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"Long-eared Owl" by Andrea Rich

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Patricia Hernan Grube

Sugar Blues

I began to laugh when he started singing

on the way to the San Francisco zoo.

I was shy and embarrassed, his voice sweet

and the world was on the way to war.

He sang sugar blues with a jazz rhythm

in the crowded bus with just room for two.

The words made a circle around the two

of us alone as he kept on singing

dah, dah, dee, dah, dah, dah is the rhythm.

So many people going to the zoo

while over the land there were winds of war.
There will be fighting can life still be sweet?

“Sugar blues, my loving gal is as sweet

as can be,” but in nineteen forty two

the whole world was exploding in war.

He did not deny it but kept on singing

knowing the world was becoming a zoo.

Gone is the sweetness gone is the rhythm.

Feet that march have a different rhythm.
It was spring in Berkley when life was sweet

and we took the Muni bus to the zoo.

The sun was shining just for the two

of us in love and he felt like singing.

We had no cares and knew nothing of war.

Yet the airplanes and tanks were rolling to war.

Tactics are set to a different rhythm.

A marching song is what troops were singing

to motivate soldiers it wasn’t sweet.

The sugar blues made a circle for two

in love who were going to visit the zoo.

I don’t remember why we went to the zoo

while the generals were plotting the war.

We knew that our studies would stop in two

months and we needed to find a new rhythm.

Lives would be changing and not be so sweet;

we would learn new ways and keep on singing.

That day we two made a trip to the zoo

though our hearts were singing the world was at war.

Sugar blues are sweet; you will thrill to the rhythm.

November 11

today is Veterans Day
originally Armistice Day
to mark the time in 1918
when at the eleventh hour
of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month
the fighting stopped

there was cheering
in the streets of Boston
and all over the world
as the word spread
by telegraph
that the war to end
all wars was over

my father’s mother received
word he was missing in action
her friends consoled her

in a church on the front
serving as a hospital
my father was found
and through the years
he recovered from wounds

the world too recovered
and yet continued
to amass newer and more
powerful weapons
destruction began again
boys went off to war again

just out of high school
my brother fell in the field
where his father fought
in the war to end all wars

in Europe and Japan
victory was declared
and on the eleventh day
of the eleventh month
we celebrate Veterans Day
while weapons are again
amassed on every side

Happy the unadjusted for theirs is the kingdom

The adjusted cannot hear.
Mediocrity, passivity plug their ears.

Hollow people, not feeling
or finding themselves, let
Madison Avenue dream their dreams
decide their diets and deodorants.
Credit cards, computers chart
their course, conformity.

To adjust is to assent to what
should not be accepted.
to stand aside as forces surge
to war, not knowing or feeling
‘till brother lies mutilated.
Mankind, emasculated, cries Mercy.

Alas for the comfortable, the satisfied.
The Beatitudes condemn conformity.
The unadjusted person questions
the complacent, commonplace, corrupt.

Happy those who know who they are
and refuse to submit to uniformity.
They will belong to themselves.

Happy those who do not wear masks,
who let others see them as they are.
They will find Truth.

Happy those who cannot accept
a social order where some are feasting
while others beg for crumbs.
The new order of love is theirs.

Happy those whose lives
are disturbed by cries for mercy.
They will be shown mercy.

Happy those who weep
and do not close their hearts
to the misery of the world.
They will become human.

Happy those who work
for justice, who put their lives
on the line for social change.
They will find fulfillment.

Happy those willing to face
the mob for what is right.
They will become strong

Happy those who help
brother to love brother.
They are children of God.

You will be happy when
you leave the crowd.
ignoring gossip, insinuations.

The prophets before you
stood alone, jeered by the crowd.
They would not submit
to the world of their day.

Rejoice: persons who own themselves
receive the great reward.

Patricia Hernan Grube is a playwright and poet from Santa Cruz. Born in the desert of Arizona, her family moved to California when she was eleven. Her education at the UCB was interrupted during World War II, when she married an Air Force Pilot. Later, when they moved to Santa Cruz she  received degrees in Sociology and Psychology from UCSC. Her plays, Grandpa’s Breakfast, Falling Apples, Found Wanting, Relative Shades and Twilight have been produced. Her website is  Layer by Layer is her second book of poetry and a collection of short stories will be published in the spring. Her work seeks to find drama and transcendence in the lives of ordinary people. She is most proud of her talented family.

Vinnie Hansen
Helene Simkin Jara

Jeff Burt
Patricia Grube
Peggy Heinrich
Robin WT Lysne
Aimee Mizuno

Morton Marcus Poetry Prize Winner
Marsha de la O

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