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Alison Parham

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Marcia Adams

The Short Version

Trust me, you don’t have enough
wine for my long version.

Never mind what happened
before those advance directives.

Now it’s all about pieces of paper
with harsh reality written in caps.

There is only so much a person can
be expected to do when options evaporate.

Trust me, when there is nothing left
to do, you do the only thing you can.

You leave the room, closing the door
gently, but nonetheless firmly;

step cautiously back into what was
once a familiar place in your soul

only to find every single stick
of furniture has been re-arranged.

Second Hand Stories

Down at the Upscale Resale Shop
where it’s for a good cause,
we churn yesterday’s treasures
into hard cold cash for the needy.

We never say no when someone
empties their recently deceased
mother’s closet, old socks and all
into black bags and Bev Mo boxes.

We cater to a collection of bargain
shoppers who never cease to amaze
with their tales – one of our dresses
dazzled at Obama’s first inauguration;

More than one pair of Jimmy Choos
went waltzing at an Opera Ball
and who knows who wore what
on the central Plaza at Burning Man.

When someone drops off their racy red
lingerie or a size one snow white wedding
gown bearing a post-it note: Never worn,
our sentimental hearts slip to high gear.

As we fluff the wrinkles, check for stains
we spin our own stories out of proverbial
sheer cloth – some have a wild bride wailing
some have a woman celebrating a close call.

Photo Shoot

Go for synchrony.

Jot lost synonyms for gypsy,
flyboys, polyglots, shylocks,
Cyclops, bookworms.

Stroll down Stockton’s ‘hoods
don’t stop for moody scowls
on frowsy psychos, bow low
to groovy old ghosts.

Know no worry.

Do not block forlorn throngs
of odd boys or old clowns.

Shoot for mossy tombs,
moldy moons, holy sorrows,
worldly chords of lost cosmos,
snowy woods, flocks of cold crows.

Chomp down on hot bowls
of wonton. Smooch foxy dolls.

How cool!

Zoom on to tomorrow,
No controls.

Spilling Everything

The woman walking behind me
was telling the woman walking with her about her divorce

It was a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon on West Cliff Drive
with a high tide slapping pelicans off primordial rocks

As I tried to focus on the miracle of why I am
blessed enough to live close to this wilderness of ocean

After a lifetime that began in a placid peach
orchard and moved quick to a rough Sierra lumber camp

Where all I knew was water that rushed
from snowmelt into streams and rivers headed someplace

impossible to imagine because it was never easy
to see beyond the understory of a incense cedar forest

where the vines and ivies take over
and sunlight is fickle inside a density

where all things are continually growing and decaying
to the tune of spring water cascading over secret cataracts

and the story never moves beyond the moment
even though there are clearings and vistas along the way

I still emerged as something of a faun
filled with nothing but a primal innocence

when I ended up in the center of Los Angeles
armed with only an unblemished wedding band

and no ability to read danger signs
- it was as if I was unfastened from my own story

in that early ‘60’s summer where the air
was the color of cinnamon in an atmosphere of despair

that all seems like it happened to someone else
until today when the woman walking behind me

was telling her friend about her divorce near where the river
mouth spills everything it knows into the Pacific.


                  --for Gayle

It is no surprise to find her
flitting through my dreams

That is the way she lived
shrouded in a skittery aura

A blond, blue-eyed hummingbird
glancing off and on crimson petals

She is there in every dead-headed
rose blossom, every splayed magnolia

She inhabits my fogged mornings
and my cumulous-laced afternoons

At times like that emptiness
of a sudden storm’s aftermath

Occasional wisps of what was
the essence her inimitable gaiety

washes up on a sunlit beach
as if she were tumbled sea glass


("Sister" was previously published in the 2014 issue of Porter Gulch Review.)

Pass the Salt

                           Remember Lot’s Wife
                                          Jesus Christ – Luke 17.32

Let’s talk about Lot’s wife.
Remember her? The one
without a name of her own.

Mrs. Lot, the gal who
looked back at Sodom
and Gomorrah in spite
of what the angels said
wound up finding herself
turned to a pillar of salt.

I’ve been doing a lot
of looking back lately,
combing through strands
of family history
tangled with polygamists,
overwrought Puritans,
a few accused witches.

Some days there are angels
buzzing around my brain,
pesky little devils singing
Dylan’s “Don’t look back”
just as I’m about to savor
another salacious tidbit.

It’s then I’m reminded
of the lot that befell
Mrs. Lot and I say
to hell with those angels,
pass the damned salt.


("Pass the Salt" was previously published in the 2014 issue of Porter Gulch Review.)

Marcia Adams loves to explore the understory of her life experiences. She churns improbable juxtapositions of geography, religion, family relationships, occasional heartbreak and whole bunch of good old fashioned joy into her own kind of buttery

She has deep roots in the northern Sacramento Valley town of Gridley where her great grandparents, on both sides of the family established ranch homesteads in the 1850’s.  She was born there, as were her parents and her grandparents. There is a gorgeous cemetery on the edge of town where it is nearly impossible to go ten feet in any direction without finding a family grave marker.

It’s an odd mash up of religious fervor – Mormon pioneers coupled with Pentecostal true believers.  Add in the fact that she was born in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor changed the landscape of American life. Her family moved to a Calaveras County lumber camp in the Sierra Nevadas when she was an infant – thus another duality, valley and mountains.

Fast forward to her own early adult life in the inner city of Los Angeles during the 1960’s and then the fast track of Silicon Valley in the 1970’s.

Understory, a new collection of poems, soon to be released by Blue Bone Books, is about surviving it all.

Emerald Street Poets
Marcia Adams
Len Anderson
Dane Cervine
Robin Lysne
Joanna Martin
Tom McKoy
Adela Najarro
Maggie Paul
Stuart Presley
Lisa Simon
Phillip Wagner

Featured Artist
Alison Parham


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