Celebrating over 30 years as an arts organization.


The Center hosts readings, workshops, lectures, and publishes a variety of poetry publications. SPC is located in the R25 Arts Complex located on the corner of R & 25th Streets in midtown Sacramento.



Sacramento Poetry Center memberships support a variety of local poetry programs, publications, readings, and events. Members receive a free subscription to Tule Review and Poetry Now. Please send your check for $30 or more to SPC, 1719 25th St., Sacramento, CA 95816. Fixed incomes are $15.


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Sunday, June 25, 2006

JULIA CONNOR, NANCY WAHL, DAVID HUMPHREYS at SPC



Indigo Moor was host to three area poets on June 19, one of them Sacramento’s Poet Laureate, Julia Connor, whose grit and effervescence as usual was captivating. Before the three featured readers began, Matthew Fox provided a solo guitar piece on a nylon string guitar. The piece started with some purposely dissonant chords and then employed a sort of bossa nova like rhythm. It was kind of like listening to Egberto Gismonti play “The Love Theme from Shrek,” an enticing concoction.

Then with Matthew’s guitar as accompaniment, Indigo read a short piece about desire, how the need was so deep. The rhythm was the driving force throughout the piece and indeed near the end Indigo informed everyone in the audience that “rhythm is pre-memory.”

Julia Connor, though billed as reading from Chrysanthemum a book about the loss of a stepson, Connor read a generous sampling of unpublished poems. Connor explained that the title of the book (Chrysanthemums) was used because the Chinese flower of mourning. However, she said that she wasn’t going to read those poems because of their somber tone. Then, suddenly the microphone drooped on the stand. Connor said, I’ve known men like you.” then she proceeded to launch into the evening while apologizing that many of the pieces had been tried out on a Nevada City audience a few days earlier.

In “The Apricot” Connor illustrates one of the reasons that her work has been so well-received over the years. It has many elements of surprise. The poem is a love poem addressed to another—“We thought we were unfortunates together . . . we gave each other slack . . . mutually appearing like a door that swung open.” The speaker then wonders what it would have been like if the other had been a pine. “Things might have been different. The speaker then “hides in narrative” and questions the lack they shared, that whatever they lacked it was not tenacity. The speaker then contemplates what the two had accomplished together, concluding “this much was accomplished . . . a haven for sparrows.”

In “Bamboo,” again inspired by a domestic setting, the speaker contemplates a bamboo grove at the edge of the property line. It serves as font of mystery and domesticity where “a man’s shirts and jeans hang . . . his shoes await him.” The speaker notes for the reader to “look past absence,” to the “fullness of the bamboo.” The speaker questions the coming into existence of a thing that was previously absent. The speaker is singing a song of awareness, of consciousness-raised, how we see a thing and then name it.

“Julia Morgan, Architect” was inspired by play that recently ran at California Stage starring one of Sacramento’s brightest lights, Janis Stevens. The play was a play about Julia Morgan, the architect responsible for the design of Hearst Castle among other things. The poem spoke to the concerns of the architect in its language—“Oh clock, oh chimney, oh cornice.”

“Lead” was a complicated piece that spoke of solace after accusations had been made concerning an act of physical violence.

In contrast to “Lead” was a very simple piece with a kind of dreamy imagery. The speaker dreams of a field unchanged, blue flowers everywhere. In that field it is the speaker’s last day to be alive. A reassuring voice tells the speaker that he/she has done enough, that he/she can pick as many as are wanted.

“Joe’s Poem” continues to morph over time. The poem originally read at the American River College reading [March 13, 2006] employed multiple scenarios that featured Connor’s father. The recent incarnation of “Joe’s Poem” focused on a father-daughter fishing excursion where dear old dad teaches his daughter about toughness, about how to “tie one’s own laces in the world.”

“Cremare” from the Latin “to burn” was a poem with a speaker asking for help, but the vastness of the world intercedes with all its urgency and unfamiliar danger.

