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Letter Box On Line (LBOL) Files #32

  • Section A: January 15, 2011
  • Section B: February 15, 2011
  • Section C: March 15, 2011
  • Section D: April 15, 2011
  • Section D: May 15, 2011
  • Section F: .................................................................. June 15, 2011

    San Jose, CA

      TODAY'S NEWS

      Gaia shrugs her shoulders
      in the chambers of the sea
      her ocean roof dips
      and sky scrapers sway in Tokyo Bay.

      The Pacific curls back its tongue
      sweeps dry Sendai Harbor
      swallows the last drop and then
      lets loose again across the beach.

      leaps across the sea wall
      licks into each narrow street
      drags seaward homes, cars, boats,
      everything made by men.

      John Baker jubilates
      when 12 dogs drag his sled
      in Nome - Alaska
      across the finish line of the Iditarod.

      In spring green grass the Tom Turkey struts
      tail plumage fanned out proudly
      protecting his harem of hens
      with their clutch of chicks.

      The heart aches and breaks
      as it grows, makes room
      to hold together
      today's joy and sorrow.

    Franz Spickhoff
    franzox@gmail.com

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    "Here is a three dimensional Poem... I have made them for years."

    [Steve's Pot]

      OUT OF THE MIST CAME

      after the lecture
      he went into the yard

      settled down upon
      the earth

      pulling his legs
      beneath him

      facing the east
      with the rising sun

      stacking his spine
      to the center

      he picked up the bowl

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

    [Laura's Photo]

      DISCOVERIES

      A frienld sends me
      a photograph of myself
      caught unaware in profile.
      Within sagging creased eyelid
      a familiar outline of nose,
      fullness under my chin,
      I suddenly recognize my mother.

      Awakened past midnight
      by a recurring ache
      at the cusp of my right arm,
      I recall mother's bursitis pain
      in the same shoulder.

      A new pair of shoes
      calls attention to the emergence
      of a small knot
      on the instep of my left foot,
      another matching mark of age.

      I have my grandmother's
      untamed bristly eyebrows, thunder thighs,
      my great-grand mother's diminutive height,
      their equivalent single life after sixty.

      I confess a reluctance to concede
      I am no more than a notch
      on the spiral of my maternal lineage,
      hardly unique.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      ENCOUNTER

      We'd meet in the Village,
      in the grocery store
      outside, Plaza Linda.

      "I must visit him: he said.
      "Well, he's home now.
      You are always Welcome."

      This man, large of body
      deep of voice, became as young boy
      whenever we passed each other.

      One day, (isn't it always one day?)
      he parked his SUV in our driveway.
      His heavy steps echoed on our patio.

      A robin, red-breasted this spring,
      crashed into the plate glass window,
      landed starkly, softly at his feet.

      The large man turned, almost ran
      back to the safety of his large car
      whose motor roared as he backed away.

      My husband, in his hospital bed
      in the sun-filled living room spoke.
      "I wish I could teach him not to be afraid of death."

    Illia Thompson
    Illia99@aol.com

    Tucson, AZ

      SHOOTING THE BULL

      Having known him for two years
      And danced through the New Year's Eve 2009
      Fire of pallets, breaking through
      And singing one shoe while Cowboy yelled for us to stop

      No I am not unbelieving when he tells me who he is:
      The great-great-great-great grandson
      Of Chief Sitting Bull
      A Standing Rock Sioux half-breed

      He makes his bull face
      It is not pleasant to behold

      He tells me of his first two kills in Nam (pronounced NAHM)
      "I don't know you" and blam with a pistol
      Was the hard one the next was easy
      "I don't know you either" BLAM
      He had snuck into a hut for
      Two Viet Cong Officers it turns out

      But that's the ugly part
      Except how only Custer's horse was killed

      He awakens in me the spirit
      Of my Cherokee great grandmother
      the world of my Native American blood

      Of shamans and fear of dead things
      That can carry plagues
      Of foods that preserve life:
      Pickles, Balsamic vinegar, unsulphured blackstrap molasses
      Extra virgin olive oil

      Perhaps the Anasazi and Maya died out quickly
      Because of intentional germ warfare
      Or simply a plague that got loose out of the jungles and the night

      All things are alive
      Swelling into a symphony of death
      And then life again

