Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30 -- Ellaraine Lockie

After “The Bath” by Pierre Bonnard in the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London

The Bath
by Ellaraine Lockie                                                 
She stares straight ahead
Stretched out soaking au naturel
in a stark white tub
and trance-like state
Blind to his brush strokes
Pierre Bonnard's wife subject
Portrayed at a time
when water therapy
was treatment for tuberculosis
Or obsessive neurosis
One wonders whether she
wasn't already dead
The water having fatally failed
And the corpse prepared for viewing
with oil paint preservation
Bonnard's depiction
a conjugal composition inquest
Or whether she has
succumbed to coma
Paint-paralyzed by the parade
of people invading her privacy
The Tate Gallery
a modern municipal bathroom

Previously published in Taproot Literary Review

Painting can be viewed:

Ellaraine Lockie is a widely published and awarded author of poetry, nonfiction books and essays.  Her chapbook, Where the Meadowlark Sings, won the 2014 Encircle Publication’s Chapbook Contest.  Her twelfth collection has been released as an internal chapbook, Love Me Tender in Midlife, in IDES from Silver Birch Press.  Other recent work has received the Women’s National Book Association’s Poetry Prize, Best Individual Collection from Purple Patch magazine in England for Stroking David's Leg, winner of the San Gabriel Poetry Festival Chapbook Contest for Red for the Funeral and The Aurorean's Chapbook Spring Pick for Wild as in Familiar. Ellaraine teaches poetry workshops and serves as Poetry Editor for the lifestyles magazine, Lilipoh. She is currently judging the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contests for Winning Writers.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 29 -- Mel Goldberg

When sunrise in our land washes the hills
Painting the depths in yellow, brown, and gold,
Your stroll beside the pond fulfills
Not let you walk away from one who loves you.
I ache to be the flower in your hand,
Moistened with your kiss and morning dew.
I will one day be king of all this land,
Will you then be my queen?  These castle walls,
In the harsh mountain’s craggy arms held fast
Cry for your pure heart’s innocence.  Heed the calls
Echoing through each hall from first to last.
O clutch me, like that flower, to your breast.

Sonnet based on Maxfield Parrish’s Romance, 1922

Saturday, November 28, 2015

November 28 -- Patricia Wellingham-Jones


“Farewell” by Sara Umemoto

The woman wraps her head
in folds of white cloth
twisted and tied
in loops and fluttering tails.

On a mountaintop
near her home
the breeze snatches and whips
the fragile silk.

Through the cloudy sky
a white crane floats
to her upraised palm.

Eyes fixed
on the paper bird, she ignores
the trail of long thoughts
written in fog.

Published in Words & Tricks, 2010

Friday, November 27, 2015

November 27 -- Patricia Wellingham-Jones

Poems Spill  

“Sumi” by Sara Umemoto

She can’t help it,
the poems spill
at the most awkward times.

Leap out of her head,
write with the tips of her hairs,
dribble down the nape
of her slender neck.

Poems spatter
the fabric
of her life.

Published in Words & Tricks, 2010

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 26 -- Andrena Zawinski

The Largeness of Flowers
 “...So I said to myself--I’ll paint what I see--what the flower is to me, 
  but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking the time to
 look at it.”--Georgia O’Keeffe
(after A Poetry of Things,  San Francisco Legion of Honor exhibition)

Rising into a day shivering in a rare western gray,
clouds run ragged by wind and rain across the range, 
even hottentot sun cups curl inward upon themselves 
and I become afraid the world might turn to black and white 
so I make my way to you, Georgia, inside a gallery garden 
filled with the largeness of flowers, a poetry of things. 

Like you I love to linger inside the bud and fold of color 
upon those petal palettes, whole continents of blooms swelling
in a garden party of the grand. I think as I look in, how can you say
there is no sex in the fiery poppy, no birth in its blood rich petals,
no thought of death inside the deep and dark center, no drama 
in these big beauties that dizzy and dazzle as any first love might.

You say these flowers mean nothing more than their own largeness, 
lines spiraling in upon themselves and taking their natural course.
What starts beneath the soil line appears above the ground 
then plucked by you, you bequeathed them to these gallery walls.
On my wall, your wild iris blazes and poppies swell like bodies, 
like any love at first sight might in a new found intimacy.

You say none of this means anything, that they are simply flowers
and big. But in the largeness of flowers I can almost see the blood rich 
petals of my own mother’s lips as my head tunneled past
the spread wren bone, she a sky adrift in twilight clouds like a city
a blur in fog, the sun setting down, unaware of her own pain or of me.  
My mother is dead. You are dead. The flowers return. All really big.

A garden party of the large, colossal, mammoth, but only flowers
pushing their stubborn heads toward the incessant chatter of birds.

