Current Features

February Featured Readers

March 12th, 2019

James Cagney Jr.

Steve Arnston

James Cagney Jr.

James Cagney is a poet from Oakland, Ca. He has performed in venues and museums throughout the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. His first book, Black Steel Magnolias In The Hour of Chaos Theory, is out now by Nomadic Press.  Visit his blog at https://thedirtyrat.blog/

DURING THE PARADE

startled seeing you
gulping air, muted

from a touchscreen on the ground.

people stepped over you
confetti misted

I felt sad lifting you off the ground

How did you get here, I asked
My mom dropped me off, you said

You wore an old-movie fedora
You looked nice

I searched for your mother
but she dissolved

in the stir of strangers.
I couldn’t look in your face

I leaned you on a plank up high
so you could see everything

But you just asked me
to hold you

Puja The Four Elements
(Puja = Acts of Worship)

This Puja to the Air! When you feel alone, Shout! You are not alone. There’s no better Puja than a deep breath. Use it to push against eternity. Tell the truth. This Puja to the air! We are still catching up to the air that we are.

This Puja to the Waters! Bless the first jewels of rain vocalizing into the ocean. Tea distilled from the loyalty of angels. Bless the mirror balls spinning on the lashes of a beautiful child, in tears. We are the molecules of that water. We are still catching up to the waters that we are.

This Puja to the Fire! The cherry pilot light hovering 10,000 miles behind our eyes. The conflagration from a match head simply licking red phosphorus goodnight. We are that fire. We are still catching up to the fires that we are.

EARTH
This Puja to the Earth! This Puja to the feathers, the skin, the hair, the scale, the shell, the leaf, the bark, the living and the dead. Turkeys walk as agents of the subconscious amongst the men, women asleep on the floor of the Khar Road train station. We complete the circuit to everything seen. We are the responsible earth. We are a grain of god in the cosmos of god. We are still catching up to the God that we are.

Estuary Holiness

the cormorant turns
facing the parish estuary
wings a laundered bishop’s robe
rippling against
the baptismal tide
of the days final waves

squiggling silver knitting
minnows begin threading
tender waves

their noisy devotional
catches the curiosity
of passing mallards

and the weeping man
emerging
from the flower garden

all pallbearers in this spontaneous
procession of praise

Steve Arnston

After High School in Seattle I majored in music at the University of Washington studying the piano I’ve always loved Mozart and Chopin and somehow one way or the other I got interested in poetry after moving to San Francisco from Seattle in 64 it was a gradual process I began my studies with Emily Dickinson Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens and in the late 60s and early 70s was part of a group that studied Shakespeare together the readings in San Francisco at places like Cafe Babar and the Old Spaghetti Factory started me doing more and more of my own writing and evolving a style suitable for what I wanted to say I was heavily influenced by the San Francisco writers and in Berkeley too over a period of years I came to concentrate on geography and wrote pieces about the Oregon coast also I have been with the Waverley writers for more than 25 years and made many friends there I will have a book available for purchase on March 12th the following is excerpted from this book “To and From on the Day-for-Night Coast”

… we came to Lone Ranch – and the creek belonged to its enterprise – false promises gone to bed with exactitude – and after, after the milking and other chores, think you never needed techno to find a rhythm – running errands for the winds that made a prairie of the Cape, Cape Ferrelo – was it always treeless like this? – perhaps the working ranch is why – or some computer in the landscape, smoothing, soothing – so that you make a good death – and lie down for the duration of statehood – pretending Oregon outlasts even its own geology and joins the moon and making rules – I said to believe and belong, where Emptiness is judged a higher truth – haunting okay in the sunlight, even – as if it didn’t matter the condition of the clock, with one way proposals – you get ahead of the night and ghost the day – more accurately drifting, translucent – so that no ordinary brambles spread in the extant Sitka – but seem to burgeon by faith alone – while saplings add new inches of lighter green to turquoise with painstaking freshness…