In “Word” a surrealist parable unfolds that primarily celebrates the ability of the word to create other worlds. The poem starts out with the image of the sun washing “clapboard yellow of old ivory.” Other surprising images ensue and a “knowing that comes through the ear.” A helicopter dries its wings at eye level and flies off into other parables, “flashing chartreuse.” The flashing color of the “dragonfly” reminds the reader of all those hidden worlds made accessible through language.

“The Flowers War” was a long, complicated piece that took root mainly as a poem of protest against the war. The “growth economy blind to death” is indicted and compared to the pre-Renaissance church selling redemption.

Nancy Wahl read from her Poets Corner Press chapbook prize-winning contest.volume entitled “Proof of Life,” but before she did that, she recited William Carlos Williams’s “Red Wheelbarrow” (replacing “glazed with rain water” with “filled with rain water”). From this poem by Williams she derived her theme for the evening, that it takes all the parts working together to make a whole. Wahl spoke of how she had been under a lot of stress recently due to her impending move to Carmichael. This event took its toll as she seemed to be distracted and somewhat too apologetic during her reading.

She started the reading with “Blueberries on Mars” which was inspired by the report that the Mars rover had found little concretions on the surface of the planet which were called blueberries.The poem started on the American River Bike Trail and ends on Mars. In this way Wahl pointed to the connectedness of all things large and small.

“Pakistani Woman” grew out Wahl’s Bible study group where the study of Rahab, a prostitute from Canaan who saved the spies sent by Joshua to Jericho and who was later incorporated into the Israeli population. Rahab was compared to Pakistani woma who was gang-raped because she did not adhere to strict Islamic law.

“The Last Refuge of the Bengal Tiger” was inspired by the sad story of woman who had an abusive husband and who turned her and her daughter’s life around by going to law school and getting a law degree. The poem begins in the gynecologist’s office with the giggles of a young girl. The scene then is transferred to a discussion of the day-to-day life of the Bengal tiger. The Mahabharata is invoked and in one of its stories, the tiger wanders but is poached. The giggling girl in the gynecologist’s office wanders but cannot find her father. The speaker then offers that if they lay los, like the tiger, they will survive.

“Daughter” was inspired by the same family as “Bengal Tiger.” In this poem the mother has taken up “exotic dancing.” She is dancing in stiletto heels. The audience sees her as a woman in her sexual prowess. She attracts the attentions of an older lecherous man (the speaker comments that he is like her husband). then she comes home and lavishes affection on her daughter with “the moon like hyssop on the wall.”

“The Given” also is derived from another mother-daughter relationship. the mother is fretting over her missing daughter. She is searching for clues about her disappearance in the daughter’s room. the mother clutches the daughter’s stuffed rabbit out of desperation, hungry to commiserate with her daughter. She does this because it is given that she’s a mother.

“The Memory of Water” was prefaced by Wahl as being a “true” poem. It started by stating that the “fragrance of lilac has a lot to do with water.” Mary Cassatt’s lilacs are invoked. At the end of the poem Wahl confessed that the poem was “not true” after all, which made many in the audience scratch their heads and chuckle.

David Humphreys took the stage, paying tribute to Connor and Wahl who came before him, by suggesting he might not be up to the task of following such fine and refined poets.

Humphreys’s pieces ranged from extended haiku, longer poems that were comprised of short fragments of observed visual detail and longer meditations, that used less laconic language, which focused on technical subjects.

“Magpie” was of the extended haiku sort. It praised the scavenger bird for being as handsome as his bird-of-prey counterparts.

“Tilt-up” was an homage to the construction practice of pouring concrete walls on the ground and hoisting them up into place. The speaker was submerged in a tank, “looking for a place that turned back on itself.”

New Back Fence chronicles the trials and tribulations of putting up a new back yard fence that borders on the property line of a cheapskate neighbor. Hmmmmm, two poems about property lines in one night. Interesting.

“Shiloh” was about an old dog Humphreys had. He had written a poem about the dog and mistakenly deleted it. now here it is again in a little different form, hopefully with most of the details still intact.

“Old Volvo” reminisced about an old car as the speaker imagined the first owners of the vehicle before the speaker became the owner.

