Soapbox : 100 Thousand Poets for Change

100TPC poster soapbox

SOAPBOX for April 2017

Poems will be added, at least one a day,
for the month of April. Please include a short bio.
For access to the 100 Thousand Poets for Change
website, visit 100tpc.org.

 

April 1

“The Last Days of Jan [Kerouac]” by Carl Macki

 

We wanted her to be like a figure in a painting by Botticelli [or a China doll ]

instead, we got Jackson Pollock [in all his glory].

A friend gave me her address before I landed in Hollywood

I looked for her apartment in Hollywood. rang the bell and as we talked spread my writings across her living room floor

The Dodgers won their game in Chavez Ravine that day

it was still sunny

when we went to a Moroccan restaurant on Sunset

overlooking the hotel where John Belushi died

It felt dizzy and not at all glamorous

[She was] like St. Lucy forced into prostitution

And I some unnamed Sicilian jackal

Peddling saline drachmas in a salt-encrusted temple

Of timeless interference

when she died, my vision was restored.

April 2

“Geri Digiorno and 100 Thousand Poets for Change”
By 
Petaluma Community Access

Published on Dec 26, 2012

Geri Digiorno welcomes guests into her house for 100 Thousand Poets for Change.

April 3

“The Trumpeters” by Michael Rothenberg

 

Cowards in white sheets, the skinhead cops

and racists, the religious working men

and women who think a woman’s place is

in the kitchen and children are to be seen

and not heard, and believe people of color

are here in America as a privilege not a right,

who blame Obama for 9/11, but he wasn’t

even president then, the ones who say racism

didn’t exist in America until Obama,

the blowhards, The Trumpeters, the ones

who will murder to be in the driver’s seat

of a big white capitalist car, who will never

be in the driver’s seat, will always be

second-rate white people, in the rich

man’s eye, they might as well be black

for their marginalized existence in the grand

scheme of the upper class American

power elite, but still they buy into the lie,

with their heads up the ass of the real oppressors,

the powerful whites who will never share

a piece of the pie with their middle-class

and working class, poor white cousins, who

only see these ordinary folk, these regular

people as grist for the mill, unruly ignorants

who they can use to help them build their

oligarchic empires, the front line of their

marching band, The Trumpeters, blowing

the horn of oppression, blowing the horn

of the white man’s dream to rule the world,

the white man’s dream to carry guns

in the street, free to murder kids in Sandy Hook,

free to beat their wives, and practice rape

as a contact sport while they graduate

from Stanford University with a big white

degree, free to treat a woman as property,

like a piece of shit, these Trumpeters, they blow,

and blow hard, The Trumpeters, the 40 percent,

maybe 50 percent of America, who will sell

their souls for the promise of ever- elusive

power, the good old Christians who spit

in Christ’s face and rape him on the cross,

the ones that covet cruelty, The Trumpeters,

the patriotic Trumpeters, the ones who think

the USA is a page in an owner’s manual,

clear as day, that they can own democracy,

rig and twist justice and truth to their

self-interested lies and aspirations, that justice

can be bought and sold, as long as white

people rule the world, The Trumpeters,

the ones who think the USA is a big fucking

TV set, as they slurp down their supersized

cans of pharmaceutical sugar and poison,

The Trumpeters, who mimic some hallmark

illusion of The Great White American Way,

and lick the boots of a reality show star,

The Trumpeters, may they suffer the pain

they wish on the poor, the weak, the abandoned,

and rot in the hell of their own vanity,

greed, envy, pride, lust, and sloth and ten

more sins that are their legacy, the sins of

The Trumpeters! Oh, Trumpeters, come on,

blow, blow, blow, your trumpets, here

comes your monster daddy, he comes to give

you another script to read because you can’t

think for yourselves, and he will fuck you

in the ass, and he will never kiss you, never

ever be like you, or with you, he will only

bleed you, and bleed you, fodder for his wars,

fodder for his ecocidal factories, fodder

for his machineries of deception, yes, you

will be his robot army, because you are,

accept it, only Trumpeters, only soulless slaves,

at your very core, behind your brassiness

you are only a procession of cowards, and you

will follow and pronounce your yahoo

independence as you walk to your hate-filled

grave, you will follow the goosestep of the

high boot and genocide, get in line proud

Trumpeters, the future is yours, there’s a banquet

waiting for you beyond the gates of Valhalla,

come on, you are the lucky ones, the entitled ones,

not only the desired guest for the feast, you are

the feast itself, so bow down and open your collar,

your red-haired father is coming to devour you.

Photo by Terri Carrion

Michael Rothenberg is the editor of BigBridge.org, co-founder of 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and co-founder of Poets In Need, a non-profit 501(c), assisting poets in crisis. His most recent book of poems is Drawing The Shade (Dos Madres Press, 2016). A bi-lingual edition of Indefinite Detention: A Dog Story and the poetic journals Tally Ho and the Cowboy Dream/The Real and False Journals: Book 5 will be published by Varasek Ediciones (Madrid, Spain, 2017). Wake Up and Dream will be published in 2017 by MadHat Press. He currently lives in Tallahassee, Florida.

