Saturday, March 2, 2013

12 poets read from SGVPQ 57

Jeffry Michael Jensen
Love can be a noisy conversion.
My hand got caught inside her sweater.
The wrong fingers starved on the vine.
There was soup on my chin during visiting hours.
Fire trucks got caught in my necktie.
I’ve been given enough rope to tie
everyone up many times over.
The Mayans and their end of the world
don’t scare me in the least.
I have bigger fish to fillet.
I’m being tormented by Greek tactics,
Hebrew handshakes, Chinese water prints,
and American mud up to my punk mouth.
Alexandra Hohmann
            He held it close, fearful it might fall, wrapped in his worn flannel shirt. He hurried under awnings, sporadic shelter from the rain; he was forced into gutters when the sidewalk became too crowded.

            It was a Friday night, and they were officially over. Done. Finished. She made a clean break, asked him to leave, her voice too calm, too collected. When she said, “We need to talk,” she reached inside his chest and ripped it out. She threw it on the floor, bruised it, stomped on it. Blow after blow, his heart took the pummeling. And then she gestured to the dark doorway and the cold hallway.

  He hurried home, unaware the flannel was beginning to soak through. The red stain mingled with the pattern. His spirit broken, his mind elsewhere, his foot found a crack in the pavement and he fell spectacularly. Rain-soaked, with a twisted ankle, he lay sprawled on the sidewalk. Then he noticed the flannel shirt and its contents were no longer in his possession. The shirt lay crumpled in a wet mass beside him; the cargo had rolled a few feet away, at the curb. Even in the dark he could see the organ give one last pump, and then expire. A fragile piece of his heart washed away in the gutter that night, along with his relationship.
Brian Thorpe
From the solace of the womb I was cast on the beach of revolution,
unscathed, unwizened , untainted and not yet unnerved by cries
of dignity outraged, identity oppressed or lives needlessly extinguished.
My journeys to the knowledge of being were taken on the backs of toy
dinosaurs or seated in matchbox cars.
Any knowledge of strife was confined to sounds of a mothers' tears and the
din of of slamming doors. The name of fear was embodied in neighborhood
gangs of bullies or the stern visage of a vestal school marm.
How impervious I was to the images of slaughter in places as alien as Phnom
Penh or the Mekong Delta.
Pleasure too was blissfully limited to vague prepubescent
whispers of arousal as I sat in cinemas, while clad in shorts and high top sneakers,
ogling the ample curves of Annette Funicello or the speedo bulge of Frankie Avalon.
Excitement was gleaned from televised ball parks abundant with rousing cheers
for the likes of Roger Maris and Whitey Ford, or savored breathlessly in summer games of ringalario, as well as the rhythmic chorus of "I wanna hold your hand."
In time of course I would be thrust unarmored into the moils of protest and cathartic shouts
of "Hell no, we won't go!", Hey, hey LBJ, how many kids did you kill today", "Power off the pigs", and "Get Whitey!"
To the urgent elegy of "I have a dream," I was awakened to the onslaught of raging dissent
and sustained atrocity that heaved and deluged all around. My netting withered.
The voice of Clio, muse of history compelled me to assess, take sides, rejoice in
triumphs sorely won and mourn defeats so bitterly conceded.
Once old enough, I would whirl and writhe in chaos. And so imperiled and assaulted, my  cocoon, ingenuous and unaware, melted like a sherbet cup in the heat of searing turbulence.
Now in mature reflection on all that was, I treasure the respites of gentle reverie and allow the
luminous ghost of childhood lost, trusting and untroubled to guide me back whenever he allows the storms' eye.
I miss his sheltering hand.

