New Poem by Neeli Cherkovski

Now it is a skinny young poet

Running into the garden at midnight

Thinking I’ll pay attention

Because I’m an old man

And love younger men

But it’s too late

Everything is cold

Even this chair I sit on

Next to the baby tree fern

 

Now this young poet begins reciting

Tom Elliot

And I am not particularly impressed

What moves me

Is the dark night and the darker night

And the memory so many nights

It is difficult to know

When is the best

 

I do love this midnight garden

Leaves on the red brick and a whip

Lemon tree across from me

Succulents surprising

In their firmness

 

Now the young poet

Is a Lion tamer

He needs a saber-toothed cat

 

As I prepare to tell him

What is necessary

He breaks into many pieces

And I pack the pipe again

grope for matches

 

I do not see any stars

Only my flowers and trees

And the memory of birds

Hidden in my warring thoughts

Trigger Warnings

Trigger Warning: This article may trigger depression among readers of literature:

 

http://www.politico.eu/article/western-lit-shot-to-death-by-trigger-warnings/

A New Poem by Neeli Cherkovski

THE GREAT POET
For Larry Eigner

he used a giant saw
and begin to do a job
on the boards, sawdust flying everywhere
until the green earth turned brown
and the yellow leaves trimmed in
a red border, we read between the lines
because in the empty space he revealed
simple flight of a hummingbird= in the Spanish garden
and demonstrated concentric rings of power

the great poet did not speak as other men do
he had palsy from a difficult birth
he spent many days on a glass-enclosed patio
and from that vantage-point
birds and bees and sycamore trees
mountains and mindful meadows
came into focus

the orange sky looked like
crinkled paper, the giraffe went down
and the lion fell onto the savannah’s floor

winter a fallen leaf, pressed between
Helen and a fleet of ships, small
thin bouquet, you’d think of pleasure
and never truly understand the patience
he practiced, winter’s blue arm, long
summer nights, twilight bird. he rarely wrote
“finch” or “sparrow,” most the word “bird”
sufficed, he spoke in a difficult tongue, his
words precise, he saw into and outside of
common objects and wore a ring of the inevitable

like most magicians he spoke
our names in secret, he re-arranged
limestone ribs of the sky and shook demonic
rain until it snowed – Massachusetts is
always “in for it,” you see the poet
watching the ice, keen to observe the idea
of a frozen sky

“From the Sustaining Air” was
his first ideal you might say “an ideal”
to keep his frame intact, we stood
in the memorial park one afternoon
and said goodbye to a revolutionary
traditional man who shook
the boundaries, form light bird
shadowing fear of dying our rueful
page, a page turner, our words

E. L. Doctorow Dies at 84

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/22/books/el-doctorow-author-of-historical-fiction-dies-at-84.html?_r=0

Thursdays at Readers Poetry Series: Heather Bourbeau & James Tracy

Join us every Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in our Readers Bookstore Fort Mason for our weekly FREE poetry series! Browse books and enjoy a glass of wine while listening to internationally acclaimed poets and artists such as Jonathan Richman, David Meltzer, Diane di Prima and California Poet Laureate Al Young. The series is  curated by Friends’ Resident Poet Jack Hirschman. For a full line-up and more information please visit our website at www.friendssfpl.org.

Proceeds from our bookstores benefit the San Francisco Public Library

On July 30th we are excited to have  Heather Bourbeau & James Tracy read!

maxresdefaultTracy is the co-author of Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power and the author of Dispatches Against Displacement: Field Notes From San Francisco’s Housing Wars. He is an adjunct Instructor at City College and works at Community Housing Partnership. He is currently trying to rediscover poetry, and is a former member of the Molotov Mouths Outspoken Word Troupe.

old crow and new crow

old crow and new crow

sit on a fence

old crow says they nearly

clipped my wings

new crow chirps

i still sing

 

old crow and new crow

fly across the field

old crow says

i almost was a thing of the past

new crow nods

we’re built to last

 

old crow and new crow

perch on razor wire

old crow says

they marched against me

new crow laughs

they still do but

i’m much more tricky

 

08d922cHeather Bourbeau is a writer, living in Berkeley. Her poetry has been published in AlimentumThe Citron ReviewOpen CityBoston Literary MagazineCleaverThe Fabulistsparkle + blink, Tupelo Press and Work. Her piece “Hopscotch” was just nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She was a finalist for the Randall Jarrell Poetry Prize, a Tupelo Press 30/30 poet, and the winner of the Pisk! Poetry Slam. Her journalism has appeared in The EconomistThe Financial TimesForeign AffairsForeign Policy and The New York Times. She was a contributing writer to the New York Times bestseller, Not On Our Watch: A Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond with Don Cheadle and John Prendergast. She has worked with various United Nations agencies, including the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia and UNICEF Somalia. Her first collection of poetry, Daily Palm Castings, profiles people in overlooked professions.

You can check out some of Heather’s work here:

“How to talk to a former warlord” in The Missing Slate http://themissingslate.com/2015/03/18/how-to-talk-to-a-former-warlord/

“The Toast” published in 100 Word Story http://www.100wordstory.org/4916/the-toast/

“Five Pieces of Micro Fiction” in Citron Review – http://citronreview.com/2015/03/15/five-pieces-of-micro-fiction/

 

Letters to Myself: Alan Blackman

PastedGraphic-6-copyAlan Blackman has had a long and storied career, as an artist, calligrapher, typeface designer for Adobe, lettering arts instructor, and three years working for the U.S. Post Office at San Francisco’s Rincon Annex. By his own account, however, his most significant work isLetters to Myself.