Go to the profile of 100DaysAction.net
100DaysAction.net
100 Days Action presents a calendar of activist and poetic action as a counternarrative to Trump’s one hundred day plan.

April 4

“The Chill of Grace” by Cathyrn Shea

 

Climb into the profound snow of high altitudes,
the synod of trees bent with the weight.
In guiltless knowledge of the wind, in the bitter
custody of winter, be there to listen.

Amid the stunted pines, the absence of bird song,
the attenuation of the light, your change takes place
among that radiance, may give you grace to forgive
how you raised your children.

Such a spent feast in the crystalline air
chiseled sharp that blinds you
where steam from your body struggles, escapes

above the deck of clouds. Your breath hangs
in wonder, ready to drop in an avalanche
unhinged from a cornice, thriving on moments of fury.

Sometimes we only want sun.
Then we want snow instead.
Wild like a sleeted noon,
a whiteout to erase the road.

First published in West Marin Review.

Cathryn Shea’s second chapbook, It’s Raining Lullabies, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press in late 2017. Shea’s poetry has recently appeared in After the Pause, Permafrost, Rust + Moth, Tinderbox, and elsewhere, and has poems forthcoming in anthologies that include Luminous Echoes: A Poetry Anthology by Into The Void and “The New English Verse” by Cyberwit.net. In 2004, she received the Marjorie J. Wilson Award for Excellence in Poetry from MARGIE. Shea serves on the editorial staff of the Marin Poetry Center and has worked in technical publishing for many years. She lives in Fairfax, California. See cathrynshea.com and @cathy_shea on Twitter.

Poet’s Note

“When I wrote “The Chill of Grace,” I had been reminiscing about how I felt the first time I stepped off the ski tram at Grand Targhee on the back side of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. The tops of the pine trees were so windswept and encrusted with snow they looked like old men in white robes entering heaven. I had never seen such blue sky in contrast to blinding white snow. Below-zero air entered my lungs, and I wondered how I would make it down the slope. I had a job there after college and the seasons I spent at Grand Targhee were life-changing magic for me. I met my husband and we had two children together after moving back to a busier, urban life. The poem reflects fleeting awe, joy, and puzzles about choices and consequences out of our control. I also remembered the terror I experienced in a whiteout when a friend and I were caught on the road in a blizzard.”

April 6

“Fix By Fix” by Daniel Michael McKenzie

 

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

All the Coeurs Noirs

We do abhor.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

open the chant

keep you au courant.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Kalinda and du Maine

Sing Le coup de Main.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Red dust Corn Meal

Seals the Deal.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

du Lac and du Maine

close it more.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Papa Legba

Expects some more.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Enclose the Circle

Anytime Lord.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Madam Paris there

In the Congo Square.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Erzule-Dantor

Claims what’s abhorred.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

You don’t stand a chance

That’s for sho’.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Mock the golden chalice

Y’all will feel his malice.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

No more Gumbo

We have sworn.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Stay in our circle

Forevermore
.
Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Keep ‘em in the room

Conjurin’ they Doom.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

No way out,

From the circle on the floor.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Du Lac

Et du Maine

Done fixed the Doors.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Enter the mirror

Captured in yo fear.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Ain’t no charade.

This be Elegua’s Parade.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

You don’t believe

so remain on the floor.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

This is yo Fate

There ain’t no escape.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

No Second Line

For what you done tore.

Fix by Fix

Door by Door

Look what’s comin’

Au revoir Coeurs Noirs.

April 7

“Moving Water” by Jelaluddin Rumi

 

When you do things from your soul, you feel a river
moving in you, a joy.

When actions come from another section, the feeling
disappears.

Don’t let others lead you.

They may be blind or, worse, vultures.

Reach for the rope of God. And what is that? Putting aside self-will.

Because of willfulness, people sit in jail, the trapped bird’s wings are tied,
fish sizzle in the skillet.

The anger of police is willfulness. You’ve seen a magistrate
inflict visible punishment. Now see the invisible.

If you could leave your selfishness, you would see how you’ve been torturing your soul.
We are born and live inside black water in a well.

How could we know what an open field of sunlight is? Don’t
insist on going where

you think you want to go. Ask the way to the spring. Your
living pieces will form

a harmony. There is a moving palace that floats in the air
with balconies and clear

water flowing through, infinity everywhere, yet contained
under a single tent.

The mystic poet Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rumi (30 September 1207 – 17 December 1273) was born in what is now Afghanistan of Sufi parents. Although a devout Muslim, his writings, both poetic and prosaic, transcend sectarian concerns and reflect universal values or qualities. Widely translated into many languages, Rumi is also the most popular poet in America.

April 8

“Three” by Dee Allen

 

Used to be 404 and 770.

Now, I’m 415 and 510.

Seven years spent

Taking in all this Area by the Bay gives me.