    Chris Lovette
    chris_lovette@yahoo.com

    Monterey, CA

      STARR (The Cat, Part 2)

      For several weeks after she arrived at our house, Starr would always go to her cat carrier at bedtime and settle in for the night. Actually, "cat carrier" was much more than that for Starr - perhaps I should refer to it as her "hidey hole" or "sanctum sanctorum" because for her it was the "go-to" spot whenever insecurity arose. For example, if either or both of us were leaving the house, she would immediately go settle herself down in her safe- house (Ok, from now on, cat carrier = safe-house). However, once or twice during the night she would wake up and express her feelings about the bad dream she just had, or about waking up and forgetting where she was for a moment - Meow! Meow! Meow! Meow! At Siamese volume... One or both of us would come out to the living room and talk to her and pet her, and maybe add a little food to the food bowl, but in short order she was back in her safe-house drifting off to sleep. Even though we always left the safe-house door open, she did not come out until we came to comfort her. And, luckily neither of us has difficulty going back to sleep. Besides it was so cute and sort of sweet.

      We guessed that going to the carrier had been part of her training routine in her early months with whoever had her originally. Of course this was a very new idea to us, given our experience with Bailey and Willy, who raced for cover whenever they saw the dreaded purple cat carrier, knowing that the vet was on the day's schedule. In fact, when we arrived at the vets and set the purple box on the examining table, they declined to come out when the cage door was opened, apparently deciding that the unknown was bound to be worse than the known, even if the known seemed pretty bad already. The solution to this problem was to unlatch the top from the base and lift it off, exposing the poor kitties to whatever was about to happen. But after whatever did happen happened and we reattached the top to the base, they were extremely willing to re-enter the once dreaded cat carrier. (Their term for it!)

      Our first trip to the vet went well, initially, with Starr expressing mild concern about the car ride to the vet with a few well-placed meows. We were conducted to the exam room and I unlatched and removed the top of her safe-house. She stood there regarding the surroundings and showed no anxiety. OK, so far, so good. Then the vet and her assistant entered the room, and before we could even say a few words of introduction, the assistant grabbed Starr by the nape of the neck and put her over on the scale to measure her weight. This was a mistake. Only a week earlier Starr had had an ID chip placed under the skin above her shoulder blades, and anyway the handling was much too rough for our tastes. But before we could offer any objections of our own, Starr spoke up and expressed her feelings quite clearly. Meoooorrrrrrroowww! Merrrrroooooowwww! This continued at high-volume for the duration of this, definitely our last, visit to this particular vet's office. And we were sure that some of the cats and their owners out there in the waiting room, after hearing Starr's oration, expected to see an incensed, full-grown puma exit the exam room and pad out of the building.

    Ray Cyr
    raythecyr@att.net

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    Section E: .................................................................. May 15, 2011

    San Jose, CA

      THE GHOST

      Clad in a grey track suit
      a shape slinks and slides along
      the empty side walk
      in bright sunlight.

      Head and face hidden
      deep in a soft hood
      eyes covered
      by mirrored sun glasses.

      A wall of impatiens glows
      in hues of purple blue and white
      next to the side walk
      invisible to the hooded shape.

      Sun glassed eyes are fixed
      on a reality framed
      on a small screen held
      in a pale hand.

      The ghost is lost twice
      in the reality of the virtual
      in the reality of the hot sun
      and the glowing impatiens
      not here not there—undead.

      VARIATION FOR 3 VOICES
      (After a poem by M.S.Mervin)

      The poet says:

      Your absence has gone through me
      Like a thread through a needle.
      Everything I do is stitched with its color.

      She feels:

      His presence runs through her
      like a thread through a needle.
      Everything she does is stitched together
      so tightly, it takes her breath away.

      He feels:

      Her presence runs through him
      like a thread through a needle.
      Everything he does is stitched with its color
      so brilliant, it's breath taking.

    Franz Spickhoff
    franzox@gmail.com

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      KEEP ON TRYING. . .

