Saturday, August 29, 2015

18 poets read from SGVPQ 67


Light illuminates darkness ushered
in by loud thunder that shakes ground
accompanied by water pounding
the earth.

The splash of tires on rain soaked streets
are calming to hear while cuddled
in warm bed inside home.

I Saw An Old Man Weeping Alone

I saw an old man weeping alone as he sat on a city bench.
His open sobs seemed even louder than the urban
din that enveloped us.
His tears were more torrential than a hundred summer storms.

A multitude scurried past him,
paying little if any attention,
let alone allowing the time to inquire as to what it was that saddened him so, or offer a gentle touch.

I did take notice but I didn't act,
steeped, mired, consumed as I was in
some myopic maelstrom of vain distractions.
My head was tilted down, my jacket collar turned up as if
to brave a blizzard.
And thus I moved past him, icy and brisk like a north Atlantic wind.

I came to the end of the block and something unseen compelled me to turn around.
When I did the bench was empty. The doleful man had been swallowed by the chaos of concrete and car horns.
I went on my way, tossing the image and sounds of him behind me as if they were handfuls of worthless coins.

I made my way to an amber lit tavern.
Once inside, I bathed luxuriously in oceans of Bushmill's
and rivers of Merlot, while the juke box kept me sweetly
sated with Nashville cliches and moldy oldies.

Yet above the clinking of ice, the drunken laughter,
at the bartender's jokes, the riffs of Chuck Berry and the twang
of Hank Sr., I could hear the old man's sobs as though from a distant vale.
They became faint words of admonition.
His remembered tears were now a message scrawled on
the bar with invisible ink.

What if, they wrote, there comes an hour when some chill pair of hands takes hold of me like a set of medieval shackles,
rendering me motionless and, as such, a victim to some onslaught of grief.

What will it be about or threaten to become?
The death of a lover, a terminal malady, the imminence of war or some epic upheaval?
Faith  elusive, abandoned, misplaced or betrayed?
Mirages once prized by a cocky, foolish boy esteemed and
exalted them years before to venerated plateaus, only to have them, in more wizened years, reveal the true nature of what they'd always been:
Paint by number portraits, sophistries cloaked in the
tongues of wisdom, salacious encounters disguised as love,
All as void of any true value as the ring in a crackerjack box!

And should the sundial signal that moment, will I take the place of the old man who sat on the bench so distraught and abandoned?
Will a blind, impervious, throng whirl around me as it had him?
Will I silently beg for comfort like Oliver Twist with my bowl in hand?
And should I look up, will you be the ones who keep walking,
uncaring, remote and awaiting your turn to weep?

Shadows Outcast

I miss the sensation of a shadow--
That dark friend connected
heel to earth,
trailing me silently,
reassuring me that illusions
are still possible and
wonder remains-- I can
appear eight feet tall and
my fingers can turn into wolf heads.
Nothing follows me softly,
nothing creates wonder as I walk.
Shadows are outcast, hidden now
under freeway tunnels,
living off stray drops of water
laced with melted tar, tire rubber.
They don't miss me at all--
they miss their castaway past
chasing marooned and orange
leaves in fall, dancing with them,
dipped down into a cool paradise.
I remember when they still fought--
tip toed to my toes, defied the
whirlwinds of fuming dust, but
they lost the war to the sun,
gained only vertigo in battle, and
spinning from ground to sky,
they unraveled the shade in retreat.
The bees dart past recklessly,
trees are stained yellow,
thirsty, dizzy, we cry:
Will the shadows ever return?
Solar flares burn this valley,
reply only in snickering freckles--
They leave me with tiny, dark
new marks. Forever summer
tattoos and brands new
constellations on my arms.

Metasonnet: "Day Mom Died"
It becomes a season:
Day Mom Died --
Night Dad Died --
a season of frozen sunlight
like Hiroshima Day
As surf rolls in
breakfast with Portuguese fishermen
asking: "Have you read
a good book lately?
Listened to beautiful music?"
Numbing myself with a calculator
at the funeral
the wake, flowers,
corpse, lobster rolls

a reader’s guide to sleep  

nickel   silver   copper   gold
tin mines in Cornwall
lemon   chili   mustard   mold
Porlock   flintlock    oarlock   lock jaw
jack straw   jackdaw   see-saw Marjorie Daw
sweet marjoram’s the password    Lear at Dover Beach
once more into the breach   do I dare to eat a peach
Riki Tiki Tavi   Rin Tin Tin   tintinnabulation of the bells bells
will o’ the wisp   whip-poor-will   poor Tom’s a cold