The good,

The bad,

The strange,

From my adopted home on the range.

“Consume all of it,

Grow strong and

Put in the work you’re meant to do”,

My heart whispers.

Always down for the Struggle

In defense of all life

Encompassing nature, all races, sexes,

species & certain classes,

Especially the Poor—–

W: 9.26.09

[ For Lisa Gray-Garcia a.k.a. tiny. ]

SUPREME BEING

The Supreme Being is

Holy

Wise

Pure

Loving

Gentle

Giving

All-knowing

Omnipotent

All-seeing

Omnipresent

Most times He

Sometimes She

Lord

Father

King

Redeemer

Merciful

Creator

Vengeful

Destroyer

Sadistic

Incomprehensible to mortals

Higher than us

Name plastered on roadside billboards

In the South & the Midwest

[ Along with Jesus ]

Muse for church sermons & statesmen’s speeches

Backbone for governmental decisions & laws

Impetus for terrorist acts

Excuse for needless wars

Convenient disguise for personal

Unscrupulous agendas—–

The Supreme Being is

All of these to all people.

Then again,

It would be

Downright stupid

Bestowing

A name

A title

A sex

A consciousness

A personality

A moral edge

Onto

An unproven

Shadow of an old idea.

(W: Buy Nothing Day 2012)

To The Deniers

If there were no cattle trains in 1940s Europe

Loaded up with

Jewish multitudes, headed for imaginary

Death camps, queuing up for illusory

Final showers in mythical

Zyklon-B gas, mass commencements into make-believe

Fleshpiles, filling in the Nazis’

Open graves, constructs dug into the soft earth of

Someone’s twisted imagination,

If the victims’ photographs

Were falsified,

Photoshop magic conjurations,

If a young girl’s

Diary entries, written whilst in hiding from stormtroopers,

Were forgeries by hand, pathological lies,

If the camp tattoos

On a survivor’s aging, withered arm

Were a lifelong

Traumatic

Mindtrick, possibly brought on by something else,

Seriously,

If the Holocaust never happened

Then you didn’t pick up this book

And you didn’t read this poem.

(W: 8.3.11)

Bio

A Well-loved performance poet based in the SF Bay Area, California, Dee Allen grows from African and Italian roots. He has been active in print in the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal and Poor Magazine, among others. His first two books Boneyard and Unwritten Law are available from POOR Press.

April 9

Vincent Carrella
“Video Excerpt”

(from 100 TPC reading)

 

April 10

“No Safe Spaces” by Fred Dodsworth

Republished from 100 Days Action

 

Standing midst the flames
like wolves’ tongues
surrounded by shattered lives,
the sun sets in the East this time,
a dark orange pallor
casting its sickly shadow
over dreams once offered
it’s a republic, if you can keep it,
said an old white dead guy
while a child, incandescent like the stars,
burns through the night
her eyes the color of embers
an abyss beckoning to a future
too like the past,
another season turn, turn, turning,
Guernica, guerre, resistance …
is inevitable,
art is an act of war.
You Must Apologize! Apologize!
…for the art you never birthed!
for the smiles you made instead,
there are no safe spaces
when the playwright writes
“whenever I hear the word culture,
I release the safety…”
It matters not which safety,
there is no safety in such a storm,
the sibilant hissing sounds Hanns’ made
are as silent or loud
as the starbursts of guns,
the blossom of bombs.
The bird, victim to its falconer
blinded,
its talons torn out,
its powerful beak broken,
this beast knows no center,
only a night of broken glass beckons
such things as happen in the darkness
and still the child stands in the flames,
her burning eyes on you,
on what you knew,
what you know,
what you failed to do
in these times the whole world must be rude,
even to the best of men
artists, poets, musicians,
such soldiers in such a war,
seize up your arms
make no safe spaces for those
who would enchant or enchain us
stand with that child incandescent
like the stars
Make your art hard.

11-26-16
(*Hanns Johst, SS Officer & author of Schlageter beloved of Nazis and the GOP: “Whenever I hear the word ‘culture’ I release the safety of my pistol.”)
A version of this poem was published in Anti-Heroin Chic, an online magazine.


Fred Dodsworth

An ink-stained wretch, Fred Dodsworth spent most of the last 30 years in newsrooms picking fights.
The truth is a slippery bastard and he lost most of those fights.
Now he writes poetry and fiction because there’s more truth to be found in fiction than in any news story ever printed.

April 11

“SF Jail Haiku” byFred Dodsworth

 

In this hard, locked box

I look for signs of new growth.

