17 Santa Cruz Poets — The 17th Annual National Poetry Month - 2012 Previous Home


Ken Weisner

Ken Weisner

About Ken.:

KEN WEISNER is a sidearm pitcher most recently performing as chair of the De Anza College English department where he teaches writing and literature and edits Red Wheelbarrow. His most recent collection of poems, Anything on Earth, is available from Hummingbird Press (2010), which also published an earlier volume, The Sacred Geometry of Pedestrians (2002). Ken's work has been featured on Sam Hamill’s “Poets Against the War” website; in The Music Lovers Poetry Anthology (Persea, 2007); on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac (August 6, 2010); in John Chandler and Wilma Marcus-Chandler’s “Willing Suspension Armchair Theater” production of Lost and Found: The Literature of Fathers and Sons (May, 2009); as well as in current editions of the Chicago Quarterly Review, Porter Gulch Review, and DMQ Review. Ken lives in the Seabright neighborhood with his wife, the pianist and potter Kit Birskovich. He is inordinately fond of great French horn playing. 

Six Meditations for George W. Bush

Consider: he was once an innocent boy—
so sleepy in his cowboy suit!
Then, too suddenly,
tangled by that cruelest master, history:
its brutal par fives—its smoky limos
and scary private schools.

Be humane. Seek to heal his addiction:
the alcoholism. Ask:
what will bring him closer to God and to himself?
The hairshirt of unemployment?
The cleansing purity
of life on the ranch? Visualize this.

Or ponder his dyslexia
so long denied! Be honest with yourself:
he needs more time
for Laura to read to him!

Now reflect upon his shame—
and forgive him for repressing it.
After all, you’re glad it wasn’t you—
graduating from everywhere, including Yale,
without deserving it—and everybody knew.

If you feel anger, this is normal.
Take a cleansing breath.
And, as Shakespeare would, be compassionate
to a boy thrust outside himself,
like a puppet on a throne.

So wish him well—wish him revelation.
Meanwhile, in November, lift his hand with God’s hand
from the trigger.
Back in Texas, in your mind,
tuck the sweet boy in.

Listening to Ives

Emily Dickinson
is going nearly the speed of light.
Desmond Tutu is with her.
They’re in a train.
It’s a theoretical
physics problem—
do they ever get old? It’s also
a word problem.
How far away are they?
It’s heartbreaking, the railroad.

We can’t keep up.
music frames
the second strophe,
another overheard
hymn distorted
as if buried and uncovered
by a piano in
another century.

It’s scratchy autopsy—
the present, the past,
the even farther past.
Yet somehow the fractured
music transfigures
its own lament,
haunted now
by history
as by tenderness.

Responsible Backpacking

topographical maps
by flashlight,

trail conditions,
snow levels,

so even when
the light fails,
and I roll the map
into a tent pocket,

still crowd

the mind,
vivid, free-floating;
I can actually still study it
for a few minutes;

all the while
the spring
wind knocks

down the high
And then,

as the topo starts to fade,
it hits me! and I picture
you, your
formations and curiosities,

and set out
inch by inch,
with renewed
scholarship and enterprise,

across farthest
corners, boundaries,
into the untold


Ancheta || Atkinson || Crux || Dancing Bear || Freeman || Glick || Ifland || Moody || Omosupe || Robbins || Sirens || Spencer || Sullivan || Sumrall || Tagami || Teutsch || Weisner
  Co-sponsored by Poetry Santa Cruz and phren-Z   A publication of Santa Cruz Writes