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

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

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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

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

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Click to enlarge picture Clive Matson
Clive Matson
Photo Credit: Vic Owens
Californian Poets Part 4: Three Poems
Clive Matson



Courage Off the Charts

On the seaside bluff a cement bunker
angles into frozen agate sky.
                                Touch your nape
and past nights flutter around my fingertips.
                                 Touch lips
and intricate webs guide us toward
night's unopened doors.
                                Which one will unleash
its ethereal stuff and clothe us
in mythic skin
                   but we won't get to choose.
Swept cross current by some tide
or circling loose in an eddy.

Courage off the charts. Courage
to feel what you feel. Courage to follow
what you feel as it changes.

Three hundred miles from home the bunker
          Have we ever walked steady
ground, the fault system never
          shaking. What Richter is the Richter on?

Tick, tick the engine turns over.
What pleases you, pleases me.
What pleases me, pleases you.

Rounding coyote bush at the bunker,
rounding the Horn in Magellan's galleon
we tilt and slide into forty-foot troughs
with stone crags
                   to the sides and a sea-wall
dead ahead. Coming straight at this frail ship

and when the wave hits
                                everything shifts.
The wheel spins in your hands and some
larger hand turns the rudder.

Through the straits a new world opens
and there's no going back.

The tides have turned.
No other place exists.

You think I'm exaggerating? You think
the world is less dangerous?
Less romantic?

Tick-tick the infinite second
when your footfall sounds
                                at the doorway.
Sky and ocean through concrete window
and Rorschach pines hug the cliff edge.

"I finger earth's rivers in my hair,
blue ribbons through the brown.
You unbuckle the belt Orion
draped around our waists."

Three seconds before the trance changes.
Three minutes later only trances.
                   Three days the lovers stilled
in bluish ice with no exchange,
Amundsen and Scott on the polar cap
at 70 below. Your eyelid flicks away the wind chill.

Can that tickle across cranium
be a swarm of cosmic rays?
                                Can that pavement
crack be a rift chasm grinding through
geologic time and just now surfacing?

On the beach Einstein dreams
the one all-encompassing note.
While everything swirls around us.

You don't know what 's coming next,
how could you?
                    Unascertainable like quantums
the next event as Heisenberg shows.

Tick, tick one second per second into the future.
What pleases me, pleases you.
What pleases you, pleases me.

Before night lowers like a boom,
Dr. Livingston, I presume? Through the hydrocarbon
sky one last
                   sunbeam flashes
fusion light across your face.

Show Your Love

Gold dust in a whirlwind
                              spins through your body
and pulls windstorms of pixel sapphires
from ceiling and walls and suctions
from hearts silver palladium in mote
                              cyclones so bright
your sight goes astral.
                              So bright your eye
clears a view through tin-clad doors
and rough planks of our ramshackle house.
So bright opaqued out lenses go lucid.

                          Your soul knows the wattage
trundling through teeming forests,
blossoms, animal eyes, twigs, crystals
amucking up and down our bodies’ dendrites.
It's not the attraction of likes.
It's the attraction of loves.

These stones, these plants, these animals
bond one to one across air canyons
and bloom in chest-filling flowers.

We stand in a rainbow, feet immersed
in jewels and noble metals.
                                        Wriggle toes
and cut stones tinkle, coins jingle
and under rayon skin lilting currents
tingle every tendon joint.

                          Who could not notice!
Who would not feel the skull’s roof open?
Who would not feel bones go transparent
             and organs move in close fluidity?

Who could turn wall eyes around this
sweet turmoil,
                   pull shutters tight and shut windows?

Ah yes, what are those footprints

sprinting away from the light?
Crowding trails with the record of their flight?

Footprints receding, running, receding, running,
running, running.
                          Running away
and layering on patinas of soles
outlined with smears of lost gold.

Each print marks an argument not to feel.
Each print marks a moment of failed life.

                                       Love, find your courage!
Find the purple muscle that twitches
when rich music surrounds. Find the unbidden
lobe that swells and glows when warmth
infuses your veins.
                          Find the simple bravery
to show your love.

The three-inch sparrow hasn’t got more spunk than you!
Stand on a naked branch and sing out!
Put your mouth where your money is!