Spring comes, even here

In this hard, hard box

—July 31, 2015

April 12

“Poets For Change X3,” by Anita Erola

 

100 thousand poets for change
100 tuhatta runoilijaa muutokseen
100 mil poetas por cambio

begin the change
be the change

aloita muutos
ole se muutos

comenzar el cambio
ser el cambio

with words
sanoilla
con palabras

change will come with words
muutos sanoilla
el cambio vendra con palabras

change your words
change the world

muuta sanat
muuta maailma

cambie palabras
cambie el mundo

change will come
muutos tulee
el cambio vendra

change will come
muutos tulee
el cambio vendra

April 13

“Changed Words Bring Change” by Anita Erola

 

It has been written

It has been read

It has been said

Change is going to come

We are here now

With our words for change

With our words of change

Seasons change

Nature changes

Bring change

To the nature in us

Change your words

Change the world

The change

Is in the words

What you say

Changes the world

Mother Teresa said

I will never attend an anti-war rally

When you have a pro-peace rally, invite me

Hear the power

In the words

Seize the power

Of words

Seize the power

Change the world

Be positive about change

Listen to what is said

Hear what is said

April 14

“Dream Poem” by Al Winans

 

I see you in my dreams
you are wearing a silk scarf
your smile hovers over me like
a hummingbird

you are standing at a public square
in Mexico
The women are selling pottery
the men drinking wine

a cat crosses the road
purrs against your slender legs
you an early century Madonna
with no need for church or man

you sit cross-legged like Buddha
fill me with words that twist in my mind
like helicopter blades

your words soft as a feather pillow
blend with mine like buttered toast
explode like shrapnel inside my head

sweet fragrance of lilacs draws me in
sweet as a virgin’s innocence

I take refuge in a sea of stars
walk back into my mother’s womb
no longer stumbling like a blind man
in the dark
your limbs sing like crickets in the night
rub their hind legs in applause

April 15

“Open Your Eyes” by Al Winans

 

You can’t escape it

Your remote control is wed to it
Local and cable channels feed it to you
Like meat thrown into a tiger’s cage

News of wars and pending wars

Reel you in like a doomed fish
You become part of it whether
You want to or not

You don’t have to be on the frontlines
To feel the wounds see the blood

Taste the carnage

Your parents and grandparents lived it
Willed it to you
The dog feels it every time

He wags his tail
The cat hides under the bed

But can’t escape it
Walt Whitman walked the battlefields
Bandaged the wounds of the fallen
William Carlos Williams saw it in
The faces of dying patients

They built a cemetery on the lawn
Of General Lee’s mansion
General Grant tried to drink

The pain away

The disease can’t be defeated
The Pope is powerless
The President embraces it
The First Lady dances with it
The vampire Congress feeds off it

It’s a cancer that eats away at you

Sucks you down like quicksand

Admirals and Generals run through

The fields harvesting the dead
Congress gangsters rattle their sabers

In the midnight oil of democracy

Ballistic missiles pointed at the stars

The firing squad put on alert
Petrified standing like mannequins

In a death field

The businessman’s money tree

Bends with the weight
A nation in slave chains
Disguised as freedom

Turn on the TV open your eyes

It’s all there to see

Biography (from Wikipedia)

A.D. Winans has had poetry, book reviews, and short stories published in over 2,000 magazines and anthologies. He has written 63 books of poetry, and two books of prose.

A song poem of his was performed at Alice Tully Hall, New York City. In 2006, he was awarded a PEN National Josephine Miles Award for excellence in literature. In 2009 PEN Oakland presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2015 he was a recipient of a Kathy Acker Award in poetry and publishing.

His latest book, “San Francisco Poems” published by Little Red Tree Publishing, CT, includes an extended biography with many photographs, plus 99 poems, old and new.

In 2016 he appeared in a documentary movie on the life of poet Bob Kaufman. The movie was premiered in April 2016 at the San Francisco International Movie Festival.

April 16

Joey by Fred Dodsworth

 

Joey served three tours

killing Afghani and Iraqi patriots
who fought for their country,
for their beliefs.
Joey fought for us,
it was a job in a time of joblessness
he came back home confused and lonely
he kept remembering the war,
he could not forget,
only comfortable
—safe—
in the company of children.
No one trusts a man
who prefers the company of a child
Joey went away a young man,
but he came back home a broken one.
No one trusts a man
who prefers the truth of children.
When a parent,
an angry adult,
asks a child
‘“What did he do to you?
Did he do something to you?”
the nightmares mix with the fantasies,
adult desires smear childish confusion.
When the police arrested him
and asked him if he did those things
to that child
this was just one more question
he didn’t know how to answer.
Joey served three tours
killing strangers in the Middle East
now he serves 15 to life behind walls,
in a locked cell.
We forget the wars,
but the wars never end
for the soldiers who can’t forget.

—July 14, 2015

April 17th

“Mule Shoe Salient”by Will Holst

 

“On May 8, Union Maj. Gens.Gouverneur K. Warren and John Sedgwick unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge the Confederates under Maj. Gen. Richard H. Anderson from Laurel Hill, a position that was blocking them from Spotsylvania Court House. On May 10, Grant ordered attacks across the Confederate line of earthworks, which by now extended over 4 miles (6.5 km), including a prominent salient known as the Mule Shoe.   .   .   .  Attacks by Maj. Gen. Horatio G. Wright on the western edge of the Mule Shoe, which became known as the “Bloody Angle”, involved almost 24 hours of desperate hand-to-hand fighting, some of the most intense of the Civil War.” –Wikipedia, “Battle of Spotsylvania Court House

Yesterday morning at the Rose Garden
needed lips as blossoms like ears.

