Poetry

Black Molasses and other poems

by Cesar Love
Black Molasses

Light cannot pass through me
I swallow every spark
I put out each candle
I smother the streetlamp
I douse the lighthouse

The moon, the sun, and the day
Down they go in my distillery.
Everything bright milled by my night.
There I make them black like me
There I make them pure like me

When I am ready, I make the world sweet
Give me flour, I make gingerbread
Give me water, I become rum
Give me an audience, I become music

I am black molasses
I go the speed that I choose
They say I move slow, but really I move free
In this sugar, you meet freedom
In this, sugar, you become four-alarm cool.
The bongo of minutes, the gong of the hours,
Simple flickers on the still of your soul.

 

The Garbage Men

They come while you sleep
And they wake you,
Clanking their truck,
Rattling their giant cans
They take what you leave for them
Torn clothes
Worthless paper
Broken toys

They return in your dreams
And ignore you
They cruise right by
In their noisy truck
And don’t pick up a thing

But if you learn their language
If you trade shoes with them
And follow their dance
They free you
They take everything
You want to be rid of

 

Flavor of Lemon

Bake your pie of lemon
Invite the forbidden one over
There is no time
For plates and silverware
Eat it with her
As fast as you can
Destroy the evidence
Before she leaves
Lick every crumb
From her face

Cupid’s dark twin
Hands you
The handsome fruit.
He tells you, smell it.
Isn’t this exquisite?
I dare you to taste it.
But if you like it,
If you want more,
Laws will be passed
Against you.

In a ball of innocent yellow
A flavor that strips
Your varnish
This is the taste
Of Love’s confusion.
This is the taste
Of Love’s certainty.
His nakedness
That begs for sugar clothes

The sky will rain sour
No umbrella
No lifeboat
The lifeguards laugh
You must drown

Then bake your pie
Save her the last slice
Savor the last slice

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César Love writes under the influence of Pablo Neruda, Lanston Hughes and the Asian Masters. He is a native of California with roots in Mexico. He recites his poems at open mics in the San Francisco Bay Area.
These poems will appear in César Love’s soon-to-be-published book, Birthright.

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Donald Helton

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Bilingual, Poetry

Trespasser Shoes and other poems

by César Love

 

Trespasser Shoes

Shoes perfect for the fastest dance
Shoes so cool
Even jaywalkers swoon.
Shoes that scale barbed wire
Two taps and you’re invisible
To every cop and guard.
Shoes that violate the dress code
Shoes that never came in a box.
The shoes that skip over stairs
That short-circuit escalators
Three taps and you leap above
Foul lines, flag poles, border checkpoints.
Trespasser shoes
Polished with a darker shade of saint.
Hiding in your closet
Waiting to walk on water.

 

Trespasser Shoes

Versión al español: Fer de la Cruz

Idóneos zapatos para el baile más veloz,

tan chéveres

que incluso los peatones que cruzan carreteras acaban extasiados;

zapatos que trascienden las púas de los alambres:

dos golpes de tacón y te vuelves invisible

a los ojos de la migra y patrullas fronterizas;

zapatos desafiantes de códigos de ropa;
zapatos que no vienen en cajas de zapatos

y vuelan por encima de escaleras,

y que incluso provocan algún corto circuito

por la escalera eléctrica que esté sobrevolando:

tres golpes de tacón y ya trasciendes
interminables colas, astas de las banderas y retenes;

zapatos para entradas ilegales

boleados con oscura piel de santo

ocultos en tu clóset, en espera del momento

de caminar también sobre las aguas.

 

 

The Slowest Dance

 

What child is not enthralled by the pendulum’s easy swing?

The rolling advance and return of the Jupiter ball.

 

When the wine in autumn seeps dry, our eyes bind to the staff.

Will it topple at next rush? Should we align with the coup?

 

Lean forward from the lawn chair and dissect the noonday sky.

Will the fog brim to rain? Will it ever retreat to blue?

 

Migrate to wildflower meadows. Follow the Carnival.

Advance the tape to the rapture of a favorite song.

 

But return to the green of your birth and stroll sleeveless in rain.

Drink there and sing to a quiet song of the slowest dance.

 

 

Luminaries

 

I only know your letters, your voice

The pictures show more gloss than you

 

Trust me to see your face

Without make-up, without neon

 

I’ll take you to my hidden place

And trust you with the map

 

A cratered street with broken lamps

We’ll beam beneath each other’s rays

 

 

Wedding Presents

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

When the street noise whelms

Give them a ladder to the rooftop garden

 

When shrapnel falls

Give them a veil from the world we witness

 

When the sky blackens

Give them the stars, wishful, eternal

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

Give them a drum, sonorous and large

One rhythm that weds four hands

 

To the certain couple

In uncertain times

 

Give them our thank you

For their weather of hope cascading upon us

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César Love is a Latino poet influenced by the Asian masters. A resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, he has worked as a reporter and taught creative writing to recipients of general assistance. His book While Bees Sleep will soon be published by CC. Marimbo Press. He first fell in love with Merida when he was eleven years old. He had the great pleasure of staying there for three weeks of April.