I miss his sheltering hand.
Julia Stein
From exile the Baghdad poet sang
how under the shadow of
elegant metal balconies on Rashid Street
once they headed to Zbala’s for his juice
in Baghdad summer and winter.
Zbala and sons banged mugs of grape juice on trays
sang through a century to bring juice to
the protestors gathered against the British
in the ‘50s grabbed the grape juice at the bar
prime minister Nuri Said stopped at the juice bar
General Qassim came often to drink
even young Saddam Hussein guzzled the grape juice.
Three times yearly the Baghdad juicers trek north
to look at the vineyards in Ibril
now they use huge numbers of grapes
now the juice stops strokes, heals headaches,
abolishes anemia , dissolves heart disease,
pacifies the painful stomach
the thieves in exile remember after looting the banks
they headed to Zbala’s for the juice
Al Qaeda militants after cruising the street and dumping the dead body
headed to Zbala’s for the juice
American soldiers after their perilous patrols past half empty cafes
headed to Zbala’s for the juice
in Baghdad summer and winter
forty years after the war is over
the children of the refugees of the poets in exile
of the thieves of the Al Qaeda militants of the American soldiers
will return to Rashid Street in Baghdad
walk under the shadow of elegant balconies
to Zbala’s where his grandsons bang the juice mugs on trays and sing
and the children will all drink grape juice
Helaina Pisar McKibbon
I watch my room sail into night
as my lamps light the sky like a buoy,
and my table floats high on the air.
The blinds wink with a street light
as the bed tumbles out of the window,
and the dresser swims out with the moon.
I soar above roof tops and clouds
and intrude on the night.
I think I hear the crash of walls
when the stucco outside meets the plaster inside,
when the door of the room opens onto the street,
and a building moves into the gap.
Though the window is closed, I shiver
as the cold of the night seeps in.
I wade between roof tops and clouds,
And the night lies in wait.
I see my face in reflection
when the dark drains the blood from my flesh,
and my colors run into the night.
The window frame sections my chest,
and a crack in the gate outside
cuts my cheek in a long bloodless wound.
I drown among roof tops and clouds.
Joe Gardner
This isn’t your grandparent’s protests
no spitting on soldiers
no pictures of zippo raids
no rifles with flowers in the barrels
this is the common unity of Americans
the legs and backbone
the keystone
 and foundation
the defiant arch
that has always made us great
            the new shining beacon
for a way of life
a sacred promise      
 a New Deal
give me "your tired
your poor
your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free
the wretched refuse
 of your teeming shore
send these, the homeless
tempest tossed to me
I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door"
we offer 
 prosperity in return for
dedication; loyalty;
 and hard work
all lies now
turned to mold
the bakers have shuttered their doors
the pie is all media gratification
champagne dreams and caviar wishes
leads to new global
corporate slave trading
Only those bitten by the snake
know the burn
of hungry desperation
homes broken and foreclosed
employment held hostage
promises of economic recovery zones
that are only gilded cages
 of monetary oppression
and the big wheel keeps rolling
gears of profit margin
private citizen meat grinder
911 conspiracy
race war sympathy
religious extremity
smoke and mirror distractions
reality TV sleight of hand
all on cable/internet
 HD high speed on demand
DVR replaced VCR
like capitalism replaced patriotism
wings of thought clipped
drowning in slow stupid tar
ingenuity and self-reliance
our proud shared American history
of defiance
with oil dependency compliance
whole generations of veterans
coming home
 to shallow morphine comfort
and the warm embrace of plastic limbs
and plastic political promises
depending on the latest polling trends
a whole generation
 of young men and women
sent to destroy third world countries
while our government exports
living wage jobs
to foreign slave labor factories...
            AND THE POWER
            DO WE TRUST
Rosalee Thompson
I used to have
have a nice day eyes
personalized stationary
25 minute coffee breaks
Now I'm sitting
in a row of grimy orange chairs
mentally counting final unemployment checks
I used to have
dreams of Club Med
winter and summer clothes
dinner and a movie nights
Now I fill out
applications in my sleep
leaving my blood in government office trash cans
I am not a lawyer anymore
I am not a reporter
musician or
butterfly collector
I wish god was alive
When I was me
I saw spring melt into a sunflower
Thelma T. Reyna
You run on scimitars, slicing
grooves on tracks, stirring dust
with pumps of arms and stumps.
Hero muscles, olympian grit
churn miles alongside athletes whole,
pitting your heart against their calves and feet.
Oh, Oscar, how we’ve loved you!
Loved your will to race the wind and stars,
to brace the weight of Afrika on blades,
re-calibrate what makes a man be god,
transform a newborn’s curse to glory
for a boy denuded of his bones and limbs.
Oh, Oscar, how we loved your fire!
But she loved you, too, and you loved her.
She hugged humanity and lifted others from the dirt.
The god in you absconded in a blink,
evaporated in four thunders and black smoke,
on the saintly day that lovers love the most.
How mighty is the fall of gods,
precarious tumble from their pristine perch,
that proves to worshippers how quickly goodness dies.
Robert Rodriguez
Gil Scott said it best,
"The revolution will not be televised"
You are not a tragedy
Not another fallen Being
Not a story at Eleven
"I need to do better,
WE need to do better
I've had enough"
You are a raindrop
In a calm pool
Creating ripples
Where there is one drop
Another will fall
Circles will collide.
A share is like a raindrop
That causes movement
Until the water is a
symphony of ripples
That turn to waves
You are the vibration
The pulse
A voice heard
The world will never be the same
You are the raindrop that
created the flood
That YOUR world needed,
To start anew
Toti O’Brien

