Poem – For an Old Lover

For an Old Lover

I can see your gaze on the horizon, steady,
not like mine as I drive alone
glancing at everything
                      that measures
how far I am from home.

The number on the trip odometer is a fraction,
nominal in the permanent measurement, scant
but significant, vital to the equation’s precision,
it itself a testament,
                      as you know

The eyes’ weariness serves warning for the midnight blues,
         but music waits in the cold morning
when I’m trembling close to you.

“And these are the days for roses, poetry and prose…


-O'Connell

Poem – Mount Corcoran

Mount Corcoran
		-Albert Bierstadt, 1877

The black bear waits
to kiss the water’s edge
Under fallen trees
		the trout nap together
and the waterfall
hums almost unnoticed.

Just a “mountain lake”
before the water dried:
From a hidden source
	the artificial light shines
on the sides
of white-capped triangles.

Under the clouds,
poor Al renamed his baby.

Under the approaching clouds,
cranes relax against redwoods,
rubbing against the aging sequoias.

The paintbrush dabbed lightly
before another application,
before the bassinet wails
asking to be tended.

Oh, let’s frame it.


-O'Connell

Poem – Fortune Cookies, Too

Fortune Cookies, Too

The son becomes the father
          when the father passes
your obligation becomes your life

We replace the old
     hardwood living room
          with thick gray carpet
it’s not an accident if you allow it

Katie’s waist thins over time
stretches mark the months
          Billy depended on her
make sure to caress them
     when you bathe

Mother spends the day with her grandson
     the sparkling boy waits
     to become a man
everyone loves you, she says

His first word makes Katie
     feel like a mother
his second muffled
     just too obscure

The cognac is to remember him.
everything else; habits over time
     never too much
just enough to keep warm.

He can’t be replaced
     she screams from the bathroom
          we’ll find him if it’s the last thing I do

The salt in her tears
     remind me to keep her
face on my neck
when she cries

Don’t try seeing around corners
     make slow wide turns
a moderate speed is key

His face blank when he sees
     his younger sisters
          distorted reflections of time
sometimes the experience
          is neither joy nor sorrow

Katies weeps as she squeezes
     and feels him all over.
make sure parts are not missing.


-Saechao

Poem – The Next Day

The Next Day       

As our language thrived
father faltered in his bed
trying to push his once strong thoughts
the noise
he succumbed to
the pitter patter
     beeps from machines
          sounds of the gong

My nephew blows into a fifty year-old
rhino horn for fun
delight
mimicking the old man
in flowing silks and flat linens
he hops around like a manic Easter Bunny
     pink and red and white
          flapping against the wind

According to records
he could have been fifty-five
the next day
but who knows

about the next day

she wakes and walks
into a room of smoke
smell of freshly slaughtered swine
the horror hidden when she sees
the lips of the creature, already puckered
     pursed for a devilish kiss

Shrill cry of the child
     ripping the room’s sheet of smoke
I hand my young nephew to her
the reluctant acceptance
he reaches right for her brown tresses
still ruffled from the cat nap

I almost felt bad about sleeping with her
the night before
we were quiet, almost motionless.  Breathless.
The unfamiliar room.
I wanted a new life
a replacement
someone new to love
the timing was wrong
it never happened

The words terse,
ensuring no slips.
Nothing wasted,
nothing given.
Guarding ourselves;
what can happen.

Oh, the memories.

The soundtrack the light provides
the clichés we avoid with might
we don’t want to make love
pushing the trap away

the scorn we possess

And we watched then waited.
And we talked then waited.

Driving through the hills
with the beautiful trees
dying again with their sunset foliage:
This exodus into the ground.

-Saechao

Poem – Wanderers

Wanderers

Looking for a place to settle
my Father walked me
     between the tracks
leading to the next town, our town
with a different name, familiar enough.

Trains push air under dust,
it is so dry, our breathing;
like eating dirt
from the earth.
It’s a drought, he says,
not looking at me.

Our destination
     is not visible
curves hide
          what we’re looking for
we see buildings
                        above treetops

Later,
Father pours Tennessee whiskey
     from his flask
onto my bee sting, Russian vodka
     into my shot glass;
we bond that way
          desecrating our bodies.

