Saturday, August 30, 2014

18 poets read from SGVPQ 63

The Rock of Morro Bay

Born of fiery entrails
of ancient mother earth
The rock stands proud
guards the blue waters
Sun penetrates fog
Halo of mystic light
crowns the sacred dome
Flocks of sea gulls
solitary falcons worship
at the sanctuary of life. 
On The 35th Floor

It is almost midnight.
The large summer moon
Throws misty light
Over my shoulders.
It is past midnight.
I’m supposed to be home
At this time, but no…
I am still at the office.

Shall I go?…On the 35th floor
Time is silently frozen.
The city is sleeping,
Taxis and trolleys are slow
Blinking their million lights.

Shall I go?… I locked the door
From inside.
Until the morning,
No telephones, no meetings.
35th floor
Is my insomniac island.
…and It is past midnight.

Only Live in Americas

tiny ballet dancers
flex shoulders
allow wings to bend

seem to float
rather than fly
perfectly balanced
in the air

navigation system
help them conquer
whizz by
like jets
stopping traffic

speedy little bird’s
stuck in overdrive
beats superfast
(even at rest)

constant feeding
on thousands
of flowers
keeps them on the move

aerial dogfights
have birds
defend flower patch
for survival

they dine on nectar
while hovering
and become pollinators
for plants
from long bills
to curved bills
to short bills
like a key to a lock

between flower plant
and bird’s bill
plays a role
in amazing adaptations

dull feathers
surface observation
but in light
magnificent colors

created by special cells
in feathers
not pigment

they can perish
in their sleep
so at night
they lower temperature
vital signs
like hibernation
to save energy

long migrations
track resources
key to survival
as long as habitats
and food sources remain

can live in the Americas
for about twelve years
so let out the feeders
witness their brilliance

Force Between, No. 2

Between the act of creation
and the intent
is inertia, yanking things strongly
to a standstill.
An unseen hand
grips tenaciously under stationary currents.

Who can turn upstream like visceral fish,
juxtapose will for nature, spur sagging flesh,
quash downrushing habit?
Who can arc, strain,
unhook mouths, as forces reel and pull?

Inertia gathers.
Frog-potted, we bide our time --
Wait to leap from tepid waters.
At first venture, hidden eddies trap.
Sidelined against pitiless swirls,
struggles ebb. Drained, sucked in,
we settle to the bottom, bones.
Humus, sediment, earth, rock.
Gradually harden, impervious.
The force rolls on,
always inexorably on.

Daphne's Call 

the willow’s breeze wisps painted dreams
lacquered in frozen liquids past
the dusk in my toes. 

steadily, the blood of a rose
perches upon sealed lips—

Daphne’s enchanting sweet stirs: 

she summons me toward roots
of her laurel. we sway
in amorous silence—

the seduction of beauty,
passion’s vagary—
my heart’s great compass. 
My Significant Other

No pleasing that woman of mine.

“I’m getting tired of same old sex,” 
she says first thing during foreplay
“Come closer. I can’t feel you.
Why are you hiding from me?”

So I wrap my arms tighter around her.
“Jesus Christ! I can’t breathe.
You’re trying too hard.
Just let us be.”

Gently enter cavern in quest of desired prize. 
“You’re strolling, not probing,” she complains.
“Exhilarate, don’t bore me.”

I speed up the rhythm.
“Whoa! Slow down the jackhammer, Mac!
“Do I look like a sidewalk?”

I lower tempo to reach climatic moment
but it still won’t come.

I’m exhausted.
“I don’t think I can.
I don’t think I can.
I don’t think I can,”
I say, ready to give up.

“Yes, you fucking can!”

It comes.
I show her the little rascal.

“Not bad,” she says.
“See you next poem.”
You make me feel

like a blue

on a pink

like a black

sliding into an
earthen hole

like a gray

snatching a white

like a green

stomping on
the rainbow city

and afterwards

like water
on a sidewalk

in the sun

like the wicked
warlock of the west

because of Dorothy

so this is how

God felt

Going on a Diet

I’m going on a diet
I don’t care what you say
I’m keeping it quiet

My heart is always in a riot
Obsessing over my weight
I’m going on a diet

Many times I have tried it
Call me an anorexic if you may
Anyway, I’m keeping it quiet

I’m tired of trying to fight it
Pretending to love things that I hate
I’m going on a diet

I only eat because I want you to see it
Then I wish I can spit out what I ate
I should always keep it quiet

Three meals a day I’m not able to meet it
Not to say snacks of ice cream and cake
I’m going on a diet
And I’m keeping it quiet
another box

within a wooden coffer
hidden away in a dark closet
are memories of childhood
mementos in string and stone
tossed in with effigies of gods
and lost loves
with the colors leeched away
to pool like wax
in the bottom of the box
where passions have burnt away
casting harsh light
onto dreams
which have sublimated
into a vapor
of hope
to drift away
if the box
is ever opened
Gardener’s Burial

Earth to earth
ashes to ashes.

When I leave this garden
may my blood and bone feed the earth.
Grow exotic fungi,
or sharp bitty watercress for crisp salads.
Or sweet drip-juice-all-over-your t-shirt apricots
or purple ruffle basil for clams with pesto sauce and linguini.
Or peanuts for some child’s peanut-butter and jelly sandwich
or lavender for Drakkar Noir
to touch some rugged man’s face
and haunt a woman’s dreams
Or plain grass for some cat or dog to eat.
or pansies, daffodils  and roses
to inspire a Van Gogh or Okeef.
Or a pesky weed that grows
regardless of how often it is pulled
and how dry it seems to get
and doesn’t let concrete or cursing stop it.

