Thursday, December 31, 2015

December 31 -- Molly Neely

I, America (John Fredrick Kensett, Mount Washington)

my hills roll here and there
wavy fields of golden seed
the scent of my breeze is clean
whistling Dixie...
or Yankee Doodle Dandy

my crown covered with snow
glistening and deeply cold
I prepare next year's streams
or perhaps, this years flood

my forest is wild and free
man and nature in sync
a place to forage the flora
or pit strength against the fauna

my wide open spaces are inviting
firm and stable ground
where you can raise a barn
or raise your sheep

my eagle watches over me
a strong and defiant countenance
willing to take any risk
in order to keep you free

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

December 30 -- Sarah Thursday


I am missing too many pieces
my pieces are broken
my pieces do not match

I am pulling pieces from my mouth
wet and teeth-bent
my pieces fit nothing

I am turning over the edges
over and over and over
my pieces are dizzy
drunk-stained and torn

I am scraping off layers
of Disney-glossed pictures
my pieces are spit gray
my pieces fall behind
tables and wall benches

I am pieces glued on
I am pieces shoved in
I am pieces forced together
pieces and pieces and pieces

all Picasso and bent blue

Inspired by “Weeping Woman” by Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

December 29 -- Daryl Belcher

Jackson Pollock on Autumn Rhythm

With a drip, and adrizzle
Pollock flows in his artwork
in his mind, dreaming of 
abstract design

As we dance to the rhythm
with streams of blacks and 
browns like he understood the 
painting to become his vision

The patchwork drips
and the melody 
rendition he paints 
the catastrophic

folds in a gentle array
reminiscent of his form
as we know not what to 
believe, yet we know little

beyond the pain
men have endured
Ego performed in the 
light we see as

suffering of man
longing to free
the insanity of the 
abstract into a reality

of the darkened mind
As we hold on to what
is real like Jackson Pollock
saw in the reversed field

a better side than 
what is normal
He could see the 
obverse angle 

the thread of pain
causing the blend of 
suffering like the 
changes of the world 

as we are 
outside looking in
gazing at the drips
and the drizzles

Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 27 -- Jerry Garcia

Underneath the Gil Turner
Liquor Store Sign

          After Nighthawks by Edward Hopper
Bourbon skies slop
morning boulevard
            Plaza Towers glinting sunrise.
Nighthawk’s blackened pupils bulge,
            and wince.
Graphic-wrapped panel trucks
screech Jimi Hendrix cat calls
through a spew of black soot
            muffler tar.
            A trampy chorus paces
cross-street corridors
            of shadowed bushes
                        and trash cans.
            Ten hours before
            Nighthawk telephoned a spousal deception
                        about working overtime
                        with calculators and ledgers
                        and a boss screaming orders
            plausible disguise for an impending debauch
                        in a city darkened
                                    like Bald Mountain.
            Fractal colours
                        brake lights      neon signs      
                            and advertising placards
            escort Nighthawk to his mission.
Non-melodic thumping reverbs
sweaty perfume swaggers
                        at a club discreetly called The Body Shop.
                        Discordant concertos exploding cocaine addled brains
delirium collateralized
in the nakedness of dancers
            with tedious personalities.

Tiffany offers
            her oiled and sparkling breast
            and Nighthawk drifts farther
            from the quietude
            of home-cooked family life.
The chapter might have ended
            several hours later
                        in the glass-tabled penthouse
                        where card-sharking schemers
                        appropriated the electric bill funds.
            But the 3 A.M. ATM
            printed green money
                        for another run of 
                                    Nighthawk’s bad luck.
                                    He drops the bills
            picks up the cards
            and seizes hard in a glare
            of perspiration
            and high altitude
            tarmac vapours confound
                        raw eyes.
            Nighthawk seeks
                        the vehicle left behind,
                        his battered sedan lost, not stolen
                        not towed in the night
                        —just parked in the wrong
                                    dog stained alley.
            His skulking silhouette
monkey jumps a cig,
shakes its head
and folds
into the ripped vinyl
driver seat.
            Amber car-lights
process like the pilgrims
            of Fantasia.
            Ave Maria echoes remorse.

                        In the traffic of the boring,
rested employees drive
            to their first-shift time-punch.
                        Nighthawk guns his engine forward.
            When he steals into his own condominium
for ablutions and coffee,
he ponders his angelic spouse
asleep on cotton sheets;
the gut punch reality
            of children in the nursery.
            Tooth-broke and greasy,
Nighthawk chases the workday.
He throbs like a freight train
            on scrappy rails.
Disguising shame with mock efficiency,
            he sweats a job of punching numbers;
dozy excess of last night’s gluttony
            repeats in columns and rows
                        of balance sheets.
           Through zeal and sweat
work is done:
Perfected, folded and filed
inspiration of presentational success.
At quitting time
the city prepares
            Elevators full of happy-hour lightweights
unfold into marble lobbies
revellers spill onto grainy concrete
heading home to fast-food suburbs. 
            Cars congest the highways like trails
                        of  shimmering swag.  Leaving the party behind
                                    for the natives of the night. 
            Tired and cranky
Nighthawk wanders the variegated streets
                        of perdition.  Craving silence
                                    and reprieve from the din.