Letters to Myself was a personal project first undertaken by Blackman in 1968. His then 11-year old son Stephen lived across the bay in Berkeley, east of San Francisco.

Through his work in the postal service, Blackman became familiar with “first day covers,” letters affixed with a stamp on its first day of release and mailed from the city from which the stamp originated. Each such letter is stamped with the cancellation FIRST DAY OF ISSUE, as well as the date and city of origin.

For every letter that Blackman sent to his son, he sent a similar one to himself. Using the stamp design as a starting point, he hand-addressed the letter in beautifully colored calligraphic design, each cover compatible or related to the design of the stamp. Over the years, his calligraphic envelopes became more elaborate and theme oriented.

Read more »

Authors Rise Up Against Amazon

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/jul/16/leading-authors-call-for-government-probe-of-amazons-damaging-power

 

Lovely new poem by Neeli Cherkovski

This is a little longer than most poems we post but I’m sure you’ll find it worthwhile. –BJS

 

BEGINNING TO SEE

 

One: 

 

some place he is   over nature     subjugated

 

he wears a clown’s costume

balances ten tea cups

 

air is pure   unfettered

 

yet rages

 

a truck rages down the Grapevine

twisted       ruined       plants drowning

in corn syrup         trucker belches

pulls off to the siding

eyes filled     mist clamors

 

Tule fog elk              no more water

 

dead High Sierras              trucker tries

to live

in harmony   the sky rings

 

a Google map   (perhaps)     island republics

crammed         to live

one’s life surrounded by the South Pacific

 

work the clutch

get ready to slide

 

hot damn!

 

see the wings     open wide

 

to make use of hitherto unspoken areas

unknown arrangements     proper nouns, oh

 

Odysseus but not as you know him

 

when he came like a thunderbolt

now useless

 

is a fact fable   great stone monoliths

formed into sections        moon pours down

through open throat of a stone

 

today on the freeway

 

a thousand reasons

 

turn back

enjoy an entire aria

 

melodious Monk prevails

 

these hours

woven into fine patterns where the mind

wishes for a body    hot blood

 

blood racing to the brief encounter

 

passing the ice cream factory and San Francisco International

Airport

 

or two years more or less

blond hair fell on shoulders

of the older man

in fog-strewn night      wishing a star had come

near enough to stuff it in a shoulder bag

 

Two:

 

strength one feels in knowing

hand is bent

over a stiff cloud

 

sunlight before what       whatever traffic flows

and floods

 

doors slam shut this window bars your movement

 

school boys little girls

 

an elderly crossing guard

from World War One       ninety feet tall

 

he tells us about the murdered boys

and witches

on tractors

in the field

 

then he dies and we buy

little purple flowers

 

you know the children had no choice

 

to quell the storm       Ruben kills a bird

rips open the body

 

he says this is the heart

 

leave time alone    for once in your life

 

nothing here but the soldier

in a closet

upstairs, he hangs like

a linen jacket

 

do you know death by his first name?

 

yes

we hang

 

in the closet

next to the linen jacket

 

of body bags         so much for

 

a sparrow on the windowsill

 

beginning to see

what only you can see

 

a stranger on a tractor down Valencia Street

 

tomorrow

 

buried in a museum

 

the road narrows into a path

past white washed sea side villas

and humbler houses

 

through a bramble

into a caldera of rocks

 

as if it had been pre-ordained

 

the tufa fields      a lunar-like landscape

 

invisible eye

 

ripping the web

beginning to see

till the lemon tree offers only the most delicious

words

 

only the finest wisdom

 

Three:

 

tomorrow will be better

 

snow banked at 2,500 feet

 

stop the car and go there

to make snowballs

throw them at the sun

and see what happens

 

to envision

and to understand     beginning

of comprehension

 

how often the door will open

onto a vista

of unexpected occasions

 

wait until the silos

are emptied of what they store

 

Vesuvius was nothing

 

it rained on that day

tramping in mud

 

why can’t they build

a metal walkway

 

or see how music lives

on the branches

many trees

 

 

Four…

 

dripping forest

of glass

 

on the land   somebody has to

 

grab

 

the lost rose        sun light   on close

examination

splinters a log

 

over the distant ridge

 

stripped of redwoods

 

reverberating over meadow and arroyo

 

one eagle

 

then a simple crow

 

the usual ocean breeze

 

winging it

 

diplomacy fails

and out come

 

a few gray clouds mist up on the log

 

some bugs

 

everywhere silent silos

 

as we prepare to vanish

 

no more days or weeks

 

no need for latitude

 

will the birds be wise

 

and not disappear

 

the winged truth a rueful truth

 

has no mercy

for the trucker or the

 

people in charge

 

beauty    a robin

 

the bird chirps

 

dying

 

inside of us

 

Amazon = Standard Oil?

imagesJeff Bezos as John D. Rockefeller. Interesting…

http://www.salon.com/2015/07/14/authors_united_founder_says_amazons_control_of_the_book_industry_is_about_the_same_as_standard_oil%E2%80%99s_when_it_was_broken_up/

Ted Cruz, NYT, and Amazon

Bulk sales have been around forever. Remember “The Road Less Travelled?”

http://money.cnn.com/2015/07/13/media/ted-cruz-new-york-times-bestseller-list/index.html