photo by mauricio alejandro ramos
Viola Weinberg is Sacramento Poet Laureate Emerita, serving from 2000-2002. She has published 10 books of poetry and a text on child abuse. Viola’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals, newspapers, magazines and online publications. She has contributed work to plays and musical compositions. For several years, she ran the Poetry Showcase for the San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival. In 2008, she was named the Glenna Luschei Distinguished Poet. Her new book, Tough Enough, a collaboration with the Tough Old Broads poetry group, will be published April 2019 by Cold River Press.
Viola taught at CSU Sacramento, where she co-founded Women’s Studies. She has worked in commercial and public media, including PBS. Viola moved back into publications at Mother Jones Magazine, where she was the founding Director of the International Fund for Documentary Photography, now housed in the Leica Foundation. For years, she served in an international brain trust for the C.S. Fund on scientific and social issues.
For the last 5 years, Viola has been fighting Stage Four cancer with hopeful results. She lives in rural Sonoma County with her husband, photographer Peter Spencer, and writes in a yurt.
The Seductive Scent of Paris
Is rarely sensed in this valley town
With its bumper-hugging dusty pick ups and
Dolled up blondes with pink nails
And its boys with caps on backward—
Living under the tent of their sagging pants.
But this morning, I waken to the smells
Of coffee in small cups at a certain temperature—
Trees whirring in the butter knife wind
A scent of mustard and chestnut leaves, autumn
Autumn in Paris, the end of tomato season here
The thought made me walk slowly
As if I were on my youthful way
To Victor Hugo’s apartment
This time with enough Francs to climb the stair
Again, alone, as I always imagine myself
Alone among the poets and the planets, alone
Some how I have forgotten how lost I was
In that place, how mixed-up and angry and tired
A hick on the boulevard, forlorn and lonesome—
Shining and earnest with her quill dipped in ink
Brushing her hair in public to entice the Arab boys
What takes me there, so far from the field hands
And double axles and dirt bards of home?
Look, look at the size of my head!
Who do I think I am to be reveling in Paris?
I retreat to the bright corner of my suburban hermitage
I bring out the fountain pen and green ink
To write in the small embossed leather book
Of the same color I keep expressly for this—
And in this simple movement, I find my way
Back to the only address I have ever really known.