      Keep on trying to get this right
      the time to play has long past

      Corner
      placing edges
      upon the words
      that flow from the ocean
      between the ears

      into the canyon
      abyss
      of water fall

      the mighty noise
      that hit's the rocks
      and tumbles forth
      into the black

      gathering on the reflection lake
      under the dark
      moon lit sound of night

      settles in
      the windless soar
      of the vulture flight

      twisting on each
      gentle breath

      the currents sound
      across the edge
      over time
      long gone by

      moments sailed
      to the far off sea

      now mere shadows
      between the rocks
      of yesterday

      they stand as sentinels
      to offer protection
      for we mortals

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      WHAT IN THE WORLD IS PERFECT

      I

      A silk rose has no fragrance,
      no fleshy petals,
      and a real bloom is always
      half-way towards its own death.

      I can't pin a perfect cloud
      to the blue cotton sky
      without acknowledging
      the least breeze.

      The imperfection of a moment
      appears to tell a different story
      each time.
      If I expect perfection
      I will be disappointed
      again.

      II

      I pursue beauty
      in simple things,
      fluid lines in wood grain,
      the way the sea recedes
      drawing its liquid sheet
      across the sand,
      a single crimson leaf
      among a litter of yellow. Before I water the pots
      on the deck, I wait
      for honeybees to feast
      at the tiny blue galaxies
      on rosemary branches.

      III

      What I want in my life
      is
      to be willing
      to discover what is nearby,
      to meet a day v
      without anticipating
      it will be difficult,
      willing to move through grief.

      I don't ask to be dazzled,
      only to be grateful
      for nominal offerings.

      My old dreams dissolve
      like mist on the river.
      I am learning to float,
      allowing the current
      to release me,
      to encounter the flow.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section D: .................................................................. April 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      UNTITLED

      On the Shore of April
      Sitting at Point Lobos
      with fountain pen in hand.
      Watching waves
      arrive on the storm
      from China.
      Making black marks
      on white paper.
      With my century's version
      of an ancient Monks
      quill feather pen.
      He marked upon animal skins
      while I write on crushed trees.
      But even now
      there is little difference between us.
      Who marvel at Spring
      settling around us
      on this planet.

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Tucson, AZ

      SONORAN DESERT FISHHOOK BARREL CACTI

      Yard tall lime green bubbles
      Ridged with rows of fishhook thorns

      Now the midsummer is here
      With its blessings of
                  Monsoon storms
      And each green bubble
      From those only a foot tall
                  to some three feet and more
                  I couldn't get my arms around
                  even if unarmored with thorns

      Every last one of these
                  Globular Angels
      Is crowned with jewels
      No king or queen could ever compare

      In bud now, in Disney slow-motion to open weeks later:
                  exquisitely elongated lollipops
      One inch or more in diameter,
                  spheres distorted to points at their tops

      Coral stripes on each bud previewing
                  what will become coral central ridges on each petal
      On either side of these coral stripes
      An indescribable peach-orange-yellow combination

      A dozen or more of these
                  buds in a circle
      Preview with their astounding beauty
                  the "show's opening"

      These are surrounded by a circle of
                  ladies-in-waiting "Duds" in hues of green
      Extending stamens at their tops

    Chris Lovette
    chris_lovette@yahoo.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      AUGUST

      One afternoon in August
      a friend and I stood
      under a blooming magnolia,
      inhaled the thick perfume
      and watched bees gather pollen
      from the centers of unfolding petals.

      We picked ear corn and green beans
      from the deer-fenced vegetable garden.
      A few broccoli stalks had gone to seed
      and the limbs of the plum tree
      hung near to the ground with fruit.

      In a patch of berry vines
      rows of leafy hedges concealed
      gems of yellow raspberries.
      I reached in and plucked
      one pale honey-colored jewel
      that pulled free from its core
      and placed it in my mouth.
      Still warm late in the day,
      its sweetness dissolved
      the length of my tongue.

      Down the path along a green corridor
      I gathered one after another
      nectared gold treat,
      rolled them from cheek to cheek,
      let them melt
      like sugar bubbles
      in the sun of my mouth.

      WHEN DID HAPPINESS BECOME
      MERELY A REPRIEVE

      As soon as you comprehend
      you've been living a script
      written by someone else,
      a reactive response that comes
      from some old trauma,
      another is waiting to sabotage
      your new epiphany.

      So you take happiness as a reprieve,
      a brief time-out from exploration
      into intentions and impulses,
      your bleak prospects.

      You don't reside in delight
      but wander in and out of an amiable state,
      an uneven tide unrelated
      to the phases of the moon,
      a moment of sheer bliss
      only a fleeting respite from the next
      demonstration of your wounded psyche.

