My Peeps in Poetry

Recently gave a reading of some of my favorite poets.

Here are three women of the Beats, New York School, San Francisco Renaissance…well, why label them. Just enjoy.

The Goddess Who Created This Passing World
By Alice Notley

The Goddess who created this passing world
Said Let there be lightbulbs & liquefaction
Life spilled out onto the street, colors whirled
Cars & the variously shod feet were born
And the past & future & I born too
Light as airmail paper away she flew
To Annapurna or Mt. McKinley
Or both but instantly
Clarified, composed, forever was I
Meant by her to recognize a painting
As beautiful or a movie stunning
And to adore the finitude of words
And understand as surfaces my dreams
Know the eye the organ of affection
And depths to be inflections
Of her voice & wrist & smile


Jerusalem Artichoke
By Janine Pommy Vega

I learned a hundred lessons
in the garden
deeper was the first

the least little root
of Jerusalem artichoke
carries a sturdy new
plant into April

like the vaguest hope for
a friend
buried, like a sliver of moon
in the heart in spring

there are hundreds of sunchokes
take more than you need
give them to people you’ve
never seen

look for me
in the garden, laughing
and crying at once.


“The best thing about the past

is that it’s over’

when you die.

you wake up

from the dream

that’s your life.

Then you grow up

and get to be post human

in a past that keeps happening

ahead of you

Joanne Kyger

Plum Brandy by Miriam Sagan

National Gallery

Plum Brandy

I’m smiling but she
doesn’t smile back
my old friend
the painting by Manet
girl in pink with a cigarette
untouched plum in brandy
in the glass before her
she’s caught
in that pensive moment
before anyone—even the waiter—
can ask for or offer
her something

as if I saw
for an instant
my own face—young
in the mirror
sweet shaped, pretty enough, brown-haired
waiting—not for life to begin
as that has already happened
but for the moment
to unpause
from its suspension
lurch forward
into its larger meaning

crowded museum
city streets, skyscraper
sinking into the lake
the painter, dying, paints
some oysters on the shell
ready to eat
a pile of joyous peaches
a heap of orange mandarins
bouquets in a water glass
that don’t seem
to speak of loss

he says, and I paraphrase:
these moments
may not mean much to some
but a great deal
to us.

The Wonder Bus by Ya’el Chaikind, from 100 Thousand Poets for Change Reading


The homeless man in the dirty yellow jacket
holds the pay phone for ten minutes with a
hand on his hip and I wonder if he is listening
to God before he hangs up and circles the bus

station to resume his stance with an attentive
far away look in his face and his gut wrenching
smell chokes my humility and I wonder if others
will think I think I’m better than him as I breathe

through my scarf while waiting in line and our
hermetically sealed tube on wheels soon fills
with humanity and begins our journey and I
wonder about buses blowing up in Israel and

that movie Speed with Keanu Reeves and Sandra
Bullock while wondering what it is about buses
that create such a longing to leave places and
people behind in search of something else when

suddenly the air conditioning stops and eventually
someone asks the driver to open the emergency
hatches in the ceiling for some air and I wonder
if we are in trouble because the driver pulls over

suddenly and stops with a lurch like when I was
a kid and mom was ticked off because usually
then I was definitely in trouble and with irritation
not wonder the driver says it won’t help nothing

and the other guy says, man I see you have your
window open up there, and I wonder who has all
their belongings on the bus and this is the ticket
to a new life and the bus driver rolls us down the

highway announcing it’s 85 degrees inside but
let’s try to make it to Orlando and I wonder why
he had to tell us how hot it was inside that metal
can and I read the directions for popping out the

window as a distraction until he stops suddenly
again and my heart races and he jumps outside
and bangs on the side of the bus as air conditioning
wonderfully flits on and off and the man behind

me his hair is sticking to his head and a guy with
a British accent says I wondered when this trip
might go south and the lady in front of me sings
Jesus take the wheel and I call out hallelujah amen

when then the driver jumps on the bus, juts his
chin and says with a small sniff over the loudspeaker
well since people are complaining about the heat
I wonder if we should stop here and get another

bus and it will take two hours to get here and
the bus groans under our collective displeasure
and I wonder how he can make this bad decision
for all of us like he’s the president when we

could walk to the bus station we are so close
and I wonder how weird it is when he says there
is no air so we are stuck when clearly he is now
lying and then the people start yelling one by one

on this modern ark until the bus is in an uproar
let’s go! get us home! who cares, the air is fine!
and he finally says ok and I wonder what will
happen when the people of the United States

choose to yell at the power hungry driver of
our national bus stuck on the side of the road
with an uproar that forces us to get back on track
to help everyone reach their destination.

