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QUIET LIGHTNING IS

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sparkle + blink 90
© 2017 Quiet Lightning

cover © Cat Sommer
catsommer.com

“About to Bleed” by Cassandra Rockwood-Rice
first appeared in Rip Rap

book design by j. brandon loberg
set in Absara

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This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form
without permission from individual authors.

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quietlightning.org
su bmit @ qui e tl i g h tn i n g . o r g
CONTENTS
curated by
Kate Folk + Evan Karp
featured artist
Cat Sommer | catsommer.com

K.R. MORRISON Her Burden 1
KRISTINA TEN Her Hair Always Smells Like
Wherever She’s Been Last 3
SEAN TAYLOR What kind of Lonely
is your Lonely? 7
NATASHA
DENNERSTEIN Lana Del Rey and I,
Lana Del Rey and I. 11
MATT CARNEY To kill a DJ 13
MEGAN LEVAD Marriage 21
RISS ROSADO Ask Me Why (Part 1) 25
ROBERTO F. SANTIAGO Jamie & Jimmy & Johnny & Jack 29
Oakland, After the Election 31
MEGAN LEVAD Great Men of Science:
Anne Sexton 35
ERIC KURHI The Snake Guy 39
CASSANDRA
ROCKWOOD-RICE About to Bleed 43
JOHN PANZER Eyes of Onyx
and Juliet’s Cut Stars 45
WILD RED HAWK Whiskey in My Coat
Smoke in my Pocket 51
HEATHER ROBINSON Apocalypse Later 55
LENA NICODEMUS How to be Alone 59
MEGAN LEVAD Great Men of Science:
Schumannn 63
AKINYELE SADIQ Sister-Out-Law
(“Pat Parker, Presente!” part 3 of 3) 67
CASSANDRA
ROCKWOOD-RICE Trigger Warning 69
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
- SET 1 -
KKKKKKKKKK
KKK

HER BURDEN

In one week, a woman
can grow life
shoot a rapist bleed out

the last word 

while he leaks red hell
onto car fenders she waxes
when she isn’t waning

In one week, a woman
can talk tears off suicidal bridges
while she bridges
words to new days
holding smiles, awaiting
breakfasts mixed with unmet friends
self discovery over easy
pancakes that make pain too, pass

In one week, a woman can become
an armed robber
or she can nurse
bottles and beers
(and in the same week)

1
bring freedom to kids
she never raised but carries

While vacuuming others’ mess, one woman
can write a poem
on hallways she architects
inside her head that always
she revises
surveillances

She can burn
down the world
with flammable honesty
then discover fire
extinguishers while men
cough, choke
drop for cover

She can ignite
love
and then perplex
while flames destroy
what she sparked
in a week

2
KKKKKKKK
KKKK
HER H
A I R A LWAY S S M E L L S L I K E
WHERE
VER SHE’S BEEN LAST

Her hair always smells like wherever she’s been last
I nudge against
it and inhale the latest unthinkable thing in bed
we are coughing up our own hair and each other’s
and fur and ash and her worry and mine we
are only at the edges of it like in the margins
of a condolence letter there is nothing to see but
someone’s design for more room for sadness
it is every picture of Hell we’ve ever been shown but
my dear it is only a picture north they are choking
in the same houses they decorated for
christmas or in cars packed full while waiting for
highway traffic to budge
one report talks about a zookeeper who saved every
last one of his animals
didn’t sleep for days kept the plastic buckets by the
penguin enclosure like wild fires can jump bodies of
water until they’re artificial the giraffes grazing
untroubled on charred brush the fence around
them the kind of safety that kills you when asked
about his house on live television the man makes
a motion like smoothing a dress: two flat hands
moving in opposite directions means level

3
means that’s it means done in baseball strangely
means safe this is a feel-good story
remember us with our foolish routines stuffing
the gaps under our doors with wet towels but going
on to work when we were girls we were taught to
yell fire not rape this so they would come faster or
at all the sky is impossible but I have seen it once
before in a desert during a dust storm when I felt the
least important there were no wild animals who
came to lock eyes with meaning offer meat or
comfort there was only the sound of casino dings
faint and very very far away I zipped my tent and
cried and tried to think metropolis tried to think day
spa like these could bring boldness tried to think
sleep so you will not feel this when the winds
change we all think breathe shallow every
body is walking with a different colored bundle of
cloth for a head it smells in the house and we say
open the windows then no don’t of course the dog
paces growling hoarse to guard us from things he
cannot see we are coughing in a vague way that
could mean anything mean allergies mean flu
season the man in the house says nothing didn’t
we invent gods for this presidents as a kid I
would stockpile my prayers as a preventative measure
didn’t they keep don’t you want to feel good
don’t you want to feel involved but not overinvolved
and also at a reasonable distance blow over isn’t
how wild fires work you know the blowing is what
gets you in the surrounding areas they speak in
whispers like saying the word fire will call it to them

4
an obedient pet then all uncontrolled muscle and
instinct when we were girls we were told to yell
fire not rape the lines of power they are always
always falling and we are not invincible we are
only lucky she wears her hair piled high on top of
her head like a satellite says she’s trying to make
a connection at night i lean in and her hair smells
of smoke like she has been out collecting it like
she found so many strays on her rounds and a heart
too big not to bring them home.

Kri st i na Te n 5
SSSSSSS
SSSS
W H AT K I N D O F L O N E LY
IS YOUR LONELY?

“Do you smell smoke?” and, “Does anyone smell
smoke?” were the most commonly asked questions on
the hottest day of the year. Some things are so alien to
us, we will seek out tragedy to explain them. 

When he asked her to move over in bed, he didn’t ask
her to move over, he said, I can hardly breathe. 

Hypochondriacs are much more likely to overly self
diagnose in times of extreme weather. She felt ugly,
or maybe it was just unattractively old, when the heat
expanded the tissue in her joints and her favorite
moving parts became cumbersome and sluggish. She
spent her bathroom breaks in the walk-in cooler
looking for her youth. She found that the bright
green bits of broccoli sprouts held the most promise.
Hearing his sorted request, she was happy to move
over. She shared a queen bed with her two younger
sisters through her childhood, and sleeping on the
edge of that bed kept her alert and thus demanded
only the most worthwhile dreams to be projected
upon her mind, and in her head.

7
It’s much cooler over here.

Good.

They spent all day talking about the heat wave. First on
the commute, then at their desks, then at lunch, then
in the meetings, then at happy hour, then at home on
the phone with their mothers, then at home with each
other and the seven o’clock news.

It was something fun when they emptied the contents
of their freezer. The ice cube fight that soon escalated
to a frozen pea frenzy that warranted an ice cream
truce. There was talk of watching March of the
Penguins. Instead they soaked cold water cloths and
laid them out on each other’s backs in the widest part
of their living room. He drew a map on the cloths on
her back by running his longest fingers through them.
When she shivered, his map suffered earthquakes.
The cold water gathered and ran in rivers where he
left pressure. He crossed her spine carefully, fearing
a flood, crafting waterslides. He was a city planner, a
creator of aqueducts, and he smiled from time to time.
Where he saw puddles she felt relief, and his fingers
splashed in them, splashing in her relief, childishly.

