Image
HOW TO LIVE
by Charles Harper Webb

          “I don’t know how to live.” –Sharon Olds

Eat lots of steak and salmon and Thai curry and mu shu
pork and fresh green beans and baked potatoes
and fresh strawberries with vanilla ice cream.
Kick-box three days a week. Stay strong and lean.
Go fly-fishing every chance you get, with friends

who’ll teach you secrets of the stream. Play guitar
in a rock band. Read Dostoyevsky, Whitman, Kafka,
Shakespeare, Twain. Collect Uncle Scrooge comics.
See Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs, and everything Monty Python made.
Love freely. Treat ex-partners as kindly

as you can. Wish them as well as you’re able.
Snorkel with moray eels and yellow tangs. Watch
spinner dolphins earn their name as your panga slam-
bams over glittering seas. Try not to lie; it sours
the soul. But being a patsy sours it too. If you cause

a car wreck, and aren’t hurt, but someone is, apologize
silently. Learn from your mistake. Walk gratefully
away. Let your insurance handle it. Never drive drunk.
Don’t be a drunk, or any kind of “aholic.” It’s bad
English, and bad news. Don’t berate yourself. If you lose

a game or prize you’ve earned, remember the winners
history forgets. Remember them if you do win. Enjoy
success. Have kids if you want and can afford them,
but don’t make them your reason-to-be. Spare them that
misery. Take them to the beach. Mail order sea

monkeys once in your life. Give someone the full-on
ass-kicking he (or she) has earned. Keep a box turtle
in good heath for twenty years. If you get sick, don’t thrive
on suffering. There’s nothing noble about pain. Die
if you need to, the best way you can. (You define best.)

Go to church if it helps you. Grow tomatoes to put store-
bought in perspective. Listen to Elvis and Bach. Unless
you’re tone deaf, own Perlman’s “Meditation from Thais.”
Don’t look for hidden meanings in a cardinal’s song.
Don’t think TV characters talk to you; that’s crazy.

Don’t be too sane. Work hard. Loaf easily. Have good
friends, and be good to them. Be immoderate
in moderation. Spend little time anesthetized. Dive
the Great Barrier Reef. Don’t touch the coral. Watch
for sea snakes. Smile for the camera. Don’t say “Cheese.”

SOURCE: “How to Live” appears in Charles Harper Webb‘s collection Amplified Dog (Red Hen Press, 2006), available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Brother Turtle VI” by Patricia Allingham Carlson. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Charles Harper Webb was a rock guitarist for fifteen years and is now a licensed psychotherapist and professor at Cal State University, Long Beach. He has written five books of poetry, including Liver, which won the 1999 Felix Pollak Prize and Reading the Water, which won the S.F. Morse Poetry Prize and Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Shadow Ball (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009).

Image
Vincent van Gogh: The Mulberry Tree, 1889
by Gerald Locklin

In the artist’s words,
“Its dense yellow foliage
Was of a magnificent yellow color
Against a very blue sky,
In a white stony field
With sunshine from behind.”

He neglected to mention that
He’d plugged the whole scene into
God’s own infinitely voltaged battery.

No one was ever more alive than he,
It is not just that
He was creative:
He embodied creation…
The creator took possession of him.
Death and life were one;
Both crackled with brain-music.

He may have known something
That we do not, yet,
A reality defying words.

His brain exploded into galaxies.

PAINTING: “The Mulberry Tree” (1889) by Vincent van Gogh

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gerald Locklin is a professor emeritus of English at California State University, Long Beach, where he taught full-time from 1965-2007. He has published fiction, poetry, essays, and reviews prolifically in periodicals and in over 150 books, chapbooks, and broadsides. Recent books include a fiction e-Book, The Sun Also Rises in the Desert, from Mendicant Bookworks; a collection of poems, Deep Meanings: Selected Poems, 2008-2013, from PRESA Press; three simultaneously released novellas from Spout Press; and a French collection of his prose, Candy Bars: Le Dernier des Damnes from 13e Note Press, Paris. Event Horizon Press released new editions of A Simpler Time, A Simpler Place and Hemingway Colloquium: The Poet Goes to Cuba in 2011; Coagula Press released the first of two volumes of his Complete Coagula Poems; and From a Male Perspective appeared from PRESA Press. Find more of Gerald Locklin’s poetry in Gerald Locklin: New and Selected Poems (Silver Birch Press, 2013), available at Amazon.com.