Previous Publication Credit: Rattle: 15, Poetry for the 21st Century

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

November 25 -- Michael Minassian


         I enter through the window, a sky
of impossible blue over my shoulder,
the sun, a spiky black and white,
above a red spire in fluid motion
and the black pointed mountain
that cuts the air like a razor sharp
Catalan sword:

            the room I am in now
is in full nightmare bloom,
all severed eyes and creatures
real and imagined from deep
in the subconscious stream;
objects I recognize from far and near,
instruments of music or torture,
body parts and a festival of fear,
floating bits of undigested food
and prancing amoeba who seem to be
looking straight at me –
while the severed body parts
and eyes captured on full display
have a worried look

            but what frightens
me even more is that I have been
in this room before, and despite
the warnings sounding in my head
begin to climb the ladder
past the waiting creatures
whose eyes follow me even out of sleep.

Artist and Title: Joan Miro "Harlequins Carnival"

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24 -- Judith Offer

Sunlight on Shadow’
Oil on Canvas
William Merritt Chase; 1884

                                                                One remembers the moment
                                                                                past all forgetting:
                                                                The pale pink cotton one wore,
                                                                                limp in the heat;
                                                                The languid cologne on one’s hankie
                                                                                against the cheek
                                                                (Not quite masking his musky,
                                                                                insistent cigarette);
                                                                The strain of hammock hemp
                                                                                measuring one’s right hip;
                                                                Annie, the cook, banging something
                                                                                by the water barrel.

                                                                When one’s carefully-wrapped life
                                                                                becomes unsealed
                                                                The moment of breaking
                                                                                burns the brain:
                                                                One can close one’s eyes and
                                                                                feel the pillow itch the cheek,
                                                                Hear one’s heart begin to rise,
                                                                                see the flickering of dapple
                                                                Sunlight and shadow
                                                                                on brown dust
                                                                                in the fresh paint
                                                                                of the mind.      

 “Sunlight on Shadow” was written about a painting I saw in the DeYoung. It is in my third book, THERE IS THERE IS THERE, 1992.

        Judith Offer has had two daughters, five books of poetry and dozens of plays. (Eighteen of the latter, including six musicals, have been produced.)  She has read her poetry at scores of poetry venues, but is particularly delighted to have been included in the Library of Congress series and on “All Things Considered”, on NPR.  Her writing reflects her childhood in a large Catholic family—with some Jewish roots—her experience as teacher, community organizer, musician, historian, gardener, and all-purpose volunteer, and her special fascination with her roles of wife and mother.  Her most recent book of poetry, called DOUBLE CROSSING, is poems about Oakland, California, where she lives with her husband, Stuart.
            More detailed information is available at

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23 -- Mel Goldberg

Mel Goldberg

Once you had glory, now you bang your drum,
And march through Mexico in sandaled feet.
You do not think about the hell to come -
The end of drumming down these dusty streets.
Then, with Juarez, you fought against the French-
A thousand years of war experience
Against some peasants in an unmarked trench -
To cleanse your land of foreign influence.
Now your name is forgotten, though your deeds
Live on.  What though with patriots you lie
In lonely graves with flowers strewn?  The seeds
Of unborn soldiers take your place to die.
Thus it has always been, and so will be
Until each man, in his own way, is free.

Sonnet based on Frederick Remington’s
“Drum Corps, Mexican Army”

Published in Autumn Sky Poetry Art Issue, October, 2009

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 22 -- Susan Solomon

Thoughts on a life
I paint you a painting of cobalt blue.
You love its possibilities and know
that blue sometimes isn’t just a color.
It is the stars,
your cold and crashing California coast.
An artist once taught me:
great painters understand the darks.
You don’t paint, but you understand
the dark.
You are the best kind of wild.
And I cry as I write this,
not trying to be mysterious,
just sketching down
these thoughts on a most special life.
My little sister:
Please don’t die
Please don’t leave me.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21 -- Hollie Hardy

In the  Mouth of the Dead:  A Metaphor for Tenderness
by Hollie Hardy

Cooing softly to win its trust
he strokes the coarse fur to calm the lamb
a gentle soul, his favorite of the flock

Yesterday his nieces had come to visit
to feed the sheep through the fence
lettuce and sweaty fistfuls of grain 
giggling at the snuffle of furry lips and dry tongue
tickling their tiny hands

The older child put an arm around her little sister
to reassure her that the lamb was safe
brown eyes
big and round
shiny with excitement
she wanted to touch this earthly cloud
but she was nervous of the mouth,
the teeth, the eyes

Like this,
her sister offered a flat palm to the hopeful creature
What’s his name, asked the girl whose name was Elle
I don’t know, said her sister, maybe he doesn’t have a name
But everyone deserves a name! Elle insisted
Let’s call him Snowflake

They were too young to understand
sacrifice or suffering
the way animals carry our burdens
in the warm soft of their innocence
too young to know death or pain
the woes of childhood thus limited to skinned knees
momentary desires disappointed by bedtimes
or the denial of ice cream
the grave injustice of being forced
to share with one’s sister
Soon enough life would betray them
a dog would die or a father would stop coming home
mother would lose her job in town and spend long
nights smoking on the front porch, crying into a bottle,
ignoring smeared mascara and broken fingernails
perhaps a fire in the kitchen

But for now, the sun was shining
before the whole nasty affair,
before the back-stabbing, and then the slaughter
before the knife slipped under the skin to slice away the pelt
as the tortured lamb screamed in terror at the white-hot shrieking pain