After a cold shower they stripped the bed, opened the
windows, closed the curtains, ran the box fan, laid on
their backs and tried to sleep.

He looked it up earlier that day, he looked up the

8
coldest part of a common day.

He had all night to tell her it wouldn’t be the coldest
until half an hour after sunrise.

She kept on telling him, it’s getting colder yet, let’s
cuddle, can we cuddle yet?

But the warmth made him irritable, his bones vibrated
and her joints throbbed.

And he couldn’t tell her, it’s the coldest after sunrise.

He just kept on saying, I can hardly breathe, when he
just wanted her to move over.

Se an Tay lor 9
NN NNNNNNNNN
NN NN
NN
NN
LANA DEL REY AND I,
LANA DEL REY AND I.

Oh, Lana, I just want us to be besties, hang out by
the pool, drink Greyhounds, the grapefruit freshly
squeezed and the Vodka Belvedere, take selfies
together in the smog-infused, tangerine sunset with
synthesizers playing a Doors track or perhaps some
Astrid Gilberto or something obscure and cool.

We will wear matching oversize black straw sun hats
and bikinis with floaty kimonos over the top and
dangle our dark purple pedicures into the chlorine
together and make cute little lazy splashes.

When someone rings the doorbell, Lana, we will run
away in slow motion down the sepia lawn to the
ivy-covered garage and jump into your convertible
Chevy Chevelle—avocado-green with white leather
upholstery—and zoom off into the evening with the
radio on, and zoom off into the evening with the radio
on, and zoom off into the evening with the radio on.

We’ll just drive all night and stop at a roadside Motel
with a purple, orchid, neon sign flashing Rooms,
Rooms, Rooms and lay around in our ivory underwear

11
under a lazy ceiling fan watching late night TV and
kiss and cuddle but no girl-on-girl action because
we’re not lesbians as such, just more like intimate
Mills College friends but we’re not averse because guys
really like that shit and it photographs so well, Lana, it
photographs so well, my darling. I guess adult toys are
alright, a double-header in one of those primary, jello
colors. Red or purple, you can choose, Lana, my bestie,
my doll.

The next day we stop in a roadside diner and I will
order one waffle with a side of fruit and you will order
one egg—over easy—and one pancake and we won’t
have to, like, eat them or anything, just push them
around the plate a little, all desultory, because they
photograph so well, and we will drink strong coffee
out of those thick white china mugs with that rolled
lip. We can be in black-and-white for this scene. Then
we’ll drive away together, the top down, our long hair
thrashing in the wind, Lana, our long hair thrashing in
the wind.

12
MMMMMMMM
MMM

T O K IL L A D J

To kill a DJ was not a matter of necessity, nor a matter
of preference: to kill a DJ has wound up a matter of
happenstance, a matter of privilege, and a moment of
profound resignation to the diligence of instinct. In
other words, probably a blasé fuck up. And I’m sorry
for it.

Make no mistake: Right now, I am drunk. I have been
drinking since five or six thirty like any number of
suckers here. Please bear witness to the fundamental
truth that none of this could be possible without
alcohol. I had hoped that by 33 years, that with a
modest amount of respect behind my work, with
notable quantities of vices behind me, I would be
above an admission as base as, ‘yes, friends: I am drunk.
I did it because alcohol.’ But I will assure you it is one
hundred percent authentic. There is no aesthetic, only
anesthetic and vim. And three shots of decadent
outrage which I aged, which I fermented in a closed
fist for years and years. Sobriety has been a chalice oft
fantasized and rarely executed for me, but outrage is
my old bedmate and friend.

Here’s the thing. This is 2017. My story means
nothing. Only my identity, the identities of folks,
13
and the identity of that false demigod, that fuckblind
nincompoop, mean a thing in a world where truths
are forever more severe than fiction. Paisley Fucking
Smith. Paisley Fucking Smith.

To arrive promptly at the point: Paisley was in this city,
in this neighborhood, in this same bar drinking at arms
and arms distance less than an hour ago, and now he
is not. I decided six days ago that I should make good
on our rage against fragile masculinity, to stop writing
and, with an invisible gun, to just slug Paisley Fucking
Smith in the gut.

Now, but, listen: I had reasons! I had known like
everyone else the long and well-worn trail of
misogynistic fragments, the again and again moments
of fuckery, following this person who called himself a
poet, and called himself a man, and also called himself
Paisley Smith. I rewore a common sneer I retold the
sordid stories. Not his birth name; A pen name and a
stage name; Paisely Fucking Smith was a fake fucking
name. He built into this ridiculous name an unyielding
brand of abrasive performance. He slathered away time
at his poetry readings telling bad jokes about the KKK,
tearing into audience members for their ages and their
faces, made fat jokes and fecal jokes—people reacting
uncomfortably—people reacting uncomfortably. That
was a high art for this person, you understand. His
mark on the world was a dig into the collective gut of
his community as if to offend was to upend, and the
means meant nothing. That to feel anything was his art,

14
and the stink of offense was his grail. But what were
we going to do about it except write? But what was I
going to do about it except write?

Three days ago, my good friend and psycho, Army John,
asked me to stay at his ranch in SLO. I went to SLO,
we drank porter, I went to sleep, and he produced a
‘ghost gun’ from an eighty percent complete lower
on a 3d printer in less than three hours. Just like that.
An untraceable tool. Something of total devastation.
I was shocked, amazed. I had been sound asleep and
dreaming of music, and woke up with this thing beside
me. That’s how easy it was to get one. That’s how easy
it was to get one.

And today, I stalked Paisley to this bar—he may have
known it—I had made it public on fucking Tumblr
that he was my fucking enemy. I sat in front rows at his
own literary events, I laughed too loud, I dropped my
whiskey bottle with hands up. I slow clapped all the
time. He always sweat and he avoided eye contact, the
beads one millimeter and one half millimeter passing
down the bald head and face, removing his black
glasses and chuckling as if the memory of his hideous
jokes through the bile sponge of his mind would be
enough to save his life.

But yes, friends, yes, I am aware, I am aware that bad
taste alone was not enough to destroy someone’s
stomach and life. There was more. I retold the story
more than once that he’d coerced someone we admire

Mat t Ca rne y 15
into a sex cassette tape for the sake of art, then
refused to retract it; I retold the story more than once
that he’d robbed blind someones we admire of their
dignity in bedrooms and in backseats with alcohol and
browbeatings, that he used sob stories on rejection, that
‘new in town’ bullshit, that ‘zone of friends’ swamprot,
the ‘nice guy’ tripping over his tongue at the finish line
line. You already know it all: there is a lot of this. There
is a lot more. Everywhere. Like everyone else, I called
him out. So fragile, so manipulative. I’d been angry for
years. I called him the fuck out. I wrote about it, and
tonight he was sitting there just the same, among us,
always, wondering, Jesus, could it be me? Could I really
be the bro? Is it my turn to play the bro? I trained my
eyes like razordiscs before all this outrage, and Paisely
just sat at the bar with his sweat beads and chuckles
and removing his glasses to the bartender, ignoring me
again. Always ignoring me.