Image
GRAVITY
by Donna Hilbert

What binds me to this earth
are the hands of my children,
as I hold my mother
holding her mother
back to the mother
who begat us all.
This is gravity.
This is why we call the earth Mother,
why all rising is a miracle.

SOURCE: “Gravity” appears in Donna Hilbert‘s collection Deep Red, available at Amazon.com.

IMAGE: “Gravity Conceptual” by Victor de Schwanberg. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Donna Hilbert’s latest book, The Congress of Luminous Bodies, is availble from Aortic Books or at Amazon.com. The Green Season (World Parade Books), a collection of poems, stories, and essays, is now available in an expanded second edition. Donna appears in and her poetry is the text of the documentary Grief Becomes Me: A Love Story, a Christine Fugate film. Earlier books include Mansions and Deep Red from Event Horizon, Transforming Matter and Traveler in Paradise from Pearl Editions, and the short story collection Women Who Make Money and the Men Who Love Them from Staple First Editions (published in England). Poems in Italian can be found in Bloc notes 59 and in French in La page blanche, in both cases translated by Mariacristina Natalia Bertoli. New work is in recent or forthcoming issues of 5AM, Nerve Cowboy, Pearl, and Poets & Artists.Learn more at donnahilbert.com.

Image

On Thursday, April 17th, Charles Harper Webb, Donna Hilbert, and Gerald Locklin will appear at the Laguna College of Art and Design as part of its Distinguished Authors Reading Series.

WHEN: Thursday, April 17, 2014, 6:30 p.m.

WHERE: Laguna College of Art and Design, Dennis and Leslie Powers Library, 2222 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, CA 92651

ADMISSION: Free, plus free parking

Image
NUMBER MAN
by Carl Sandburg

         (for the ghost of Johann Sebastian Bach)

He was born to wonder about numbers.

He balanced fives against tens
and made them sleep together
and love each other.

He took sixes and sevens
and set them wrangling and fighting
over raw bones.

He woke up twos and fours
out of baby sleep
and touched them back to sleep.

He mananged eights and nines,
gave them prophet beards,
marched them into mists and mountains.

He added all the numbers he knew,
multiplied them by new-found numbers
and called it a prayer of Numbers.

For each of a million cipher silences
he dug up a mate number
for a candle light in the dark.

He knew love numbers, luck numbers,
how the sea and the stars
are made and held by numbers.

He died from the wonder of numbering.
He said good-by as if good-by is a number.

SOURCE: “Number Man” appears in The Complete Poems of Carl Sandburg (Harcourt, 1970), available at Amazon.com.

SOURCE: Poetry (October 1947).

IMAGE: J.S. Bach postcard, available at ebay.com.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) was an American writer and editor, best known for his poetry. He received three Pulitzer Prizes, two for poetry and one for his biography of Abraham Lincoln.

Image
LIKE TWO NEGATIVE NUMBERS MULTIPLIED BY RAIN
by Jane Hirshfield

Lie down, you are horizontal.
Stand up, you are not.

I wanted my fate to be human.

Like a perfume
that does not choose the direction it travels,
that cannot be straight or crooked, kept out or kept.

Yes, No, Or
—a day, a life, slips through them,
taking off the third skin,
taking off the fourth.

And the logic of shoes becomes at last simple,
an animal question, scuffing.

Old shoes, old roads—
the questions keep being new ones.
Like two negative numbers multiplied by rain
into oranges and olives.

Source: Poetry (September 2012).

