.

So, this is how it feels to torment a stranger, to
ruin carefully made plans. How far must I lug this
heavy bag, packed with his gross intimate junk? I
need my nice things, my Tanqueray, my sleep aids,
my book. 

At the Amtrak left-behind counter, the customer rep
tiredly beckons me forward. 

Long days, back when the sun was benign,
my sister and I lie on our stomachs
reading Agatha Christie mysteries.

We can’t imagine being anything but seventeen
and slender, but just in case, as a hedge
against age and thickening
we eat salads, drink Tab, smoke
Marlboro Lights, smear Bain de Soleil
over each other’s backs.

The days are endless.
The days are exactly the same.

We lie in our fenced back yard, desperate
for something violent, interesting.
Neither of us know yet that sunshine can disappear.
That we might spend weeks, years,
trying to find a place
that can hold us, saying,
you can turn your backs now, safely.


Now, time for admitting things

we've always known: 

the way trees vanish at midnight 

reappear at daybreak,

how other species hate and fear us, 

are indifferent to the Latin names

we give them, 

would gladly see us disappear. 
That we reach for each other’s hands

in the dark, not for love

but for reassurance.



It’s dangerous to stand too close to the river’s edge

looking for love.

Only a loon should expect kindness
from dank green water,
railings steeled with despair.

Sail to Mexico instead.  
When mariachi bands light up La Cucaracha,
even the shyest dancer 

can get up and twirl,
or sit in her seat and sway.
Louise Brooks


(for Louise Brooks)

Frost everywhere this morning; those roses never
know when to quit.

Look at their frozen petals, like peering into my
own face. 

I’m inside this watering can with the spiders,

the darkness.  As if something’s coiled inside me. 

When I close my eyes, I’m dancing.
Faucet handle screeches, and a trombone jumps!  

into my ear like, Stardust—
like, Sweet Georgia Brown. 

Old Victrola, 

a slice of burnt cherry pie. 

We’re young such a short while. Old until we die. 

Three months until spring. 

My last, I think.
Today's LittleNip:
A poet’s work … to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep.  
—Salman Rushdie
Our thanks to Trish Saunders, who writes poetry and short stories from her home on the shores of Lake Crescent in Seattle (previously Honolulu), and from the shores of her own imagination. She has poems out or forthcoming in The American Journal of Poetry, Pacifica Poetry Review, Silver Birch Press, Punk Noir Magazine, Fixator Press, Califragile, and The Rye Whiskey Review.


Trish Saunders

A reminder that the
Sierra Poetry Festival
takes place in Grass Valley today;
Mosaic of Voices will meet
in Lodi this afternoon; and
Sacramento Poetry Alliance features
Luisa Giulianettti and Terri Dawn Kent
in Sacramento this afternoon.
For info about these and other
future poetry happenings in
Northern California and otherwheres,
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