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


Patti Sirens

Patty Sirens

About Patti:

Patti Sirens is a poet-on-hiatus who has worn a lot of hats: an ex-New York punk rock musician, retired librarian, lapsed Catholic, boogie boarder, and certified animal massage therapist, among other things. In her latest incarnation, she is a d.j. for Dance Church at the 418 Project, and for other ecstatic dance events in Santa Cruz. She has taught writing workshops, organized poetry readings and performances, and has read her poetry throughout the Bay Area. Her first book of poetry, Antarctica, was published in 2000. She expects another collection of work to manifest before the next millennium.






I live in a box of crayons
the big box of 64 colors
my name is Magenta
my favorite brother is Burnt Umber
my favorite sister is Raw Sienna
she’s the gypsy of the family
and lives in Italy
Navy is stationed in the South Pacific
Lemon Yellow is addicted to furniture polish
My parents are Black and White
My grandparents are Gold and Silver
Blue Violet has bipolar disorder
Sky Blue is a parachute jumper
Salmon is always swimming upstream
Periwinkle loves gardening and French cooking
and makes a mean dish of snails
Forest Green is a ranger in Yosemite
Vermillion was an oops baby
and can be found sunning herself on a beach somewhere
Scarlet has always been a tart
she married Colonel Mustard   they’re both in prison
for murdering Mrs. Peacock with a lead pipe
in the conservatory
Cantaloupe is an organic farmer
Turquoise and Teal own a bed and breakfast in the Caribbean
Brown is a shoe salesman
Orange raises koi and pumpkins
Pink runs a cosmetic store
We didn’t get much discipline as kids
we could be found laying all over the floor
coloring outside the lines   or scribbling on the walls
when someone did something wrong
they got sent to the pencil sharpener
sometimes we’d visit our cousins
at the Playdough Factory
they lived with Aunt Slinky and Uncle Silly Putty
who loved to read us comics
Mr. Potato Head lived across the street
but he was always grumpy
none of us played with G.I. Joe or Barbie
we were all afraid of the Easy Bake Oven
because we melted easily



Do not call me


Do not call me Honey

is the name you called
your last girlfriend
and the one before her
and the one before her

It’s funny but
is the name your best friend
calls her lover
it’s the name your father
calls your mother

Do not adorn me with cheap endearments

Call me instead the name
that hangs like a pearl
on the tip of your tongue
when you come

Call me the name
that’s hot on your breath
when my kisses
leave you breathless

It’s the name
of the thousand flowers
that bloom in the moist soil
of your body

It’s the one true name
I call myself
and only you can hear it



It’s that nebulous week between Christmas
  and New Years
I’ve come home late
   riding the Staten Island Ferry
      with Bill Delmonico
he’s a d.j. at my college radio station
   and works in a record store
he’s kind of my date
   and kind of not
I don’t really like him in that way
   even though he’s a walking encyclopedia
       of rock music
   wears a leather motorcycle jacket
       with studs
            which bugs the hell out of my father
Tonight we walked around China Town
   and Little Italy
      in subarctic weather
he’s given me a bootleg album
    by Patti Smith called
       “Teenage Perversions and Ships in the Night”
she sings about the man with the needle
    and how the blackest thing in Harlem
        is a skull white powder
John Cale croons a sad tune called
   “I Keep a Close Watch on This Heart of Mine”
         melancholy starlight
              twinkling from his piano
thirty years later
   I often sing this song to myself
       while driving
   but right now it’s a week before 1977
      four in the morning
I’m coming down
    from a hit of microdot acid
       doing a jigsaw puzzle
           beneath the Christmas tree
   stereo no louder
     than the hiss of steam heat
        so as not to wake my parents
I’m thinking about New Years Eve
   going to see Patti Smith at CBGBs
     with Bill and a bunch of friends
         from the radio station
On the bootleg Patti sings
   “Pale Blue Eyes”
which reminds me of Billy’s blue eyes
   not Bill but Billy
     my first boyfriend
   whose first love is alcohol
and I think how we don’t see
   each other much anymore
      we just pass like ships in the night
Twenty years after
    Billy not Bill
       dies of AIDS
    that song will always remind me of him
        singing it at the top of his lungs
swerving his 1962 convertible
   down Amboy Road
      past shipyards and the landfill
When I turn the record over
   Patti sings about Giuseppe Verde
       who was born in a bell
   and I fail to see
       what this has to do with anything
but I’m still tripping
   and when I look up
      past the tinsel glistening
         on the tree
I notice the world outside
  the window
     is becoming the skull white powder

         of a silent and delicate snowfall
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