“SZYMBORSKA” by Jack Grapes

I came home
Wednesday night from class
and Lori was ensconsed
like a caterpillar in a cocoon
on the bed, watching a movie on tv
about crazy people who fall in love
and break china.
“Szymborska died,” I said.

She reached for the remote and shut the tv off.
The room expanded into that quiet bubble we experience
when we shut off the tv.

She looked at me and said nothing.

What was there to say?

A friend dies, a poet dies, poetry lives on:
There’s nothing you can say.

It’s like turning off the tv,
and their passing
fills the space of our lives
with all that silence.
A balloon of being and nothingness,
a reduction of existence into a series
of appearances, overcoming those dualisms
that have embarrassed philosophy
and replacing them with the monism
of the phenomenon.

I put the clipboard I still had in my hand on the dresser
and began to undress. Then I got in the bed and lay beside her.
We still hadn’t spoken.

Szymborska was gone.

We just lay there for a bit, in the silence,
not sure who would break it,
not sure whose turn it was
to turn the moment
back into words.
You need a poet at a time like this,
and the poet was gone.

There was a small crack in the ceiling.
And a tiny cobweb in the corner.
Later, Lori’d probably get on a chair and with a tissue
wipe it away. That was her job, getting
those little tiny spider webs
gone before they engulfed the house,
our lives, the planet. Don’t
worry, dear reader, she’s on the job.
You will be safe.

“What’s my job?” asks Lori when she’s nagging me.
And I repeat the mantra: “To take care of me.”

But for now, with Szymborksa’s passing
still blooming into silence,
the cobweb would have to wait,
the crack would just have to bide its time.

Such a long silence.

Then I thought, fuck it.
I reached for the remote, and clicked the tv back on.

There went a teacup.
Crash.
There went another.
Crash.
It was good to get back
to a semblance of the world,
all that love and passion,
all those broken teacups.

Jack Grapes

(Author/Poet/Method Writing Teacher)

Photo by L. K. Thayer

© 2012

“THE COLLECTIVE SIGH” by Adesh Kaur

What if I stood before you yummy, naked, and giggling?
Would the little children in Park La Brea grow long noses?
Would the Neiman Marcus matrons buzz for security?
Would the baristas at Starbuck’s charge me extra for a Venti Americano?
Would the poets and writers in the Collective ovate me standing?

I am because….

I am.

I am your breath, your astonishment, your looney.
I am your sex, your howl, your suckling.
I am your dirty little feet, your lilac wine, your green jello.
I am your blood fire shadow-ghost mommy.
And now I shall whoop it out…

I am your favorite.

I am because…. I Am.

I am the poet of your breath.

My heart-lungs are in you predawn computer’s a’glowing.
Soft! The broken-breasted one is typing to save her life,
stiff with the Muse between her legs.
I exhale and she poets herself unto glory be.

I dissolve into the Lady of the Rainbow as she ascends into her art
gallery of brain. I smile whilst she chakras masterpieces of pain.

O dear, a lonely one over there with swollen ankles is unkittening her heels.
Breathe, pussy-cat, breathe.

And in the far away night sky, it is he, he who sings an aria of luminous loss.
You shall possess tunes of eternity, young man. Yes, and I will hum along.

Alas, there suffers a poet inhaling a grief we shall not speak of. No.
This one I will wait for, just up ahead, where all infinity bubbles with joy.
Breath is not needed where her sweet one eternally celebrates.

My compadre poet who breathes fire into mythical creatures as lovers
has done her job well. All applause and brava, Divine Mistress of Phoenixes.

And our Spirit Guide, our Maestro of Genius, our Poet Daddy.
He raises his baton to the terrible beauty of beginnings.
The orchestra holds its breath, but the maestro is untamed and wild.
With a howling crash, he unleashes the music of the spheres into our very souls.
Captain, Guru, Wise Fool, you are our inspiration, our respiration.

And we, we are the Collective Sigh.

Adesh Kaur

(photo: Jack Grape’s Wednesday Morning Class)

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

Stephen Kalinich (quote)

Stephen Kalinich

“BE GRATEFUL FOR THE DIFFICULT.

BE GRATEFUL FOR THE CHALLENGE.

EMBRACE THE ADVERSITY.

IT IS YOUR TEACHER.

IT IS WHAT IS WITHIN YOU

THAT YOU DO NOT KNOW

CALLING FORTH YOUR EXCELLENCE-

YOUR COMPASSION-

YOUR TRUTH-

NOT TO BE PUT

UPON A SHELF

HIDDEN IN A BACK CLOSET

UNDER THE MATTRESS

BUT TO BE USED AND LIVED

EVERY SECOND OF LIVINGNESS.”

Stephen John Kalinich

Painting by John Robertson &

Stephen Kalinich

All Rights Reserved

© 2010

“Mona Lisa” by L. K. Thayer

Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher

he used to
sing ‘Mona Lisa’
to me
in the halls

he was an art teacher
a gentle, creative force
he liked sitting with us
playing

Cat Stevens records
with his

students

he was struck by
lightening

while flying

a kite

he died
young

but

still sent

his message

of freedom

through.

“Or is this the way to hide a broken heart?
Many dreams have been brought
To your doorstep
They just lie there
And they die there
Are you warm are you real
Mona Lisa?
Or just a cold and lonely
Lovely

Work of art?

Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa”

Songwriters
Jay Livingston
Ray Evans

© 1950

L. K. Thayer

All Rights Reserved

© 2009