Part 5 Contributors


Millicent Borges Accardi
Kim Addonizio
Marjorie R. Becker
Jacqueline Berger
John Brandi
James Cagney
Carol Moldaw
Kosrof Chantikian
Brendan Constantine
James Cushing
Kim Dower
David Garyan
Valentina Gnup
Troy Jollimore
Judy Juanita
Paul Lieber
Rick Lupert
Glenna Luschei
Sarah Maclay
Jim Natal
Judy Pacht
Connie Post
Jeremy Radin
Luis J. Rodriguez
Gary Soto
Cole Swensen
Arthur Sze
Charles Upton
Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam)

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

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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Click to enlarge picture Scott Wannberg
Scott Wannberg
Photo Credit: Sheree Rose Levin
Californian Poets Part 5: 12 Poems
Scott Wannberg (In Memoriam)



Scott Wannberg – In Memoriam (1953 – 2011)

Scott David Wannberg arrived February 20, 1953, at Santa Monica, California, the youngest of three boys, to Ernest and Mary Wannberg. Although he spent much of his youth in the San Fernando Valley, Scott graduated from Venice High School in 1971, and received his Master’s Degree from San Francisco State University in 1977.

The true genius of our crowd, Scott’s genius lies not only in words, but in an irrepressible heart. A political junkie and avid student of history, Scott’s work was always born in the immediacy of the “ongoing moment” in which he lived and wrote, propelled forward by his compassion for the human condition and the state of the world in which he lived. His voice was uniquely his own– humorous, surreal, playful, ironic and unequivocally grounded in his empathetic experience of life. A truly compassionate man, he cared deeply about his fellow human beings, the state of the nation and our world, and did not understand how people just aren’t—aren’t good to one another, aren’t good to the world and everything within it.

—S.A. Griffin

Dumbo Trumpet, Esquire... A Sparking Narcissistic Ballistic Holistic

Dumbo Trumpet, spewing!
On my special NBC show FIRE shall eternally spring,
and the lame and infirm will glow when I rub their
navels with my super herculean fingers of Yankee wherewithal!

Dumbo Trumpet, the biggest ass in a menagerie of
ill-willed shills. Darling, I got a reality problem in
my lunch pail's immaculate scar tissue.

Dumbo Trumpet, Celebrity Appendages are the most
endearing and endurable appendages.
On my NBC special show planets will
cry when I make their rivers freeze in awe.

Dumbo Trumpet, in all his photogenic fury purity
farts octaves of rambunctious sleazy sedition rendition late-edition
yahoo good old boy o’ my darling frozen time
yonder lies the Harvard wall
the serfs need not try.

Dumbo Trumpet
takes no prisoners, or shit,
rather he leaves shit everywhere he brushes up
against you, And I make the trains cum on time,
says Dumbo Trumpet, jerking off to the
African back beat of love.

Scott Wannberg
          Listening to Hazel Dickens, Hard Hitting Songs for Hard Hit People

The War

The War had its grandchildren over for the afternoon.
They looked at the scrapbook,
smiled, told one another jokes, ate well.
The War told everyone it was going to wear brand new clothes
but if you look close enough
the labels are angrily familiar.
The War knows where to buy food cheap
but good stuff nonetheless.
The War had a drinking problem
but it got smart, joined AA,
nothing but coffee now.
The War came over to my apartment this afternoon
to borrow a video.
I don’t know as I should loan the War any of my things.
It usually loses them, forgets to return anything.
The War got on its knees, and prayed for more victims
before turning in.
Dear God, the War said, please let me go on and on and on,
I am enjoying myself.
The War is getting younger all the time.
Nobody should look that young.

Scott Wannberg

Keep Those Fingers Crossed

The strange days are coming,
they want to know where I live.
I’d like to help edit their story,
but my number 2 pencil won't budge,
and Kharis the mummy,
he needs me to wash
his bandages.

The virile people are calling,
they want to eat my phone.
Their teeth shine all night long.
Lost ships can
smell the shore.

Some days are clearer,
some rules get bent.
When the traffic goes to bed,
I’ll cross my heart
with the light.

Soon it will be Christmas,
every day of the year.
All the blood does boil,
especially when it’s on

The new improved highway
felt an urge
to redirect itself
to my door.
All the tourists
they seem benign,
when they attempt
to move in.

