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sparkle + blink 88
© 2017 Quiet Lightning

cover © Anah Redding
anahredding.com

“4 poems on home” by Gracia Mwamba
first appeared in in another life, no bodies home (Eastwind Books)
“Birdwolf XVIII” by Linda Michel-Cassidy
first appeared in Entropy Magazine
“Elegy for Myself” by Peter Kline first appeared in Poet Lore
“Manzanita” by Peter Kline first appeared in Terrain.org
“Invitation” by Peter Kline first appeared in 32 Poems
“The Gospel According to Father Coffee” by William Vlach
first appeared in The Gospel According to Father Coffee
(William Collins Publishing, London)
“Alive”, “The Weight of Jericho 941” and “What I Forgot from My
Wars” by Yael Hacohen first appeared in The Poetry Review

book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara

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su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
CONTENTS
curated by
Kelsey Schimmelman + Lisa Church
featured artist
Anah Redding | anahredding.com

GRACIA MWAMBA 4 Poems on Home 1
RICH BAIOCCO Pants Me in a Leonard
Cohen Afterlife 3
LISA PIAZZA backstory 9
KIMBERLY GOMES Clothesline of Color 11
RAINA J. LEÒN Fertility Center 13
Banned portrait in the
MAGA era... 15
elisha y amor ciego 17
maat, witness 19
LINDA MICHEL-CASSIDY Birdwolf XVIII 21
TOMAS MONIZ theory of falling bodies 23
theory of plate tectonics 24
theory of distance 26
the poetry of quantum physics 27
theory of inertia 28
the astrolabe 29
PETER KLINE Elegy for Myself 31
Manzanita 32
Invitation 33
WILLIAM VLACH from The Gospel According
to Father Coffee 35
LENORE WEISS Celia Cruz in Emeryville 41
Stonebridge in Pleasanton 43
Southland Mall in Hayward 45
Keller Avenue Strip Mall 46
Discovering Hungarian in Budapest 47
ABBIE JEANNE AMADIO leland #1 49
leland #2 51
leland #3 52
YAEL HACOHEN Alive 53
The Weight of a Jericho 941 54
What I Forgot From My Wars 55
JILL BRONFMAN Fourteen 57
Old Bull Elephant 58
G IS SPONSOR
ET LIGHTNIN ED B
QU I Y
QUIET LIGHTNING
A 501(c)3, the primary objective and purpose of Quiet
Lightning is to foster a community based on literary
expression and to provide an arena for said expression. QL
produces a monthly, submission-based reading series on
the first Monday of every month, of which these books
(sparkle + blink) are verbatim transcripts.

Formed as a nonprofit in July 2011, the QL board is currently:

Evan Karp executive director
Chris Cole managing director
Josey Rose Duncan public relations
Lisa Church outreach
Meghan Thornton treasurer
Kelsey Schimmelman secretary
Laura Cerón Melo art director
Christine No production

If you live in the Bay Area and are interested in
helping—on any level—please send us a line:

e v an @ qui et light nin g . o rg
Poetry in Parks 2017
co-presented by

with additional help from the following
organizations:
SOMArts Cultural Center
Booksmith
ArtSpan
Bread & Roses Presents
Classical Revolution
D’Maize Catering
Stirm Wine Co.
Lagunitas Brewing Co.

To find out more about all of these partners, and all of
today’s artists:

quietlightning.org/poetry-in-parks
GGGGGGGGGGG
GG
4 P O EMS O N H O M E

whenever my sister I alway ask, “what is africa is home
calls, home?”
she says because i’m not sure i think
that i don’t know sometimes i think but when i think
how to call home home is a person about zaire

and then remember to call it home, is to
i laugh bodies aren’t forever call home the edge
of a machete
i wonder if a should a country
always sharp country can be apologize to a
home prodigal daughter

for not knowing sometimes i forget to call it zaire
how to love her
can i find which french isn’t my
boat sailed my mother’s tongue it is forgetting
American dream
that i can amend home, remembering
and fish back a was a house
sisterhood
a straight ticket to
or being the cool inter- with walls around
national kid

1
filled with
how many hugs emptiness with colors

I don’t know what maybe home
we’ve never had home is is made of an
american dream
endless houses but with no door to
enter
always out of reach whenever i get assimilation is the
asked about home welcome mat
bleaching my isn’t it funny, how to enter, I have
mouth
to offer my tongue
to allow, “pardon, je french snakes its to a white man &
ne parle pas chiluba” way into my mouth his blood spangled
banner

