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 James Cushing
James Cushing
Californian Poets Part 5: Four Poems
James Cushing



On the Side of a Hill Above a Large City

I open the book at random to section three. I read in it for an hour,
then walk around this neighborhood, its houses and its trees.
The book and the trees share a thesis regarding the triumph of memory,
but the paved street keeps its simple counsel under the sun and wind.

I feel my feet on asphalt, and a breeze around my face and ears,
a breeze too new to remember. Now that father and mother have
gone, I notice what they took from the landscape with them, but
I must search for missing buildings behind a heavy blue curtain.

The curtain’s fabric is the residue of an argument between thieves.
Which phase of a theft is better, the early or the late? I made a list,
you made a list, the lists themselves made lists, again I open the book
to find an erased spot where my name would have fit in your list.

Who took it away? How long, for that matter, has the loud clock
hidden inside your list been silent? That clock was once our home.
Its minute and hour hands were downstairs and upstairs, where
we slept, and its tick was the scary basement. But then the rooms

took on the odors of stale lilies and a candle having just gone out, and
no, we can stay no longer, we must leave, we must run and return.

The Tumbling of Pebbles

Authorities tried explaining thunder,
what it was expressing when it exploded above the slag.
I would sneak away to the place of
mute roses, sit with you in a glimmering border,
and listen to our favorite ales ferment. Why were we never caught?

We changed and listened to [our favorite] algorithms in our
reincarnation schoolroom clubhouse,
we ran or slouched toward the claws of algebra,
the sleepy hour’s best-loved dribble subscription.

Nonsense syllables always indicated the doors we were
to use, and the sequences. Nucleus here, presentiment there!
We showed authorities some thorns,
not one of them asked us to ache for ourselves —
one coach actually placed a preposition there.

So that had changed
but he only said the early bits of
sentences, placing nouns here and here.
When that coach got caught up in his lecture,
we nodded our heads in our gym clothes,
trying to account for ourselves.

Afternoon classes? Mine was always a
dream subject, where sentences
backed into our regular school clothes
and knew what they were expressing.
My friends and I heard little of what
they said, only that they had seen us
there in the music room, in a glass booth,
bragging that we had never been caught.

The People-Mover

You wore a tight red hat, and said it
was a gift. I gave it a secret name I never
told you. You added up the sober candles
behind your portrait, kept the number
to yourself. Instead of guessing, I tapped
on the bell you had given me, the one
with a private name.

The bell-ringers played, one bell, one
note at a time, for a long, perplexing
moment. The world did not object.

We have somehow inherited this
unreadably blank mess, you and I.

More and more, I see our problems as
personal and historical, both, and
I feel guilty being here with you.
Do you want to leave? Shall I? But
we climbed past and into the situation
which came dressed as our return to
the heaven we fell from, long ago.

Gliding Among You

The character the actor played has died, and he can play no other.
It took him three long hours to chase down his dog through the woods.
At last, he saw the animal, got his attention with a treat, tackled him,
clipped his leash to the dog’s collar. He ran through backyards
to his suburban home, placed the dog feet first on the kitchen floor.
He heard a gong and a cymbal, looked into the living room.

The character he played lay there in a coffin. Its narrowness
forced him to look back at the dog with a new, terrible empathy:
he was plain gray, the dog was orange paisley. In his pocket,
his phone was a quiet barrel of hailstones. Candle smells
overcame the room. He heard the click of his own thoughts
finding shape inside him.

The character he played could not hear his heartbeat. Candles
continued to burn in the room, as they had burned since
the middle of the previous century, when the dog first slipped
the leash and ran into underbrush fast as a bobcat, and the boy
ran in after him, ground noisy with dead leaves, the fall sky
a threatening linen, every tree a scary officer.