Just before he died
he asked for a
tangerine that
he caressed
tenderly until
he expired.
I was not there
too young I was
sent away although
I tried to say
before I went
to school and
I saw him
his head on
the side.
He asked for a
he held in his
hand and that’s
how he died.
down through 
generations or
maybe just to
my memory
that was the most
important thing
for him and for us
the love for the land
the trees the love
for the fruit the
respect of nature and
its  sacred.
That we had been
land owners but
that meant land
lovers responsive
brave knights of
our mother earth.
When many years
later his son died
I was at his death
bed. How much
I adored him. He
his father in my
heart being also my
guide and protector.
He asked for a
grapefruit, that
he called the moon.
I am not sure if
he put it close
to his face for the
smell or again he
caressed it. Years
had past
he didn’t own land
he took care
of buildings.
Still he died
with a grapefruit
in his hand.
He sat up in his
bed when agony
became unbearable.
And he cried
“father, father
I’m coming”.
He was kind and soft
spoken. But he screamed
very loud. Father,
father, I’m coming.
he said. I know
there’s a large
citrus garden out
there. The scents
get to me through
every single crack
in the sky. And some
times I can’t wait.
Karineh Mahdessian
lasso me with your arms
tame this wild heart of mine
for it wants to ignite revolutions.
this fist-sized organ
pumps nightmares of insurmountable sorrow
hold me back
that i do not drown.
anchor me to you
i can breathe again,
just one more time.
if you should let go,
i will sink into
the blackness of me
where i will stay
February 22, 1985
On New York mean streets 
Nouveau homeless mourn Ronald Reagan’s 
“Morning in America”
Modal Jazzers 
Congregate at Town Hall for 
Historic concert celebrating the relaunch of 
Blue Note Records
Herbie Hancock
Dapper dressed in shark blue suit and tie ascends in 
Funk mode on Steinway stairs to stars dancing over 
Cantaloupe Island
Freddy Hubbard 
Double breasted, barrel chested trumpeter 
Puffs post-bop fanfare to the shoreline sorcery of
Cantaloupe Island 
Joe Henderson
With salt and pepper bearded lips around tenor sax blows better
Vision to sojourners longing to locate latitude and longitude of
Cantaloupe Island 
Ron Carter
Plucks throbbing stings up and down length of 
Double bass in bumb-bumb-bumb-bumb tempo in jazz jaunt to
Cantaloupe Island 
Tony Williams
Sweating in blue tee shirt while drumming from heartbeat
of African-Asian-European ancestry, drives us to
Cantaloupe Island
Blue Note
Quintet invites all attending 
Reunion concert for endless funkfest at
Cantaloupe Island