I knew I’d slug Paisley in the gut tonight with a
bullet from the ghost gun, but I knew not when. The
anti-hero of alt, the monger of awkward chic. I enjoyed
hating this person from afar for years; everyone hated
him for his misogynistic banter and his provocateur
aesthetic. I gripped the handle of the gun stuffed deep
within my jacket pocket. But this fucker wouldn’t
even stand up. He was there at the bar drinking his
gin. Very slowly. Just one gin. The hours passed away at
pace as if he were skinning them with drum sticks of
beeswax. Blunt, but so slowly, so carefully, not to spill
a single drop even by breathing aside in my direction.

16
For four fucking hours—no, not fucking four, for
fucking seven—for seven fucking hours I watched
Paisely Fucking Smith, age unknown—age timeless—a
common man, a common bro—drink one gin and tonic,
froth and forth, fuck with quarters and dimes, fight to
sweat away my presence without looking at my silent
judging. I would wait him out for the first moment I
had a chance—slowly, stepping, in the backside of the
bar in the dark—slowly, press the ghost gun into his
gut or chest or scrotum—bang, the soft bang, bang him
away softly, then walking away, washing my hands,
wipe myself away. Who knows? But I wouldn’t stay.
A beautiful bridge, a pristine railroad track. My task
would be complete to close this shite duct forever, and
then go. As kids might say one day, when one door
closes another door closes. I’m not there yet.

So I waited him out four fucking hours, or seven.
The bar had changed completely after seven hours of
waiting. The lifers, afternoon people who’d committed
to drowning loneliness with one high ball after another
after another after another, were as alien as I was for a
while, and then as drunk as I was, and then inundated
by new waves of fresher faces which drowned them in
an excited and hungry sort of banter. These Slacking
techies, these slithering hipsters, the frat boys barking
bro!, bro! bro! bro!, bro!. Mansplaining cretins, proving
things, explaining things. The lifers sank away from
this terrible banter as the bar became young again.

And then, finally, the DJ arrived.

Mat t Ca rne y 17
The DJ arrived in a V-neck. The DJ arrived in another
pair of black specs. The DJ arrived as another bald
head—or a recently shaved away bun—or a recently
shaved away Hitler youth haircut—or a recently
shaved away beard with the wax on—another bald
head, another tribal tat and a corgi tat and a BMW
tat cross his heart, yeah, and wearing an incredible
smirk all the while. And because I was four or seven or
fucking eleven drinks in, I was completely astonished,
painfully flabbergasted, that stereotypes still roamed
the Earth to fuck with us in this terrible way.

The DJ placed his egg crate of vinyl on a gleaming
white pedestal, unraveled cables and cables, prepared
lines and lines for his set. Third and fourth bros with
remarkable pinched faces and, in fact, gnar-gnar
Dwemer beards, dark beanies, helped him wind the
lines around the pedestal and PA. A young woman in a
beige jacket stood beside them with arms crossed.

The DJ continued his story as they prepared. He
gestured back to the woman. “...and she was like, so
wasted that she yakked like—like the yak was like
this,” he gagged, rubbing his face. The DJ and his
roadies laughed, and the young woman smiled at her
feet. The DJ continued, “And oh my god, bruh, and her
Gucci bag was in the toilet all covered in yak. And I’m
like, hey, I do not even love anyone enough to touch
that. Maybe not even my mom.” They laugh again, and
she is still embarrassed.

18
This was the moment I set the eleventh drink down,
rested my head on the bar, and closed my eyes. I
fantasized about mitigating the blasé callousness of
the overheard conversation with violence. I imagined
asking with a grin, which frat you in, my bruh? Fuck boy
of the hour, my bruh? Then shoving and holding his
face red hot into a bowl of fresh pho, or a cream of
mushroom soup—my bruh, I can’t hear you anymore,
my bruh. I can’t hear you anymore.

To punish the weak-lipped aristocracy of this society’s
finest institutions of bravado in broad day light. But
would I ever have the gravitas? Probably never.

But then. Oh my god. Paisley Fucking Smith! I
remembered—Paisely Fucking Smith! And I raise my
head, and of course, of course, he had left the bar.

I rushed through, pushed through, searching the bar,
out into the darkened hallway. Two doors to men’s
bathrooms, and I was waiting in line for no one, man.
Two doors one foot a part. But I knew Paisley was
there. I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. Door number one,
door number two.

I stood beside the doors, pulled the ghost gun, raised to
shoot. And I waited.

And there I heard this sound. So quietly. A rasping…
a weeping. Someone weeping, a gentle bumping, as if
this—in the men’s room—someone weeping and a

Mat t Ca rne y 19
gentle and rhythmic bump, bump, bump, bump. Hitting
his soft head against the wall of door number one.

And door number two. The stench of musk and
excrement, the water washing behind. And the DJ
walked forward from door number two.

“What’s that sound?” He asked.

We both looked down at the gun stuck into his belly
like an unfortunate pipe in some hardly worn house. I
was the one to chuckle, then, at last, and to remove my
glasses, push the sweat beads from my eyes, and move
into the blind again.

So. The bottom line, friends, concerns mankind.
Concerns man. I could never stop him from existing
while also claiming to be non-violent. But it was a lack.
A letting go. That hate fermenting in my fist—I let it
go. To kill a DJ was an exercise only as focused as a clap
in the wind, or dropping a bucket. I mean to say that
there was nothing to it, really. I mean to say that it’s
more a matter of being there in the right moment with
the right people in the wrong music. To kill a DJ was as
instinctual as to contract the common cold.

20
MMMMMMMM
MMM

M A R R IA G E

Freud had a lot of good ideas even if now they seem
old-fashioned, like that orgasms calm a woman
down. And at the time he was working, Freud
was working in Austria or Germany, Germany
wasn’t really a country yet then so it doesn’t
matter, at that time people maybe had totally
forgotten that
it used to be the conventional wisdom, um, it used
to be normal to say, a regular saying that women
always want sex and men just want to make them
happy. Happy wife, happy life. In the Renais-
sance and even the
Dark Ages, in those times people would say you could
tell a newlywed by his skinny calves. Because his
wife was working him out so hard with sex
all the time. In those times people were coupling in
all sorts of ways and
if you listen to the murder ballads like “The Little
Musgrave” then
you know all the fuss about virginity, about women’s
purity, chastity belts and so on, was about old,
not old but certainly middle-aged, say 35- or
40-year-old men wanting to make sure they
weren’t tricked, weren’t cuckolded by their

21
teenage brides. There was coverture and women
were property but most people were peasants and
didn’t own anything so when we think of bad
marriage laws and sexism what we are thinking
about is
40-year-old men marrying their friends’ teenage
daughters, so of course they were trying to keep
the teenage boys away and of course
the teenage girls were really in love with the teenage
boys and of course
the boys wanted to kill the fathers and take the girls,
who were not their mothers but were somebody’s
mothers already at 15, 16, while the boys had
to wait 20 more years to get married, if at all,
because what if you’re not
the eldest son? How are you going to make money
before jobs were invented, or if your family is
too fancy for you to have a job and it would
embarrass them? So we are really talking about
the problems of a very few rich people and most
everyone else was free to do what people usually
do which is to pair off and sometimes stay in love
forever and sometimes
fight a lot but still stay together and sometimes split
up and try again
with someone else. But Freud came along and saw
that the younger people want the old people
out of the way, and not just for Marx’s reasons
although that makes it easier to understand
cultures that respect their elders they usually
have a different structure for getting and sharing

22
money. But Freud saw that boys want to kill
the dads and marry the moms and girls want
to marry the dads but if they, if the boys make
themselves into
the dads by killing them, that tidies that one right up.
Freud understood
the teenage brain. He knew that we all want to pee
on the fire to put it out.

