November 13th, 2018
Jose L. Gutierrez
Casey FitzSimons is a frequent reader at San Francisco Bay Area venues. Her poems have appeared in print and online in The Massachusetts Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Midwest Quarterly, Mezzo Cammin, and most recently in Fourth River, Unbelief, and the Marin Anthology. Her story-length narrative poem Light was published this summer in Priestess and Heirophant. Casey was awarded a merit fellowship by Mendocino Coast Writers Conference, which she attended this fall, and she was recently interviewed by Jim Russo for Santa Cruz Community Television. She has published 13 chapbooks, including Waiting in the Car (2017) and Buttercup and Other Stories in Verse (2015). Casey taught art in San Francisco for many years. Her reviews of Bay Area exhibitions frequently appeared in Artweek, and her studio drawing book, Serious Drawing, was published by Prentice Hall. She has a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from UC Berkeley, a juris doctor in Law from UC Hastings, and a master’s degree in Fine Arts from San José State University.
I read your letter.
Your lines languish
between wide margins. You tell me routine things.
And every cursive swoop’s some kind of play.
A loop turns me as it turns up, swings on. I retrace
an a on the round-about, watch your hand
lift the pen to cross a t.
So neat, your slant.
I remember tramping with you, leaning
into tall ascenders: So much grass on the prairie, wind
at our backs, we stepped over a’s and o’s like river rocks
or geodes; we picked i’s and e’s, efflorescences
of waving wheat or barley. You stabbed the ground
lightly with your stick, poked the air, tapped the paper
It was all about our lives—past, future. Now,
a half-full page, a shortened paragraph comes up—
so much space before the o’s and x’s! I follow you
into your name, signed for me one last time, I guess.
I start again, page one—suck in blue loops, my tongue alert
inside my cheek.
I let you turn me ‘round and ‘round,
a vacuum cord whipping dangerously, finally drawn
into the rubber-funneled hole, the plug end
and its forked prongs nicking my ankles. Or, my lips
suck in too-long spaghetti, and later, red streaks
on my chin. A set of directions
your writing has always been, each line a route
with place names and little pictures of hills and trees,
river crossings that lead me on.
It has always been
a map to somewhere. Now, a map
to a place no longer there.
by Casey FitzSimons
As I enter the house, the floor
creaks over dry joists, announcing
my presence on the carpet. Memory
lurks, but hidden and harmless, last soot
settling in disintegrating weave. But my hand
on the smooth pull, the rattle as I
open the kitchen drawer, disturbs
unfinished conversations, the repose of
lapsed glances. Like the rib cage of a small saint,
the eggbeater rests in arid air, insensible
to veneration. I’m reluctant to rouse
the past it touches. Lifting this utensil now,
extricating the carrot peeler that impales it like
a lance, would stir to alertness
the indignation of neglect, might demand
engagement. Nothing here I want, I say
to the agent. My own echoes decaying
in other rooms meet the foot-scrape of grit
on porous linoleum. Okay, then, he says.
Josè Luis Gutièrrez
José Luis Gutiérrez is a San Francisco-based poet. His work has appeared in Margie, Poemeleon, Cortland Review, Hawaii Pacific Review, Xavier Review, Caliban, Ilanot Review, Poetry Salzburg Review, Lotus-Eater Magazine, Bitterzoet, Kestrel and in the anthologies Mutanabbi Streets Starts Here and 99 Poems for the 99 Percent and is forthcoming in Coup d’Etat, Crooked Teeth and Chiron Review, among others. His first poetry collection, A World Less Away, was published in 2016.