This morning their winter came,
pruned back at their wrists, hips and elbows.

I stand here at the breastworks of Bloody Angle
at the Spotsylvania battlefield where teenage boys fought
for 26 hours in the mud and rain face to face murdering
until the gray sadist drew them back for another year of it,
boys who never got laid or bit into baked lobster.
Beaten to death, burned, shot, decomposed
reading their Bibles and writing home scared.

Liars get away with murder
or Real Estate swindles.
A country that got matters resolved.
Not a word. By silence.

My blood thickens.
From Lightfoot Harry Lee I hear ‘nigger’
burying the alive dead as Desert Storm,
Chancelorsville: the gray line from the forest,
flushing the bear, deer, every living wild animal
before their charge,
that Cherokee ground dog stick’n possum Rebel yell,
bayoneting boys putting on their underpants,
playing harmonicas, stirring breakfast coffee,
as Stonewall’s 87th Airborne swooped in,
singing ‘I’ll club your skull in, my brother’s, father’s,
women’s, to save ma’ rites.’  To Dixie.

We know what’s going on.
We all take a bullet,
ankle deep in battlefield fluid,
our own faces screaming as sound,
as starving residue,
our skulls racked up to laughter,
our limbs sawed off, our skins hotter
than crispy critters scared shitless.

We know, we know, billions murdered.
We know why. We do nothing.
We take images to remember,
not words, not names, human being words.

Find your back torn away butchered as turtle.
We wriggle together in terror so
that our speaking looks like the eye of the blade
that comes down to split into quarter pieces.
We are feed.

Spotsylvania, Virginia

 

Will Holst was an educator in the Bay area public schools and lived in Berkeley, CA. He was a close friend of the poet, Eugene Ruggles.

April 18

“The Fire This Time” by Fred Dodsworth

 

My family, my children by other mothers, my children

I cherish your bent being and your gender bent clothes

Your dirty faces, all your different colors

Skin and hair and fabrics and desires unexpected,

Gathered round the table, eating, drinking, laughing

telling tales of strange, often frightening adventures

And footprints on the ceiling.

It turned into a dance party, of course.

Of course someone would hold someone else

Upside down and leave footprints on the ceiling
Before you optimistically drove off

In your wild painted but broken down buses and trucks

Headed to Brooklyn or Cementland or Slab City

Wasn’t that an abandoned military base on the Mexican border?

Either way, too far from my comfort zone.

Who else would take over a national park for a party?

With hundreds of ravers from all over the world

Security provided by PTSD vets on meth,

“but they were cool,” you said.

For the party you made home-brewed soda pop

with hand drawn labels on scavenged bottles

Concocted in a solution of cold-press coffee

Guarana and Eleuthero and Maca,

And god knows what else you put in it.

Boiled up on the stove and bottled

Sold at that rave in the woods

Guaranteed to keep the dance going all night

Everyone needs a little something to keep on going,

The rangers might show up any moment

The party is always bound to get busted

Now is the perfect time for lasers

Light painting the forests and far skies

The heavy beat of electro-house,

Or is it trance, or something called deep dub

I don’t know because I’m old but

You boys and girls with your spirited re-names

Your connection to and denial of

All that’s crass and commercial

Ballet on bicycles or trimming in Mendocino

Dance dangling on skeins of silk

High over head without a net,

Without any safety precautions.

Defying the odds to snatch you, but

The odds were never in your favor

The odds are not in our favor either

What are the odds of a motorcycle’s handle bar

Penetrating a woman’s skull,

Somehow missing her helmet

The one you refuse to wear… it doesn’t seem to matter

She wore the helmet and was forever altered

You won’t wear a helmet and I’m forever altered.

What are the odds of a big D depression

Getting to be too much this time, some time

It’s impossible, it’s unreal,

It’s the guesswork of greater powers than mine.

Forget all that, let’s talk about the fire.

What are the chances of you leaving the party

Just before the fire starts.

No, not Ghost Ship,

Remember New Orleans?

Who can forget NOLA?

The fire where ten of your friends perished,

Free spirits afloat in the smoke and flames,

Just another warehouse maze like every other

What are the chances that you won’t get to the party

Until after the fire starts, with all your friends

Hugging, Dancing and then 36 or so disappear.

Forever kith-n-kin lost in clouds of fiery dense smoke

And now you’re railing, railing against the inevitable

The recognition that even if it’s not you who died

Some part of you dies each time, every time.

Pounding on the ground, pounding on the walls

“Don’t take this away, too,” you say

That place of peace and communion

The one we all yearn for

But somehow you keep on going

Creating such illegal sacred spaces

While we worry about the inevitable

You build a better, wholer world

While we worry about the future

A future no one is guaranteed.