“Whiskey, Yankee, Tango, Bravo” was dedicated to the spirit of soldiers who died in Vietnam, in a jungle so far away.

"Dark Energy, Dark Matter" is the kind of poem mentioned above that uses scientific/technical terms to approach its subject. In it, the speaker holds forth on the universe’s confounding secrets and disparate charms.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

SPC SACRAMENTO POETRY EVENTS [JUNE]

21 Wednesday
Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour, host Andy Jones, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or subscribe to the podcast at www.kdvs.org. Info: www.culturelover.com.

South Natomas Urban Voices presents Ann Menebroker and D.R.Wagner. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy, 6:30 – 8 p.m. South Natomas Library, 2901 Truxel Rd. Free.

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. Hosted by Khiry Malik and Rock Bottom. Sweet Fingers Jamaican Restaurant, 1704 Broadway. Info: www.malikspeaks.com or 492-9336. $5 cover.

Moore time for Poetry: Terry Moore’s Access Television Show, 1st & 3rd Wednesdays, 9pm, co-host Tyra Moore. Access Sacramento, Channel 17. updates: tvguide.com. (916) 208-7638.

22 Thursday
Poetry Unplugged presents: Julie Varlin and Dan Hoagland. Open mic before/after. Hosted by B.L. Kennedy. 8pm at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St. Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com. Free.

23 Friday
Dynamic Women in a Double Feature: Las Manas, Bay area women of varied ages and ethnicities, perform poetry. 7:30 p.m. Also, Escritores poet, Be Herrera, will lead a Circle of Friends reading. Host: Felicia Martinez, open mic follows. La Raza Galeria Posada; 1421 ‘R’ Street, Sac. $5.00/what you can afford. Graciela (916) 456-5323, ww.escritoresdelnuevosol.com.

24 Saturday
THE SHOW" Poetry Series. Every last Saturday of the month, featuring Brett "B-Free" Freeman,
Twa'Lea Randolph, Heather Christian, Love Jones, 7-9 pm ,Wo'se Community Center (Off 35th and Broadway), 2863 35th Street, Sacramento; $5.00. Info: T.Mo at (916) 455-POET.

26 Monday
Sacramento Poetry Center presents: A Night of Translation: James Den Boer reading works translated from Latin, Arturo Mantecon reading from Spanish, Nguyen Do from Vietnamese; host: Tim Kahl. 7:30 p.m., SPC/HQ for the Arts, 1719-25th (25th and R Sts.) Info: 451-5569. Free.

27 Tuesday
SPC Poetry Workshop, 7:30pm, Hart Senior Center, 916 27th St. (27th & J). Bring 15 - 20 copies of your one-page poem. Info: Danyen, (530) 756-6228. Free. Workshop news, www.sacramentopoetrycenter.org, SPC Workshop News.

28 Wednesday
Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour, host Andy Jones, 5pm, KDVS-90.3 FM or subscribe to the podcast at www.kdvs.org. Info: www.culturelover.com.

Mahogany Urban Poetry Series, 9pm. Hosted by Khiry Malik and Rock Bottom. Sweet Fingers Jamaican Restaurant, 1704 Broadway. Info: www.malikspeaks.com or 492-9336. $5 cover.

29 Thursday
Poetry Unplugged presents: Joshua Fernandez & Darrell Glenn. Open mic before/after. Hosted by frank andrick. 8pm at Luna’s Café, 1414 16th St. Info: 441-3931 or www.lunascafe.com. Free.

Friday, June 16, 2006

CORRECTION from SPC website

The SPC website (which is hardly ever updated these days) has the upcoming reading on Monday June 19 featuring only David Humphreys.

The reading should be billed as featuring Julia Connor and Nancy Wahl along with David Humphreys.

Julia Connor will be reading from her great body of work like
"Chrysanthemum"

Nancy Wahl will be reading from her 1st place winner "Proof of Life"
from this year's Chapbook Poetry Contest

Thank you for your patience in this matter.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

MICHAEL WYLY and DANNY ROMERO—JUNE 12



Not quite Batman and Robin, nevertheless, a dynamic duo was featured after the annual SPC members meeting where Bob Stanley (heretofore referred to as the Duke of Poetry) was named as SPC’s fearless leader. That duo was Michael Wyly (from Solano Community College) and Danny Romero (from the other SCC, Sacramento City College).