Ya’el Chaikind
May 22, 2019 / 17 Iyar 5779

Omer Day 33:
Hod Shebe Hod
Awe, Humility, & Glory within Awe, Humility, & Glory

The Hearing by James Gould. From 100 Thousand Poets Reading

The Hearing

We traveled far, often on foot to the High Court where important matters
were voiced in the search for answers by any means thinkable.
A few arrived by motorized conveyance while others flew or swam to
the sanctified place in the flintzing days of the year few remember.

We entered through the ornate doors at the crest of the North steps.
Some came in through the side doors or up from secret passages below.
Seated or standing we waited for the precious moments when the Gleaners
sought direction from the fractals revealed in the quest for survival.

The call went up and silence reigned.
The Oracle Choir anointed a Diviner who shook dog-like with claws dug in deep.
Blood red robes, thick with once-fancy edging exhausted dust and small creatures
–now drifting, winking, and sparkling their patient message in the walls of light
falling through the broken roof, stirred with milky yellow air and trailing smoke from the
recent fire when someone got careless with their work.

A floorboard sprung and shot, then another.
A fresh crack ran up the old stone wall where salt water began to seep through.
Wind gathered momentum, widening the gap, increasing the flow and consequence
as if to say to everyone gathered: Let’s talk about Power.

The Wolf Delegation came with their young and pleaded their case for Peace in the West.
A Grizzly Bear representative stood tall and stated,
“You’re crowding us and all those who stand behind us”.
The Cattle Group murmured and offered their settlement:
“What were we to do; You wanted us”.
The Bison Tribe followed with their tattered Treaty chanting
“We had an agreement with the First People, then you came along with your upset ways”

Just then the Sun dimmed and those that knew thought: It’s happening.
Those that didn’t know thought maybe it was all finally ending for one reason or another.

Outside, a large Whale surfaced and blew its long-held animal air; wet, warm and true.
Rare among its kind, she rolled to one side, looked us in the eye
and in a plain, dry language we could all understand
howled at us, long and hard
—every last one of us.

Abundance by John Macker

– For Stewart Warren

An 80 year old woman in New Mexico
does tai chi in the dog park
in an abundance of presence
shares the rhythms of her age
gathers in and then releases the
shiftless summer air.
In Iceland activists hold a funeral for a famous
glacier, on the permanent plaque they
placed, in English and Icelandic,
is written to the children:

Only you know if we did it.

In Auden’s memorial poem to Yeats
he wrote: Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.

Out the window a police car siren’s
pulsating shriek cleaves the morning
into two organic halves, one an act of faith
the other, not so much. We were instructed
by the nuns to say a prayer or cross
ourselves every time we heard one
until the danger became
innocent whispered echo.

As if nobody had been hurt.

Ireland will plant 400 million trees in the
next 20 years to combat climate change.
So many more will recognize El Degűello
when they hear it than those who’ve
memorized “The Second Coming”.
A poet friend in his last days of hospice
always traveled his own rivers
now they change course, fill him
with their own abundance, tell him
we have all the time in the world.

The purple morning uplifted cosmos petals
a day after rain and the land which has withstood
the emancipation of all the latest hells

never stops singing.

John Macker 2019


So enjoyed this poem at 100 Thousand Poets reading, and sharing it here.


Continue reading

Save The Dates!

Sat Sept 28 1-3pm
100 Thousand Poets for Change
Great line-up of about 20 readers, nice shade, come for some or all…at Ethyl the Whale on SFCC Campus (right across from La Familia clinic at SFCC)

Sun Oct 6
2 pm
Op Cit in the De Vargas mall
Miriam Sagan reading from new book of a two year diary, A Hundred Cups of Coffee, and Melissa White reading about Japan in her memoir Dizzy Sushi.