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053_(2)

TOWARD DISAPPEARANCE

It started during the fires.
Northeast city crested in flames.
Door to your house is open, you stand
framed, shock of white hair.
Smoke has infested the walls,
we’re slightly light-headed. And
in the blue of your bed, we fall just how
I fall into that Sam Francis painting
I’m in love with. Toward Disappearance.
Wall of canvas, mostly white, except
a vertical movement of blue,
with moments of red and green thrown in.
It does seem Sam threw paint in one simple
gesture. But it is never as easy as that.
Oil paint translucent as the blue glass
of water you hand me. Or the deep saturation
of paint in cell shaped forms moving on canvas.
It had to have taken months.
Which is how long it feels this afternoon,
us here, in this house of refuge while the hills
burn and the fan overhead moves September heat.
I have loved you for fifteen years,
you say. I know that isn’t true and I don’t care.
You’re here to end the dormant years, just
how last time you woke me in the sad years.
There’s a low murmur from your yard,
barely audible. Blue agave is witness.
Out of the black char on the hills, seeds germinate,
burst painfully from their hulls, reach for the sun.

Alicia Vogl Saenz’s poems have appeared in Grand Street, Blue Mesa Review, and Mischief, Caprice, and Other Poetic Strategies. She authored the chapbook, The Day I Wore the Red Coat. Most recently, her translation of Spanish poet Mariano Zaro’s book, Tres Letras, was published. She has been a practitioner of Shambhala Buddhism for 7 years.

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NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH

        For Trayvon Martin
        with respect to Cypress Hill   

Here is something I can’t understand.
HOW ZIMMERMAN CAN KILL A MAN!

I’m just walking home from the store
Crazy Ass starts a civil war
Hoodie’s on cuz the street is chill
Seventeen, trying to get some Skittles
But, here is something I can’t understand.
HOW ZIMMERMAN CAN KILL A MAN!

Crazy Ass thinks black skin is whack
Calls the cops, they tell him, “Stand Back!”
Girlfriend tells me to “Run away!”
“Hell no,” I say, I ain’t afraid!
But, here is something I can’t understand.
HOW ZIMMERMAN CAN KILL A MAN!

Duck and hide, ditch behind a tree
Don’t want no Cracker tracking me!
Finds me, fight but he won’t let go.
Neighbors Watch but nobody shows
“Come on, man why you sweating me?
Daddy lives in this community!”
Struggle hard when I hear
Blam!   Blam!    and…
Zimmerman just kills me, man.
Zimmerman just kills me, man.
Zimmerman just kills me, man.

Pam Ward, author of “Want Some, Get Some,” and “Bad Girls Burn Slow,” Kensington, is a writer/designer. Her “My Life, LA: The Los Angeles Legacy Project” documents black Angelinos in poster/stories. www.pamwardgraphics.com

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An Older J.A. Sitting on the Covers in a Tropicana Guest Room Watching
a Re-Run of Bones & Praying

I.
Give me the strength to walk Heaven
across the casino floor with the strength
of the room attendant carrying my cheeseburger and beer.
I watch myself in the ceiling mirrors trace seams
on the bedspread. I should be decorated with flowers.
How does it matter whether I sleep?
The mountains outside the window surprise me, turn
to watch my friend walk into the bathroom
his towel dropped to the marble floor.
Now all is different without having changed.
When I will be that: hard
like the daisy and white like the stone.
When I will be the cleanliness of picked bone.
In the end there was fire and in fire the whiteness of bone.

II.
Where the young man is now, pushing
more grilled steaks up the service elevator
or taking his break at the slot machines in the next hotel.
Now all is different without having changed.
Mud on the shoes leads to the beginning
what we find in the end. The body was mummy
in a funhouse discovered by a boy. Look me<
into this death, discover the reason, explain me
into a report. Write me into the words of this world.
Anything happened. We are beautiful
in the mirror. Wool-dyed flowers. Plastic flowers. Plastic
flowers. The original cover peels back
a scented sock. The fast-moving station car.
Call me this man in a room, bones, as if he knows I am watching.

Andrew Wessels splits his time between Istanbul and Los Angeles. His poems, translations, and collaborations can recently be found in VOLT, Witness, Fence, and Colorado Review. He is the managing editor of Les Figues Press and edits the poetry and poetics journal The Offending Adam . This poem was previously published in Handsome, Vol 4 Issue 1. Photo by Zeliha Sahin Wessels.