2
RRRRRRRRR
RRR

LEON PANTS ME IN A LIFE
A RD C OHEN AFTE R

Emergency flashers on that good American rental
muscle

There in the ditch off the one-lane highway is this
orange mustang
convertible with out of state plates and a couple up
front fights the mountain
wind to read a map. Damn, to bust out an actual
map
You must be really really lost

& I’m lost too. I make zines with my own money
I made a recovery zine:
Off to a dominant start on Jeopardy
Til the muscle relaxers kick in and I shit my shiny white
suit
Is this real Asking is this real
Doesn’t matter – it’s happening

Further down in the mud some found soul tied
a Get Well Soon balloon to dead buck’s
antler

3
Driving to work the morning after the election, 4am,
and some found soul’s
already strangled the neck of a fir tree with a
Rumpence banner
So I ask the guy:
Do cats have butts
or just buttholes?
Cause I just don’t know, man
I really…

Don’t trust the way a flag can wave
but not in a friendly way

All those star spangled banners
Doing what
Banners all do: ban

I don’t trust people certain
of their place in the world
Me, especially
Waiting with soapy hands for the autofaucet to
register I’m human
Asking the autofaucet nicely
Begging the machine for water

Nosebleed on a rush hour bus
My song’s
Everytime a door pulls open a voice inside shouts
Don’t Let The Dog Out as a dog rushes past

The sign at the SF Public Library playground reads:

4
All Adults Must Be Accompanied By A Child
The librarian says Yes, now it has to
but look how it’s learned to read

I hear a soft shoe when I tap my heart
& a tightness in my chest
For a bag of baby carrots
Abandoned at the mall

My little sister txts to say she’s been kidnapped by
her friends but it’s not as good - and she’s pissed!
They said, Hey lets go get pizza it’s Friday
Then they drive her to the dmv
She sits in the parking lot
Wondering what horses think of cars

I tell her how I feel about the 24 hour automated
Laundromat
A vending machine there hums itself to sleep
When no one’s looking
I sit with it and fold a small flag into a smaller
triangle
When no one’s looking I think the most human
thing
to do is shout Wake Up!
Give me a detergent cake! And no phosphates!

My sister & I bond on a train that’s died from booze
A plainclothes cop pulls a gun on a man who may
not be on his medication
If he was even on medication // Never once flashes a

Ri ch Ba i occo 5
badge
Was he even on the force // A badge is like a flag
that’s calcified
They say if you see something, say something
My little sister says something and they say
You’re seeing things
It bothers me & it bothers me off
That the same thing happens to my sister-in-law,
who’s older. Oh & our Mom
Makes her so furious she gets down on her knees
Flips over the plastic table
In the empty pizza box
I wish I could touch her anger
No it’s not for you, and besides, you’d probably break
it

We witness a dead fish dance down the beach
Not dead dead, but strung up
Above some shore fisherman’s bucket
In the fog we thought it was a buoy
Then it starts moving, jostling, spasms flopping
almost bobbing
like 100 yards down the trace of waves in the wet
sand
That’s farther than any of the best football players
juking & swims past us it grunts

Have you ever heard a fish make a sound

We’re rooting for it now
There’s a moment where I believe

6
It could go all the way
There’s the moment it tangles in rabbit snares
An amateur has set up near the berm

can we try
can we please try to make it good for
others
This dead fish out here trying to crawl
And you, certain rabbits live on the fucking beach
A passerby magician pulls one from his MAGA hat
Dabs me with it as if to burn

Is this real Asking is this real
Don’t matter – it’s happening

In the park I see a man in a nice suit kick a damn
goose
Just haul off and throttle it
Looks like he might stab me
It’s very easy to lose your nerve
That’s a fucked up thing to do
Real close to my face he says yeah it is a fucked up
thing to do
And his eyes are wide open, he says. And they are
I’m at work & I think I’m going to die at work
This isn’t noble
I want to write the vending machine a letter
A construction truck beeps in reverse, the guy runs
off
Piss runs down while I wait for him to die
Like a man

Ri ch Ba i occo 7
Horrified to discover he’s going to die like an animal

A small old man still
Dances like a 5 year old
When he has to pee

A little big girl now eats an ice cream cone all by
herself
When she feels it melt down her arm
throws it to the ground & shouts
Ewww Daddy Kill It Kill it

My Uncle says he’s got a guy
Who buys chopped American muscle
Ounce by bloody ounce

Man, if I had a hen for every time I’ve heard that
We’d bring this town to its knees
Sundays at our no-charge omelette parlor

