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Book Art by Jody Alexander

Photo by R. R. Jones

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Dan Phillips

HOW TO PLAY JAZZ SAXOPHONE

First, you must buy
the bird in the bamboo cage
before you climb the mountain
to the golden temple.

Once there, you fit
reed to mouthpiece
mouthpiece to neck
neck to horn
and blow, so blinded
by the brilliant dome
you forget the right notes
and why you have come.

Then you pull the string
on its fragile cage door
and the bird soars free,
taking your prayers with it.

By the time youʼve descended,
the bird has returned to
the seller and you are free
to go on improvising your life.

BALI NIGHT SOUNDS

Looking up into the black and white batik of a star-filled sky,
I sit on the veranda of my Bali home.

Dag-dug-geledag-geledug . . . nepak-nepak-nepak,
the drums of the neighboring village punctuate
natureʼs interlocking rhythms . . .
            cricketsʼ nyeet-nyeet
            frogsʼ ngerok ngerok
            firefliesʼ kunang-kunang

Jangih goes the night bird
as the gamelan bursts . . . kebyar!

Kleneng-kleneng . . . bronze pots of the reong
echo into the night.

Nang-na-na-ning-na-ning-na-ning-nung-nong . . .
the metal-keyed gangsas strike fire off the full moon then . . .

Ngenongin-n-n-n . . . the big gong silences all
but the geradag-geredeg of my heartbeat.

 

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN OLD MAN

Morning rain falls steadily
past the bedroom window
as he reflects on the boy
who played hooky
so he could stay in bed
read Huckleberry Finn
and never grow old.

Late afternoon sun shafts
blind him momentarily
as he rounds the curve
at Twin Lakes Beach
and sees himself
grip his mother’s hand.

She leads him
to the water’s edge
where they let the surf slowly
bury their feet in the sand,
sure they will never part.

The winter night falls too soon,
a curtain on a play
whose ending is still in doubt.

Arriving home to an empty house,
he makes a fire, waits for the wife
he promises never to leave,
contemplates a time
when he may be all alone.

 


Dan Phillips enjoys writing and publishing his work in the Northern and Central California areas where he taught all grades as a poet-in-the-schools and English and Creative Writing in the junior college for over thirty years. His publishing credits include Porter Gulch Review, Montserrat Review, Monterey Poetry Review, Homestead Review, Anthology of Monterey Bay Poets '04, Coastlines: Eight Santa Cruz Poets, Catamaran Literary Reader and a memoir, The Bali in Me. Married for fifty-one years, Dan and his wife keep their love alive by traveling the world but always coming home to Santa Cruz.

 

Fiction
John Chandler

Nonfiction
John Moir

Poetry
Barbara Bloom
Anna Citrino
Danusha Laméris
Dan Phillips
Alyssa Young

Plays & Monologues
Wilma Marcus Chandler


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