      I defy anyone to remain cheerful, cheerful, cheerful
      on a continuous basis.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section C: .................................................................. March 15, 2011

    Carmel, CA

      WHEN I'VE BEEN ASKED

      Through the years
      I have been asked
      What was it like for you—
      The war in Vietnam?
      It's always been like trying to tie
      A string around jello
      To answer that.
      Something squishy and formless—
      A recurrent tumor—
      Starts to grow inside
      And grows rapidly
      Until it finally flops out
      Writhing and dripping
      Without any sensibility

      Lately I was asked again,
      And something better shaped came out.
      "Some people may not be especially
      Equipped to be in a war," I replied.
      "I think I might have been one of them."

      It hit me right there:
      In my third grade class
      When the teacher wanted us to play Kickball,
      She lined us all up
      And divided us into two teams
      So there were an equal number
      Of kids who sucked at kicking
      To be on each side.

      I realize now that I really sucked at war.
      OK, I was pretty good at dismantling
      Found ordnance before it blew up,
      And running my EOD detachment,
      But I really sucked at war.

      So did a lot of other twenty-somethings
      Like me that I met there.

      Every time I witnessed a war casualty
      Which was way too often,
      I became one,
      People like me,
      We can do things,
      Clear frag-range areas,
      Remove nose cones,
      Even save lives.
      But when someone
      Gets shot or blown up,
           It's us.

      That's how it is for us.

      So I sucked at war.
      I really did.
      And I noticed over and over.
      So did a lot of little Vietnamese dads
      With AK-47s or captured M-16s
      And children the same age as mine.

    Wayne Martin
    Waynechaplain@netzero.com

    Salinas, CA

    Imagine you are 12 again on a visit to the park.

      THE SPIN

      Sitting in limbo,
      Step, together, step.
      A clockwise shuffle,
      Step, together, step.
      Slowly winding,
      Step, together, step.
      With each rotation,
      Together, step.
      Heels rise from the dirt.
      Together, step.
      Chains twist and contort.
      Step.
      Until only toe tips touch.

      Restrained inertia demands release.
      Head flings back, as legs kick out.
      The cloudy sky swirls,
      Swirls with dizzying speed.
      Chains clunk as knotted twists unlock,
      Sail past equilibrium, and wind upward toward reprise.
      Clouds regain form in a momentary pause.
      Direction shifts, and the spin regains momentum.
      Stretching arms increase the speed.
      Down and up again, shift and back again,
      The torque slowly wanes,
      Rotations diminish
      To a lulling twist,
      And finally comes to rest.

      THE MUSE'S GARDEN

      Rambling through the muse's garden,
      Half conscious of the green life
      That creates oxygen for breath.
      Half conscious of the pink life
      That receives the gift and continues the cycle.
      Fully conscious of the magnificent sun.
      Though unable to grasp
      Even the smallest of it's rays.

      Vibrancy is the valentine of the sun.
      A glow for everyone
      To feel, to see, to grow.
      To take a moment to know
      A glow with the power
      To shift the hue of the entire sky.
      From grey to blue.
      Such a mighty force, grand source of life,
      Yet, gentle enough to touch my hand,
      Caress my neck,
      And hold me
      Like a warm and healing hug.

    Laura Carley
    LCarleyCat@aol.com

    Marina, CA

      RIVERS

      There you sit,
      spinning narratives
      of sadness, loss, tragedy,
      of chances missed,
      and glasses half-full.

      Here I sit,
      trying to explain
      that life is only crushing
      if you don't fight the blows
      and embrace the summer dawns
      and days full of
      flowing love.

      Two rivers
      parallel, never meeting,
      unable to joyfully join
      and face the ocean
      as one.

    Olga Chandler

    Piedmont, CA

      YOSEMITE

      Yosemite, quiet paths
      winding through
      giant redwoods
      for
      hiking and biking.
      Half Dome, rising
      in spectacle:
      sheared,
      flat-faced,
      ominous.
      The Merced River, rolling
      slowly across
      rocks and
      under shady trees
      for rafting
      on lazy
      summer days.
      Happy Isles, water splashing
      noisily before rushing
      under bridges.
      Bridal Veil, roaring off
      a cliff, falling then
      spraying
      to a pool
      below.
      The Ahwahnee, squatting
      in elegance:
      terraces,
      dining room,
      lobby.
      Campsites, fires built
      to roast hotdogs
      and
      marshmallows
      for Smores.
      Summers long past
      when childhood
      laughter
      filled the air.