8
LLLLLLLLLLL

B A C K ST O R Y
on day one
I tear a page
from an old Smithsonian
and hold it up
for the class to see:
it’s a close-up
of a brown bear
photographed
under cold water

I tell the
kids to
be the bear
be the photographer,
I say
be the camera, even
most of them set in
on the bear’s bland
backstory
while I cheat
and flip the picture over
to the image of a swan
on back: hidden
in the reeds
of need
silent as a seed
in still water

9
it shifts as wind
drifting one way
only to rescind
the way I, too
wish to start over:
be the sun – I stutter
be the water – I wade
but these kids already know
how to slice
life twice
turning want
into want
into want
again

10
KKKKKKKKKK
KKK K
C L O TH
E SLI N E O F C O L O R

When she went from girl to woman she carved out
her womb to make room for the clothesline of things
that were expected to come out: a blanket to line
generations of uteri, another to hold the sly, dark red
rivers mother and grandmother held and hid behind
curtains of crossed legs and tight lips. Blankets that
will keep a baby warm when it comes, when it comes,
when it comes, just after he cums, but before she cums,
because sometimes he forgets she has wings.

After the blankets, she stored flowers–a string of
fuchsias kept within reach, making her lady lips
sweet, but laced long enough to pull out tricks when
needed, reminding him she had the right combina-
tion to make him stay, to make beauty remain. So, as
time passed and men arrived she twisted every which
way, hoping her body would make them stay. Yet,
they always left just in time for backs to meet the
morning sunrise.

As silence came and men were all gone, she learned
to curl like a crescent moon, letting her breasts,
her belly hang heavy, inviting whispered stories to
expand like balloons. And here in her moon-like

11
state she grew tender, ready to unravel the recipes
of what she could be, should be, all coiled like
thread. She pressed her cheek to the grass, smelled
the earth and dug her fingers into her lips, feeling
for the string, the things they thought she’d need to
stay whole. She tugged and tugged and out came her
grandmother’s afghan, out came the rolling pin for
the dozen Christmas pies, out came the fuchsias her
grandmother planted and in went her hands to the
soil. She dug until her fingertips felt water. She cut
until the flowers were free and pressed their roots in
firm, jolting them, once, twice, resuscitating them
back to life.

And as the days came and went the flowers climbed
into vines, hugging pines, swaying over neighbors’
homes, inviting hummingbirds to sip and bees to roll.
They stretched across town until mothers looked up
at what was once chained to her womb. They pointed
in awe asking how color can climb so high, how
it can withstand the wind, the cold, the changing
seasons out there all alone. And as her garden grew so
did she and the neighbors started knocking all asking
the same thing. So, when mothers came wondering
how to seed such sturdy flowers, where to buy beauty
that stretches to the sky she touched her chest, her
belly, her hips and her thighs and said,

“Everything you need is already growing inside.”

12
RRRRRRRRR
RRRR

F E R T I L IT Y C E N T E R

After Sherin Guirguis, “Untitled (Blue Nile)”, 2011

“They are your eggs” says one brochure,
and I wonder at what claim it is defeating.

The doctor tells me to undress from the waist down;
I take off my underwear and spread my legs,
sink my center deep between them,
and he points out the cavern curves,
lining thickness, shows the right ovary
flapping with follicles.
You ovulated from here just recently.

In his office, he explains how if he sliced
just here, the uterus and ovaries would look
like a buffalo skull, though from the side,
they would seem a child’s deflating balloon.
He is not a poet; I make up the comparisons,
just as I make up how he knows the hidden,
how within, an expanse of hive lattice work,
gilded in honey-toned dreaming, reaches
out beyond flesh and time,
into the intertwining tangle of darkness
and light, a star dust connected to the vortex

13
within me, thirsting to flood the emptiness
with a fuzzy peach that grows
into Eden sucking her thumb.

He doesn’t know anything really,
but still I hope to become a harvest,
a culling of veiled waters,
star spaces in speck beneath his hand.