My Father talked
into the night,
     our loose rhetoric.
His stories’ morals
     I can’t live with
his heroes
               suffering
          less than he has.

I mumble his words to my wife,
     not verbatim,
          and in English;
I don’t remember exactly what he said.
My artificial intelligence,
     resident of a child’s closet,
remains untouched, unblemished.

-Xiong

Poem – To Jazz

To Jazz
A Conversation with Steve Davis

From the stereo system
someone unnamed from the Golden Age
     or so it seems
filters through the dancing smoke

Dueling trombones
     on rolling rocks of Pennsylvania
echo of
               glacier tympani in Yosemite

               Hear that counterpoint
Cats don’t play that way anymore
modern day baroque
                                  and most are broke

“Shit!  Man…no more like this, no more…
god bless ‘em.”

Sweet sippin’ gin to
milky singin’
hands, fingers moving
                      grooving with the break,
wrist slapping
hands clapping

Lace that shit,
it’s gotta stick.
Nothing’s too fast,
     Nothing’s too fast,
keep up, cat.

“You can do this,
      you won’t need a demo.”


-Saechao

Poem – Permanence of Ink

Permanence of Ink

Moth banging against tinted window
not knowing the shortness of life.
Its seconds ticking away;
even grains of sand
run out.

The permanence of ink
crosses barriers of time,
the way we thought,
And think
of life, love, and…death—
what color may it be—
for all to see eventually.

What color it may be,
it stands with no regards
ever since it’s been put on paper.
Much has been written,
Even more said, less remembered.
Truth, lies.
It doesn’t really matter.

record the significant
they tell me
I should keep the
insignificant
on paper in ink
so I don’t forget
what I don’t need to remember

my father is gone
the smell gradually, too
the pictures don’t lie
but I’d rather have his
painting, black and white

he used to tell me—
I forget the exact words—
the gist was
to not forget
all that was
and will be important

what were those
words
he spoke to me that last day

Ah, “Don’t forget
what matters to you.
You can write it all
down, but even ink
fades.”

-Davis

Poem – City Lights

City Lights
     in the city’s perfect emanation of light
                                        -Carolyn Forche

Traffic light
     spotlights
          the hungry man on the corner
     holding a cup for change.

Christmas lights
     bring out his high cheekbones
     ragged pants over thin thighs
          eating into themselves.

Red light district
     nonexistent
          in fishnet stockings
     and black leather miniskirt.

Street lights lining
     dirt road curving
          around a bend a paved highway
migrant worker and colleagues in an earth-brown
     van headed southbound
          to cabbage patches in Watsonville.

Boardwalk lights
     enveloping broken relationships
          between high school sweethearts in their thirties
their six year-old on a porcelain horse
     chasing a dream that will always stay
          a few lengths away.

Wall Street lights
     selling the junk bonds analyst
          the idea of becoming a poet
his office light is not bright
     enough for him to live comfortably,
but he feels fine.

Porch light
     waiting for the return
          of a prodigal son
lost to necessities.


-Smith

Poem – Migrant Burden

Migrant Burden

Migraine headache
     a migrant backache
          from father to son.
An American daughter-in-law
          our burden together.

Donna wears her emotions
on a flushed pale face
washed with ivory cream
     what she brings to the table
white rice
          mother taught her to wash and steam.

Her father and brother wonder
why I never finished business school,
but her mother is happy
her daughter is happy.

We drink red wine, Sonoma,
Sunday afternoons,
after everyone gets home from church;
sitting on the verandah
          watching working cars go by
speaking of Marx and Aquinas

they are intrigued
but don’t understand
     my religion
          something Donna picked up
when we met at Catholic school
      after late morning mass
I was studying alone
                    in my room
my father wanted a private education

I don’t show the pain
father says I have
                  a hard case, a soft heart
hidden from the people I know

especially Donna’s little brother
whom I gave shooting lessons
aim and technique—
elbow in, shoulders squared
—but no concentration,
unnerved easily
something his father detests

my son’s burden
a homeless father
telling him he needs to be home
by midnight instead of orchard parties
surrounding pumpkin patches,
where the girls are prone
to get naked and pregnant.


-Saechao