Me gan Le va d 23
RRRRRRR
RRRR

ASK ME WHY
( PA R T 1 )

ask why my hair matches rubber shoes
boots
strapping liquor tongues flame flicker
quicker
my
best friend is a stripper
they femme 
they put it on
like water
like skin
mine doesn’t fit never did
10 am
fitting for a straight jacket 
never look quite right on
this queer
fit for a straight jacket
dress to kill
for a
straight jacket ‘cause i needed a hug
fit for a straight
jacket with an escape hatch
it’s part of my act they
tell me
i’m out of it by the chorus they tell me 
and
i know mine won’t slip off so easy
“easy does it”
tattooed on fingers
easy does as easy does
so where’s
mine 
straight jacket tattooed on fingers
easy like straight girls
easy like straight jackets
 fit
like tattooed girls
fit like tattoos on fingers
easy does it
and mom
and
sharon
and other women he respects more than
me
fit like respect
fit like fingers
fit like other women
he respects more than me
fit like women
unfit like
women
unfit to be women
unfit like fingers
on your
throat
unfit like throats choking bullshit
choke like
bottom 9th
choke nines 
tens too
ten like damn
mami
that ass walks itself
how the fuck else would
it walk
fuck like mami
fuck like that ass
fuck

25
like it walks itself
walks like it fucks itself 
fucks
itself up
and eats cab fare to get sober 
sober like
sunday
easy like sunday
easy like cliche
click like
cliche
click like tongues tip 
shatter like tongues
tip
tip like fall over
tip your dancer
front row is
mandatory
my best friend is a stripper
and naked
is safe
my best friend is safe
and stripped naked
my
friend is naked and safe is stripped when it comes
with strings
strings like piano marionettes
wires
exposed
like the virus
exposed like the soul
of the
robot 
that carried the virus exposed
violent like
virus
violet like violence 
ultra like violet and damage
like sun
sun makes a circle
like straight jacket
you
fit like the sun and a straight jacket
more than i fit
alone 
i’m afraid how i fit
when i fit alone
alone like cancer
cancer like going out of business
loving like business
depression like business
none of your business
the business of happy
pursuit like the chase
and the game
i can’t play anymore
i don’t feel safe here
i don’t feel like me here
i don’t like me here
i cannot be here

ask me why my hair match rubber shoes

26
ask me why my fight is flight
ask me about the time i was cleaning out my closet
and found a male pronoun
ask me what happened to make me so broken
that i cannot fathom you loving me
beyond this honeymoon phase
sticky like honey
phase like the moon
like it wasn’t a phase
because here i am at 30 and nothing’s changed
change like a pronoun
change like a name
change like when my girl tells me her man won’t
invest in himself
I say, “People don’t change,”
change like when my girl tells me she and her man
are drifting apart
I say, “People change”
change like a spare
like unnecessary
like throwing out pennies
‘cause who even uses them anymore
spare like a penny
in the trash
‘cause who even uses me anymore
change like a mind
change like a favor
change like small
small like forgotten
like invisible
like i wish

Ri ss Rosa do 27
change like memory
change like rewrites
and edits on a poem that never feels finished
finished like pennies
penned to the finish
you know what makes a writer
a writer finishes
finish like a writer
write to the finish
write to remember
write to rewrite
and rewrite
and rewrite
and rewrite
and finish.

28
RR RRRRRRRRRRRR
R RR RR
J A M I E & JI M M Y
& JOHNNY & JACK

When I am at a bar, I need room to move, but more
than that I need whiskey.
I need it raw. Not chilled. Uncut. No ice. Never do I
shoot it. I hold it—orange
as gold—under the eyes they flicker, & I strobe;
holding them closely, respectful
as a pyromaniac, or a captive that has lived for so
many years under the thumb
of a love they’ve forgotten what life was before the
pangs. When I am at a bar,
I need a sturdy glass. Any bar that serves in plastic is
one to close not soon enough
& I will not spend more than a song’s time there. I
long for the swirl about a thick,
thick glass. The way the smoke slides a leg towards
the lip & slinks back down.
The way a cool girl fingers her bubble gum only to
chew you back in. Wrist flick
& just like that, I pull that prism to my face, lap a
catstongue of it. Don’t swallow.
I let the music slow to breath-speed & soak in what
is about to happen. A sting
that sets the roof ablaze. I hold it, teething the

29
ridges of my palate to firebloom
soft as smalltalk in lilac. & when I can’t take anymore
I take them in. All at once.
To feel finer, free, high-modern & more like an orchid,
among succulents. Soft as
moss & gossip I can’t wait to share.

30
OAKLAND, AFTER THE ELECTION

The crowd was black-red &
orange-brown &
brown-yellow &
silver-green &
gold-blue as indigo &
violent as violets &
aggressive as the first time you
hear a rap song without the bleeps.
Some people were queer as
fuck. Some were not. Some were
Black, others were not. Many were
not from here, some were
undocumented. Many were
not. Some might have been,
but they kept that shit quiet.
I saw a white man in a cape
and a white man in khakis.
I saw a white man with a sign
he printed on bright white paper
White Silence = Violence.
That night, I wore a sweater with two kittens
floating through space in solidarity with everyone
that has been forced to grab back. In this beautiful
nightmare
of limbs and voices thrusting towards the helicopters
above
they refused to let us pass. Some people said fuck

Robe rt o F. Sant i a go 31
over and over.
Fuck the
new leader.
Fuck the
police. Fuck
the Election.
Fuck the
3rd Party.
The uniforms did not
budge. Would not allow us
to pass. They warned us. We
shouted. They warned us. We
warned them back. Music. Megaphones. Shouting.
Megaphones. They stopped
warning us. They aimed. The first time you feel the
launch of tear gas into a crowd
is like making love to a subwoofer at a house party. It
is in you
and through you all at once. Your esophagus is full
and twisted.
The ancestors in all their infinite wisdom neglected
to mention
the feeling of being choked
by strangers from within.
I thank them for this.
Had they warned me, I may have not heeded them.
Or worse, I would have never felt their hands pulling
me up to fight another day.