Bob Stanley, the host, led off the evening by mentioning that Michael Wyly’s wife, Liz, was expecting their first in 2 weeks (not Bob and Liz’s, but Michael and Liz’s . . . you’ve got to sort this stuff out or it might be fodder for the soaps later on). The name was going to be either Ella or Miles. Michael referred to this impending offspring later in the evening as Ella. Was this a tip or a hunch or a hope?

The bulk of Wyly’s poems reflected an international feel. The first of these poems was about Wyly’s observations he made while watching the running of the bulls in Pamplona. He marveled at how the runners weren’t just running to stay ahead of the bulls but how they taunted a precarious fate by making sure they were only a few feet in front of the bulls. Wyly seemed to admire their matador-like courage. In “The Bullrunners” Wyly addresses the bullrunners en masse when he says, “You, this crowd of seekers almost upon the horns . . . caught, violated, supported by gash only.” Wyly’s reflection is that there is near religious dimension to those who run and potentially put their lives in the way of pain in order to understand some metaphysical truth. At the end of the poem, the speaker addresses a more general audience and queries, “What is sound but hooves on the stones? . . . “What are you if you cannot relish this terrible crossing?”

The second poem Wyly described as being a poem about hitchhiking in Ireland. “All Roads Leave” started out with a hitchhiker slogging through the rain when the speaker’s German companion hitchhiker flags down a compact car. The speaker is left behind, and the speaker’s sense of alienation is felt. The speaker reflects on time spent in the hostels of Europe among traveling families and thinking of people he had met on the road. One bedraggled trucker strikes him because the trucker had stopped to give the speaker a lift when he saw the speaker’s hitchhiking sign that said, “Anywhere West.” Back in the hostel the speaker is imagining himself hitchhiking along blackberry hedges as he thinks about the long departed truck driver mentioned previously. The poem ends within this hall of reflective mirrors as the speaker is “measuring the distance all around me.”

The next poem included an epigraph from Michel Foucault’s Madness & Civilization that told of the practice in medieval Europe where the mad, instead of being incarcerated, were put on boats and shipped to the next town where they would be refused and therefore would be sent to the next town ad infinitum. “The Ships of the Madmen” was set on one of these wayfaring boats where the mad are initially strolling on deck, naked (which makes them strikingly similar to some Carnival Cruises). The boat’s denizens struggle with the tides and “the logic of melancholy.” A main speaker appears from this tableau and is “flung below with the pigs.” The main speaker observes he is “drowning already” and is “riding a crest . . . at odds with humans.” Finally, the speaker speculates on his arrival at “The Isle of Man, the land of redemption.” The symbolic freight carried by this actual place provided a poignant ending.

Wyly told how “This Starved Continent” came about as a result of staring into his own reflection while traveling in a train across Europe. Through nearly diaphonous language (“ghosted face in the window . . . halo of passing lights . . . through eyes that hover in glass”), the speaker paints a picture of a singular ego nearly dissolving into the external world around him, yet still curiously holding on to that notion of the self. As the speaker contemplates his “genetic silk” and his “most socialized habits” he remarks at the end that all of these characteristics are a “precursor to self-consumption.” In doing this he acknowledges that the self, and one’s preoccupation with it, is another kind of consumption of image.

“At the Window 3 A.M.” was another contemplative piece. Only this time the speaker did not reflect on the self but the other. This other was a woman whose “mouth in sleep is alien in passivity.” The speaker goes further to describe this woman as someone who “handles the bills and bouts of depression” The woman who is the speaker’s object of discourse is noted for her understanding of her mother’s pain while the speaker contrasts his own understanding as more rudimentary and fragile, “I, a boy, who once saw heaven as a simple understanding.” As the pain and heartbreak intrude on the speaker and this woman, his object of affection, the speaker observes, “To cry from the mouth is to cry for real.”

