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  November 2018
volume 15 number 1
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Viola Weinberg November 2018
   

 

bio


photo by mauricio alejandro ramos

    Viola Weinberg was the first poet laureate of Sacramento, California. She has ten books of poetry published, including three limited editions created on Letterpress, one of which, Monet's Kitchen, won the national award for art books. She lives in rural Sonoma County and writes in a yurt.

   

 

Arthur's Seat, the Easy Way

It came in a dream, the sense of cold sunshine
The very blink of sweat on my fingers
I had done it before, trained for a year
Tore up the little mountain, the volcanic plug

Then I woke, and the dream woke with me
To find myself on my bonny, wee mountain again
To climb where I had climbed before the troubles
Before the cancer, before the titanium rods, the steel

I peeled myself from the sheets and began to train
I threw myself into the very muscle of desire
I wanted this with all I had, lumping up streets
And on to the park day-by-day, until I could

Fling myself up the dam bank and up to the path
Around the lake, where it was furiously hot
I didn’t care, just flung myself through space
Clumsy as a kangaroo sewn to a chicken

Months later, Scotland nodded to me and I came—
I felt storied bravery, I prepared to climb up the easy side
The fervid beast of longing, I growled, I swore I would eat
That mountain, that I would win that mountain at 70

For mine was the battle of life over surrender
Mine was the fight of the century, I was not
Going home in limp failure, Mine was to crawl
To the top, to crow from the peak, taking it

There were those moments along the grassy side
When I panted how hard it was, how I didn’t—
Just didn’t know if I could go on, all the while
Shooting to the top, coming down blind with joy

The wet determination, the shoulders pushing
The face contorted, the absolutely grave fight
Inspiring those who followed, strangers, friends
Who stood aside to cry, “Braw victorie, Brave Lassie, braw!”

copyright 2018 Viola Weinberg

   

 

Almost Him

I can still smell him, the curling ash
on a cigar he favored, something stolen
from his father or his future, as we drank
from glasses of pilfered gin, sick as hounds
rolling on his bed, just short of it – all the
while wondering why we saved ourselves

and if we were really saving ourselves for
each other, or just mounting enough
sex and frustration to finally get to it
I couldn’t imagine how it would be any different
from the mauling bears of breast-crushing
boys who always asked me to dance

How different they were from the sensitive poets
who recited the bard or went to Paris for a gap year
eventually proven gay, this being a theater town
with fests and feasts and a college that the town boys
never bothered with, resigning themselves to the mill
going direct to beer guts and shotguns and chaw

I used to wander alone through the park at night
decked out in my lacey gown, drinking from
a fountain that always ran, quietly barefoot and
full of grand Baroque ideas that seemed modest
under lamp light and moon, a Venice of the possible
an ache made of sunglasses and the great lagoon

copyright 2018 Viola Weinberg