14
BANNED PORTRAIT IN THE MAGA ERA:
STUDY SAYS BLACK GIRLS ARE “LESS
INNOCENT”

i remember when i snuck out
of our red-brick rowhouse
in my green satin chemise

my father upstairs in the grips of peace
that comes only after a 16-hour shift in detention
with boys to whom he never showed my picture

i opened the door and flipped the black lock
of the screen door with the leaves in stained glass
and out into our postage stamp yard

sun-dancing dandelions
yellow heads and the white for wishing
i was making a bouquet for my mother

it was a boy passing on a tricycle
his mother far behind
that made me rush in fear

back into the house
i wasn’t supposed to be seen
unguarded not presentable and perfect

lock

Ra i na J. Le òn 15
lock
and down

to the basement for more spring bounty
blush tea roses under the cherry
blossom tree bursting to color a world in petal pink

to go there i had to climb a tall shelf
to find the keys to the bolts
hidden from little hands

three locks one creaky and compelling
the contrivance of method:
double-handed hang to turn

barefooted i crept out careful
of fallen pointed branch stubs to snip
and slip all the flowers in the satin basket

of my frayed nightgown
then back in and lock the three
and up the stairs to nestle

under my father’s arm
that smelled
of roasted onion sweat

already the flowers had wilted
i threw them away
and no one noticed the ruin

16
ELISHA Y AMOR CIEGO

a m’ija

i want her to be seen
no ver
campos de sangre coloreados por pop
ese maldito sonido de mi primer hijo
su hombre hombro as the cart pulled
muñeca tail board-strapped
tobillo árbol encadenado
raw-grooved
i want her to not see
ser vista
pierced desenvolvió slow
overlapping ribbons
giratoria de oro green curl
black glimmer a shine
resplandor de pulso manera de warming
her good center
and siempre
así que she sleeps in the night campanadas de
canciones
tranquil firsts
i want her to be querida
no por los fuegos artificiales
intoxicantes internos
all our memories su perla roja
treasured on aged tree-knot tongues

Ra i na J. Le òn 17
no i want her safe
not black
pero es
y no está

18
MAAT, WITNESS

mothers said we are not supposed to live forever. mother
said women open the dead gates, usher the spirit into ether
communion. mother said we make the body free-brave.
we carry, but we are supposed to go, too. mother said all
vessels break. mother said make way and return and to
water be water. mother said the child. mother said i will
give her life, i will give her my loss. mother said come
come come. i can’t.

the child sits in root-nest. prophet brushes her hair.

the child bathes in mother. one myrrh eye. she says this is
safe.

mother said spark and sputter.

mother said light light. still black light.

Ra i na J. Le òn 19
L LLLLLLLLLLLL
LL LL
LL L
B I R D W O L F X V I II

Loping towards the ancestors, scenting
she waits for the night piece

Her sistren gather, nocturnal, carniverous
heat-seeking missiles of fur and feathers

Clinging to selvage and howl,
banqueting on splendid autumn carrion

Her muscle-memory, their choral squall
—all resiliance and inherited nightmares

Craving hoar frost and the short light
She’s earned a sinewy hunger

an ache for penny-taste,
thrown forward and reckoned. Sung.

A tale, but still. Tooth and beak,
the dawn-wolf, from her treeward perch, caws

Until winter scrapes in, biding, biding

21
TTTTTTTT
TTT
THEO
RY OF FALLING BODIES

at the end of his life galileo publicly repudiated what
he knew to be true of course what we see with our
eyes must be of course bigger things fall faster of
course we are the center of everything.

you can not rationalize your way out of someone
else’s fear but perhaps there is a power in acquiesc-
ing in giving in so you survive don’t we all desire a
soft landing

imagine your body lilting like feather rather than
falling perhaps that’s the lesson regardless of
arrival we all journey

when we let go what might we discover

how to break a fall
how to heal a body

23
THEORY OF PLATE TECTONICS

the world was once whole body
but split apart land mass
spreading open like
broken heart

at a crumbling hostel near montserrat spain
we discovered our double bed
was in fact two singles
pushed together
the seam between us like
faultline
a topography of subtle separation

the tragedy of plate tectonics
when bodies of land
touch the result is always
devastating earth buckling breaking
one side giving way

trying to cuddle at night across the divide
you whispered
perhaps i had understood
only half the theory

24
perhaps the violence of touching
was also beauty
an act of creation

just look you said
those ridges
those mountains

T omas Moni z 25
THEORY OF DISTANCE

in the oregon mountains temperature dropping
fire burning i open letter from friend
separated by miles & state lines
she writes it takes an hour for snowflakes once
formed to fall

watch them

outside i imagine transformation to freeze liquid to
solid
the path from stratosphere to earth
perhaps equals the effort to extend
tongue from mouth the muscle flexed

the desire revealed

no journey is ever direct
celebrate the lilting the swaying
the fact that straight line may be shortest distance
but destination only occurs

when something arrives

26
THE POETRY OF QUANTUM PHYSICS

the premise
nothing is
until it is
in conjunction
the radical implication
there never has been a singular
the universal is plural
reality is only interaction
unpredictable unmeasurable
never guaranteed
how to accept
that when things connect
by chance
such magic such math
banging
atom to atom
body to body
word to word
me to you
& then
such life

