Tuesday, March 28, 2006
RED FOX UNDERGROUND on 3/27/06
Top Left: Moira Magneson [This poet may appear larger in real life]
Bottom Left: Kate Wells [What a beautiful top!]
Top Right: Brigit Truex [So far, no evidence of fox tail]
Bottom Right: (first row, l to r) Taylor Graham, Moira Magneson, Irene Lipshin, Brigit Truex (second row, l to r) Kate Wells, Wendy Williams
The Red Fox Underground is a poetry collective that meets in the foothills every Sunday at 8 AM (now that's devotion to the poetry gods, folks). At one time they met indoors, but they have been gradually pushed outdoors by library authorities and frequently find themselves meeting along the American River (see photo above). These women are dedicated to their craft, and their poems reflect seasoned and intelligent outlooks on life. It is their kind of prolonged wisdom out of which movements are born.
Kate Wells started the evening off with poems that were inspired by nature. She read "White Thunder Muscle," "The Rising" (referring to Katrina and the river rising by her own house), "The Hand On Your Cheek," "Jack" (during which she demonstrated how to pick an animal up by its scrotum and made many of the male members of the audience wince), and "What We Say."
Moira Magneson read "The Whole Truth" which referenced Blake and used the words of Ari Fleischer (former press secretary during the Bush Administration's first term), a vilanelle entitled "Verily, Mr. President," "Apparition to the New Poem," and "True Grit" in which she spoke of a time when she and a friend were driving the remains of her father in the back seat of the car and insisted to the CHP officer that they be allowed to use the carpool lane.
Brigit Truex read "Herself" in which she meditated on herself as it might become a tree, "Katrina," "Lascaux," "Issue" a poem about the abuses of sharks in collecting materials for shark fin soup, and "In Her Name."
Wendy Williams read "Not Yet Prey" in which she meditated on two hawks flying overhead, then declared herself as survivor by announcing the words that form the title at the end. Then Wendy gave herself permission to read some edgy pieces. She read "Why are Girls?"which lamented the many abuses of women. "What Have You Earned, Mr. Williams" was a touching rendering of her father in several vignettes that illustrated his hardscrabble approach to life as a printer. She also read "The Sleep of Spiders" and finished with "Verbatim."
Taylor Graham started off reading "Why the Reading Didn't Work Out" which described an attempted poetry reading that fell prey to the distraction of a nearby TV whose neon glow lured the attention of several members of the sparse audience. In this way Taylor hinted at the distraction of a spontaneous snare set that had interrupted Wendy's segment. Then she read "Divining the Dog" and "Death, The Linguist"
Irene Rounded off the evening by reading poems inspired by her recent world travel as well as her life in the foothills. Her poem "Friends and Strangers" referenced a piece of language on the Air Force's website that spoke of how one might be warranted in ferreting out suspicious strangers who might be traipsing through your neighborhood. "Cleaning the Feet With Gasoline" was about a family ritual. Then she read "Prayer at Santorini," "Choice" where Lipshin provokes hre readers with the thought that "we rip ourselves in half in order to keep it. And finally, the reading ended with "Eve and Adam" again ripping the epigraph from a National Geographic magazine article that spoke of how all the world's people could be traced back to a single woman, mitochondrial Eve.
The spirit was lively and jovial despite the rain and its accompaniment, which again blew down on the tin roof and provided an orchestral arrangement for the poems during the evening.
Kate Wells lives in the Sierra Foothills, teaching high school English, home-schooling her two kids and running a kayak school with her husband. She is a member of the Red Fox Underground Poetry Workshop and has published poems in Common Ground Review, Poetry Motel and Rattlesnake Review.
HIS SISTER'S HAIR
His hands reach
at jagged angles
rake & jangle
up to perfect
long, brown hair.
It must be
twine jerking claws
in shining silk.
Her patience speaks years
of living with a broken brother.
* * *
Wendy Patrice Williams is a member of Red Fox Poets Underground of the Sierra foothills and teaches English at the College of Alameda in Alameda, California. Her poems appear in The Acorn, Little Town, USA, Rattlesnake Review, Song of the San Joaquin Quarterly, PDQ and the El Dorado Peace and Justice Community Newsletter. Her short stories are published in 13th Moon, Shore Stories: An Anthology of the Jersey Shore, and the anthology Whatever It Takes: Women on Women's Sport. She is currently working on a book of creative nonfiction, The Autobiography of a Sea Creature.
