Poems for April 13: Wanda Coleman and Jack Hirschman

[Poet Wanda Coleman read for Chicago’s Guild Complex,and “Twentieth Century Nod-Out” was published in the anthology of work read at the Guild. But her roots are in  Los Angeles. She grew up in the Watts area, and she still lives in the Los Angeles basin. “December 22, 1997″echoes those experiences and the more general experience of the parent, alluded to in her dedication.  We chose this poem particularly because it was written “after jack Hirschman,” who will be opening the Chicago Labor & Arts Festival in May, and whose poem from Left Curve ends this trio for April 13. — Lew Rosenbaum]

Twentieth Century Nod-Out (2) by Wanda Coleman

Wanda Coleman

gargantuan effort bags hurt-stained eye,
heat-cracked teeth and back spasms at the overstress

of a vowel. chaos

has settled in and made itself to home
a concerto of coughs & moans fortissimo — rood music

for the cash bereft

as titans clash in the space of a Hollywood toilet,
whamming psyches into last week.

it’s another day of dancing at the holocaust
the same ol’ cold blooded bloodlessness
enervating the unlucky the weak the poor — jes
another mundane bash to inspire upper-class yawns

the four horsemen have capped the fortune five-hundred
and the apocalypse is in the mail

from Powerlines: A Decade of Poetry from Chicago’s Guild Complex,

edited by Julie Parson-Nesbitt, Luis J. Rodriguez and Michael Warr


December 22, 1997 (after Jack Hirschman) by Wanda Coleman

it was an unusual morning
his birth into blackness
thirty-two years ago, my
blond-skinned freckled son

how thinly bronze his hair
when i clipped it
for saving. how cold
his whitened cheek to my lips

Wanda Coleman's Mercurochrome

i sit in the bleeding light
shredded by memories
he’s nearly one year gone
a shrieking blink

yet every day i hear
his reedy voice on ether & wind
the gilded laughter
of his pleading love.

five years old. proud
man of the house. the key
around his neck. left to
protect his sister in
an unforgiven past

from Mercurochrome (Black Sparrow Press)

[Wanda Coleman was born in 1946 and is the author of Bathwater Wine (Black Sparrow Press, 1998), winner of the 1999 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. A former medical secretary, magazine editor, journalist and scriptwriter, Coleman has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the. . . read more and  find more links to Wanda Colman’s poetry]


WHO CARES by Jack Hirschman

But the Nothingness he meant,
which now is planetary, isn’t negative,
rather an aperture, an opening
to the other side of actual self,
to the process of hearing light,
not unlike yourself when you bring
all that in your everyday seems drifting,

Left Curve #34, the current issue of the journal

evermore ungraspable and transcient,
where all values beyond money
seem rootless and on the wane,
bring them along with your crumpled body
in the darkness, and afterward,
because sex is of the animals
and the stars, is in fact happily
the animals and the stars,
find that point outside the window
(ancient grit of wall, or tree or lichen)
and gaze at it, enthralled, fixed,
as if nothing were ever so radiant,
meditative, informative, attuned,
like a computer window in a world
of “cybernetics,” he said, speaking of
the future some thirty odd
years ago, of this visual
listening to light
just below the surface of things,
this planetary All in you, constructed
of holocausts and ecstasies, the snail’s inch
and the worker’s steel, demonstrations and
monotonies, golem and robot, opens to receive
most stumblingly, hungrily, desolately, authentically
sounds from deep within the wilding stillness
and there, when five small human bones tug
at your sleeve of skin, the question-mark
falls away and you know who cares.

From the journal Left Curve, no. 21 (1997)

[Note:  City Lights Bookstore is presenting a release party for Left Curve #34 April 29, 2010 7 PM  at the bookstore, 261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco]


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