The Colorado River's drawn to the ocean
and by any means gets there,
                                             colliding plates under Asia
push the Himalayas toward heaven.
Trinity redwoods fling new sprouts
above the canopy, loving the sun.

Let others pretend it's not happening.
Let others haphazard away from what’s inside their skin,
let others keep their chaos of windows
                          sealed with reddening shellac.
Let others march into the sorrow of God.

The sigh after you finish that sentence.
The long silence of no reply.
The slow violence of childhood templates
             projecting ‘busing parents
on my clean face in living color.

Warmth suffuses flesh for a season.
Blood stretches our veins for a reason.

Love’s not a choice. Love’s presented.
I accept.
             I accept
what the universe calls me to do.

Run straight at my love and engage it.
Run straight at my love and embrace it.
Run straight at my love and enhance it.
Run straight at my love and blow it up.

Show your love. Wink it, flash it, sigh it, admit it, taste it, touch it, whisper it, like it, enjoy it, speak it, savor it, beam it, relish it, flaunt it, ingest it, slake it, digest it, say it, sign it, slam it, fake it, shout it, walk it, push it, talk it, mack it, mock it, undress it, kiss it, caress it, hug it, rake it, slap it, play it, shake it, stumble it, drown it, clown it, suck it, frown it, flood it, make it, fuck it, blow it, snort it, yell it, shoot it, hawk it, bell it, sell it, embrace it, shower it, unleash it, ignite it, flower it, fire it, impose it, flame it, sneak it, spy it, stalk it, risk it, empower it, chance it, follow it, honor it, promote it, sing it, strut it, loom it, become it, bloom it, live it. Live it. Live it. Show your love. Put your mouth where your money is.

Be a Beginner

                          Tilt hips toward me
and think I'll soften? Lean on the doorjamb
sleeves turned-up all edgy rebel
and you think
                    I'll open my flower?
Think your hacksaw jaw
generates omega magnetism?

Sure I want confidence strong as lodestones
aligning north south north south
but you have to be a beginner.

You have to scope the paused ambiance
how shoulders and eyebrow tender
an invitation.
                   How they open
a dozen or six or one-half option
in the unchoreographed dance.
                  Moving or not. Twitching or not.

Touch the wild mare's nose
with too much surety
                          and she'll kick hooves
and whinny the whole way out the pasture.
Rake her mane with wise fingers and that
muscular frame will offer a two-dollar
roll in the hay and you'll be snorting
straw the next three days.
                          No, no,
you have to be a beginner.
                                Fearful beginner in full
awe of her eyes' ocean grotto and how
her red mane whips and the rough lick
of her tongue rasps inside your spine
and sends you pin-
                       wheeling among treetops!

You must come to me shyly.
You must wince at my head's shake.
You must bend to the slant of my eye.

You think you're dealing with a person?
A body? A present? A past? A personality?

I’m not so simple. I’m simpler.
I’m a menagerie.
Measure the ground where I walk and read
tracks as myriad as yours. Mirror glints and flashes
in my eyes and infer
                       the fur preened and bristled
around jaw and forehead and how animals
want to speak. Or not.

The key is turning. Ask,“What are you saying?”
The key is turning.

Did the mare's eye swivel?
A cue to mount her saddle?

The sky streams and Joseph announces your presence
with his polished horn and the gods' charism

unravels Scheharazade’s fan
horizon to horizon in sine curve ripples
that tug at the yearning in your chest
and now, now!
                   You no longer have to think.
The next thing is the right thing.

This is the secret place.
This is the sacred place.
This is the silent place

where unbearable music weaves
your cyclone ribs and counterpoints
our hummingbird marrow and we give
All strength to ride the wild mare
with faith we won't end bones broken
red and gray corrugations in meadow grass.

Is that truck spewing gravel
on a runaway ramp our approach?
A plane bounding over tarmac
much too fast? The stallion kicking
pebbles along the cliff?

                   But we aren't landing.
That three-G dip times-tens the ride
and you,
             you have such untuttored grace
your ears flatten orange against temples

and we need only find balance.
Which way up? Which way down?
                                        Or do we care?
Oh dark! Oh light! Oh dissolving!