The deranged days
are in remission,
they claim they have
everything under control.
I see them
walking back and forth
the parking lot,
but a storm
is coming,
I saw it
on my news.
A storm is humming,
and I hope
they know
what to do.

The strange days are here now,
at least that's what I hear.
Place your bets
with deliberation,
but always
and your getaway
car's engine

Scott Wannberg

twenty feet away

always that afternoon of broken-down hearts
we came to the meaning zone
as the ways and means of the ongoing process of
shrapnel all about us said our names but
together we cleared the road together we
bounded the music
tonight, in the hospital of the head
all of the outpatients need to learn humming
while overhead in the angry sky
thin governments spit out helicopters
with search lights seeking the process
they will seek for hours and days and years to come
and we run stupid into the incognito evening
we run without our calling cards
we run for the rhythm that supposedly has a room
waiting ahead for us
a room big enough to fit our bodies
and what our bodies think they are capable of
here in the end zone of the world
where the score is always hard to understand
and time runs slow toward the border
and time has no time for us
or our music or our singing
tonight, i bent over a dying desk and
wrote a postcard that i intended to mail to you
in whatever prison you live in these days
i wrote very small and i even had trouble
reading what it was i wanted to mail you
there in whatever prison of the heart you live in
these days
and culture wears a large gun
and is patrolling the highway outside this wounded
culture is in a gang and they own the streets
that make up this end of things.
you were always interested in culture
i read that much in your resume
and now the sky is full of helicopters
going all the ways they can go
looking for the place where the music lives
there is a knocking on my door
there is a pattern at my door
broken teeth and torn kneecaps
call your name
we have ways to make you burn
we have ways to make you crawl
the halls are endless they creep on and on
down the halls we go singing ho ho ho
and the borders are bewildered they are sinking
as the Mediterranean hours of the spirit
wind their way through the streets of
who we might turn out to be in the final
moment of the moment
and now the sky opens up and begins to
dance on our head
it reaches into our lungs and
names our longitude and latitude
tonight, i heard your history all over the inner face
of my working TV
tonight, i saw your history hanging on the laundry line
and in it i saw my own
and in it i saw my own face leaning toward language
they don't like you to know our language that well
they try to mix you up with innuendo and subtle moves
you have to ride the rhythm of the word for what it stands
you have to commit your dancing legs to the word and
what is meant there
tonight, across the weary shoulders of the language of
the world
i hear you tap dancing across shell holes of shit
i hear you wandering through the museums of the lost
you raise your hands against the seasons
and say yes, I am a song
and say yes, I am alive
while all around us the armies fumble for their keys
their car keys their apartment keys their reality keys
all around us the armies fart and fuck and die and live and
their ability to be nothing more than armies
and without armies, they say
we would be lost and without a map and
would not know ourselves
so here comes your army here comes my army
our armies merge across some stupid road
they merge into one long piece of wounded cotton candy
that the dancing people wave at the big carnival of love
as the night walks across the carpet
holding a large bottle of Wild Turkey 101
as the night begins to go through photographs of
its early years its early friends
remembering the lost remembering the loved ones
gone now down the ongoing process of a hole
and i find you at the edge of all the processes
i find you teetering on the edge of all ongoing holes
i am not a trapeze artist
my throat is a strange city without a home
learn it then
learn the consequence of song
the executioners are coming now with their grins and
their road maps
they are clean and comfortable and shine so well
the executioners have come to give us their songs
you reach up toward the stomach of the sky with your hands
you reach up and say I am alive
see us rolling see us crawling see us groping
across the shrapnel claimed landscape of love
you talk about the enduring history of bone
you talk about the sacred hours of the heart
the bullets begin to nod their tone
the bullets kick in and laugh
yes, i was alone once i had food and a dog
i saw the city burn
the dog looked at me and coughed up blood
it wasn't my doing
i was just following my sign
i was just skateboarding on flesh
i didn't make it happen
i fit the uniform proud
i shone in the unmitigated night
the children tore their skin off for free
they climbed the resonance they called out for the wounds
of love to claim their hair
you rub your bewildered city against my back
the waters of the lost are calm now
the winter is an ongoing tale
did you see the end of the world last night?
they had it safely wrapped in a large yellow box
the news anchors stared at it through microscopes
they called it whole
they called in wondrous
you put your ear to the end of the ground
all the grounds have grounded in earth
in earth we shall learn the music that teaches
upstairs over real strong black coffee
we watch as the airplanes explode
you point at one particular explosion
see that is fire, you say, and smile
see we all have emerged finally through the fire
the helicopters land on top of one another
they begin to grind their hips to the music
they begin to fuck their way for love through the music
the governments are walking across water now
they have skin disease and loud fears
pick your government tonight
time is slow
pick any government tonight
and we will make the late late show
where the animals laugh
because they cannot run for president
where the animals wear clothes
and top hats and sign treaties
hello, this is another treaty
i found it drunk at my door
it has a knife in its throat
let it sing to you anyhow
across the tired shovels of the oncoming dawn
i see the future gleaming
we break our backs for love
we break our hearts for love
i call you on the skylight
i call you on the world
i call you world
you are the days i am lost in
you are the days i wear
together we mean business
together we hear the hours singing
together we are hours singing
you reach down and pick me up by my brain
you reach down and pick me up by my heart
we are coming home now
as the armies kill one another slow
we are going to Bagdad
we are going to Belfast
we are going to
we are going for the gold we are going for the gusto
we are going insane
we are going for the love
another twenty or so feet away
as the bullets begin to name us
as the bullets begin to land
another twenty or so feet away
we are going for the...
and tonight, the fire is in front of the TV
tonight, the fire has a new job
tonight, the fire is precise
in its intent
through this unmitigated fire we reach for one another
and land