T omas Moni z 27
THEORY OF INERTIA

when we fall
we fall together
equally
not faster
nor quicker

despite the variables
of weight or the shape
of our faith or what
we each
desire

despite the external forces
of wind velocity
or the residue
of parental shame

the one question unanswered
to what degree does impact effect bodies

how to transform
inertia
into movement

without hurting
ourself
or others

28
THE ASTROLABE
imagine being lost
unsure
about direction
about distance

consider the cold blankness of a flat blue sky
the arrogant gibberish of constellations

this is a problem we all face
in one way or another

now consider connecting various ways
to measure the world

into mapped instrument
rotating circles of gold

etched coordinates
taker of stars & time teller

then celebrate knowing the direction to pray
or locating stars in daytime sky

honor the ability to discover your place
in the universe from right where you are

to never feel lost & always
being able to find your way home

T omas Moni z 29
PPPPPPP
PPPP

EL EG Y FO R MYSE LF

He killed ants but saved the spiders.

He distrusted the arbitrary.

He undressed with the curtains open.

Eating a banana, once, he wept at the taste.

Those who loved him most, he loved the best.

He mistook objects for symbols, gearclicks for
footsteps, white sky for
atomic sunrise, free laughter for heckling, strangers
for friends.

He made love by widening his eyes.

31
MANZANITA

Little apple. Mountain driftwood
littering the flash-fire chaparral.
Impassable interlocker. Towhee-coral.
Fertile ash.

If I were the designer,
I’d have drawn it taller, just enough
room for one beneath its kinked copper-wire
lightning rods,

and wider-leafed,
its lichen-green more suitably skewed
to intercept drifting rain so fine
it can be breathed.

But see
how it thrives in the oil-slick soils
and skidrock gullies flanking the canyon highways
above Half Moon Bay.

Minor, ornamental,
unfit for timbering, ideal
for aquaria, parrot perches, patio sculpture, barbecues.
We know its uses.

32
INVITATION

The ice bin clacks;
candles runnel their bottle sconces.

Friends waft in blinking, smiling over
the props of conviviality,

lime gin and pussy willow.
Fog turns the city to figment.

Good-time synth on the box
persuasively soft,

and the high and shag and prink and all
in a wobbly disco-spin.

Olive oil and onion,
denim and skin.

Everyone is delicious.
Everyone is accounted for

but the absentee.
It’s easy to see

him: he makes gaps

P e te r Kli ne 33
where the talk won’t go,

troubling it
as it flows around him.

Some speak and a place is made. The rest
accommodate.

There he is on the fire escape—
laughing in another language.

34
WWWWWWWWWW
WWW
Selections from
T HE G OS
PEL A CC O R DIN G
TO FATHER COFFEE

Father Coffee’s sermons began to take on a darker note
after the carnival left. “You think,” he said in a tenor
brogue, “that your life is hard here in this outpost. You
think that your husband doesn’t pay attention to you.
Your wife doesn’t give herself enough to you. Your
children don’t pay attention to your feeble parents.
There’s never enough money. People get sick and get
old and die. Well, let me tell you. We were not born
from darkness and silence. When we were born, we
were released from a world of suffocation, anguish,
fiery pain and gasping for air. And no matter how you
lead your life, merit and demerit, you will return to
that state of unremitting despair and relentless pain.
This life is fine, fine and dandy. No matter how bad
things are, you are not where you were. And not where
you are going. The worst of times are the best of times.”

There was a rise of sin in the village. It was gradual,
but Father Coffee noted the increase in the weekly
confessions. The ancient ritual that began with
Bless me Father, for I have sinned, was now
followed by a new, more extreme litany: Father, I