                        At the all American Diner
            Nighthawk shares repentance
                        and another cup of coffee
                                    with fluorescent strangers.
            Through stencilled windows
the golden gloaming cityscape
            enchants the Nighthawk
                        like a pair of legs
                           and a cheap bottle
                                    of hooch.

Edward Hopper “Nighthawks”

Saturday, December 26, 2015

December 26 -- Jerry Garcia

I Found My Friend Richard In A Painting from the 17th Century
After Jacob Duck's Street Scene with Knife Grinder and Elegant Couple c.1655

In coral tones of sunset
and nobility
stands the elegant couple
of Utrecht
gazing with circumspect

The master craftsman, flamboyant
in burgundy and green,
leans against his stone wheel
taking pause from the day's toil
to roll eyes and groan                                                                       

at the riff-raff cast into coppered shadows.
Darkened figures of scoundrels
hold court among fishmongers
and butchers.
Porcelain-faced girls laugh,
an old woman raises a boney finger
while a crooked-mouth prankster

My friend, Richard,
ruddier than usual
in this 17th century tableau,
stares deeply into my eyes

as he would often do.
His puckish grin punctuates
what I already know.
The secret of his time travel
must be ours to keep.

Jacob Duck "Street Scene with Knife Grinder and Elegant Couple"

Friday, December 25, 2015

December 25 -- Jerry Garcia

Desert Moon
After Lee Krasner1955
In your Desert Moon,
the black slashes
the yellow and the ruddy. 
Paper caked in hardened oils
and ripped to hang
like shirt tails,
crumbles from the weight.
Your brush strokes red
like words splattered
over jagged particles
severed so carelessly
my head bows
to the coarse and dark.

Lee Krasner “Desert Moon”

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

December 24 -- M. S. Rooney

“Forest of  Fontainebleau”

            Narcisse-Virgile Diaz de la Peña, 1867
Viewed at California Palace of the
Legion of Honor,  San Francisco
This skein of sunlight
unraveling the curves
of the dark earth
between the light trunks
draws my eye
through the canvas, until
what I started to say to you
I do not know, only know
it now seems
quite uncertain,
not quite true.

Originally published in Theodate, Volume 1, No 2, 2012

December 23 -- M. S. Rooney

Oranges in Tissue Paper

oil on canvas, William J. McCloskey, ca 1890

Viewed at M. H. de Young Museum, San Francisco

Longing for harmony,

I am drawn to the glow
of these seven oranges
resting on a polished tabletop
before the sheen
of a plush blue-black drape.

Three are wrapped in splitting
bright white tissue paper,
three are unwrapped, whole,
one has the skin slit
into six pointed segments
peeled back to reveal
the creamy white pith clinging
to the soft, just opened
orange inner flesh.

Yet this harmony of forms
will not stay still, will not
be held by canvas or by frame,
but spins in the eye, turns
in the chest, a movement
gyroscopic, as un-
expected as
a stolen kiss
that startles and then vanishes,
yet cannot be undone.

Link to image of painting:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

December 22 -Lavina Blossom

Grandma Was a Cow
            inspired by Dee Marcellus Cole’s sculpture

No brisket, which is that hanging
skin below the neck.  My grandmother
had one.  But this Grandma’s gaunt
and bug-eyed, two long
skinny legs in small boots.
She’s also cloaked and winged,
donning a mask on her head
like a grinning cap.  A smallish fellow,
wearing a sombrero, his body shaped
like another cow’s head, drapes
down her back, and yet another guy
nestles in his hollowed-out gut.

This grandma has layers.  She’s
complicated.  Mine was, too, but kept
her demons better hidden.  No bright
south-of-the-border ensemble, no array
of patterns in oranges, pinks, purples,
vivid blues.  No attention-grabber, my Gram.
She kept her head low, while this one
stands right up straight, a life-size
candelabra adorned with wicks, daring us
to strike a match.  But we can’t set her on fire,
or all these teasing hints to her mysteries would
disappear in smoke and ash.

Lavina Blossom

Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21 -- Chris Swinney

Manhattan For Mel, Michael Flohr.