“Out of Memory” was a apiece that was about Wyly’s grandmother and her struggle with Alzheimer’s. Dossie, which was what his grandmother preferred to be called, was depicted with great care and charity. The central part of the poem is where the speaker remembers a kiss from his grandmother. It was a kiss with “spittle like jewels in the cave of fables. At the end the speaker’s attention turns to his grandfather who says there is nothing left (for her) to do but die.

“Destinations. A Palestinian Boy Thrown Rocks” was inspired by a newspaer story documenting an incident that the title of the poem names very well. The speaker sets the scene, “a concrete chunk neck high” and then psychologizes the young boy throwing the rocks, taking the reader back through some of his formative experiences, the lashings, the meager charity gven to them. In the end, the speaker, though presumably dead, remarks that we are still moving. This statement could be a gesture to Palestinian persistence and if not a figurative call to arms, then a call of empathy for their plight.

Before the final piece Wyly explained that most of the pieces he had read were from a distant time and place and that none of the poems he had read really reflected where he was now. The last poem, “Study of Line” amended that situation. The piece had its origin in a comment that a sculptor friend had made about his sculpture, how it had originated with a line that was repeated and repeated, a motif throughout the solid form. Wyly saw this as a metaphor for writing and how this marked his approach to writing, how when he works he thinks of one line turning. He admitted that since he heard that sculptor friend’s comments, he has become obsessed with the study of line. The poem itself was a deep meditation on a human female form that started with the breast and navigated its way across the expanses of this human female form and finally he observes that her “tenderness is a story of motion.”

The open mic segment served as the intermission between the two feature readings. The first reader (whose name I regrettably missed) read four poems: “If Dreams Come True,” “A Strong Foreboding,” “The Moon,” and “Tropical Paradise”. Bloom Beloved read “Soliloquy from a Wannabe Yogi”

Danny Romero stepped up to the podium and chided that he had indeed remembered to read that night. He then ripped off a zinger stolen from Flannery O’ Connor, who opined that the university doesn’t stifle enough writers. He acknowledged that he stole his wife’s copy of his chapbook of poems because he couldn’t find his copy. Finally, before he launched into his first piece he proclaimed that the theme for the evening’s reading would be “hustling books.”

In “Lessons” the speaker talks about what he has learned, mostly many esoteric bits of life experience which makes the speaker “stand tall” at the end.

“Dreams” begins with a dream where the speaker asks if his father had ever been to Chicago. The father rips off a litany of more harrowing life events that got in the way of that. The speaker’s father saw more of the world than he wanted to with those harrowing events. The speaker offers that his mother liked for his father to stay close to home. This conversation, the speaker contends, was longer than he actually ever had with his father.

The intro to “PCP-dipped Cigarette” provided Romero’s take on one of the great drug innovations of the 70’s, the PCP-dipped cigarette which would allow a person to smoke in public. the problem with this, Romero mused is that when one partook of such a delight at, say, a bus stop, one would still be there four hours later. Then, everyone knew that that wasn’t just an ordinary cigarette. The poem dips into life in hardscrabble LA, how drugs, specifically PCP, were a kind of sanctuary that kept one out of brushes with the law and away from the mental anguish that staying at home brought.

“Identification” was a poem where the speaker recognizes his natural ugliness resembles that of his father’s. The acceptance of this distorted state of bliss provides an insight into a hyperactive self-deprecation.

Romero then read from his novel Calle 10, which Romero described as a rather plotless story about the lives of a bunch of guys living in a house between major episodes in their lives. Romero provided a disclaimer about his book, that it would not be suitable for children. He admitted that Calle 10 was a “dirty book” but that one should probably expect a dirty book to arise out of the lives of three single men living together in a house. The section of the novel Romero read from featured two main characters, Henry and Dude. The antics that Henry and Dude display were considerable. A discussion about the speakers that have just been purchased initiates the scene. Some “weed” is accidentally found and then the scene turns toward “food preparation” where a rat is running across the kitchen and the two characters debate about what is the best way to catch the rat. A trip to a taco truck is discussed and the Henry cautions Dude to “watch out for the motherfuckers out there.” This was a scene that captured the light-hearted moments of desperate lives that have been set within the foreboding realm of the violent inner city.