32
- SET 2 -
MMMMMMMM
MMM
G R E AT M E
N OF SCIENCE:
ANNE SEXTON

So Anne Sexton was born in 1928 to a, an upper-
middle class family

mostly upper. She was a, a troubled child, kind of a
floozy, she liked

the attention of men, men’s attention. Her self-esteem
really rested in men how men viewed her which is
problematic as anyone would, well anyway she one
night decided she was going to elope with this guy
named Kato, or that was her pet name for him, so they
elope and she leaves this note

to her parents saying Don’t be mad we’re really in love
we had to do this. She was probably sixteen or eighteen
at that point so she could do it without consent. And
I think her parents were pretty angry, she didn’t get
along with them. So after the drama or the dramatics
of getting married wear down she realizes that she
really doesn’t have anything else to do except clean
house, keep a tidy house and uh, domestic things. So
she, she has her first mental breakdown. She had her
first kid, after she had her child Linda she tried to

35
kill herself and then she was put in a mental hospital.
She didn’t really have anything to live for, she didn’t
want to identify herself as just a mother and she didn’t
want to just be a loving wife because, well

uh, she was crazy but I wouldn’t want to do that either.
So her psychiatrist tells her to start writing poetry
because she had some, a bit of some sort of literary
talent as a kid, like she enjoyed writing but she’d never
gone to college I don’t even think she finished high
school, so he encouraged her

to write poetry and since she had uh, an obsessive
nature, she really took to poetry. She started writing
poetry when she was twenty-eight. And she became
really consumed with it she took, she was taking poetry
classes like adult education poetry classes at Boston
University and she just kept obsessively refining and
editing her poetry using herself of course as her subject
matter. Then I believe she received a scholarship to go
to Breadloaf where she meets Robert Lowell. Anyway,
so uh, she was raising her kid and writing like in
the evenings obsessively and uh she started gaining
attention getting things published slowly and uh then
she realized when she did have all this success and she
felt confident enough in herself, then she decided to
fuck everything up. So she divorces Kato because she
thought she should have more lovers—this was after
Linda was in college—uh, so she divorces him, at this
point she’s won the Pulitzer Prize she’s about to turn
fifty

36
I think she’s teaching at, she’s like full faculty at
Boston University

and her books are selling well so she decides to, ugh. So
those things are going very well but she’s very lonely
because the men she, the men

with whom she thought she was going to have these
great love affairs

never panned out. So she meets her good friend
Maxine Kumin in the city in Boston to have lunch and
sort of get her affairs in order and tell her where she
wants her collection The Awful Roaming Toward God to
go. I guess if you’re meeting a friend, I guess you could
automatically come to

the conclusion she’s tying up loose ends, so she goes
home, Anne Sexton goes home, she puts on her
mother’s fur, she goes into the garage, turns on the car,
and uh, ugh, and kills herself. She was also a model.
And she knew Sylvia Plath.

Me gan Le va d 37
EEEEEEEEEE

THE SNAKE GUY

The snake guy said to get there early if I wanted to see
a feeding – he was going to be defrosting a dead rat
and jiggling it around in front of a 12-foot python—
but I wasn’t too worried about that. Cuz I was really
more interested in seeing the snake guy himself.

Or, as they call themselves, the avid herpetologists.
Pete M. was an avid herpetologist who had called to
tell me about some kinda Bay Area Amphibian and
Reptile Society (acronym: BAARS) thing that was
coming up, but I didn’t really wanna see that, either. I
wanted to see Pete in his natural habitat.

See, I’ve met snake guys before. Snake guys aren’t
always good guys and they’re not always bad guys. But
snake guys are always interesting guys.

Pretty accurate snake guy stereotype: Wide age range,
20s to 50s, often with an unkempt beard, generally
white but sometimes Hispanic. Working class—often
a motorcycle owner—rarely married but always
straight. Snake guys dug tattoos way before you did,
and they’re into blades—a sheathed Buck knife on
the belt or an assist-opening Tanto, and they hang

39
fantasy swords with chrome rhinestone-studded hilts
on their walls.

Also, a snake guy typically does not keep a tidy home.
And listen, I’m not bad mouthing—I was once a young
snake guy in training; I grew up running the East Bay
hills and often came home with a gopher snake or king
snake and even had a run-in with a big-ass, mean-ass
rattler that was beer-can thick and I couldn’t even tell
how long. It darted out from a rock I’d lifted while
looking for scorpions, slithering into some dead logs
near the Chabot rifle range faster than you can say
Rikki Tikki Tavi. Yep, tail making its tell-tale noise of
nearby death like maracas filled with scaly hate and
venom and from its pit viper face a most vicious hiss
that sounded less like “ssssssss” than like the Devil
himself trying to hock up a helluva loogie. (make
sound)

So yeah, I knew a snake, I LIKED a snake and for
years I’d relentlessly and unthinkingly chase a snake
on sight—like dog after squirrel—but at some point I
guess I got more interested in the snake guys than the
snakes themselves.

Pete met me outside his garage in the Hayward flats.
He was a lean and youthful 49, wearing a T-shirt
emblazoned with a coiled-up diamondback in the
midst of a trap-door-mouth folding-fangs-out strike.

He had a chopper motorbike with a menacing chrome

40
cobra macho-ing up the sissy-bar, and on the wall was
a poster of a nude busty woman wearing only a boa—
of course the kind with scales not feathers.

Now Pete was a fine specimen of a snake guy with a
couple intriguing incongruities—no beard. Place was
picked up alright. Black. And Pete seemed to get a kick
out of being a black snake guy. “Do I look like what
you were expecting?” he asked, and I told him that,
well, he had the T-shirt and the bad-ass motorcycle and
even a naked snaked pin-up gal, so yep, his credentials
seemed pretty solid.

He showed me his collection—from a tank full of
squirming baby bullsnakes next to his bed to the
12-foot pythons, about 30 snakes total, all colors and
sizes, but pretty much one shape.

“I was born in bayou country in Louisiana,” said Pete. “I
grew up learning about snakes through folk tales. You
ever heard a Louisiana snake folk tale?”

They’re apparently designed to scar a young brain for
life, often involving a single behemoth serpent and its
nighttime raids on baby cribs, or hidden massive piles
of tiny little snakes, all deadly poisonous and ready to
be stepped on and discovered where you’d least expect
them, or snakes that bite their own tails and form a
hoop, chasing children down hills like a venomous
bicycle tire gone wild. Glass snakes you can’t even see
but THEY can see YOU in the dark. Even the more

Eri c Ku rh i 41
tepid tales are creepy—like the milk snakes that slither
into the barn at night to feed from cow teats.

Y’know … “Nellie was pumpin’ dust this mornin’. The
snakes must have suckled a-plenty last night.”

Anyway, Pete’s got good stories, better than my snake
stories, and he’s a good snake guy. Sure, he told me
some pretty tall tales along with truths that I already
knew but pretended I didn’t and he told me how
ultimately what he wanted was to destigmatize his
favorite creature.

As a child he’d studied everything he could about
snakes at the library, and now goes around with his
BAARS group showing kids—and most of all their
parents—that snakes ain’t so bad. He hopes to see
people share his passion, as one-sided as it may me.

“I’m fascinated with them,” he said, “but they could
care less about me. They don’t return the favor. They
don’t appreciate a petting or a feeding, and it’s not the
kind of pet you can take out and play ball with. It’s a
snake.”

42
C CCCCCCCCCC
CC CC
C CC
CC ABOUT TO BLEED C
C
C

On the hutch part of her water
bed frame were little round pot
seeds.

I touched them, put them
in my mouth like popcorn
kernels, stared off at the unemployed
typewriter on the screen porch, and lay there
on my back, the plastic undulating
beneath me, considering what
to make my little brother for dinner.