 

 

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APA’S PAINTING

1.
I ask my mother about Apa’s painting
in English, she answers in Urdu, then it’s
my turn to speak, but there at the crosswalk
between Lahore and Los Angeles, I pledge
allegiance to nothing though sometimes
I mix the two languages, even throw in a little
high school French, or the Arabic I learned
reading the Quran, my nine-year old head draped
in a scarf pulled from my mother’s dresser.
I peer up at the canvas: ocean waves thrash
an archipelago of rocks.  My mother tells me
Apa painted it before I knew how to say
fish or pani or Pakistan, before I became
this chest of torn up maps.  In my body the Pacific
edges into Islamabad, Hollywood’s lodged
in the throat of the Punjab.  My grandmother’s
painting lives in this garage in Woodland Hills,
propped up against a box of fashion magazines.
The image speaks in twelve shades of blue,
like a storm of languages without a tongue.
The sight engulfs me, unpledged.
The coastline shadowed–no words, no light.

2.
The coastline shadowed–no words, no light.
The sight engulfs me, unpledged.
The image speaks in twelve shades of blue,
like a storm of languages without a tongue.
My grandmother’s painting lives in this garage
in Woodland Hills, propped up against a box
of fashion magazines. In my body the Pacific
edges into Islamabad, Hollywood’s lodged
in the throat of the Punjab.  My mother
tells me Apa painted it before I knew
how to say fish or pani or Pakistan, before
I became this chest of torn up maps.  I peer
of rocks.  I ask my mother about Apa’s painting
in English, she answers in Urdu, then it’s my turn
to speak, but there at the crosswalk between Lahore
and Los Angeles, I pledge allegiance to nothing
though sometimes I mix the two languages, even
throw in a little high school French, or the Arabic
I learned reading the Quran, my nine-year old head
draped in a scarf pulled from my mother’s dresser. 

Mehnaz Sahibzada is a 2009 PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry. Her chapbook, Tongue-Tied:  A Memoir in Poems, was published by Finishing Line press.  She lives in Sherman Oaks. “Apa’s Painting” previously appeared in the Journal of Pakistan.

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In the Canyon of Beauty and Lament

          for Denise Chavez

The red cliffs never smile
the air is rarely still
even on the calmest days.
At night, the cottonwood
leaves wave frantically.
Here I do not deeply sleep.

Here the spirits move
in fragile gales.  An
ebony horse flies across
the dark sky.

All the birds and beetles
hide.  At sunrise the tops
of pine trees warble.
I envy them their song.

Mary Torregrossa teaches ESL to adults.  Her poems have appeared most recently in Alternate Lanes and Lummox. The LA Poetry Festival selected Mary as a 2009 “Newer Poet of LA.” In this poem, the ebony horse is inspired by a painting by Marc Chagall.

Thanksgiving_3

 

 

DISQUIETUDE

For two months I’ve been living with monks.
No longer dizzy from the circle of worry,
I see truth in the order of things,
eat for the body, not the senses.  Still

I crave the sky in my mouth, feel
Kerouac’s fabulous roman candles explode
like spiders beneath my skin, wake

yawning for coffee, daydream
of curry and spice, make poems in my head
about the wild dishevelment of being,
that fierce blue drowning.

Of the ten defilements, passion is the one
I can’t shake.  In a month, I’ll step out
of the forest, carry my longing home again.

 

Sharon Venezio received and MA in creative writing from San Francisco State University.  Her first full-length collection of poems, The Silence of Doorways, was released by Moon Tide Press in March 2013.  Her poems have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Chaparral, Midway Journal, Reed, Transfer, and elsewhere.  She is co-director of the Valley Contemporary Poets and works as a behavior analyst in Los Angeles. You can purchase her book here: http://www.sharonvenezio.com/books.php

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DID YOU WAVE AT THE TRAIN?

Did you wave at the train
with its shrill keen,
as it went its own creaking way
into the distance of money?
Did you wave at the train
with its grim, receding aria?
The men who work trains
come from the borderline  —
Needles, Winslow, Modesto;
pine for the wild flesh of Alaska,
Seattle with its bracelet
of green islands,
anywhere tracks will take them.
They ride the rails
into the black tunnels
of  broken imaginations.
Some will never look up
where you, cold-eyed as a bird,
speed through clouds
in the silent altitude of years,
miles above the engineer’s
aging ranchera music,
the burnt grids of track-worn cities,
skinny Vegas nudity of the tourist desert,
miles above a snaking, lovelorn train’s
fading whistle.

Georgia Jones-Davis is the author of a chapbook, Blue Poodle (Finishing Line Press). Her poems have appeared in numerous publications including West Wind,  The Bicycle Review,  Nebo, Ascent Aspirations, Brevities and South Bank Poetry, London. New work will appear in the fall 2013 issue of Eclipse.