“The World” was inspired by the small act of grace that Romero’s wife performed when she waited up for him until 10 PM one night to have dinner. This simple act was juxtaposed against “a rotten world filled with rotten people.” The simple truth of the poem’s end is that “the really beautiful is so much more beautiful.”

“A Recipe” was written as a public service for Romero’s brother, Felix, who called up one night to inform Romero that his old lady wasn’t cooking for him anymore. The poem gave detailed, step-by-step instructions on how an absurdist might cook beans. The first step was separating the beans one by one.

Finally, “One Morning in December” posited an imaginary life of the speaker as an Aztec peasant. The speaker imagined meeting Quetzalcoatl and from the perspective of a contemporary man, contemplated the vagaries of being and Aztec Peasant.”

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Kathleen Lynch—Book Release Event for HINGE



The poetry legions arrived at 25th Street hungry for poems by Kathleen Lynch but not much else as the luscious spread that was provided for the event went virtually untouched (except for the strawberries . . . why is it that they always go first from the fruit tray while the blocks of melon must suffer the fate of the neglected? Is the attraction to the red a reminder of blood, a repressed memory of a communion that champions the cause of minimal calorie intake?)

Kathleen Lynch started off the evening giving thanks to all, including Gloria Sanchez Jackson who designed the stunning cover for her book as well as the beaded necklace that Lynch wore. Then Lynch passed a broadside of “Apricot Tree,” which had come about as a result of Susan Kelly-Dewitt’s efforts to produce a broadside of the poem in the past. All those in attendance received one of the broadsides (see what treasures you miss when you stay home, Sacramento).

Lynch explained how Hinge was organized in terms of “arrival” and “departure”, a “getting here” and “leaving.” Before one has arrived, one must look at family photographs for some insight into the conditions of arrival. Lynch first read “Hanging Family Photographs” where she informs, “Always when an outside thing rages, an inside thing sifts information, and a voice within says Forget what you wish for. Get up and go. Now.” With this advice, Lynch was graciously giving her listeners one last opportunity to leave, but no one departed. She was off and running, just like her poem had commanded.

The opening poem in the book, “How I Got Here” recounts Lynch’s pre-life as a bird remembering what it was like to arrive in this actual world. The speaker, after soaring over roads, valleys and rivers, chooses a house, folds its wings and dives in.

“Linoleum,” a poem not found in Hinge was the next poem on the docket. It featured a little girl’s voice as the subject. In the opening tableaux she appears in shoes that are described as having the color of oxblood. She is drawing pictures, stick figures of three daughters, herself in the middle in a yellow dress, the two others, flanking, in blue. The scene switches to the kitchen where the father is listening to trusted newsman Gabriel Heater deliver news about the Korean War. The little girl speaker sees a mockingbird and wishes she knew bird talk. She is conjuring her wonder about the unseen world when she asks how far away Korea is and whther they have to kill the ox to get that color on her shoes.

“Canned Food Drive” was another poem that was taken out from Hinge at the last moment and inserted into another publication. the poem also has to do with the “war years.” The speaker, reminiscing, remembers the planes roaring over McClellan AFB, how the planes rattled the windows, pounding, one great heart as if it were ours.

At this point Lynch welcomed two newbies to the poetry scene who were attending their first poetry event in Sacramento [Yes, Sacramentans, there is always a first time, and you never forget it . . . you want to measure all successive poetry readings by that initial mark.]. Those two were Chelsea Fink and Jenny [undisclosed name]. Then the initiation moved on.

Before “Chicken in the Snow” Lynch told the story of how her grandson Elliot liked this particular poem (“probably because of the gore” she mused) and how Elliot had given her advice during the reading in Walnut Creek where she had read this poem for the first time. Elliot had told her, (read them) “One at a time, grandma, one at a time.” The poem is a recollection of a childhood trip to Kyburz, the little mountain town off of US 50, for a family holiday feast. The star of the ceremony was a chicken that had ridden in a cage all the way up from Sacramento. The speaker starts to empathize with the doomed creature, and when the head comes off, the result is downplayed by the lure of something magical. The event leads the speaker to two thoughts, one about the dead and the other about the misfortunate.