Without sin, this sacrifice would be unnecessary
Without god, this solitary tear, this stone
A metaphor for tenderness

Now Uncle leads Snowflake to the wooden tub
to be lathered and scrubbed clean
palm print of a devoted killer
man holds the lamb in his arms
like a beloved pet, or a favorite child  

This is the kind of man who can stare endlessly into a grey sea
a man of ritual, a reader
he works in his garden, studies the Torah
enjoys the simple things
fresh bread with butter and salt
the smell of burning wood
orange and yellow flowers
growing wild along the roadside, where he takes his evening walks
like any man, he finds comfort in dailyness
and the power of his hands

Windows open like a heart
night air touches his naked body as he pours the tea
he washes his hands slowly, preparing
he knows that this is necessary

They are together now
in the small spare room
with its wooden walls
the light is on because this is a love story
no music, just the sound of the night
then the screaming haunted eyes
the thrashing heartbeat
hot breath of the lamb

The man is transfixed
in this moment the outline of teeth seems to matter more than anything
he is focused
he does not notice the empty sound of the rain
which begins softly outside, then grows stronger

Until wet winds roar and bludgeon the night
a ferocious wrath, a beast stalking closer
the storm blows wild through the cabin
like a ghost swallowing a lighthouse

There is blood on the light switch
blood running down the walls
blood pooling on the snow-white fur
aching on the floorboards
rivering along the cracks
never to be clean again

Lightning dances in the near distance
scent of sulfur
damp earth hums humid in yellow air
percussion slows
as the screaming subsides
a candle flickers and dies
the deed is done

The man whispers tenderly into the mouth 
of the dead, the sacrifice
this is his punishment,
the price for what he has done

Alone in the shattering stillness
with the blood, the body, and god
he finds something sensual
in the aftermath of atonement
the intimacy of the room
adrenalin ebbs and eases
he waits for the feeling to fade
soon the sacrifice will erase the sin
as it always has before

~Hollie Hardy

HOLLIE HARDY is the author of How to Take a Bullet, And Other Survival Poems (Punk Hostage Press, 2014) She teaches writing classes at the SF Creative Writing Institute, San Francisco State University, and Berkeley City College. She co-hosts Saturday Night Special, An East Bay Open Mic, curates Litquake’s Flight of Poets, and is a founder and core producer of Oakland’s Beast Crawl Literary Festival.

Friday, November 20, 2015

November 20 -- Robbi Nester

After a photograph: Salvador Dali With Vermeer and Rhino (1955)
By Robbi Nestor

Art is about nothing if not context.
Shown here, the artist,
perched on the edge
of the keeper’s wheelbarrow,
ponders his canvas.
On either side of the animal’s den,
symmetrically posed,
Vermeer’s  Lacemaker
and the rhino, ears perked,
regarding the famous painting
like a tourist.
The real and the human-made—
the artwork somehow affixed
to the cave wall,
the cave itself, not a natural
formation of wind and weather,
but composed carefully
of concrete, easy to clean
and care for,
nothing of the veldt.
Whose eye is this
that makes the artist
part of his own composition,
stationed among  hollow blocks
meant to resemble boulders,
a further comment 
on the juxtaposition

of life and art?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19 -- Kim Roberts

The Getty Villa, Malibu, California

I thought of you, recovering from your surgery,
here where the scent of rosemary hangs
in the air, the smell
of invulnerability.

For the hide of the Nemean Lion
can't be pierced by weapons.
He clutches a knobby club in his left
and the lion skin in his right.

The lion still has its teeth,
its claws, the curl of its wondrous mane,
and Herakles stares at the wall,
contemplating his next victory

among the distant hills,
his penis missing, his torso perfect.
Herakles wrestled the lion, strangled it,
skinned it with its own claws--

the first of his twelve
fabled labors--then wore it
like a magic shield
atop his heroic shoulders. 

Getty built his Herakles
a temple with a coffered dome
like the Pantheon's,
and a view of the Pacific.

How I wish I could give you that pelt.
We, who are merely human,
our shoulders soft and bare,
have such meager medicinals.

“The Landsdowne Herakles” appeared in Animal Magnetism (Pearl Editions, 2011)

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 18 -- Jennifer Lagier

After days of brassy sun,
gloomy morning horizon.
Bronzed estuary
mirrors confused charcoal sky,
muddy pastiche of deceptive miasma.
Heavy fog manifests
delicate chimera of drizzle.
For a few weeks lush hillsides
costume rugged slopes with
emerald fescue, golden poppies, yellow acacia.
We tell ourselves meager moisture
will sustain ceanothus, succulents, sea grass.
Mist conjures cruel illusion
of impending rainfall.

Brief bio:
Jennifer Lagier has published ten books of poetry and internationally in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies. Her latest book, Where We Grew Up, was just issued by FutureCycle Press. She taught with California Poets in the Schools, co-edits the Homestead Review,maintains web sites for Homestead Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Ping Pong Literary Journal, misfitmagazine and helps coordinate monthly Monterey Bay Poetry Consortium Second Sunday readings. Web site: : : Poetry by Jennifer Lagier : :