|Tomorrow in Santa Barbara!|
The Mission Poetry Series is one of the best poetry events. And, yes, I'm saying this because I am one of the curators. Emma Trelles titles this season's event: "Inventing a Country: Three Poets in Spring." The title is taken from a line from "In a Country," by Larry Lewis. Tomorrow, the Mission Poetry Series presents Gabriella Klein, Lee Herrick, and Pamela Davis. Here's a sampling of each poet.
By Gabriella Klein
As soon as you read of the boom you read
they have moved on. The gamblers, the outlaws,
the Argonauts in a cold stream.
The miners are ghosts. The mines have been deserted.
Those lawless quick towns, the fabricated.
Once there were prospects, now there is sky, and elsewhere
desire has moved on.
Desert your expectation. A ghost town is nothing less.
The wallpaper frayed, the stamped tin
Corroded. Boredom and its reflection in glass.
I fill it up with muttering but still I am alone.
Except for heartbreak. Sometimes a hunger
Means chewing your own cheek.
Monotony, monotony. What I call gold.
By Lee Herrick
Here, an olive votive keeps the sunset lit,
the Korean twenty-somethings talk about hyphens,
graduate school and good pot. A group of four at a window
table in Carpinteria discuss the quality of wines in Napa Valley versus Lodi.
Here, in my California, the streets remember the Chicano
poet whose songs still bank off Fresno’s beer soaked gutters
and almond trees in partial blossom. Here, in my California
we fish out long noodles from the pho with such accuracy
you’d know we’d done this before. In Fresno, the bullets
tire of themselves and begin to pray five times a day.
In Fresno, we hope for less of the police state and more of a state of grace.
In my California, you can watch the sun go down
like in your California, on the ledge of the pregnant
twenty-second century, the one with a bounty of peaches and grapes,
red onions and the good salsa, wine, and chapchae.
Here in my California, paperbacks are free,
farmer’s markets are twenty four hours a day and
always packed, the trees and water have no nails in them,
the priests eat well, the homeless eat well.
Here, in my California, everywhere is Chinatown,
everywhere is K-town, everywhere is Armeniatown,
everywhere is a Little Italy. Less confederacy.
No internment in the Valley.
Better history texts for the juniors.
In my California, free sounds and free touch. Free questions, free answers.
Free songs from parents and poets, those hopeful bodies of light.
Blind Date with Baudelaire
By Pamela Davis
He gallops to a stop in a silk-plumed carriage, cravat loose
at throat. I’m a party dress craving ruin. We careen mad
crooked streets. Down to the Seine. Up to Montmartre’s
butte. Charles unbuttons my skin to sniff my bones.
Summoning our future by moony lamplight,
his absinthe whisper, we'll twine side by
side. Pilgrims will come, read odes to _
our stones. Leave roses. Red
The night we wed, Charles
Gives me his spleen.
Pourquoi pas? Two
one buried alive—
in the same
It's always exciting news when Martín Espada has a new book. Listen to an interview with Grace Cavalieri and hear this fabulous poet read from his new book, Vivas to Those Who Have Failed. Brought to you by the Library of Congress.
Click here for Martín Espada's audio: https://www.loc.gov/poetry/media/avfiles/poet-poem-martin-espada.mp3