Scott Wannberg

Outlaws in the Sun

Society went up in flames and the fire brigade was
at a great party and could not be reached in time
to put it out. Sparky the dog would have
slobbered on the fire and put it out, but
there recently was this new ordinance outlawing
dogs named Sparky from slobbering on anything, let
alone a society going up in flames.
Sparky is very law abiding. When asked by
sad eyed reporters, what breed are you, Mr. Sparky?
Sparky wagged his tail and said, I'm just a mutt.
Are you sad about society going up in flames, Mr.
Sparky? those intrepid reporters ask.
We must move forward, barked Sparky. We must
move toward the sun. We are all outlaws in
the sun, don't you know.

Sparky doesn't really mean all that.
I told him to say that.
We were downing Guinness on tap in an Irish bar
and I said, Sparky, the next time sad eyed
would be reporter types ask you if you are sad
about any aspect of this hell we call the world,
just wag your tail and say we are all outlaws in
the sun.

Is that free or is it going to cost me? Sparky
mumbled, lapping up Guinness with a smile.

The highway went to sleep.
New ways of feeling get their credit revoked.
Somehow, though, we go forward.
Outlaws under some sun.
Enigmas to some.
Too damn understandable for others.
Somewhere in between is where the next act allows its curtain to rise.

I left my lines back at the checkpoint.

Improvise, damnit, snarls Sparky.

And we do.

Scott Wannberg
Listening to Warren Zevon

keep the motor running

there's blood in the holy water
and sirens inaugurate the night
circumspect men and women
are trapped in mirrors
keep your motor running
they say the second coming just got stopped at the border
everyone swears they were out of town
when the body fell
lucid people talk sideways
and the yo-yo divorced its string
they just came out with a very nicely bound directory
of how and when to go mad
you pick your terrain
and let fly
there's a civilization
in the lint trap
you got to take it out for a walk
i'll set the table
once we find the food
my shoulder sometimes falls apart
but i always come back for more
i saw the head of all the classes
he seemed a bit soiled in his magnificence
could have been the pain
could have been the light
it gets in when you think you're alone
it grabs your heart and talks very fast
there's insanity in the health food
and lunch swears that one day soon it will treat us
the town sleeps on its feet
and gasoline hasn't much to say
keep your spirit working
i feel all of us are not to blame
you crawl at the legal pace
avoid angry weather
the oasis is more than proud
to confess its water makes you strange
i had nothing to lose
i'd seen enough victors to make me sick for awhile
a man can only strut so much
before he gives his secret away
keep your heart at home
somebody's coming
maybe even me
about this time of the night
everyone looks the same
i'll hobble up the ladder
i'll even swallow rain
my capacity for imploding is endless
and sometimes the giraffes wish they didn't have to stick their necks out

Scott Wannberg
May 4, 2009
          Listening to David Munyon, Code Name: Jumper

Let Everybody Come In

I’m too dense and stupid, I suppose
to understand the rabid hatred and fear people have for people they
don’t know.