Some days her room was different, blinds
rolled up and devoid of the strange sour after
smell of uncommon smoke.

Off the cuff, I found my almost 90’s pink Levi’s
Christmas divulged premature
on a latch-key afternoon. MTV’s Madonna
in leather was raping a chair
in the slit of door cracked on the living room.
I tried them on. I danced like her. It was 1989.

Eventually, through the cupboards

43
I established her huge
jug of Carlo Rossi, I licked it from my pinky
pink and tart. Everything was suddenly
copper and wet, rosy like that wine
and sharp, about to bleed.

On the tail-end of ten that November, I stuck
my chilly fingers in the holes
of everything, the old brass Massachusetts
locks, into the folds
of her braided rug, the one Great
Grandmother made when I was born. It was ripping.

44
JJJJJJJJ
JJJ

EY NYX
AND JUELSIEOTF’S O
CUT STARS
I am proud to be from Northampton, Massachusetts, a
town of 40,000 in the woods an hour and a half West
of Boston. We have a Southampton, Easthampton, and
a Westhampton, Massachusetts; not to be confused
with “The Hamptons,” a group of hamlets which form
the South end of Long Island, New York.

President Calvin Coolidge was a Northamptonite,
before he became President of these United States and
we’re home to Smith College; these two pieces of trivia
mean we’re better than everyone in Easthampton,
Southampton and Westhampton. Northampton was
once crowned “Lesbianville, USA,’ by the National
Inquirer, and with pride I marched on Washington
with my friends in 1987 behind a sign that read, “Fags
from Lesbianville, USA.”

Easthampton, to our East, is very washers and dryers;
I do not want to be mistaken for Easthampton which
was a slight rift between my family and me when my
dad decided to buy a bigger house on more land
and move from Northampton, to Easthampton,
just as I graduated High School. I stayed behind in
Northampton.
45
Southampton, to our South, is quiet country, John
Denver “take me home country roads,” upper middle
class; but its Westhampton, to our West, that holds a
certain mystical lure for us in Northampton. We’re
not quite so sure of ourselves in Northampton, when
the subject of Westhampton arises.

We see and hear about Westhampton in Town and
Country Magazine: summer dinners out on the white
and yellow Norman Rockwell porch—quilts placed on
the Adirondack chairs with storm lanterns lit for the
evening. You want to go see Westhampton, but you
never go. You don’t know anyone who lives there, you
don’t know anyone who’s been there, and no one is
quite sure how to get there.

You want to go to Easthampton, you go East, you want
to go to Southampton, you go South, you want to
go come to Northampton, you come North, but you
can’t get to Westhampton, going West: you have to
go East, to Easthampton from Northampton, to get to
Westhampton. Westhampton lives in a Twilight zone
“you can’t get there from here,” directional black hole.
Born and raised in New England, I was taught, if you
don’t know how to get somewhere you don’t go. If you
ask for directions you’ll be burned as a witch.

I decide one day in my temperamental youth, I’m
driving my $500 1978 Ford Pinto to Westhampton—
someone has to go find it and end this non-sense and
that someone is going to be me. I figure I can slip

46
over to my parents’ house in Easthampton early one
Saturday morning and ask my brother Chris how to
get to Westhampton. Chris is a heart of gold, red-neck,
NRA, doesn’t care that the world is flat, drive anywhere,
probably been to Westhampton and never thought to
tell anybody, kinda’ guy.

I arrive at the Panzer Family homestead this one
Saturday morning welcomed by coffee in the kitchen
to learn Chris is not home yet from Mohican Sun
Casino—where, he went last night to see the bare titty
show, then play the slot machines—“sluts and slots,” as
he calls it.

Suddenly, we hear a freight-train steel-wheel scraping
coming down the street. Looking out the kitchen
window, my brother’s car bent in half, tires gone; is
driving on all 4 rims with a shower of sparks shooting
from the steel wheels scraping across the road like 4th
of July sparklers. The car swipes into the driveway and
looks to me as if Chris wrapped it around a telephone
pole, and managed to get it back on the road and drive
home before the cops arrived.

Together with my parents and sister still in their
bathrobes and slippers we shuffle out to the driveway
and over to the passenger side of Chris’ car to see if
he’s OK. Chris is trying to kick the driver’s side door
open, and to no avail he climbs out the window and
looks stunned to see us standing there.

Joh n Panze r 47
”What?” Chris finally says.

“Hey Chris,” I try after things calm down between
my brother and our parents, “I’m headed over to
Westhampton, and I was just kind of wondering what
route you people like to take over there?”

“You people, what do you mean, you people,” Chris says
to me, “We drive West to get to Westhampton, John,
just like we drive North to get to Northampton, how
do you people get to Westhampton?”

“Look, Chris,” I said, feigning innocence, “I didn’t mean
anything by it, I was just headed over to Westhampton,
and wondered if you knew how to get there.”

“You people,” Chris exclaimed, clearly on to me now,
“from Northampton,” he continues, “have the gall
to look down on us when you can’t even drive West
to get to Westhampton? Well, we can,” he finishes
with all the self-righteous pathfinding superiority
like he’s the last of the Mohicans or something.

“So that’s how it’s gonna be?” I said.

“Yeah,” Chris said, “That’s how it’s gonna be,” and
I turned to get in my car and leave as he mocked
me with, “Heading North, back to Northampton?”

“West,” I shot back, turning on my family. “I’m driving
West to Westhampton,” I said to their shocked faces

48
with all the arrogance of cool wealth and mystery
I could muster as I feigned casually getting back in
my car heading West out of stubborn pride. With
a last glance out my rear view mirror, I wondered
where I might end up, knowing there was very
little chance of finding Westhampton, driving
West. Surely I would land in some small New
England town, and without explanation as to what
I was doing there, I would be burned as a witch.

Many years later I fucked up my beautiful life in
San Francisco. I chose the surrender to euphoria
with drugs and anonymous sex—over substance
abuse recovery and the man I loved, Mr. Albert
Santos Cruz. My money, cars, home didn’t matter, it
was losing him that made me want to get clean and
sober. I came back to the fireflies in the fields of
New England; the soft clover beneath the willows
on Sweetfire Rise. I rented an apartment in West
Stockbridge, Massachusetts. West Stockbridge is West
of Stockbridge but you can’t get to West Stockbridge
driving West from Stockbridge, you have to drive
North to Lenox, then West to West Stockbridge.

Mr. Albert Santos Cruz came from San Francisco to
visit me in West Stockbridge at a time I was clean
and sober but still struggling to know North, from
South—East from West. We were looking around
the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge
when Albert asked me if I knew how to get home to
him in San Francisco, and while the answer is drive

Joh n Panze r 49
West from West Stockbridge for 2,800 miles I paused
to consider his question and my answer carefully:

If I want something different, I have to do something
different. I live like the exalted play of ravens in a
hurricane. Every sailplane pilot discovers if you fly
toward a storm, you lift on the warm air rising; and
every sailplane pilot must come to the moment they
realize—they’re soaring into a storm, and depending
on how close you get, deal with the consequences.
Just then I realize I’m looking over Albert’s shoulder
at a Norman Rockwell painting of trees and a field
with a white and yellow country house and a porch
with Adirondack chairs that says “Westhampton,
Massachusetts.” There’s even a little dirt road from
one end of the scene to the other as if teasing me that
Westhampton is a real place I could drive to.