Oh my family, my children by other mothers, my children

You keep on going on,

Creating, Communing, Living

I cherish you. I love you.

All of you with your smoke smudged faces.

Please don’t leave me behind.

Take me with you when you go.

Feb 28, 2017

April 19

“Untitled” by Vincent Carrella

 

You are not going to rest on your laurels. You are not going to sit around and wait for something to happen. You are not going to procrastinate. You are not going to suffer. You’re not going to remain complacent. You are going to believe in yourself. You’re going to take risks. You’re going to dream and reach for your dreams. You will not allow fear to hold you back. You will embrace change. You will thrive. You will claim joy and happiness as your rights. You will work hard and be rewarded. You will not succumb to defeatist patterns of thought. You will love and accept yourself. You will pick yourself up if you fall. You will help other people. You will help yourself. You will be your own best friend but you will be helped by the friends that you have. You will be lucky. You will be given grace. You are not cursed, or broken or doomed. You will smile more often. You will laugh with greater frequency. You will take any setbacks in stride. You will trust in the universe. You will follow your heart. You will rely on the kindness of strangers. You will keep your light on and love the world like crazy and you will live each day as if it’s numbered because it is. You will treat yourself kindly. You won’t beat yourself up. You will learn new things all the time. You will stay humble but think mighty thoughts. You will cry when you feel like it and listen more closely. You’ll remember to be grateful for every thing that you have, and that it’s the little things that matter. You will treat each moment like a gift. You will always be gentle and always be forgiving and always be polite. You will be your own hero. You will be your own savior. But you will be patient and accepting and let the answers come in their own time. You will stay grounded in the present. You will let go of the past. You will be far less rigid about outcomes and the whys. You will breathe and breathe again. You will not fear death. You will acknowledge the power of your mind. You will talk less, think less and care less about the madness of the world. You will sit still. You will observe more. You will become like a very wise child. You will live well and be content because these are all choices and Heaven is is one of them and you were made in the exact image of God.

Photo was taken at my favorite breakfast place, The Hummingbird in Fairfax, CA

“Photo was taken at my favorite breakfast place, The Hummingbird, in Fairfax, CA.”

Vincent Louis Carrella – Writer/Author of  Serpent Box, a novel | Photographer at The Light House: Photography by Vincent Louis Carrella

April 20

“Mexico Poem” by A.D. Winans

 

Alone in my hotel room
In Mexico, twenty-four hours before
My flight back to San Francisco
A hundred blank pages rattling around
Inside my head

I can turn each one into paper airplanes
Fly them to imaginary places
Or write poems on them in vivid old
Mexico song rhythms

If I could draw
I’d draw a rainbow picture
Of beautiful Indian women
With faces brown as the soil

Soon I’ll return to San Francisco
City of dreamer’s drunkards
And lonely lovers

I will turn the blank pages into poems
Fleshed from the poned of my memory bank
Baited with the history of old Mexico

April 21

“Great Things About Getting Old”
by John Tischer

 

You can’t remember if you have
any regrets.

“Curmudgeon Cudgel”
…everyone expects you to hate everything.

…good excuse for
incontinence and
incoherence

…people are more likely to help,
because they don’t want to see you
die in front of them.

…you don’t have to move much
to have a good time.

…you can look at women,
and they’re not offended.

…women look at you,
and you’re not aroused.

John Tischer was an actor, plumber, teacher, and now writer. He lives in Tepotzlan, Mexico. His blog “Eggtooth Breaks Open” is at  https://johntischer.blogspot.com.

April 22

“Witching” by Geri diGiorno

 

tony and me are looking at property
up around nevada city
a nice half acre
with a mobile home on it

the realtor is holding a stick
moving it along the ground
both hands seeming to guide it
he’s looking for water

he stands in complete concentration
his face half-tense half-relaxed
he stops in an open field
full of wild flowers and weeds

there’s water here he says
six  ten  feet down
probably an underground stream
i’m awed

i never saw anything like this
the stick is moving vibrating
like its plugged into a socket
we’ve stepped over to another world
of belief or hope
our city-selves standing there  in disbelief
like two strangers
wanting to look back to ancient times
to rely on instinct  to believe
to  listen to the earth

Geri Digiorno is a visual artist, and poet. She was Sonoma Poet Laureate (2006-2007) and is founded the Petaluma Poetry Walk, where she is the Director. She studied art at College of San Mateo, Solano College, Sonoma College, and Santa Rosa Junior College, and has read her poems widely in the North Bay and SF Bay Area.

April 23

“Poem For Monica” by John Tischer

 

They’re building a wall in my house

on top of an old wall because of leakage.

The whole family is here including five

year old Damien, who likes me. He has

a new puppy as big as my hand. I gave

both of them cold milk to drink.

This just happens when you’re alive,

all of it, so ordinary, so magic…we take

for granted the magnificent dream we

wake up into every day. Everything

that emanates from our hearts and minds

fills the universe like a perfume, “immense

and living.”

