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Part 4 Contributors

 

Tony Barnstone
Willis Barnstone
Ellen Bass
Christopher Buckley
Neeli Cherkovski
Boris Dralyuk
Alicia Elkort
Mary Fitzpatrick
Michael C. Ford
Kate Gale
Frank X. Gaspar
Dana Gioia
Shotsie Gorman
S.A. Griffin
Donna Hilbert
Brenda Hillman
Glenna Luschei
Phoebe MacAdams
devorah major
Clive Matson
K. Silem Mohammad
Rusty Morrison
Harry Northup
Holly Prado Northup - In Memoriam
Cathie Sandstrom
Shelley Scott - In Memoriam
Daniel Shapiro
Mike Sonksen
Pam Ward
Sholeh Wolpe
Gary Young
Mariano Zaro


Part 1 Contributors

Rae Armantrout
Bart Edelman
David Garyan
Suzanne Lummis
Glenna Luschei
Bill Mohr
D. A. Powell
Amy Uyematsu
Paul Vangelisti
Charles Harper Webb
Bruce Willard
Gail Wronsky

Part 2 Contributors

Elena Karina Byrne
liz gonzález
Grant Hier
Lois P. Jones
Ron Koertge
Glenna Luschei
Rooja Mohassessy
Susan Rogers
Patty Seyburn
Maw Shein Win
Kim Shuck
Lynne Thompson
Carine Topal
Cecilia Woloch

Part 3 Contributors

Michelle Bitting
Laurel Ann Bogen
Laure-Anne Bosselaar
Lucille Lang Day
Corrinne Clegg Hales
Marsha De La O
Charles Jensen
Eloise Klein Healy
Glenna Luschei
Clint Margrave
Henry Morro
Alexis Rhone Fancher
Phil Taggart
David L. Ulin
Jonathan Yungkans
Lorene Zarou-Zouzounis


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Click to enlarge picture Alicia Elkort
Alicia Elkort
Californian Poets Part 4: Three Poems
by
Alicia Elkort


 

 



The Only Weight Keeping Us Here


i.
We sit on Simone’s velvet couch, her words
we don’t talk about that, a rebuke.
I had asked about the war,
how it was for her, for the French.
Bringing up the war, even sixty years later,
has made Simone sad. Her oldest child
moved to Long Island, opened a restaurant,
had a son. Her daughter in Paris,
has a son. Imagine two grandsons,
two countries, on opposite sides of a war.
I’m eighteen & have never seen
what she’s seen—bombed & mutilated
bodies. I’m terrified of speaking
another wrong thing & Simone remains
quiet. I learn how we need each other, silent,
sitting on a couch, looking out the window—
a stand of pink roses, a spray of trees &
rusted garden chairs, a tableau of anchors.



ii.


At the park with ribbons of green lawn
stretching from Pico to Cloverfield,
I stand by a tree watching
two people on a bench nearby.
I’ve loaded my canvas tote
with bok choy & avocados
& dried olives cured with lemon
from the farmer’s market.
I don’t mean to eavesdrop,
but when the whiteness of the cumulous
clouds against the deep blue sky
takes my breath away,
I have to set my heavy pack down.
The woman holds her head in her hands,
talks about her ex, his threats, her kid, and how
her life is too god damned much.
The man with his red beard & beat up
backpack on the ground at his feet
listens, his body thick, like an anchor.



iii.


Mother appears to be sleeping, such peace.
I want her to get up, Come on Edy, let’s go.
Everything in this funeral home is cream,
cream walls, cream lights, cream carpet,
cream tissues. I touch her fingers—the coldness
scares me & I pull back though feel compelled
to lie beside her dead body. I don’t, instead I stare
at the ceiling where she’s lifted her spirit.
When I feel her hand on my shoulder,
I want to rise with her, but my legs
turn to stone, like anchors.



Sunset in the California Desert, or the Intimacies of Mountains

Lush & silently
verdant, palm trunks

& spikes of green
over oasis grass

surround me. Beyond
where the kestrels fly,

the mountains emerge—
shifting shades of gray &

purple. The imagined edges
of my hips & arms

release their lines.
I am no body.

I am everywhere.
I float with ecstatic stars,

am the ruined light of eternity.
There are already cisterns of gratitude

for such loveliness.
O symmetry, O holy breath

fill my bones’ marrow,
this depth of longing.

Tears release, but who has not stood
at the edge of beauty &

launched a taproot seeking
rain? I have learned

to locate love inside of myself,
& still I am sky.

The dusk rays of sun throw ochre
dust across sand.

Find me here, O loved one,
that is my prayer.



We Want To Be Fierce

                                   All the good girls go to hell… Billie Eilish

we want fingernails sharp as daggers
          an inferno blazing from our lips—
          we want to ignite the broken place within
& then
we’ll walk alone at night
          on ruby-ribbed stilettos
                                   throwing light / spitting stars
through dark-
          ness
somewhere tender
& sweet
          we will stand where we stand
          we will cry where we cry
          we will remember to dip our fangs
into the soft meat of evil
                    until we’ve had our fill