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 Kim Addonizio
Kim Addonizio
Photo Credit: Johnna Crawford
Californian Poets Part 5: Five Poems
Kim Addonizio



Cigar Box Banjo

Blind Willie Johnson could coax
music from a single string. God plucked a rib
and found a woman. Concert aria
in the gypsy song, long groan
of orgasm in the first kiss, plastic bag
of heroin ripening in the poppy fields.
Right now, in a deep pocket of a politician’s brain,
a bad idea is traveling along an axon
to make sure the future resembles a cobra
rather than an ocarina.
Still there’s hope in every cartoon bib
above which a tiny unfinished skull in
its beneficence dispenses a drooling grin.
The heart may be a trashy organ,
but when it plucks its shiny banjo
I see blue wings in the rain.

From My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014)


In goes the cafeteria worker in her hairnet.
In goes the philosophy teacher
explaining the theory of eternal
return, and Anton Stadler with his clarinet,
still owing money to Mozart. In
goes Mozart. Everyone flopped into the creel
of the happy fisherman, everyone eaten.
Every river is Lethean,
so why should we care
if it’s not the same river? I hate
how everything changes, tree
to failing term paper, chatelaine
to beheaded plotter, drug dealer to narc.
The heart softening faster than cereal
but then hardening to a relic
which turns into another line
of depressed poetry to recite
to the next eager trainee
anxious to be more than lint.
Going up, you’re also going down, so either
way, as your mother said, Be nice.
When she went in, she was very thin.
Earth, air, fire, water, mother.
Fish pulse slowly under the river ice.

From My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014)

Creased Map of the Underworld

Nothing is so beautiful as death,
thinks Death: stilled lark on the lawn,
its twiggy legs drawn up, squashed blossoms
of skunks and opossums on the freeway,
dog that drags itself trembling down
the front porch step, and stops
in a black-gummed grimace
before toppling into the poppies.
The ugly poppies. In Afghanistan
they are again made beautiful
by a mysterious blight. Ugly
are the arriving American soldiers, newly shorn
and checking their email,
but beautiful when face-up in the road
or their parts scattered
like bullet- or sprinkler-spray
or stellar remains. Lovely
is the nearly expired star
casting its mass into outer space,
lovelier the supernova
tearing itself apart
or collapsing like Lana Turner
in Frank O’Hara’s poem.
Nothing is so beautiful as a poem
except maybe a nightingale,
thinks the poet writing about death,
sinking Lethe-wards. Lovely river
in which the names are carefully entered.
In this quadrant are the rivers of grief and fire.
Grid north. Black azimuth.
Down rivers of Fuck yous and orchids
steer lit hearts in little boats
gamely making their way,
spinning and flaming, flaming
and spiraling, always down--
down, the most beautiful of the directions.

From My Black Angel: Blues Poems & Portraits (Stephen F. Austin University Press, 2014)


Let go & let God is my guard dog Beware
the ragged shithole hordes & bless
my Chrome Moly Bushmaster .223 rest

your asses nowhere near my rod & staff
I raise my beacon-hand &
torch anyone who doesn’t believe Jesus

was calved from a virgin & then ascended
to his penthouse & will raptor down
to smite Jews abortionists niggers

Muslims fags Obama the AntiChrist SATAN
outside the Knoxville Baptist Tabernacle

while a boy puts his tongue in another boy’s mouth
& they lie down together shy & barely breathing

From Now We’re Getting Somewhere (W.W. Norton, 2020)

Art of Poetry

Between coffee & fentanyl, between Love Me and Go Fuck Yourself
there’s so much life to be gotten through
So many mirrors to challenge in your ragged robe & collagen essence Korean facial mask

Eventually you have to go out & walk around in the world like you belong there
You have to smile at work, & buy things
when you just want to crawl into a closet & live in an old cowboy boot & write witty
   unhinged verses

which sometime before the death of the sun
an advanced civilization will discover, etched into the ancient leather, preserved in a rock
& display in a luminous floating interdimensional sphere

Q: Ever notice how many writers write about writing?

A few centuries ago Horace wrote approvingly of a poet
He intends not smoke from flame, but light from smoke
which I think is good advice if you can follow it
but he also said that to paint a dolphin in the trees or a boar in the waves

is an unnatural distortion & I thought about how much I’d like to see that
& how unrealistic it is to expect things to stay in their places
Why not someone’s grieving widow consoled by a nebula
A suicide vomiting flowers

In the 20th century Pablo Neruda wrote his own “Arte Poetica”
lamenting all the things that called to him without being answered
& reading it, I thought about that time in a tiny fishing village in Mexico,
a third mangorita waterfalling through my liver
the waitress coming toward me in a white T-shirt with black lettering that said

which was clearly a lie although her stomach was kind of big which had the effect
of making them appear to recede
like the single taillights of two antique Model A Fords sputtering together toward obsolescence

Q: Does she even know what it says?

What is the message, is this perhaps a code, could it be from the future
Is it a “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” situation like in that painting of a pipe
or a new far-reaching campaign from the US Ministry of Enlightenment & Propaganda
The thieving president wearing a golfing shirt that says I HAVE NO CLOTHES

Q: Who killed poetry again & who cares?

Between false flags and homeless laundry lines
Between long-lasting eyebrow gel & little-known destinations profiled in the New York Times
I don’t know where anyone is going or where there is to get to
The days & nights keep drunkenly arriving, the guests are all dying
& I’m starting to feel pretty sick

From Now We’re Getting Somewhere (W.W. Norton, 2020)