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Good Queen Calamity Jane

September 8, 2009 6 comments

From the 2009 qarrtsiluni chapbook contest finalist Calamity Jane, by Diane Gage

In the land of opaque pawns, Calamity ruled
as Electric Queen Jane, one-woman neon jubilee
of frank facts and filigree, a traveling smash of action.
The wayward were rewarded and the melancholy

mooned in the country of Jane’s command
with its euphonious thickets of fornicating birds
and its fishy unfathomed ponds, its riotous vespers
and lethargic dawns. No regulations cramped

anyone’s style, which inclined to the ingenuous,
the daft, the indulgent, the bizarre — most took their
shafonfa straight and had no word for par. So physical
and thick-necked her personal manner, so elaborate

and festooned her crown, she appeared acephalous
to the worshipping masses, who knew all about out
but damn little of down, during the forthright, delirious
reign of good Queen Electric Calamity Jane.

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Diane Gage tweets 50s-style haiku on Twitter from her 50s-era neighborhood known as Birdland, in San Diego. Her previous poem in Qarrtsiluni was “Fish Face” in the Water issue. Other recent publications include “Ode to Gravity” in Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes (C&R Press). A much fuller biography is avilable on her webpage.

Fish Face

May 29, 2008 12 comments

Deep in sea-rye live murmurs—
tales drifting to shore
about fish that can talk,
promise-making fishes,
wish-granting fishes, even fish
with human faces.

One such fish fetched up
in a net off the west coast one day
and spooked the crew, who calmed
themselves by teasing the youngest
among them. “Look, kid! Here’s
your granny! Or is it your girlfriend?”
The boy blushed, shuffled his feet,
looked out over the ocean.

The fish, who couldn’t talk,
lay dying on the deck. His life
flashed through his memory,
a saga of absurd yearning, a life
spent swimming from sea to sea
looking for faces just like these.

by Diane Gage

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