    Pam Quesnoy
    quesnoy@comcast.net

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      THE SNOW ON THE MOUNTAIN

      The snow on the mountain
      began to melt

      from then on
      our lives
      would not be the same

      no amount of prayer could restore
      the balance
      that we had ignored
      for so long

      who would think
      that something so large
      could be so fragile
      so delicate

      mostly it had to do
      with a very simple
      respect and care
      a respect
      that was free of hate
      and fear
      but alas it was not to be so

      there were so many that used
      these things to profit
      and to try to rule that
      which cannot be ruled

      I WRITE POETRY

      I write
           poetry
                 po
                       e
                             t
                                   ry
      because I can
                 but more accurately
           poetry writes me

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Tucson, AZ

    "A time to be born and a time to die." So said the Speaker in the Book of Ecclesisates. Here is an extemporaneous poem I am making up right now. My prayers are with the devastated country and people of Japan. However . . .

      THE SILENCE

      The birds sing the secrets of the great Tao
      Each species in its own tongue

      The fishes of the sea exalt in the joy of the Tao which created them
      The porpoises soar out of the water
      Leaping into the air in the joy of the Tao
      The whales sing arias throughout the ocean,
      Happy that the whalers no longer harpoon them,
      Except for the Japanese . . .

    Chris Lovette
    chris_lovette@yahoo.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      AFTER RAIN

      She walks a trail through the woods
      in search of crimson mushrooms
      bred by spores in saturated soil,
      fed by last week's winter storms.

      Red caps rise from under brown needles,
      fractured flesh and flared gills
      testimony to resurrection.

      In the first week of a new year
      she questions her own renewal,
      what it takes to survive
      another twelve months,
      chances for expansion
      after decades of defeat.

      Along the rocky shore
      white-rimmed breakers detonate.
      Seabirds circle in the spindrift,
      forage on what the turbulent sea serves.

      She takes her cue from rouged fungus,
      churned surf, and greedy gulls,
      accepts what blows in on fierce winds,
      what comes behind silent footsteps of fog.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section B: .................................................................. February 15, 2011

    Carmel, CA

      ONLY SLIGHTLY SMITTEN

      In the past
      Whenever she met someone like this
      The seas would part
      And a new play
      Even better than the last
      Would begin writing itself
      As if a hand from the mountain
      Were reaching down with a pen.

      Today the seas did not part
      The pen from the mountain did not move
      But there he sat
      A faint rainbow beyond his head As a sign of promise
      And holding nothing but the one box
      Of his life he was left with.

      And as he lifted its lid
      And brought out few things to show
      She took one or two
      In the fingers inside her soft eyes
      Looked at them with care
      Returned them gently
      With a bit of wonder
      And they left it at that.

      No seas parting
      No new play
      He with his small box of life
      She with hers

      And this time
      Only slightly smitten.

    Wayne Martin
    Waynechaplain@netzero.com

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

      IN THE LIGHT OF DAWN

      in the light of dawn
      the sacred bound
      of earth and sky
      ripples above the sea
      pale the greying
      moving on
      bringing the north wind
      telling of autumn
      changing color
      pulling down
      into cloisters
      gathering together
      the last supplies

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Tucson, AZ

      THE BITTER TEARS OF ATTILA THE HUN

      The Romans had grown lazy
      and frightened of death
      But a good Roman soldier
      stationed on the Northern Frontier
      saw the promise of a heroic fighter
      in a young barbarian named Attila
      and drafted him into the Roman Army
      A Frontier Army
      That years later was commanded
      By that same
      Attila

      But the old Romans
      treated him as the
      raw barbarian he was

      Though he would not let it show
      in secret Attila cried bitter tears
      for he thought he was as good as they
      But he never could be . . .
      A barbarian as good as a Roman?