“Love: The Basics” is the poem that kicks off the first section of the book. It invokes a litany of inanimate objects that should be loved. The speaker reveals how and why but cautions the reader not to expect too much.

“Observation” was dedicated to Eddie, Lynch’s birdwatching husband. Lynch observed that the patience and careful attention that is required for birdwatching and other “scientific” efforts make a good model for writing poems. “Observation” is a “fixed-frame” poem that closely watches a peregrine falcon kill and eat a smaller bird. The insight at the end of the poem is that there is redemption for the dead bird, that it has not been physically subjugated by the more powerful bird as much as it has entered into a relationship with the falcon, a more parallel relationship.

In “Vocation” the speaker imagines an alternative life as a nun (Lynch intimated that this had been a real option for her when she was younger), apart from more worldly sorrows and pleasures. The result would have likely been the same: longing for an ultimately other kind of existence.

Lynch was not going to read “Apricot Tree” because she thought those in attendance could do that at our own leisure ( a little homework from Lynch?), but she was strong-armed into reading it by certain members of the audience who foisted their desire for it to be read onto Lynch. Lynch complied like the “good little girl” she once may have been before she turned “tacky”. “Apricot Tree” reveals a small girl reading a book in a tree. The world transpires below her while she encroaches on the “orange worlds” she is reading about. Finally, the sky intones for her not to move from her sanctified position in the tree. It tells her to “Hold Green. Hold Dark.”

Lynch disclosed that “Boys at Play: Armando Remembers” was derived from a dream she had about being a Hispanic boy bent on acknowledging his desire to separate from the manly expectations placed on him and pursue more feminine pleasures. the poem begins with the scene of a bunch of boys who are “matadors on bicycles.” The final line of the poem suggests some foreboding for this feminized Hispanic boy and Lynch remarked that that line occurred to her before some of the actual violence that has been documented locally occurred.

“The Spirit of Things” was written after Morris Graves, American abstract expressionist painter, and in the poem the speaker imagines the sacrifices Graves made by never having a family. The poem presents a surreal episode where a childless speaker carries four stones to a restaurant, orders food for all of them and then has a flash of insight about who escapes responsibility and who does not.

“The Hard Season,” another poem not found in the book, was dedicated to all those who had recently or not-so-recently experienced a downturn in their luck. It is a poem about how one must essentially welcome those things that are unwanted, like rain against a retaining wall, like mice who visit a home (my own problem is with ants, the little buggers). The final wisdom revealed is for one to trust his/her persistence.

Lynch spoke of how an aristocratic friend had come to visit her and despite his accomplishment and brilliance, he began to grate as a visitor. “Handmaiden’s Lament” was dedicated to the traveling season when many from out-of-state find themselves on the doorsteps of their California friends. The poem used the diction and formal speech of a nineteenth century servant to pierce the assumptions made by those who are served.

The big feel-good hit of the night was “Soap Fans,” where Lynch took her audience through a litany of improbabilities and absurdities that the soaps employ and subjects them to some consideration. In the end, the speaker, recovering from a deep coma where she has had many visitors, threatens to “tell everything I know.”

A nameless audience member implored Lynch for an encore. Lynch, ever gracious, complied against her will. She searched the book for an upbeat follow-up to “Soap Fans” and settled on the poem “Drifters.” She apologized for not taking us out on a chipper note. The poem recounts an incident where the speaker became lost in Nogales after making a wrong turn. While briefly attributing this to the disorienting music (Monk’s Driftin’ on a Reed that was playing on the radio, the speaker encounters a band of aggressive window washers south of the border. The poem chronicles the moral dilemma of the situation and the dim hope of being able to remove oneself from the world of mistakes.

Everything was wrapped up, and Lynch made one more plea for attendees to stuff themselves, but the fear of obesity runs deep in these American poets. I thought I heard a chunk of melon call my name. You might have too if you’d been there . . . and listening.