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Pearl, Lantern

August 26, 2009 Comments off

lovelessness
broken necklace
the Asian markets
opening lower
the fall
the fall of
the American dol-
lar
a light in China
Americans with pearl vision
as American as mini pearls
seed pearl
seed money and seed purse
plant case for the plant seed
it looks like a paper lantern

by Merry Speece

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Balance

August 25, 2009 2 comments

Are you able to catch that blackbird’s song?

You know fine well my higher hearing’s gone —
controlled explosions and pneumatic drills.

So I try to tune him first to soaring trills
then see-saw notes of warning as the cat
invisibles his predatory self in under-
growth; how the molasses of his song
meanders nightfall when the threat moves on.

Hey look! A golden eagle way up there!

No chance hawk-eye! Marking jotters till dawn.
You know I’m blinder than a cricket ball.

And with his own precision he gives me sun
on the edge of a wind-span throttled back sweet
to find ungainly land in the lee of morning
while I slit my eyes to hear the young call.

by Anne Connolly

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401(k)

August 24, 2009 Comments off
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A 92-Degree Day

August 22, 2009 Comments off

“Look,” Mullins said — we were by that time crossing the very busy and wide intersection at Van Ness and Market Streets, a trolley clunking and wheezing  by us, cars speeding in all directions, like pinballs gone berserk — “I don’t know what it means. You understand me? I’m a writer, and if I don’t write, I don’t feel good. You know, I read somewhere Dylan said if he didn’t work he didn’t feel good.”

“Oh?” I said, in an uninflected tone befitting the sheer banality.

He went on. “I suspect it’s that way with a lot of writers. I mean, you can’t do much with it, can you? Maybe a job teaching in a two-bit college. A sinecure.”

He said the word contemptuously. We had reached the other side of the street in one piece, and I found I was dusting myself off, literally.  It was a brutally hot day for San Francisco. The illuminated, flashing thermometer on the side of the bank building read “92.” I mopped my brow, my dripping wet, uncharacteristically so for San Francisco, brow.

“God! There are too many damn writers in this town,” he said. “I bet you every fifth person we’ve passed today is some kind of writer. Or wants to be.” He turned to me. “Why is that?”

I had no answer. Instead I thought about my first sinecure.

It was 1967 and I was hired on the telephone, wham, bam, interview and job offer in under fifteen minutes, that’s how it was back then. My call came early in the morning, around 8:15 San Francisco time, but it was 10:15 out there in the Midwest. I had just completed my masters at San Francisco State, which at the time had one of the most respected English faculties in the country. And it was in San Francisco, damn it, the adopted home I had fallen in love with.

Well, I found myself in September of 1967 living in a new apartment on the middle floor of a three-story concrete apartment building in a godforsaken university town in the northern Midwest, a town whose main distinction was that barbed wire had been invented there. The mansion of the inventor had become a museum, dually honoring the man’s life and his greatest achievement.

It didn’t last very long, that first sinecure in the town with the barbed-wire museum. One year. Nine months, actually, and those nine months were the longest year of my life, and the winter the coldest.

After that, a short stint at a small college in Pennsylvania, in a not unpleasant town, and this one with a museum dedicated to Little League baseball. But I wasn’t cut out for two-bit sinecures, I guess, and I returned to San Francisco where I worked a succession of jobs over the years, some good, some bad, some awful. Eventually, though it took quite a number of years, I found my way back into teaching, and without leaving the Bay Area. In all that time I had never quit writing.

“I don’t know,” I told Mullins, finally, without inflection, as I mopped my brow again, a Sisyphean task, it seemed, especially in San Francisco.

by Don Skiles and Peter Cherches

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My Lady Copia

August 21, 2009 Comments off

 

Perhaps because I can get so tongue-tied, I am not naturally economical in writing.
Cut half of what you write, advises my father, who is something of a raconteur.
Drop your last paragraph to avoid appearing argumentative, counsels my lawyer,
himself a gladiator. True, E.B. White held a good school. The English language is
naturally redundant: “to be” constructions, excessive nominalizations, clichés—all
deservedly banished from the Republic of Letters. Adjectives and figures of speech: 
never use when an action word will do. And by god, throw away your thesaurus.

It is always surprising, though, when the Occam’s Razor falls on poetry: We cannot
consider poems of more than twenty lines.  We ask that you kindly sum things up and

get to the point. Of course the poem itself may have been the point: the vent, the spill,
the tendril, the brave search party sent out after other words. (Pardon my pleonasm.)
The safest course is to unloose the diction only when it’s certain to seem appropriate.
A eulogy? You can get away with that sort of thing. Trash-talking with friends?
Of course you must play that game. An affectionate letter? Even those I have been
encouraged to tone down. Don’t pontificate, don’t come on too strong, don’t jinx things
with your exuberance. So I end here. It is, as they say, a wrap.  Ad FinemVale.

by M.V. Montgomery

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blown by the wind

August 20, 2009 Comments off
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New Poem Breathing

August 19, 2009 3 comments

Curry a new poem
with a wire brush

toss vanity aside
when you dare to

hit it two or more swipes
with the same scrub brush

your mother kept the kitchen
clean with, drag with a fine tooth comb

the kind she sought out nits
with when school was overrun

the way ant hordes might come
yet, fire ants from Brazil’s interior

the Amazon bone-dry
old wells besieged

silence the final
architect

by Tom Sheehan

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