Thursday, October 24, 2019

One-Eyed Pete

This one was born in the 1970's when I lived in a small never to be named (at least in those days) town on the California Coast. It was filled with characters. One-Eyed Pete was one of them, although his name was not Pete and he had two perfectly good eyes.

This one appeared this month in the Mill Valley Literary Review edited by John Macon King. Thanks John!

From his Place under the Overhang in the Doorway of Smiley’s Schooner Saloon,
One-Eye Pete Squints out at the Rain

Says —
Look at the sky Man
It’s the new moon and the eclipse and something’s
flashing a light up there too
Look, there it goes again, it’s the spacemen
They’ve landed on Mt. Tamalpais

Me thinking — Old One-Eye sees more than the rest of us
with our two good eyes, secretly envy his talent

Thinking— He sees inside my head while dreaming; we dream
in tandem

It’s twilight in Smiley’s and the Winter Olympics
are on TV

Ed’s behind the bar, waiting for Nairobi Steve
to take over at seven o’clock

I’m drinking coffee with Hennessey in the doorway
with One-Eye, when this raindrop comes off the beam
over my head and lands in my drink

It’s the spacemen! They’ve landed in your drink.
See that? See that?

            Flashing there, a sparkle of reflected light

Pretty soon Big Carl comes back from investigating
and takes up his regular position at the door

Wasn’t it spacemen? asks the one-eyed man

Big Carl shakes his big head — Nah, it’s an electrical wire in the trees
It’s got a short or something

So Ed calls Jose at the fire station and he promises to notify
PG&E before the whole hillside goes up in smoke

One-Eye comes away from the doorway, big grin on his face —
Ain’t those spacemen something though?
Something - I say, my coffee gone cold in its cup

Big Carl doesn’t say anything; Ed pours another drink; on TV girls
in short skirts whirl their way across the frozen screen         

I toss the coffee to the ground, as a winking light sparks out of it
and flits away. Pete nods, shuffles, closes the door, shutting the night
with its secrets outside.          

by Dotty LeMieux

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

One More Poetry Outlet Gone

The wonderful Tuck Magazine, a journal of social justice, poetry, fiction, essays and more, has closed its doors, closed them in fact, back in May. (Archives still up on their website.) Looking back, I see I have quite a few offerings in those pages. Here are just a few that seem pertinent today:


Diana says - I need some distraction
from the interaction

So what about the woman who sleeps on the floor
of the post office
Gentle Jim in the surf shed
The guy who can’t keep his pants up
or budget his dole?

Senator Mitchell, you have become beside
the point
            with your talking points
            Yes, this is happening right now
                        Right here
                                    Here                            Hear

                                    See something, say something

Diana of the naughty daughters

Sexual assault yeah it happens

But not on the floor
of the Senate
The floor of the cloakroom
or the Post office
The dark of the woods
The glare of the beach

They call it confirmation bias
See what you expect
Hear what you are predisposed to hear
            Speak the truth you want to believe

The fact is there are more than three monkeys – explains Diana
to her strangely quiet daughters 
                                                                           Tuck 2018

Time Lies Heavy on the Head of State

When you’re waiting for an indictment
and the next hot take from the White House

You need distraction from “Where are the children?”
and “I did not collude with those Russians!”

So you go for a long walk
with dogs who never think of time

And the sky is suddenly blue
devoid of contrails or conspiracies

The children are all accounted for
in the playground with moms and nannies

The Russians are all in books written
by guys with long unpronounceable names

Time stands still for a while
Water is clean and populated by ducks

Air is fresh and not a coal plant
in sight, nor tar sands nor asbestos

Walls are for holding in the earth
for lilies and roses and geraniums

No one is denied a plane
or told to go back where they came from

We are all where we belong
Dogs can tell you that

Every step, every joyous leap,
every play bite on the leash

equal opportunity for fun
and love of life on the one day they take

at a time.

                                                                                       Tuck, 1/22/19


If Cheryl wasn’t leaning, smoking, against the front bumper
of the VW in the Salisbury Beach parking lot,
that summer of 1966,
while Bobby Whittaker and I made out in the back seat,
his Beatle hair flopping into his eyes, charged –
and if the bright summer afternoon wasn’t crowded with moms,
dads, kids –
it might have happened then.

If Wendy and Steve had not tagged along, insistent,
to the party at Harvard’s Elliott House – Steve’s house too 
he reminded me —
and then followed us home, me and drunken Tad
that spring of 1967,
and tucked him into bed on the living room couch
covered by an Indian print bedspread,
and sat on the floor making small talk until he was sound asleep,
his snores full of beer and lost desire,
it might have happened then.

If I hadn’t learned enough self-defense to know
how to sound tough when I wasn’t feeling it,
and didn’t have that confidence born of being right –
if not in the right place –
when the dead-eyed man who stopped
for the girl hitchhiking on Mass. Ave at twilight
reached across the front seat and grabbed at my breast,
I wouldn’t have shouted “You fucking pig!”
loud enough for people in other cars to notice,
and if I hadn’t  grabbed for the door handle
when his eyes came alive with hate,
and tumbled right out onto the still-hot pavement,
it might have happened then.

And if I hadn’t grown wary and distant
and been lucky –
mostly that, dumb luck, kept bad things at bay,
most of the time –
it might have happened anyway.

But it didn’t.  I made it.
So far.

                                                               Tuck, 2/19/19


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Veritable Miracle

A veritable miracle has happened, if you believe in those. A spooky coincidence anyway. (It is close to Halloween after all; ghosts and gremlins can play tricks on us and sometimes they are good ones!). I was talking to a friend and fellow poet Lynn about my old writings, lamenting the loss of my first chapbook from 1975, Five Angels, inspired by a painting of five angels on the window of Bay Area folk music legend Faith Petric. I had visited her home with another great in the folk music world I was lucky enough to befriend when she moved to my town - Rosalie Sorrels, saw the angels and was inspired to write a five part poem about it.

That was seen somehow by other poet friends and ended up being a chapbook, very small, with a beautiful silver cover published by Five Trees Press, an all woman printing collective in San Francisco.

Over the years, my few copies of the book were given away or migrated off my bookshelves. Even the one I purchased from Denise Levertov's estate a few years back (I always wondered why she had my book, but I now see she was an author of Five Trees too. I thought maybe it was because we had known each other in Boston back in the day, but I digress).

So I googled Five Trees Press, which I have done before, in the futile hope of tracking someone down who might have copies of their works. Much to my surprise I came across a website of California Printers in the Fine Press Tradition 1975-2006.  Five Trees was listed and one of the founders, Kathy Walkup, was listed as teaching at Mills College, so I went to the Mills site and got her email.

Here is the spooky part. She immediately responded saying she had been about to track me down because Mills was having an exhibition of "ephemera" mostly from her presses and my book was a part of it!  And there is a reception on November 3rd, and she has a copy I can have. This is beyond exciting, and when I get my hands on that little book, I will try to scan it all and post it here.