Relationships are difficult countries
you file your citizenship papers and hope for the best
in a world of killing and war.

How can love be an evil?
Doesn’t matter if the love is between a man and a woman,
certainly, doesn’t matter if it’s between a man and a man, or a woman and
a woman.

Love is just too damn hard to find
on a planet bent on ethnic cleansing, racial hatred and murderous intent
in the name of whatever God you break bread with.
One should bow down, applaud, when love walks by.
The heart is a torn planet
spinning out of control at times.

I’m just too dense and stupid, I suppose
when hate filled fearful people tell me God wants certain humans to go
to hell
for following their hearts.
They claim they read it all in some bestselling book.
Man shall not lay with man,
they snap.

Somewhere in the same book,
guess it depends on your translation,
it says do not kill, and love your neighbor.
Okay, I guess the book is schizo and uneven,
maybe it needs editing and clarifying.

Is God Ahab bent on harpooning all humans that look to him like
Moby Dick,
or is God the daddy of Jesus who said you gotta give it up and love?
Can God give it up and love?

Ye shall not do this and that.

If I see 2 men or women in love
it makes my worn-out heart smile.
Let everybody into the party,
it’s not going to be going on forever.

Ye shall pull back your venom.
Ye shall examine your own spirit.

Has anger, fear, and hate gnawed on you enough
that you’ve become a shrill foghorn in the opaque night?
Dan White killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone
in a city reportedly famous for its tolerance,
they said Twinkies were the reason.

In that book these angry people keep referring to
it says nothing about Twinkies giving you the right to kill others.
Later Dan White would kill himself.
Harvey Milk, George Moscone, and Dan White deserved to live to be
old toothless hermits
wandering the lost highways of our weaving lives.

It’s time to find a better book,
a book that condemns no one for being true to themselves
and their feelings.
God, I guess created psychiatrists
because poor humans have difficulty in their feelings.

I’m too dense and stupid, I know,
but people in love give our species hope.
A man has a right to love a man,
a woman has a right to love a woman.
I never read any book that said love was evil,
if I did, I’d send it back to the publisher and ask for a refund.

Everybody can come to the dance,
the band will implode soon enough.
There are a thousand and one ways to hate and die every day.
If you see love, jump for joy and shout as loud as you can,
you might not see it again for a long time.

When you’re done reading this ramble,
reach out to the one you love and sing them a song.
If you haven’t anyone to love,
sing to yourself,
sing it loud
and deny books that preach hate and violence
no matter its position on the bestseller list.

I’m dense and stupid and empathetic and goofy
as I bump against the walls
mostly John Prine
a ‘Capella.

The heart is a torn planet,
it needs mending daily.

This poem goes out to all lovers;
heterosexual, homosexual.

Love comes, goes, builds a house, runs away.
The species rolls across the earth,
I guess you could call it exercise.
Exercise the heart,
be who you are.
Rock Hudson had to live a double life,
it’s hard enough living one life.

No more reasons to cover yourself up under the tarp,
the rain may be coming down.
Raise yourself up and feel it on your face,
nobody can truly plan the weather for tomorrow,
but I want to see you out there
bopping to the rhythm section of your soul.

Scott Wannberg
February 24, 2009
          Listening to A Bigger Piece of Sky, Robert Earl Keen

It Takes All Kinds

Rub those cold shoulders of alone.
Tell the rescue party not to come home late.
Traffic’s going to get easier,
trust me on that.

Something usually will go bump in the night,
you can sometimes even choose to hear it.
Trust your own ears on that,
it takes all kinds.

Whimsy hasn’t been outlawed, just yet.
Hand me something strong to drink.
The professionals are landing any minute,
their hairs are supposedly serene.

Hard luck stories run out of stories to tell.
Which one of us will go to the store for
a refill? I came home too early
and hurt myself trying
to learn how to
not stay

It takes all kinds,
you can see it whenever you see anything.
Maybe that time is coming soon.
It takes all kinds.
The death certificate of man
hasn’t been signed,
not quite yet.

Learn how to bruise easy.
Learn how to scream.
Let the love pour through you.
Let that ever-loving love in.
Bad weather coming.
Nobody has any guarantee.
I hear your heart ringing.
I hear your heart on my line.