35
beat my wife, and Father, I kicked the dog, and Father,
I committed adultery with Mrs. Miller, and Father, I
had relations with a goat, and Father, I used the tractor
to run over my neighbor’s new Pontiac. There were
enigmas outside of the confessional also. Vincente,
the only teetotaler rancher in the area, smelled of a
bad red Portagee wine at the 9: 00 o’clock mass. After
the priest carefully placed the host on Mrs. Caldera’s
tongue, she immediately began chewing on it. In the
sacristy, Harold, the intellectually challenged gas
station attendant, gargled holy water. Father Coffee
walked through the town to find out what the hell
was going on. The barber complained that the kids
were especially unruly, swatting his clippers away. The
pharmacist described a massive increase in requests
for bromides and digestive disorder medicinals. The
school teacher said the children had forgotten an
entire academic year. On the street, dogs purred and
cats growled. He saw Mrs. Fitzgerald and the grimiest
bum in town, Arnold, taking turns gulping out of a
cold bottle of Schlitz. The next day the bull died. He
lay dead on the yellow field next to the factory. Billows
of blue white smoke poured out from the factory’s
tall thin chimney stacks. Smoke shadows crossed over
the great dead bull. The ranch men stood around the
Andalusian lump of power and majesty. “The factory
fluoride killed him,” Cain, the young ranch hand, said
pointing up to the billowing smoke. “Santa Muerte,”
Manuel, El Bracero, said as he blessed himself. When
they opened the bull’s dead mouth they saw two rows
of perfectly white teeth. “Floride!” Cain cried. People

36
had questioned Cain because he was incredibly close
to his bossy mother and had never married. He figured
that was none of their business. Besides, the priest had
never been upset in the confessional about his sexual
behavior, just giving him a few Our Father’s and a
couple of Hail Mary’s, not bothering to tell him to go
forth and sin no more. Cain brought Father Coffee out
to the field to give Last Rites to the magnificent animal.
That night Father Coffee tried something new. Instead
of launching from the church peak, he spun in a circle
in the garden cemetery. He had seen a picture of the
dervishes in the Saturday Evening Post and wanted
to try it. He spun upwards, then over the town. From
his vantage point, he saw town children vomiting,
husbands hitting, wives crying. After seeing the dead
bull and the factory smoke, the priest guessed it was
some odd evil emitted from the factory. Father Coffee
turned east from the town, flew over the factory and
plunged into the tallest chimney stack of the Dow
Chemical Company. As he nose dived down he prayed,
Let me be your breath, Dear Jesus. He inhaled. His
lungs nearly burst from the fiery factory-made napalm
smoke. The next morning, still coughing, Father Coffee
calmly walked to the plant holding up an olive wood
cross. The workers quickly opened the gates for him.
He walked around the great factory until he found the
main electrical plug. He quickly leaned over, grabbed
the python-like black electrical cord and yanked. He
had unplugged the factory. The machinery ground to a
halt, there was silence and thereafter significantly less
trouble in the town.

Wi lli a m Vla ch 37
* * *

Father Coffee did not question his night flying.
He figured if he thought too much about it, self-
consciousness would kill it. Besides he had his hands
full with his three wards. The church housekeeper,
Mrs. O’Hanorahan, had become obsessed with the
three boys’ bad behaviors. The epitome of their
juvenile delinquency came the morning they tied
a rope from the cross at the peak of the church and
took turns swinging by their feet around the building
like they were performing the Danza de los Voladores
in Veracruz. The oldest, Jackie, flew and screamed in
delight. The youngest, Timmy, crashed into the stained
glass window portraying Christ’s agony at Gethsemane.
Mrs. O’Hanorahan held her faithful broom ready for
the middle boy, Bobby as he swung around the corner
of the church. She smacked the flying screaming Bobby
which reversed his course and sent him the other way
around the church like a boy tether ball. Before the
third smack, Father Coffee stopped his housekeeper
by standing in front of her holding a cross as if she
were to be exorcized. She walked away, broom in tow,
muttering, “Ah, bless me St. Patrick, ‘tis a fool’s parish.”

The broken stained glass window and flustered
housekeeper did not deter Father Coffee from
delivering his weekly sermon the next Sunday morning.
“Please note the broken Christ,” he said, pointing to
the colorful stained glass shards below the cardboard
covered window. “He was in agony at the foot of the

38
Mount of Olives. Now he is not. How can anyone
be in agony if they are tasting a good green olive? I
know, I know. An acquired taste. But, still. A good
green olive overrides agony. Any day. Gustat bonum,
est etiam in malo olice. Even a bad olive tastes good.
What if Christ would have grown tired of sweating
blood and eaten a couple good ripe green olives. We
wouldn’t be worshiping a cross. We’d be worshiping
an olive. Veracruz? Nay, Vera Aceituna! The True Olive.
Wouldn’t history be different if Constantine saw an
olive instead of a cross? Chew on that one. Go in peace.
In the name of the Kalamata, Nicoise and The Holy
Martini. Amen.”