my heart leaps up when I behold
indigo   vertigo   verdigris   chrome yellow
Quinn the Eskimo   a damsel with a dulcimer 
that sunny dome of opium
Waterloo   Rubicon   Wenlock Edge    Kubla Khan
leprechaun   la belle dame   Winken Blinken and Nod
anthrax   Achilles wrath   the topless towers of Ilium  
fiery furnace Rosebud   flaming sword Uriel    person from Porlock
bells bells bells   Big Ben   Big Chill
Alfred Lord Tennyson  

draw the curtains so so so
we’ll go to supper i’ the morning so so so
Big Bertha   Big Sleep
after many a summer
dies the swan
let me go
take back thy gift
the charm’s wound round
tin mines in Cornwall
nickel   silver   copper   gold

Superhuman Fog

stillness is taking over the nice nowhere
that walks and talks like a zero sum game
scattering ironies into the canyons
running neck and neck with machines
belching nerves in the luxury of limp nation
pure normalcy cries in the mountains
pumping strangers for the chase around the moon
altering clouds exploding trailer Zen
numbers condemning me to games of chance
deep download intimacy shattered
distracted by the speed of blinking emptiness
pocketing bloodshot doorway freaks
a morning of mammoth bacon blues
a jumpy shining buckle cruise
mistaken dribble evolutionary butts
in a superhuman fog of philosophy and flesh

Polishing Dirt

If sound bytes could be used to clean
turning themselves black as their cores
they would blare empty phrases
disconnects of clashing brass
gaseous explosions of trivia

If news feeds could be used at all
they couldn't even compost
rancid thoughts couched in wretched tongues
bellowing nonsense
sounds of fury
signifying nada

if pundits could speak any words
that revolved faintly around the truth
like erratic comets wobbling around stars
they would scream to the universe
with Barnum's acid
but never his veracity

So silence the pundits, the news and the bytes
before they bite too hard at intellect
rendering it numb
before the endless polish of excrement

talk a walk and talk to a tree
it has more honesty
and the sense to stay still


juvie camp in the woods
illusion of freedom 
lush gardens  succulent haven

officers on patrol 
watch monitor  listen
keep the peace

trip to doctor dentist
hands cuffed behind back
every day jewelry

womanhood wanders
future opaque.

The List

of patients numbered by priority
Nurses, doctors, added.
Check with each
as they are the authority.
Running at high speed is a necessity
but, since Carol called in sick
and the computers are down,
I'm getting explosively testy.

A thirty seven year old mother
of two young children
lies struggling for breath,
pale, so little muscle left
she has bones covered in Saran Wrap skin
The morphine drip can't keep up with her pain.
Yet, she smiles at me
her words at snail pace are
"today is a good day,
I saw my children
my husband held my hand
a long time while he
reminded me of treasured moments.
I was able to swallow
and keep down soup.
Now, you my friend are here.
I am so blessed"

It was impossible
to keep the tears
from running down my cheeks
as I held her hand.
I moved her arms and legs
gently, with profound care
as if carrying a child.
Before I leave,
I give her a hug and kiss her cheek
and reminder her,
she is dearly loved.
I know, she may not be here tomorrow.

I walk out of her room
down the hall,
down the stairs
out of the hospital.

Walk for blocks
around the neighborhood
looking at houses, trees, flowers, cars, people
Being so happy and grateful
to be alive, SO ALIVE,
Aware of my very cells singing with joy.

No it wasn't on my list,
but the most import priorities
often aren't

Birds in Fog

That night I drove back late from your place
The fog was so thick
I could barely see the road
And the brightest lights on the freeway
Resembled parallel moons obscured by cloud.
Somehow I got home safely
And looking out my window
As I walked to my own bed
I observed two birds sitting
Perched side-by-side on the telephone wire,
The same wire that carries our conversations
Back and forth between your life and mine.

As I shut the window, startled,
They leaped from the cable
Soaring into the air, dancing in spirals
Around one another, disappearing into mist.
Lying down between the sheets, closing my eyes,
I could hear them singing, even through the glass.
When I opened the window again, this time
They did not fly away, but held to their perch,
Glancing at me momentarily, then
Resuming their song, courting in duet
As the fog swirled around them.

