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Dane Cervine

Enlightenment is a Bitch

At first it isn’t so bad—a taste of ecstasy,
the world covered in honey. Even snails
scrawl the names of Buddhas with their silvery trails.

But then, too much. Pears become unbearable,
wet white flesh so tender one could perish
contemplating the first taste.

Meditation becomes oddly redundant ,
attention now like water, absorbed in tree-root,
plumbing; even fire hydrants with their red

stubby arms become mandalas, and worse,
the police siren revving its wail behind
my slow-moving car sounds like a mantra.

Even my wife’s complaints about me finally
sound true. I just bow. Kiss her slender hands.
Carry the garbage outside, but damn! The moon!


--First appeared the The SUN Magazine

Accordions & Shotguns

Opal stands with an accordion at twenty-one years of age,
on the steps of the family’s 49th Street house in Los Angeles.
It is 1934, and the land of angels breaths in then out
like the ribs of her instrument. My father poses next,
little brother, all of six years old, shoeless, grinning,
the world spread out in front of him like an endless field
through which he runs. The back alleys and parks,
strewn with beaten trash can lid shields and stick swords,
Chinese boys behind the market tossing rocks like grenades,
the sand at Venice beach where black kids would wrestle
with brown and the white of his skin didn’t matter
because the city was his, he didn’t need much,
was protected from harm, from the want there was
by dashing older brothers who’d appear as right out of a movie screen,
with their polished white shoes and slicked back Hollywood hair,
letting him reach deep into pocket to fish out fistfuls of coin,
who’d show up the very day the electricity was to be turned off,
lay a few greygreen bills in mothers calloused hands, the ones
that had been up all night wringing & folding in hard-bitten prayer,
the miracles that always seemed to follow after: a pair of shoes,
a bag of groceries. A young boy, he had no word for depression,

neither the 30’s, nor his own that would come later.
There was no such thing as not enough, only the wonder
of what you had, the house where so many relatives came and went,
his bed a couch, this bevy of siblings, lovers and wives old
as uncles & aunts, being the youngest of twelve, the tag-a-long,
and always the next miracle they brought. Like shotguns in the desert,
Opal and Lloyd and brother Leslie out in the Mohave,
cooking eggs and bacon at dawn, cocking their huge, long rifles
loaded with shells—hunting rabbit, hunting what you can still find
when you’re young, and your country’s young, and the war is still
a ways off, and the world’s a swirling dream you can shoot at
in the hugeness of sky and not worry about a thing. Later,

those things would happen: accordion lost with its music;
shotguns emptied, buried in the basement; a war or two
working their way through onto Hollywood screen, and
you’d barely recognize anything—what your life was to become,
what it actually became, the miracle that it is still somehow yours,
that you love it anyway—how you carry the violence like a spent shell
in your pocket to remember, your ribs expanding and contracting
with each breath as though you are an instrument
life is still learning how to play.

---Chosen by Tony Hoagland as finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize, and published in the Sycamore Review

The Gift

Now that she is gone,

I peer at the small painted Mexican box

blue with yellow flowers, Mother Mary behind glass,

that my friend with cancer brought back

from a small village. Did they both


wonder what grew in their bellies,

a curse, a blessing,

the womb’s extravagance?

Let’s not pretend Mary knew, at first,

any more than my friend: a stirring

in the abdomen’s soft muscle,

cells dividing, multiplying.


Who could understand what the archangel

meant, touching her there, saying

it was a gift. Chosen

to bring forth, then surrender

this one perfect life.


--In memory of the poet Kathleen Flowers

Dane Cervine
Dane Cervine's poem The Jeweled Net of Indra was chosen by Adrienne Rich as the winning National Writers Union entry in 2005, and is the title of his book published by Plain View Press in 2007. Dane's poetry has appeared in a wide range of publications and formats, including The Hudson Review, The SUN Magazine, Blues Cruzio Cafe (animation), and short film. He has been a finalist for the Wabash Poetry Prize (chosen by Tony Hoagland), twice a finalist for the Atlanta Review International Poetry Prize, and won second place in the Caesura Poetry Contest. You'll find his poems in a number of anthologies, including two Monterey Bay poetry collections. Visit his website for more glimpses into his work at: "". Dane lives in Santa Cruz, where he serves as Chief of Children's Mental Health for the County.


Spring 2012

John Chandler
Alta Ifland

Shiloh Hellman
Thad Nodine
Patrice Vecchione
Stephen Woodhams

Dane Cervine
Eileen Eccles
Peggy Heinrich

Lauren Crux

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