Wi lli a m Vla ch 39
LLLLLLLLL
LLL
C E LIA
C R U Z IN E M E R Y V I L L E

I waited twenty minutes to try on two dresses,
one for the evening
(I was going out on a date and wanted to look good)
three jeans with rips above and below the knee
four tops all V-necklines that showed off my cleavage
and a pair of embroidered cut-offs,
no pockets, but why not buy one anyway for fun?
The line was long, a second weekend of Madness
Mark-Downs
I might’ve gone over the allowed dressing room limit
but the attendant handed me a number
assigned me to a stall
where I hung up my try-ons and unbuttoned
my plaid jacket, the one I love with the fuzzy lining,
yanked off my T-shirt but started to hear loud music
realized the sound was emanating
from a loose tile above the mirror
(BTW Ross dressing rooms don’t have doors);
lifted up the tile slowly didn’t want to ruin my
manicure
when I heard salsa
a horn section followed by shouts
of “Azucar, Azucar,”
started to dance, rolled my hips,

41
my pants slipped to my ankles
began singing in perfect Spanish
even though I’d taken only one semester
in high school, “Azucar, Azucar!”
And everything fit.

42
STONEBRIDGE IN PLEASANTON

dancing inside a circle
of orange traffic cones
wish me luck

shopping trip
automatic doors
glass elevator

dropping down
two strollers
on the prowl

in retail heaven
shopping bag
flashes wide

itching to be filled
with a remoulade
of half-offs

close-outs
crammed on racks
is the back story

come Dasher

Le nore We i ss 43
and Dancer...
Donner and Blitzen...

except Victoria
won’t tell me
her secret

i’m gonna
make her
give me a club card

one hundred push-ups
she handles my boobs
so nice

44
SOUTHLAND MALL IN HAYWARD

Southland Mall sits like a waxed vagina
hidden behind a concrete preserve
you would never know
what lay behind the FedEx guards
Locksmith keys
no trees
not even a fake orchid
dresses from countries
we don’t trade
agree with anymore
when a clock strikes
the commute hour
queues up
that’s me riding
the up escalator
my halo hollow
everyone tries so very hard
to be cheerful
walk along the white way
past a Shoe Palace
Forever 21
buy two plastic dicks
get one free

Le nore We i ss 45
KELLER AVENUE STRIP MALL

It’s a strip mall disguised as a plaza
where I used to take my cats to the veterinarian
on that one day when maintenance
inspected apartments and no pets allowed,
kept going back to the vet even after my place turned
condo 
we could keep dogs, cats, lizards, whatever
else
we wanted. The pizza shop wasn’t very good and got
bought
out by another pizza shop that wasn’t very good, but
they were very liberal
about handing out packets of Parmesan and hot
peppers
and made change for a twenty, if you really needed it,
something the market selling everything from beer
to
sandwiches to Fruit of the Loom T-shirts
would never do, which the man behind the counter
of the dry cleaning store
would do, especially if you were a regular customer,
and then an acupuncture office moved into a space
once occupied by an exercise studio, but that place
went under.

46
DISCOVERING HUNGARIAN IN
BUDAPEST

1. At West End Mall
Up Radnoti Miklos utca, street named after the
Hungarian Jewish poet
who died in labor camps months before liberation
in a city that volunteered Jews to Nazi death
ancestral home to parents who squeezed their way
past two World Wars to meet in New York City’s
immigrant hot-house.

I am looking to answer a question I have carried in a
stone sack
within me for years, ransack a pastry shop and allow
poppy seeds, sugar, and lemon peel to fill my mouth,
and like a moth
drawn to the lightest of things move toward West
End Mall’s three floors
of stores sit next to a statuesque ice-cream cone
adorned with a red cherry
finish pastries and watch men and women belong to
each other as I

try to break the code of this strange language
whispered in my infant ears.

Le nore We i ss 47
2. Near the Chain Link Bridge
I wear a badge of pure white,
a strand that expanded to a tell-tale swatch,
my grandmother Lenke’s mark on me,
not the yellow star pinned to a sleeve.

She did not have to wear that, entered Ellis Island
pregnant with my Aunt Clara, bastard child
who revealed the secret on her death bed,
how Lenke was stranded alone

banned to the United States
to give birth to a baby, her sister’s bindle
tucked inside a sewing machine.
Lenke’s parents saved three lives, but not their own.

They say by the time she reached 30
her hair gleamed as white as enamel,
and when she baked, she set out her cakes
with cloth and napkins.

I looked for her, my namesake,
my missing chain link
suspended over the Danube
running down my spine

and when the pot-bellied waiter
came to my side and winked twice,
my mouth opened up in Hungarian,
and he knew what I wanted.