Scott Wannberg

Another One of Those L.A. Poems

Educated people
tell me

Los Angeles is a shitty place
to be caught
living, that

you can’t really live
if you find yourself living there

that it’s semi-life, as opposed
to (depending on who tells me this)

New York where the world actually got born
or San Francisco where the world might die
but oh a death so cosmopolitan
a death so sweet and fine.

Living in L.A. brings out the pity in them,
they look sad, understand and sympathize
most affectionately, with a sideline sneer
rummaging around the edges;

for them, living in Los Angeles
is worse than committing adultery,
          lying to your kids,
their song plainly sings that if Los Angeles is a woman
          she is ugly, feisty, a bitch
          big-mouthed, full of smog,

such an ugly, feisty bitch, with a big mouth
and dull head is not an easy image
to embrace in dance.

I haven’t tried too successfully to hide, however,
from dull-headed big-mouthed feisty bitches
          because at times
I’m able to halfway know myself, to meet the
dull-headed big-mouthed feisty bastard
that chuckles and chortles inside me
which makes the marriage
in a sordid but beautiful way.

Scott Wannberg

When It Hits


The circus,
outlawed in this end of
the province,
rolls its tired face
across the latitude and longitude

Tall buildings
with no particular place
to go
blot out
that sun
we wanted to

The army,
tired from pretending
to be invulnerable,
closes in on itself
in the darkened back room.
The food,
is better than

You can't ever argue too loud
or too long
with the


The diseases talk among themselves
as the water runs out.
Well-dressed men discuss the latest rags,
buy drinks for one another,
debate whether love is
still probable
in certain parts of
this town.


When it hits,
I'll be plugged into your weird,
for it gives me
the necessary belief
and strength
to roll my face
across this anxious

When you sculpt wildernesses of words
that just might actually
I'd be a fool
not to pay

When it hits,
and it will,
none of us
will be able to successfully
through that tiny
escape hatch
they made so much noise
when we first landed

The national dance hall
is locked up
for the summer
but its unyielding back beat
through our

When it
I will hold onto you
as if I truly
see you
and nothing
will ever
pull me
unless you

Scott Wannberg

This Is Where We Came In

Phil Gramm kicked my door in.
He bitch-slapped me, told me to kill my mental recession.
Quit whining, you fucked up poet, he snarled.
I'd turn my attack dog on him
but he's on tour.
Dennis Kucinich keeps fighting the lonely fight.
This is where we came in.
Obama glides toward center position.
Only your best profiles, folks.
Football got John McCain through his prison days.
The Constitution gets butt fucked out back
while we get evicted.
That lonesome whistle promises it'll blow.
It's just temporarily out of gas.
Security demands we pick up our feet when we pace.
When will the waitress take our order?
Torture, the new summer blockbuster.
Waterboarding for dollars.
Hello, America, this is your bastard son.
I'll be landing in broad daylight,
whatever that is.
All the forgotten children
are throwing a mixer, upstairs.
It’s BYO.
We'll dance with the ones that we know.
We won't be sober for days.
There's a recession in Phil Gramm's ass
which masquerades as a brain.
On such nights like this
the moths soar right into the flames.
I'll try and hold up my end
if you spell my name right.
The show's really big number is just about to happen.
We've seen it plenty of times,
no matter how it tries to hide.
Don't jump off ten story buildings
unless you can fly.

Scott Wannberg
July 11, 2010
          Listening to Slaid Cleaves, No Angel Knows

Waiting for the Coffee to Announce Itself

I wait on the coffee to announce itself.
The weather today seeks a lover.
I look through the window,
see the kids, out of school,
dressed up for a holiday,
waiting to be whisked off
to visit an uncle, maybe a grandmother.

I listen for your melodious words
as afternoon slowly wanders
through me.

They've named this day on a yearly basis.
They call this day

I listen to your wound fly.
I hear your timing when it rises.
I put on a shirt with buttons.
Wedge my feet into the one pair of "good" shoes.

I'd like to take you sailing
on water which doesn't know freezing.
I'd like to take you singing
through some song that refuses to bleed.

But all songs
bleed something,
it makes them

And water does freeze
if you run away with the heat.

The coffee finally announces itself.
I'm here, I reply,
the weather
asks all lovers
come out

Scott Wannberg