How had they been able to find their way home,
By what instinct, how could they intuit their path
Through this world of darkness and obscurity,
Of cloud and confusion?
Can we ever learn to find our way
To be together again?
We only get to keep
What we are willing to let go of,
By holding on too hard we lose all….
So if these birds seem so content and comfortable
Within this world of ambiguity,
Of imperfect knowledge, limited powers,
And incomplete freedom,
If they can find their way through the fog
Then why not also we?


Ready for some serious drinking,
I board the metro bus 180
from an early happy hour restaurant/bar
to my fave late happy-hour, hipster-free dive.
Fare paid, I turn to find a seat
where I see an older woman about my age
sitting in front reaching into a bag at her feet.
Bending down she is showing a lovely d├ęcolletage.
Captivated, I am mesmerized.
She looks up and I am caught staring. 
After an uncomfortable trip avoiding her gaze,
I inebriatedly try to apologize.
I get up for my stop and say 
that seeing her on this bus
has proven to me
that the wonders of the world
may be getting older
but they, certainly, have not fallen to ruins.
I disembark and turn back to wave goodbye.
She looks at me and gives me the finger.
(Upon Reflection
I guess that's no wonder after all.


innocent souls
would waft towards heaven
on dust devil dreams
if such things exist
but the weight of sin
holds our obese shadows
to this tacky world
of cakes and candies
and cinnamon sticky buns
that cling
to all except ascetic anorexics
lost in their own madness
while we
upon death
are rendered down
in some Zoroastrian hell
to make candles
– illumination
that reaches past
mere sky


and now
as we approach and then defend
this end of the court
will we resort of course to madness
to sort out the leap, from the feint?

will we contain the measure of our need
within the doctrine of this measured sport
not tennis or war
but city life

we care to know just what sorts are coming over
visible now on the horizon
wearing boa contrictors and jiggling babies
with their jeans on overload
and their hair striated
like alligator muscle

our leering worth
extends our girth
our mirth works:

"hey fatso!
let's get a divorce!"

we shout to the tribe across the street

what more can we contend with
than love?


Silly as a duel with moonlight,
I leaned in and pulled away.
Broke my own heart in the process.

My efforts have proven as futile
as selling sugar to candy.
Like a small cube of ice that pleads
its case to a volcano.

What is real, can burn with no chaser
Make one feel vast, tiny and
naked on a highway that is the road
to a solid story filling in.

We can give breath to procrastination
or to stillness that brings new light
to the emotionally-blind.

The clown under a spot light
without makeup or coping antics.


Why do I assume you have a soul
that your eyes speak heavenly words
and your mind is filled with thoughts
that I try to read everyday
even though you cannot say a word
Why do I give you the power
to say whether or not I’m okay?
Why do I put you above everybody?

Are you not simply a creature
that is motivated only by
physical needs and desires
Do you even know why you’re alive?
Or who I am?
the “mommy” who feeds you
and romanticizes you
when your owner is away

The Skies Speak In Light
(a line by Mary Monroe)

Regular warmth for the planet below
The earth feels the message
Offers flowers and animals
A billion year gift exchange

Sons of our sun remake
The bounty into concentrated energy
Alter the colors of the heavens
Wonder if we are damning each other

And can we change it back
Cancer is a sign we need to
Return to the pristine beauties
We once were before greed

Become again worshippers
Of the temples of clouds
Sending tears to mix clay
From the dust which is ourselves

Before My Commute

morning greets tired eyes
entering through open window

clouds uncover
a drunken sun
birds mingle on power lines

like vultures
waiting to devour
what remains left

from last night
washed on the banks
of my yard

I smell the basil
planted out back
to keep the flies away

air cooled
on skin contact
it wakes

fingers reach for the rod
to close the blinds
to rich earth

cut into slabs
of places
we call home

It Is Friday

And I’m kind of busy
Cleaning the shelves in my heart
From debris and dust;
Releasing free all the ladybugs
and the butterflies from  inside.

I bundled all memory treasures
at once
and locked them deep in my soul.
In fact, I’ll be conscious
And preserve my feeling of joy.

It is Friday. I am cleaning
in enormous proportions!
tossing  out from  the rack 
my crinkly corroded emotions.

It is Friday. I’m in a hurry
With a smile on my face
and kiss on my lips;
I’m shining today. I feel gorgeous
For the upcoming weekend indeed.