48
AA AAAAAAAAAAAA
A AA AA
LELAND #1

wrecked bottles over the skin
on the coffee table
in front of the TV
into the spinning globe
the amber, the iridescent
the disintegrating scales
teetering on top of the
wooden buffet

you spin them
on the tip of your tongue
empty them entirely
and swallow them whole

i didn’t know you could do that?
why didn’t you tell me you could do that?

empty them so quickly?

if you don’t want me to look then i won’t

49
but the spinning
inputting

the swallowing . . .

. . . rootless

and the emptying

the best part

50
LELAND #2

i see your long fingers
highways
reaching out from under the couch
gripping the tufts of moss
. . . of coral
. . . of the sea bottom
covered in smooth melted plastic

come out and hold me
will you?

. . . in your encasements

your long sleeves
and eyelashes
that wrap your ankles
like jumper cables

Abbi e Je anne Ama di o 51
LELAND #3
we are natural objects
like bird feet, green grapes,
put together like paper
manufactured, really
out of sorts
mis-stacked
by our handler
pusher, kinda

but our bleeds bleed
still bleed
through the paper
the sham paper
an incandescent type of paper

like the plump grapes choked
dripping, really
like the little feet demolished
to crackles, kinda
of smaller toes
bone, nail,

of other things,
of an,

unseeable
but mighty,
mighty
substance
52
YYYYYYYYY
YYY

A LI V E

I remember a boy who crushed the legs of a dung beetle,
in the afternoon. The beetle was solemn as cartridge.
Its dark body ascended on the beach like a Jewish refugee
in the Hapalla, slow and determined.
It was afternoon
I remember, because the boy was like the
hour, cold I suppose.
He picked up a wooden stick and crushed its tiny legs.
As if there was purpose to his life.
As if he wasn’t a soldier
who watched his friend get shot in the stomach.
How the friend remained standing, like a building with a
rain gutter,
the insides spilling out onto the street.
The boy crushed the insect’s legs, one at time.
It was merciful.
The dung beetle was never even alive
until now.

53
THE WEIGHT OF A JERICHO 941

It happens when your nine-millimeter round ‎
gets lodged in the chamber. ‎It can be the dust, maybe
or you just didn’t put in the time to clean it. ‎
No. It happens when you’re sitting on the
wooden chair,
at the crowded Café,‎ waiting for the waitress to
bring over a salad. ‎
And you notice that the tattooed birds on her wrist
are flying away,‎
but you don’t know where they’re going. ‎
I say, you notice the wrist, but don’t notice the man
running in.‎
After he shoots, you want to shoot back, but you
didn’t
put in the time. ‎And now you can’t get your
breathing straight.‎
You know your handgun like you know Tuesdays,
like rain. ‎
But you can’t get that first bullet dislodged.‎
And you can’t help but think of her sparrows finally
flocking, ‎
either north or south along the flyway.‎

54
WHAT I FORGOT FROM MY WARS

Let the night come & lay your head under ‎
a blanket of dust. An orb of mosquitoes radios ‎
your position. Let them sing. ‎

Even in the desert, the white Cappris flowers ‎
holds their stomachs as if they had been shot. ‎
The larks of your mind are still cleaning, scrubbing. ‎

Shooting is the cleaning of black oil into & out of. ‎
You want to place your uniform on the shelf, one ‎
sleeve at a time. Brush your hair into years.‎

You trace the outlines of your breath, as you ‎
would a child’s back. Say—it’s safe now; ‎
Say—I’ve got you. Hush your marching

& witness the constellation of canvas tents fill ‎
with tens of girls in their cots, whispering to themselves ‎
(or each other) the lullabies their mothers spoke. ‎

Ya e l Ha coh e n 55
JJJJJJJJJ
JJJJ

F OURTEEN

Wrapped in Christmas plaid
And holding a staff his full length
The Maasai boy
Counts the cows
These are mine he thinks
But by mine he means ours
No thread separating day from night but a segue to
dusk
No thread separating himself from the tribe
But a rope tied to other boys his age, the shepherds,
the waiting
For warrior for lion for the cutting off of childhood
And the soldering of himself to the tribe of women

He counts to twenty but there is one more
A goat, a young one, who asks with a bleat for another
moment
To finish the patch of tender grass
To savor what is his for as long as it lasts

57
OLD BULL ELEPHANT

Not going on safari this morning?
I asked him
Neither am I
He knows safari means journey in Swahili
And he knows that the group is not always kind

I am singing
Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
He is listening wishing
He could still join the girls
In the watering hole
I am wishing I could still be the girls in the pool
We are both too much

58
- september 9, 2017 -

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