With my eyes fixed on Norman Rockwell’s painting
of Westhampton, Massachusetts, I said, “Yes, honey.
Staying clean and sober, one day at a time, is how I get
home to you in San Francisco, California.”

As I looked up into his beautiful black eyes; eyes of
onyx and Juliet’s cut stars, I could tell from his smile
I had the correct answer, and he wrapped me up in
those big safe arms of his and hugged me right in front
of everyone at the Norman Rockwell Museum, In
Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

50
WWWWWWWWWW
WWW
WHISKEY IN MY COAT
S M O K E IN MY PO C K E T

feeling
falling
crying
crawling
the night is my friend
the road goes on forever
i’m a piece of broken glass on the road
I’m fire on the ridge
lighting up the night
the mountains burn
the rain will come and wash it all into the mighty
ocean
i’m the river pounding through the canyons
violently smashing over the rocks
someone ought to cut me loose
i’m dangerous
i’m wild
and i wanna be free
i wanna soar over pico blanco
spit and flames dripping off my magnificent beak
feathers glistening in the afternoon sun
my shadow pouring over the rattlesnakes
slithering around far below me

51
on the hot red shitty dirt road
i’m a shapeshifter
i’m a medicine man
sacred clown touched me with his magic last night
i’m forever
and i’m never
i don’t exist
yet i’m everywhere all at once
spirit moves me
i wait for my orders
i grab my apprentice and off we go into the sacred
night
in search of magic and medicine
in the meantime we’re in the dreamtime
never going back to the straight world
got to be in it
but never of it
mystical blues trains running through space and time
i’m a traveling hobo saint
whiskey in my coat
tobacco in my pouch
coins in my pocket
there’s nothing to go back to
and it’s hard to move on
somebody stole my horse the other night
never good to lose a horse especially one as
magnificent as mine
got that empty feeling in my stomach again
don’t know what tomorrow brings
i cried a million tears on that wild blue mustang
rode her through the south coast of the sur before it

52
all washed away with my two beautiful angels in
the backseat
it’s gone now
vanished in the night
like my love
all my love so tragic
exile is a terrible thing
but also an amazing miracle
i was called to the wilderness
i was called to the ridge
fist full of dollars
pocket full of magic
i gave it all for the ride
i lost it all to survive
wild west?
i am the fucking wild west
i’m a little bit country
but i’m full on rock n roll
got to be free
hold on red hawk things are getting real
maybe the worst is over
either way i’m starting not to care…

Wi ld Re d Hawk 53
HH HHHHHHHHHHH
HH H
APOCALYPSE LATER

Apocalypse later please.
We really don’t have time for it now
We are so busy
So God damn busy
Could we possibly reschedule for next year
or the year after that?

Apocalypse now
seems so dramatic and overblown.
Complete and total destruction of the world?
Really?
Can’t we just divide it up into manageable chunks
that I can watch on my screen
with moderate doses of routine horror?

If the apocalypse must be now I admit I’m looking
forward to the horses
Used to ride as a kid you know
Got pretty good too.
Even learned to gallop while keeping my little ass in
the saddle.
A person can dream.
Me, missing a full day of work, because I’m off
riding one of the 4 horses into the doomed
horizon.
55
I hope it’s the red one.

I’ll be really pissed off if the apocalypse is now
instead of later
Because I’ve been maxing out my 401K
And donating $20 a month to Green Peace
I have 4 weeks of vacation saved up for God’s sake.
And enough money to take the wife and kids to one
of those resorts where you can get loaded on
fruity cocktails while they teach your kids how
to snorkel.
It’s been a lot of work really.
I hope it wasn’t all a waste.

I run my tongue along my apoco-lips
Feels like a wet snake I’m barely in charge of
The smoke stings my canary eyes
There’s no one on the roads
Am I the only idiot in the grey flannel suit?
Actually they’re dockers, but you know what I mean.

The people on NPR talk calmly about the end
like it’s just another theater review
or catastrophe in a small, poor country
‘This is the end of the walls’ they say
The ones between office desks
countries
cell membranes
the far off future.

Apocalypse now is on the cosmic to-do list

56
and won’t be put off
It’s type A in so many ways
It won’t wait for you to grab a quart of milk at the
store
or pick up your kids from daycare.
“Now!” it screams
“But…” you whimper
“Now?” It cajoles.
“What if…” you bargain.
“Now.” Its says firmly, like someone who’s taken a lot
of parenting classes.
“Okay,” you say.
Okay.

He at h e r Robi nson 57
LLLLLL
LLLL LL
LL
H O W TO BE AL O N E

There is no need to fret this being alone business.
There are always so many people around, doing things
worth watching, & they are great stories to tell later.
The shops down Mission St. at the end of a busy
Saturday, after everything has closed are an important
story to share, & something you have to be alone to
witness fully. The fading, crinkled, dusty, dirty, broken
signs, the abandoned newspaper sheets, the occasional
beauty salon that is still open to friends & family, &
there’s one woman in there getting her eyebrows
plucked by the older woman, who knows maybe she
is doing it for church tomorrow or she’s going on a
hot, late night date tonight, or this was the only time
she had, after she puts the kids to bed at 8:30 and runs
down the street to tap on the glass & see if Luisa is still
able to take one more, quickly, because she has to get
back to her house with the sleeping kids.

The random hallway shop that is cluttered with
recuerdos & things to decorate the house with for
christmas/church/god/jesus/baby jesus/angels/quince-
ñeras/all with the smell of that green cleaner that
seems to exist in every shop on this block. Lots of
white wings & twinkle lights & bags & boxes of

59
random cosas you might think you need, that might
make you feel safe among the other noisy houses on
your block, remind you of the family member you’re
actively grieving.

The block is active but quiet, all the single young
people are a block away on valencia, in too dark, slim
restaurants ordering too fancy drinks & small, small
plates. A bar on that street boasted 100 varieties of
Mezcal 1000% upcharged from the fabrica they were
purchased from in Mexico. Mission St. is where you
can find the little stands of unmarked food, after 9pm,
the smell of urine & old beer overwhelming the hot
corn oil & fried cheese. Walking alone you might read
the signs aloud, because it’s nice to hear your own voice
out loud when you’re alone and there’s no one around
to wonder who you are talking to. Not many cars drive
down this street, because the underground lines of
BART trace it for most of its length, and all the lyfts
& ubers & surprising taxis float along valencia, where
the young people hobble from their dim restaurants to
bars with ironic names & even dimmer lighting.

Riding BART when you’re alone is being just like
everyone else, the exceptions are the folks in pairs
dishing about their work day or the movie they just
saw. The rest are skimming lines on their phones &
holding their eyes to the window to watch the new
people getting on while they listen to their headphones.
Cafes are the same, in fact most places are places where
people go alone, even surprising places like church,

60
the mall, or foreign countries. You can go the whole
day and not talk to anyone, if you like, or limit yourself
to the small, small talk that occurs between strangers
who encounter other folks going places alone. Or
the smiles. I would be okay if the last conversation I
had today was the exchange of awkward smiles that I
had with my neighbor whose name I don’t know but
they’ve lived in my building too long for me to ask. We
often rush out what we have to say so quickly that we
don’t stop and think about how we’re saying it or,

if we really have to.