a distant orbit
the elderly gentleman
in blue jeans
and khaki jacket
to set up his gray
he spreads the legs first
then places the sacred wafer
on the tripod--
that concave plate
he grasps with careful hands
and turns ever so gently
toward a distant
uncurling the wires, he hands
to his wife
through the RV window
she plugs it in
juicing up their universe
oh, what the turn of a knob can do
now he is back outside
behind the dish
"I got one channel, hon,
but I can't get the other,"
he yells as she
gestures toward the TV screen
then rests one
warm, assuring hand
waiting with faith
for the world
Wendy Patrice Williams
* * *
(Irene Lipshin is a member of the Red Fox Underground Poetry Workshop in the Sierra Nevada foothills). Last year she (Irene) spent eight weeks traveling outside of the U.S. and reconfirmed her belief that we share the human story of loss and gain, personal, political and global, throughout the world. Her work has appeared in Rattlesnake Review including a broadside, "Territorio Nuevo" and an upcoming chapbook; in Poetica, Chaparral Updraft, in the anthologies We Beg to Differ, by the Sacramento Poets Against the War, 2003 and Outcry: American Voices of Conscience, Post 9/11 and on the Poets Against the War and Voices in Wartime websites, as well as other publications.
Moving to a new house,
its old hinges stuck
from years of closing
out the world,
we loosen the locks,
release the shutters.
through wide slats,
I read between
light opens darkness,
heat vanquishes the chill
of gathering tempests,
banishing the dark
backward of time.
Taylor Graham lives in El Dorado South County and trains her dogs for search and rescue. Her poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Ekphrasis, Poetry Now, PDQ, Rattlesnake Review, Tiger's Eye and elsewhere. She's included in the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, and her collection, The Downstairs Dance Floor, is winner of this year's Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.
Poem (first appeared in Rattlesnake Review):
A pomp-and-circumstantial hesitation-
glide across the cinder-
block foundation we were digging
moving without seeming
in sequent curves, until
without a royal glance behind,
In its place, nails and framing, sub-
floor, roof and plumbing.
Now we live among robins, juncos,
but the red and yellow tanager,
the evening grosbeak
are less common;
and the pileated woodpecker
with its imperial crimson crest
has moved on
to the kingdom
for all the seeds we scatter
like beggars for birds –
for all we wish the skinny shiver
and tricolor robes,
for all we wish
* * *
Brigit Truex is of Native American (Cree / Abenaki), French Canadian and Irish heritage. Born and raised in Washington DC, she started writing when she lived in LA (inspired by Santa Barbara Writers Conference). After a few years living on Maryland's Eastern Shore, she returned to California, moving to the Sierra foothills, where Red Fox Underground got started (celebrating our third anniversary this spring)! Publications include Rattlesnake Review, Manzanita, Folio, PDQ, Poetry Now as well as anthologies Sacramento: 100 Poems, Nantucket, and Small Town USA. She has three chapbooks, Satuit Seasons, Of A Feather, and Leaf By Leaf. When not writing, she can mostly be found dancing Northern Traditional at various powwows.
Sample poem, "City Hawk," is from the "Sacramento" anthology, published by the Sac. Poet Laureate Program
The bulldozer peels back a layer,
like the child in his yard,
potent with imagination.
He is no child.
He knows better,
but he has car payments,
mouths to feed, another
on the way.
He has dropped his seed.
In the dark recesses, it is nested
among a network, a web
that will quicken
He eases on the throttle,
advances on a treeless landscape.
The sere earth falls away,
an arid surf that breaks
below an indifferent steel wave.
He will not see the hawk,
its earth-brown back to him.
It has adapted.
Facing the highway,
on the mock-tree light pole,
it watches the cars below with disdain,
prey beneath it.
Instead, it memorizes the land,
the scope of it, holding in
its baleful eye, half-hooded,
all that was.
It has no cry for lost.
It has no cry
* * *
Moira Magneson lives in Placerville and teaches English composition at Sacramento City College. Most recently her work has appeared in Runes, Hanging Loose, Flint Hills Review, and Rattlesnake Review.
The following poem first appeared in the anthology BINDWEED.
AT MARTIN ANGEL’S
When it was bad we took your truck and bourbon
drove north Oregon hardly speaking at all
cut the Siskyous to the Umpqua River
followed a dusty road to its end
Martin Angel’s land there a hot springs
he had told us about years ago he had said
if you’re in love go there
We stripped and stepped into the scald
of that pool as we sat buoyed
in the water sweating I thought
we might have bloomed your face
ruddy as if scraped
I thought I saw the meanness of years
lift from us the way a bat rises
softly from a flower or a wound
By dusk your breath was warm with bourbon
you went to start the truck and I walked
a trail to the Umpqua I almost dove
but stopped I smelled rot across the water
a deer netted in the rocks the purple
dunnage of guts drifting out its side
The truck horn sounded
the legs were just enough in the water
so that the current caught its hooves causing
it to kick now and again
a sort of peculiar palsied trot
I had to leave.