Stare at full moon
everything falls away
moon stares back
did you see the shooting star
eyes beam bridge
river of light.
Last Right

Bury me in turquoise chiffon
Make my coffin a boat
Send me to eternity like a fluttering wave
Speckled with foam
Or consign me to flame
in searing vermillion satin
A firebird dancing in a whirlwind
Embers charged from my fingertips
Disintegrate me in cerulean and lavender lace
Filmy shreds of evening clinging
So I can glow like a slip of twilight
Before merging with the dark
But do not send me to my rest
Swathed in that white shroud
That prompted fatal toasts
The veil that stole my face
That pale prisoner's garb
Tripped my steps
And marked the locked door
Where existence became stasis
I spent too long
Living in that grave
Nekkid Ladies in Monterey

The nekkid ladies on Congress Avenue
are pinker than Rubens', 
pinker than Fragonard's,
the deep deep pink of a 
first-grader's bouncing pack
climbing David Street
behind her mother.

The nekkid ladies that bloom on Cannery Row
are not so pink, 
but they nod demurely, sway
in the seabreeze 
under a fitful sun,
colored like the mythic flesh
of Dora's girls.

There are tentacles writhing on the Aquarium roof –
sea creatures
lithe as nekkid ladies,
pearl, yellow, coral.
They slap the sundown wind;
they wait for dark
to glow.
Tequila Night

High school
Early 90's
When being a cholo was cool
They got all the girls
Nobody fucked with them
Running school
And neighborhood streets

Ninth graders
Something to prove
Gotta make a name for ourselves
Find the perfect place to throw a party
Invite nothing but juniors and seniors

The space didn't cost a dime
An unused store
Behind 2 bars
Marina Pacifica
Long Beach
Long way from home
For non driving 14 year olds
Money making venture
$5 a head
Friday night party
8pm-2am on the flyer
If you're from the hood: FREE
DJ gets the party started
Proper Dos
"Mexican Power"
Bass rattling the windows
Sound of 40oz bottle cap seals breaking
Girls start showing up
So do the cops
Twenty minutes in
As quickly as it started

What the hell do we do now?
Close up shop
Head back up the 405 north
Someone's parents are gone
After party
If you can call it that
Back to the hood
Dead end street
What was a dead night just got live
Bottles all over
Grab the tequila
Jose Cuervo Gold
Slam it on the table
14 year olds trading shots
Minutes later
Empty bottle
Burning bellies
And fuzzy vision
Courage galore
Older chicks
Let the rapping begin
Pants come down
Revealing what we'd like to give
What we have to offer
Giggling chicks
If only we were older
We're told
Pull up our pants
Jump in the truck
Head home
With nothing
Memories to last a lifetime
Two day hangover
And a promise to self:
Never drink tequila again
The User

I want to untie the knot
choking my life.

Break smoke rings taut  
around my neck.

Relinquish the mask worn
to control reality.

To be whole

To return unto

Mind, body and
Venice Beach

Bare feet pulse
Inside the angry lights.

Sprawling paint dazzles
Across concrete flora. 

Little gulls etch songs
Along the phone wires. 

Skateboards click over
Every crack, like tongues.  
The Panhandler

So many times I observed the panhandler, slouching in the various
haunts of city scapes.
So many times I mistook him for his own shadow or a trick of light
that only suggested the presence of a man.

When I managed a sustained look,
I could never quite discern his face, obscured as it was beneath
tattered scarves or cumbersome collars.
His eyes only partially visible peered at me with a mix of
pleading, curiosity, judgment, resentment or tremulous

As I came near he'd stretch out his hand, clothed in a glove of
funereal grey.
I in turn responded with the pitch of a coin, a crumpled bill or a
spare cigarette and though I couldn't make out his face I had no
pressing desire to.
A plethora of faces we're waiting to greet me from future throngs.
Surely they would be more memorable.
Why bother with his, I thought.

Often he'd beckon with the other hand or mumble a comment
incoherent to ears that scarcely cared to listen, let alone
What was he, after all, but a pitiful study in human refuse, void
of future and if ever imbued with a promising past, it had long
since dissolved into the soot and debris that clung to his
world-weary shoes.

I never feared the panhandler as those much wiser might have done.
Indeed, I grew to anticipate his presence with mundane familiarity.
How above and beyond him his pathetic visage made me feel as I
vaulted into youthful excursions, flights and misadventures.

In so doing, at the dawn of my journeys, I paid him no more
meaningful thought than I would to a tree stump next to a roadside
diner or an off ramp to nowhere that served as a cursory

He didn't remain confined to doorways, benches or subway stalls, as one might expect.
He was there mingling with the Sherpas while I prepared to scale
imagined mountains or whispering from the depths of cargo holds as
I sailed fantastic seas , or even stirring among the unexplored
vistas of distant planets as I drifted across a thousand galaxies.

No, I could not see his face but I took a strange comfort in his
constant form.
It wasn't until I came to know my own hints of exhaustion, of long
postponed summations, of introspections taxed, recriminations
begging for redress, admonitions pleading for repentance that I
came to contemplate him more and more and approach him from a distance with increasing dread.

His gloved hand became a chill reminder of a thirst unquenched,
torches unlit, beds unmade, pages of a diary left yellowed and
blank, chances at love left strewn on summer doorsteps or
squandered in torrid one nighters, prayers never offered, atonements unacknowledged and pathways to grace that I chose to forego.
All reckoning with these came back to me in dim silhouettes
scrawled in the dust of his palm.

Now, when I return to the labyrinth of city blocks where first I
encountered him, I do so with a yearning mea culpa.
I hear his pleading voice with crisp and painful clarity.
He turns to face me from one more doorway.
He lowers the tattered scarf and collar.
I see his features in pitiless sun or glowing moonlight and at
last, at last they become familiar.

The face of the my own.