      One night Attila mounted his
      swiftest steed and rode north
      to his homeland of the Huns
      where he taught them Roman WARFARE
      And led them South
      to the sack of Rome in 410 anno domini

    Chris Lovette
    chris_lovette@yahoo.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      FEBRUARY

      In winter deciduous trees
      strip down to their essential bones,
      weather-scarred trunks and limbs,
      the last few curled leaves of fall
      brown punctuation on twig tips.
      Bare branches sketch themselves
      in bleak filigree against a silver canvas.
      Frozen buckwheat, woodmint,
      and sage shrivel into skeletal gardens.

      I want to burn away my flesh,
      freeze irrelevant fragments,
      peel the facade back to my core,
      live through a season of frost and fire
      to discover what is elemental, what regenerates.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

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    Section A: .................................................................. January 15, 2011

    Del Rey Oaks, CA

    We here on the Monterey Peninsula we have a phenomenon. The sun and waves that makes rainbows in the air. You have to be in the right place at the right time to see it. If you stare at it, it will vanish.

      IN THE MORNING

      in the morning
      when the light
      from the shore
      is right
      striking the spray
      on top of the wave
      the foam of surf
      bends the light
      in rainbow hues
      turning the hair
      of mother ocean
      to pearl
      filling the morning sky
      with nacre essence

    Stephen Brown
    SteveArtis@aol.com

    Little River, CA

      UNTITLED

      Today... this moment... is perfect.
      Wisdom and forgiveness in the wind.
      There is joy in the remembering,
      sung from the earth beneath my feet.
      Feet that still feel dance in every step intended.

      And when I succumb to the fear,
      that hides in dark places to seduce me again,
      The presence of you,
      And the sound of her voice,
      is salve to me,

      "Come in," she said, "I'll give ya'
      Shelter From The Storm."

    Gary Ibsen
    gary@tomatofest.com

    Carmel Valley, CA

      SOBERANES CANYON RAMBLE

      We follow the old trail
      past barbed gardens of cactus
      and coiled trumpets of bindweed,
      pass through winter barren slopes
      of sage and greasewood.

      In the redwood grove
      fallen soldiers rest
      one upon another,
      the collective atonement
      of storms and natural
      passings of giants
      in their own time.

      In the understory sprawl
      graveyard offerings
      of sorrel and sword fern.
      Above through the branches
      of their living brothers
      a cloudless sky lays
      its benediction
      on the holy forest.

    Laura Bayless
    ctblaura@redshift.com

    Piedmont, CA

      UNTITLED

      Rain keeps dripping and then sliding
      Down the window panes—
      The trees are bony skeletons,
      Ghost-like across the narrow lane.
      Still some immature saplings
      With a few red and gold leaves—
      Rivulets of rain slither and swirl
      over the pebbled walks to the sea.

      Small tots bundled in hats and coats
      Run up the path to swing and slide—
      Oblivious to drops that spatter and patter
      So young, innocent and clear-eyed.
      Walkers with fanned-out umbrellas
      Stroll up the path, dogs dancing at their sides—
      All this I see as I sit and observe
      From behind the slatted blinds where I hide.

      My thoughts are inward and heavy,
      Gray and misty as the sky is overhead—
      Worried and frightened of the challenge
      That I must soon tread.

    Pam Quesnoy
    quesnoy@comcast.net

    Monterey, CA

      [A New Cat]

      A NEW CAT

      It was Tuesday, May 25, 2010, when we first saw her. There she was, staring alertly at us from the newspaper page in the pet adoption section, showing us her very striking markings and her very-present "cattitude." And... the info said "lynx-point" Siamese. Within a surprisingly short time we were getting dressed, looking up the address of the Salinas Animal Shelter, printing out a map to the place, and fetching our cat carrier from our storage space where it had gone after we lost our remaining black cat Willy to cancer the previous Fall, at age 17.

      Some further context is needed. Up until that Tuesday morning our plan was to adopt a new cat after a Colorado family reunion and visit to Nebraska relatives next September. This very sensible, logical plan would have kept us from having to find a cat sitter or put the new cat into a caretaker situation at the vet's. We reviewed that plan again while driving over to meet this cat and pretty much decided that this particular cat could be a plan-changer if she was what we hoped for. We parked and walked over to the entrance, only to discover that they did not open until 12 noon. In our eagerness we had neglected to check their hours. It was only 11 am. This was probably some indication that this cat that we had never met had already captured us. We drove on into town and had the breakfast we had skipped in the rush to get there.