April 24

“Hope Savage” by Aaron Lantz

 

Better to go uncertain

Than to fetter yourself needlessly

To the changing winds,

The bitter winds.

To the jealous gusts of stolen air

Ghost-wandering to a Paradise

That will never quite be theirs.

Better to keep a distance,

To remain aloof,

While the hordes of impatient

Seekers of happiness

Drown themselves one by one

In their leaden ideals.

Better to fly alone,

The solitary hawk

On the mountain peak

Where neither fog nor sand

Obscures your sight,

But distance and height

Make a map of the earth;

A vision of Nature

Expanding in vastness,

Open to your thirsting tongue.

Forget the heavy pages

Memorized by candle-light.

Those countless nights of insomnia

Insisting your youth was a

Fleeting hope.

Shelley can wait ‘till

The mountains fall.

Follow Rimbaud

To the dying Sun.

Leave to mere memory

The damp, moldy rooms

Where they drank up your words

And caressed your throat.

Imprison their vice

In their earthbound Dreams.

Embrace your wings

And be one with the song

That encompasses freedom

In a holy chant:

Better to go uncertain

Than die fettered– locked in chains.

Better to let the walls collapse

Than be held in trust of sanctity.

Better let the unreleased linger

In their shallow beds.

Better to jump and find yourself

The Sun, a burning eye.

April 25

“Lost Above The Trees” by Aaron Lantz

(For Lew Welch)

 

Buzzard sky

Won’t you take a ride

On the wings of clouds

The first we’ve seen all month?

See as time goes by

And the air is dry

The night wine bottle

Keeps a watch

He keeps a watch

For the first

Sign of sunrise

To show its face

Yellow dawn

And taxi-cabs

Vision of action

After Anacreon

Almost forgotten

On the tongue

Of wisdom

Flying for the forest

Lost above the trees

Somewhere past the desert

Coffee cups or bear claws

Wolf eyes or poetry

Lost above the trees

April 26

“From Wamba Poems” by Bill Vartnaw

(for Druid)

in the shadows
where definition is made
suspended from floor joists
under the floor
hang soft yellow furry balls
mothered by black widows

& the word was passed…

gray squirrel runs vertically up a tree
stops
sticks head around curved space
senses reaction

he cut a big gash in his thumb
clear to the bone
sharp knife
steel from Pittsburgh
Billy Ralph could feel his friend’s pain
beyond facial expressions
stomach drops in wound
a pebble in the grand canyon
circles of waves
reverberate from center of agony
rapids of blood
shock!!

the waters are calm
near Orion
Wamba feels nothing

hospital emergency room
3 wait in line
behind moan on a gurney
the receptionist is filling forms
she asks: what is your name, sir?
address?
name of insurance?
do you have any identification?

he answers: the pain
I can tell it anywhere!
so vivid
a throbbing picture
my red period
flesh, a bloody thumbprint
my signature
he continues to bleed

:can we bill you at this address?

in darkness
under ceiling
that is still
somebody else’s floor
a black widow eats her mate
ending
a proper relationship

& the word was passed…

gurney moans
to questions by police
two men
in thin white frock coats
sneakers
wheel her into elevator

my grandfather bled to death
in an emergency room :he said
Wamba reads AMA periodical
on upcoming flu epidemic
40 minutes turn
into a pure red handkerchief

:what is the date of your birth?

blue-bellied lizard skitters
under a stack of 2 X 4s
does not trust the hands of man
chloroform thoughts
curious logic of a scalpel

ambulance siren is
heard in the distance
people on street hold ears
as it passes…

this is accepted

the family of moaning gurney
enter room
policemen approach
a thankless job
a few questions

nurse says: follow me
in 20 minutes
he clutches 8 new stitches
he looks relieved
Billy Ralph looks relieved
Wamba looks annoyed
he has seen this pecking order

hammer smashes black widow
then her eggs

the word is obscured
by fear
& abstract overkill

Bill Vartnaw, a former Sonoma County Poet Laureate, is the author of several books of poetry. He is also the Publisher of Taurean Horn Press and a Director of the Petaluma Poetry Walk.

April 27

“Busing Justice Through Freedom Summer,”
by Eugene Ruggles

All right. We’ll start over. Again.
Say we go back about thirty summers
to nineteen sixty-three–sixty-four,
between Mississippi and Massachusetts.

And then, after burning the keys
left in the ignition to rust
and paying the tow truck driver,
we’ll have white men sit at the rear
of the bus.White men like my father,
who thought we were born at the front.

At the end of the aisle in the bus
we install their own fountain
of water. Their own toilet.

We hand them the miracle
of a voter registration card
and open all the windows and doors.

We place first graders on their knees
and give them placards reading,
Honor Thy Children. Freedom Summer.

I don’t know how he does it,
with the ignition full of ashes,
but the driver turns over the engine.