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jane Hirshfield is the author of several collections of verse, including Come, Thief (2011), After (2006), shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot prize, and Given Sugar, Given Salt (2001), a finalist for the National Book Critics Award, among others. Hirshfield has also translated the work of early women poets in collections such as The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan (1990) and Women in Praise of the Sacred: Forty-Three Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women (1994).

Image
NUMBERS
by Jared Harel

My grandmother never trusted calculators.
She would crunch numbers in a spiral notebook
at the kitchen table, watching her news.
Work harder and I’d have more to count,
she’d snap at my father. And so my father worked
harder, fixed more mufflers, gave her receipts

but the numbers seldom changed.
There were silky things my mother wanted,
glorious dinners we could not afford.

Grandma would lecture her: no more garbage,
and so our house was clean. The attic spotless.
In fact, it wasn’t until after she died

that my parents found out how much she had saved us.
What hidden riches had been kept in those notebooks,
invested in bonds, solid blue digits
etched on each page. She left them
in the kitchen by her black and white television
we tossed a week later, though it seemed to work fine.

SOURCE: “Numbers” appears in Jared Harel‘s collection The Body Double (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2012) available at Amazon.com.

SOURCE: Cold Mountain Review, Volume 39, no. 1, Fall 2010.

IMAGE: “Spiral Notebook” by Pam Kennedy. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jared Harel’s poems have appeared in Tin House, The American Poetry Review, The Threepenny Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, Ecotone and elsewhere. His poetry chapbook, The Body Double, was published by Brooklyn Arts Press (2012). He lives in Astoria with his wife and daughter, and plays drums for the NYC-based rock band, The Dust Engineers. Visit him at jaredharel.com.

Image
NUMBERS
by Mary Cornish

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I like the domesticity of addition—
add two cups of milk and stir—
the sense of plenty: six plums
on the ground, three more
falling from the tree.

And multiplication’s school
of fish times fish,
whose silver bodies breed
beneath the shadow
of a boat.

Even subtraction is never loss,
just addition somewhere else:
five sparrows take away two,
the two in someone else’s
garden now.

There’s an amplitude to long division,
as it opens Chinese take-out
box by paper box,
inside every folded cookie
a new fortune.

And I never fail to be surprised
by the gift of an odd remainder,
footloose at the end:
forty-seven divided by eleven equals four,
with three remaining.

Three boys beyond their mother’s call,
two Italians off to the sea,
one sock that isn’t anywhere you look.

SOURCE: “Numbers” appears in Mary Cornish‘s collection (Oberlin College Press, 2007), available at Amazon.com.

SOURCE: Poetry (June 2000).

IMAGE: “Counting Circles” by Carol Leigh. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Image

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Originally an author and illustrator of children’s books, Mary Cornish came to poetry late in life. After a progressive disease struck her drawing hand, Cornish enrolled in the MFA program for creative nonfiction at Sarah Lawrence College, where she soon switched to poetry. Known for its thoughtful investigations of domestic scenes, Cornish’s work also explores the relationships between art, artifice, and the past. Cornish is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow and lives in Bellingham, Washington, where she teaches creative writing at Western Washington University.

Image
THE GREAT GATSBY LAST LINE HAIKU
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the past.

PHOTO: Jewelry-lovers can wear the last line of The Great Gatsby in a stunning brass cuff, available from Jezebel Charms, a British site that offers “charming literary creations.”

Image
DAISY TIME
by Marjorie Pickthall

See, the grass is full of stars,
Fallen in their brightness;
Hearts they have of shining gold,
Rays of shining whiteness.

Buttercups have honeyed hearts,
Bees they love the clover,
But I love the daisies’ dance
All the meadow over.

Blow, O blow, you happy winds,
Singing summer’s praises,
Up the field and down the field
A-dancing with the daisies.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Marjorie Pickthall (1883–1922) was born in England but lived in Canada from the age of seven. She was once considered the best Canadian poet of her generation.

IMAGE: “Sunday Morning” by Amy Tyler. Prints available at fineartamerica.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 960 other followers