I once believed glass more powerful than
what it held. Yet wheat, water, and spices, 
cause me to lick my lips, eager for the first 
smooth pull. Classical lines embody character, 
which cradles the vice. A true whisky aficionado 
craves it, hears the calling. It’s where tradition 
and timeless stories bend, take their own shape perhaps, 
intertwined with the heat. I added two Maraschino cherries 
today. I imagine them swirling around the cocktail glass 
as our passion often had done. Each deliberate stroke 
stokes memories of times we sat together, eliminating 
all other stimulus around us, so that her eyes held 
what mattered. And, purple, her favorite color, soothes
the amber contrast, drives a bit of the bitter away,
inviting me to embrace the past, looking toward our future.
Tonight, the bottle remains un-opened, seeking a new dance partner.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 20 -- Molly Neely

You Swear (Anna Althea Hills)

the sun skips merrily on the waves
while the trees sway lazily in the breeze
the call of an unknown bird echos in the distance
you swear you're standing at the edge of Heaven

the surf cries out its aquatic roar
and crashes against the ancient sand
with the scent of the sea pooling in the grass
you swear you've found the paradise lost

cool mosses creep out on the branches
and dust the air with its sticky pollen
minerals glisten on the face of the rock
you swear you've discovered a secret garden

shades of green melding with blue
the earth's veins running deep with gold
the Perfect Hand of God is before you
and you swear you've finally come home

Saturday, December 19, 2015

December 19 -- Joan Day

       looking for the light

On Astranomelly by Micheal Carini

…and in the beginning  the heavens
opened and an orchestra of light
was suddenly pulled into a 

void of space and this void was 
so forceful that the rays were 
trapped until they ricocheted off 
the horizon and were hurled outward…
my life sparkling with brilliant color  
when I was first drawn into your force  
so strong   so powerful I lost myself

gradually becoming a small particle of 
some unobtrusive matter  as my dreams
stars in the distant sky   scattered
quickly   collapsing while I was 

championing a false god
building my world around you  
building universes around you

until spiraling back to reality 
I uncovered the strength within me
to take back my dreams and discover 
my destiny

Joan E. Day
October 31, 2015 

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 18 -- Joan Day

       Panther  Panther

Panther, Panther Blake burned black
who designed your head your back
powerful muscles  telling tail
your strength cementing your roar your wail?

traveling quickly to disguise
the emerald sparkle of your eyes
sleek and dark   quick   ready to sprint
rarer than obsidian glint 

what habitat in which you preen
ghost of the forest seldom seen
what great force allows you sway
to roam the woods   to ambush prey?

stealthily quiet you cautious cat  
agile as an acrobat    
endangered is your pseudonym 
cleverness your right to win 

ferocious in your attitude
who directs your soul, your mood
springing playfully in the swim
or carefully leaping limb from limb? 

Panther, Panther Blake burned black
who designed your head your back
powerful muscles  telling tail
your strength cementing your roar  your wail?

Joan E. Day
October 24, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

December 17 -- Chris Swinney

Let It Ride, Michael Flohr.

We hadn’t pawed felt in quite some time, 
my father and I. He’d embraced retirement, 
simple yet busy times, and I’d commissioned 
too much work. I spent what I had left with
my wife and kids. Wives at a concert,
kids with a sitter, and we drank Maker’s Mark.
The spirits, laughter and high-fives, skittered across
the room Cirque De Soleil-like. Drifting moments
find the table, chips stacked neatly, while Blue 
Eyes has both of our toes taping. An ace of 
spades comes off, followed by the ace of 
diamonds. Pops’ grin suggests I won’t split. 
“Split ‘em,” I boast. I hit. Another
ace. Crowd gathering, he shakes his head.
“Hit me,” I say, letting whisky call my shots.
A final ace falls, the joint erupts. Bullets
across the table, eyes wide, and my heart
rumbles like the first time I saw her. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

December 16 -- Diane Kendig


   The difficulty of picking out details rhymes with the difficulty of insight
   into the past.                                     --San Francisco Chronicle


i.        Les Archives
We step from the streaming sun of California
to this dimness the lessons rely on.
Tin biscuit boxes gleam and frame
three hundred photos, enlarged and blurred
beyond recognition under low watt spots
connected by tens of wires hanging like
sloppy nooses.  A caption asks what became
of these Jewish classmates in Vienna in 1931.

ii.       Reserve

Around the corner hang other questions.
A wall, say thirty people wide,
a story and a half or two tall,
draped ceiling to floor with children’s coats,
“not with thrift-store effect.”
Each coat waits, empty of its particular child.
We move out to an interior stair,
find it narrow and sepulchral. 

iii.      Angels

The Angel of Accord and the Angel of Death,
each the size of a long-fingered hand,
rotate round a light in the darkest room
where their shadows loom huge above our heads
and endlessly crisscross the four spaces.
In a side gallery tiny Klee-like figures quiver
at a small fan’s wind and cast
stick-people shadows that shudder on the wall.

Published originally in the chapbook, The Places We Find Ourselves.