The rear tires are wrapped
with barbed wire for traction,
as we drive through the bottom
of an open wound still wet with hate,
after thirty years. This is where the three
scarred roads of Schwerner, Chaney and Goodman
come together. Among others. The splattered wreck
of a bus begins to lurch and climb toward
a light where the skin grows together
before the wound closes over us.

Eugene Ruggles Photo

Photo Credit: SF Chronicle

Classic poem by Eugene Ruggles. Available in his Roads of Bread (Petaluma River Press).

April 28

“Memorial Day, 1979” by Eugene Ruggles

(originally published in the New Yorker)

 

1.

My neck sits in a pool
of gray leaves. In May. Draining.

To the west, on the other side
of Lake Michigan,
hundreds of shoes are scattered
across the end of O’Hare runway .

All of them are on fire.

A path of smoke is rising
from the center of the nation;
from the insides of shoes,
death has left
two hundred and seventy-three footprints
in Chicago, in daylight,
with a map of gasoline
curling around them;
where oil is burning the blood off
the bone begins to flow,
as the skin ends
the sound of rivets
and eyelids closing is spreading.

2.

Hydraulic fluid has entered every vein on board.
The huge wing of steel is offered, broken off, and lifted up
through the lungs of an infant.
The other wing is a cliff above tides of metal.
All the glowing instruments
of weather and direction and triumph
kneel between these wings
and begin to darken.

There is another kind of time
that does not stretch ahead of time
that does not stretch ahead of one
or sink behind one —
it flows off to either side
and hangs there, pressing the light
from bone, beyond arms, wings, prayers,
reaching for the echoes of God’s body.
Perhaps some hear them once before dying.

I don’t know. There are winds so hard
they leave behind them a silence
where the rain can be heard
hitting the bottom
of Lake Michigan. And spreading.

3.

Though it is not water
that has fallen like rain today.

A grave is drifting over Chicago,
and the ashes of three friends,
a father, mother, and daughter,
sift to the bottom of the runway.
They are not with strangers any longer.
Near the edge gravel is turning over.
Insects stir beneath the concrete slab.
They scurry from the heat. Still alive.

In three days we honor the war dead;
beside these miles of white crosses
the lake waits , the news moves over it.

News of the dead, towed this far
by hand behind the boat people —
they arrive with our guides, the refugees
the ones living on water. And spreading.

4.

I want to sleep for a long time
inside this husk of a tear around
my shoulders; beneath the left one
is a knot of rust. Turning over,

I reach out and feel the path beat.
And the grass ending at my throat.
A path through leaves of water.
In town the library and the tavern
open their shelves to the same dust,
the same ruins in my mouth.

Beyond all this a child is beginning
to run toward us from the beach,
the waves lifting spray around her.

She pauses, listening to the lake
until she can hear the lice
moving upon the sea gull’s wing.

She closes her eyelids and waves
from where she can see them flying
through skin. There is no trust
beyond hers.

And she is touching nothing alive.
The light keeps falling into her mouth
with such grace, like an echo, a word
coming to rest in her, as though
it were already shaped by another.

April 29

“Morrison, A Prelude” by Aaron Lantz

there was a low sun and a quiet beach
the careless waves went over sand and ignored the people gathered there
the people were resting mostly or were singing to themselves in shy tones not knowing
that some of them were going to end up becoming the luminaries of the next Age

one of those on the beach had long hair
and he lit his lips with the white clouds of a terrifying future
but he was too intoxicated with his evening daydreams to be afraid yet

fear would always have time to come later
and it did
and when it did it took him with it down to the red pools of something ending that can never be reversed or reclaimed again
but this was so far into the future that beginning with the quiet waves on the warm sand and the tentative voices singing visionary songs it would be reverse prophecy to dwell on the future stops in time

as it was the car just rolled forward and disappeared a little bit into the smoke and the sand settled
where the wheels had been and an electric organ carried them the rest of the way

April 30

“Family Picture,” by Aaron Lantz

 

Here’s a picture from 1995.

Lizzie and Lois in front of the fireplace.

Both holding your instruments of choice,

Guitar and a clarinet.

It’s a little fuzzy, but your smiles can be seen.

Now, Lizzie, everyone knows your name of course,

But who is it who is beside you?

Who is Lois other than your older sister?

Why are you both smiling with the same amount of confidence

When it’s only you who grows up a success?

Of course the answer is that clarinets, well,

You can’t sing and still play a clarinet

At the same time.

 

And Lois was always quieter, shy even,

Not the “performer” that you are.

Anyway, no one likes the name “Lois”

Like they like the snappy name “Lizzie”.

Well what if they called you “Elizabeth?”

Your parents still do.

 

Remember the other day after the show

And the guy comes up all excited and asks:

“Lizzie, do you want to go out with me sometime?”

And you’re like:

“Of course not, like I’m always super busy, I’m never even home.

Maybe ask my sister, I know she’s always free. She works in a boring bank.”

Then the guy looks at his phone (where’s the hopeful excitement now?

I’ll tell you later) and pulls his sunglasses

From his forehead to his eyes.

 

 

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