      We arrived back at something like 12:05 pm and were looking directly at this amazing little cat within minutes, and... she was staring directly at us as well, not in fear, but by way of evaluating us. We half-expected a shy, retiring cat, traumatized by its shelter experiences and afraid of everything. It was immediately clear that this was not such a cat. We had found what we were looking for, and we did not look at any other cats in their cat collection, at all!

      They conducted the two of us to what could be called an "interview" room and in the short time we waited for the staff to bring "Mocha" to us we were pretty sure this was going to be "the cat." She knew just how to "work a room," walking right up to us, hopping up on the bench beside us, and sniffing our noses, perhaps to be sure that we were well-fed, thus verifying that she could expect to be well-fed too. She accepted petting nicely, as long as it did not last too long, and then walked about the small room with her tail nearly straight up, but bent into a furry question mark. More petting, more walking, and a few meows displaying the distinctive Siamese voice, and we were hooked. We were soon filling out an application to adopt this amazing cat and writing a check for spaying and the "installation" of an ID chip between her shoulders. We carried her to the car in her purple cat carrier and placed it in the back seat so that she could see us and converse with us, which she did quite a bit of on the trip home.

      We entered the house, set the cat carrier down, opened its door, and waited for this cat to step out into the room and start exploring its new digs. It was a short wait. She was out in less than 10 seconds, walking around the room, looking at and sniffing everything in sight. And very shortly she was on to all the remaining rooms and closets, which are not very many in a 1-bed, 1-bath condominium. And she did check under the bed to see if all the hiding places were up to her standards. Finally, we introduced her to the "input" and "output" facilities, i.e. food and water station and litter box. Also satisfactory to her tastes were the windows in the south for sunning and sliding glass door and bedroom windows on the north for looking at the back patio area and for watching any bird that happened by, whether it stopped or not. Then she returned to the cat carrier and settled down to think it over. And it all seemed satisfactory and up to her standards, as far as we could tell, and soon she was back out exploring everything further.

      Now it became time for a real name. "Mocha" was probably OK as a name, given her coloration, but it just didn't seem to fit this particular cat. While I do remember us mentioning several possible names to each other, it is not exactly clear to me how we arrived at the final choice of "Starr," but it seemed to work for all three of us, and that was it! Sometime after the decision had been made and the name had definitely stuck to the cat, one of us suggested that it might be fitting, since she was always "Starr-ving."

    Ray Cyr
    raythecyr@att.net

    Tucson, AZ

    My brother moved to Death Valley Junction to be with Marta, a couple other artists, and the desert. I last visitied in 1995, when I took a combination mountain bike/hike in the Funeral Mountains, which are very beautiful despite their awful name. Here is my poem to Marta from memories of that last trip. She is 86. Poor thing broke her hip last October and that was what retired her from ballet.

      PETTING MARTA'S WILD MARES

      If you forget Marta's name
      The desert wind will remember it for you
      You won't be off by much

      In Death Valley Junction
      The Amargosa Opera House
      Stands a fortress to culture

      Anyway, to make a long story short
      Marta put feed and water
      Out in town for the wild horses
      (There are more wild horses than people sometimes)

      And she could probably
      Have ridden the stallion
      The way he fawned over her

      But he and I didn't get along
      When I petted the mares
      He would become upset

      He would whisper in their ears:
      "You don't know this fellow,
      You don't know what he might do."

      But the mares liked it
      They mostly ignored him
      Unless he became un-ignorable

      So thank you Marta
      For a wonderful time
      I love you and all wild things

      THE IMBECILE CAT

      It isn't that I don't like cats
      It's just that they are imbeciles . . .
      at least
      we have something in common

      The big fat black
      Sits like a sphinx
      In the middle of the tiles
      That smoothly cover the floor

      He gets up
      Meanders off
      Not interested in climbing
      Onto my lap or legs as usual

      He sits by the dead computer
      The one I raped of its hard drive
      And with a three pound hammer
      Pounded to rubble in the wash

      Now the cat moans pathetically
      Perhaps for the lost drive
      But happy that his master
      Is an imbecile like him

    Chris Lovette
    chris_lovette@yahoo.com

    Thank you for your creative offerings!

    I invite readers to share their own creative works (poems, stories, images, comment, etc.) in Letter Box On Line (LBOL). I look for work and comments I feel support understanding and encouragement of the creative process, and hence, the process of life.

    The Editor

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