Le na Ni code mu s 61
MMMMMMMM
MMM
G R E AT M E
N OF SCIENCE:
SCHUMANN N

Uh, Schumann was studying to be a lawyer because
that’s what his parents wanted him to do or his mother
rather, his father died. Instead he wanted

to play the piano and be a famous pianist and he also
took composition lessons with Wieck was his name.
Wieck. Anyway while he was studying with Wieck he
was introduced to Wieck’s daughter Clara you know
Clara Schumann later and he fell in love with her and
and he kept asking for

her hand in marriage but her father kept refusing
because Clara was

a famous concert pianist at the time and didn’t
think Robert Schumann was good enough for
her or something like that, I don’t know. And so
Robert Schumann wrote, I think that’s when he
wrote Dichterliebe because he was sad about Clara
so Dichterliebe’s all sad. In the meantime Schumann
decides to make himself look better on paper so he
gets his doctorate, which was pretty easy to do then,
he just sent in some pieces and they gave him

63
a doctorate. So he was a distinguished man you see.
Still, Clara’s father was not impressed. But finally
when Clara turned eighteen they did get married
and miraculously Wieck or begrudgingly Wieck gave
them his consent. Not that it was needed anymore. I
don’t think. And Schumann was not a very successful
composer but Clara was very successful as she was one
of the most famous classical pianists or just pianists
of the day. And Schumann wrote music critiques and
was kind of angry all the time about other composers’
work or their music composition because it wasn’t
good enough to see. He didn’t think they were very
good. Brahms. He liked Brahms. He gave Brahms a
complex. So the story goes. And then uh, so Schumann
starts hearing music in his head and turns out that
Schumann had syphilis a while back and it didn’t get
treated very well. He thought

he took care of it but he didn’t. So Schumann one day
tries to uh, he thinks he’s hearing angels singing at him.
And he liked it at first but I suppose

that got a little wearing because then he threw himself
in the Rhine.

The Rhine’s not that deep. Must have been cold though.
Because it was

the middle of winter. Anyway so because he did that
Schumann was put in an insane asylum and it made
Clara very sad as you can imagine. It sort of broke

64
her. And it made Brahms nervous I guess and sad
too. But, um, while Schumann was there he wrote a
little bit, not much, mostly just crazy people things
because the syphilis had taken over, but he did write
a violin concerto I think that was the last thing he
wrote. Everyone thought he was crazy because it was
too difficult and not many people, not many violinists
played it after, not until Heifetz or some violinist
started playing it regularly or at least brought it back
out, blew the dust off of it. Anyway

when Schumann died Clara was very upset. Don’t
think she wore black

all the time but she might have. And Brahms was sad
but I think Brahms was more in love with Clara. They
spent a lot of time together but nothing ever happened.
Maybe they touched hands one time on a bench and
that fulfilled them sexually maybe.

Me gan Le va d 65
AAAAAAAAAAA
AAA
SIST E R -LAW
“ P A T PA R - O U T S E N T E ! ”
K E R, P R E
PA R T 3 O F 3

Not just relatives, RELATIONS.
Sisters, brothers, others,
getting well, getting sick, of THAT.
We stick together. we stick together.
Own our weaknesses, Own our strengths,
we do NOT give up.
WILL not give up our dream,
will NOT give up our dream.
Just, please, see that my grave is kept CLEAN!

Berkeley, Richmond, Oakland, Saint Francis.
balanced, un-balanced, and balanced, on Valencia!
Who’s REALLY welcome?
Where ARE we? Where WERE we, on Valencia?

Old Wives, Good Vibes, Indias Bonitas, the Rose,
Sophia?
Amelia, the Lezzington, cafe with Artemis, Crafty
Women,
“Dora the Red Guerrera Roja”,
the BUILDING of Women,
O-O-Osento! and...and…ELSEWHERE,

67
a Little MUCH More, AND!
on the Wild Side, during Francine’s Full Moon, 
Full Moon and MONA! MONA!
The BUILDING of women.

Who’s REALLY welcome,
on the wild side EAST!
O-O-OAKTOWN! I CARE for you!
Black Women, i care for you!
Feminist Women, i care for you!
Revolutionary Women, i care for ALL you!
Healthy, Happy, angry, ill, or called crazy,
You are the World! Center of the WORLD!
No “Other”!!
There is no “Other”!
Only you and me, and we are we:
When we awake,
where will we be?
Where will you be?
Where will i be?

Right Here, Right Now.
Right Here, Right Now.
RIGHT HERE! 
RIGHT NOW!

68
C CCCCCCCCCC
CC CC
C CC
CC TRIGGER WARNING C
C
C

Houses become mouths—
steps made of slippery tongues
Houses become slot machines—
landlords pull the lever
Pull—
pockets more shallow
the street is a vacuum
sweeps ghosts of culture into gutters.

You have to have a wallet bigger than a throat.

Swallowing these days is an epidemic of rage
with each breath tighter.

Palestine—
Where’s the water?
Black Lives Matter—
Where’s the right to even breathe?
The Deficit—
Where are jobs?
Standing Rock
Where is ceremony?
Rape—
Where can we walk alone?

69
And that is just to name a few. Face it—
Your body is not your own.
Scratch that—
You are not your own.

The days when poets pop poppies
through revolvers is over.
We have to spit! The pain tastes like iron on our
tongues.
I spit into a napkin, Red.
Wipe my face, Red.
Look out on the streets, Red.
Get in the bath and the water is Red.

Trump’s victory has set us adrift on a bloody sea
weary from the diurnal story of shock.
Unthinkable
is the nightmare we’ve arrived at after running
like hamsters in the wheels of capitalism.
Now we spill into the parks and alleys as rodents,
packing ourselves into basements and
warehouses
like sardines, we watch our brothers strangled and
suffocated on TVs—we have been covered in
gasoline!

Someone lit a match called silence; the silence sighs
long
and it doesn’t gasp. All this quietness is
utilitarian. It purposes

70
a gift to the disinterested, sinking with ignorance
in the quicksand of their own currency.

On election night we could hear a pin drop
in the Oakland streets, but each face we look
at now is full of noise.

I look at you and see the loudest
eyes I have ever seen, an entire
country screams in your eyes, on fire.

Your eyes—
are sending last letters to loved ones.
Your eyes—
read, I am dying
Your irises—
are made of singed limbs overlying
limbs as a new flame engulfs them.
You roar inside and bleed out in the increasing heat
like sap.

We are sticky and we are bitter. We know
that our attention has been monetized—
fooled by a dramaturge called social media.
An inauguration has made a mockery of violence
to the bodies of women & the color of skin.

A constant death toll lacks atonement.

No one says ‘trigger warning’ anymore
they just shoot.

Cassandra Rockwood- Ri ce 71
- november 6, 2017 -