 

Art by Judith Shaw

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Poetry

Las Avenidas and Jetlag

by Cesar Love

 

Las Avenidas

(Inspired by Jonathan Harrington’s “Boulevard”)

 

I’m here again, walking at nightfall

On the streets of a foreign city

 

This bright night returns

Her lamps the color of chili peppers

Amber, red and green

 

Each street pulses like a musical string

Each corner a fret on life’s guitar

 

I’ve not walked this street before

I’ve walked these streets forever

 

Jetlag

 

The vertigo of the traveler’s hours

On lands foreign

Where the bells peel in ciphered counts

 

In the quadrant of the clock meant for dream

The bridle slips loose that separates

Late from early

 

When the hourglasses

Gambol like street mimes
Vices of observation occur:

A background pitch

Perhaps from the walls, perhaps from the sky

Quite likely the hum of the Watchmaker at labor

 

The Morning Star,

A flame luringly indifferent to any watchbearer’s labor,

Undrapes her beam of welcome

 

One shore could not be nearer to Venus

Yet one hidden hour in fealty with her

 

Soon the quiet orgy of dawn

 

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César Love is a Latino poet influenced by the Asian masters. A resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, he has worked as a reporter and taught creative writing to recipients of general assistance. His book While Bees Sleep will soon be published by CC. Marimbo Press. He first fell in love with Mérida when he was eleven years old. He had the great pleasure of staying there for three weeks of April.

 

Art by Judith Shaw

judithshawart.com

 

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Poetry

3166 Sixteenth Street

by Cesar Love

 

written in praise of Adobe Bookshop, a bookstore in San Francisco’s Mission District

One lake, pristine and ageless
Water for elk, for willows, for fish

The Padres arrive. They see the lake. They name it Laguna de los Dolores,
Lake of the Sorrows.
Because legend tells us
There they saw an Indian cry.

The Padres build a mission. The mission thrives. A neighborhood emerges.

The fish sense a holocaust.
The lake is drained. Its creeks turned back.
Water birds return from the South.
They look for their lake but do not find it.
Geese witness a crisscross of real estate
And keep to the air

Sixteenth Street is born.
The street attracts the thirsty, the addicted, the psychotic.
In late night stupors, they receive a vision.
They witness a lake, a lake that would cure their thirst.
But mornings they find themselves on dry sidewalk.
Mornings they curse the mirage.

A bookstore opens.
The street of the thirsty embraces the arrival of books.
New books, used books,
Books of every language.
Where legend tells an Indian cried,
Now springs a store for books.
Books to bring tears,
The salt of catharsis
The fresh water of joy.
A bookstore of friendly couches,
Of art openings, of book readings,
Of wine and cheese, of chips and salsa.

An asteroid hits the planet
The sky darkens
A species is losing oxygen
The bookstore cannot pay its rent.

Book lovers shudder
Will the tribe lose its watering hole?
Horror for the books.
Will their pages soon be rustling
On the windy sidewalks of fall
Beside the Sycamore leaves?
.
But the soul of the lake has a plan.

One Utopian century forward
The creeks are freed from the pipes.
Lake Dolores returns. The egrets return. Ducks return. Fish are restored.

The fish have dreams
They dream of springs
They dream of books
The fish dream of a bookstore
With couches, a cat, and art openings
The fish dream of Adobe Bookshop
Where books
Used and new
The water for swimming

 

 

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César Love is a resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. His book of poems While Bees Sleep was published by CC. Marimbo Press. He recently taught Creative Story Telling at the University of the Commons.

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Poetry

Always the Land and German Winter

by Cesar Love

Always the Land

When the storms end, he is quiet to all but the deaf

Many hear the whispers of streams, the mumbles of rivers
But below the threshold of a lapping pond
There are sounds as soft as a tadpole’s heartbeat

At volumes quieter than grass
The land delivers a wordless sermon
You are free to leave before the end, for the sermon has no end

Can you bear the spastic stillness?
If you can listen for ten minutes, you are free to ask a question.
If you can listen for an hour, you can ask for anything you need.

Ask, what about your bees?
The trellis on your porch, broken by the eight-foot weeds
It’s painted and repaired, ready for the blossoms
To greet the sun and moon, ready for the blossoms
To welcome back the bees.
Listen to the honey spinning into gold

Ask, what about the blackout?
Remember the fireflies you caught so long ago?
You hid them in a basement jar.
Realize you’re one of them.
Hands unlock the lid, hands let all of you free.
Listen to the land echoing your glow

German Winter

The months of small afternoons.
When days withdraw
Before children are home
And streetlamps
Labor the boggy hours

It is a weather without recess.
The gravity of snow
Upon coats and shoes
The roof tiles
Braving an adamant rain

It is a season for interiors.
The trusted sidewalk
To the cafés and pubs
The perennial scarf
For the pathway home

It is the season of stovewood.
A deepsome fire
Mulls the wine
Warm candles consent
The embrace of the eyes

 

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César Love is a resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. His book of poems While Bees Sleep was published by CC. Marimbo Press. He is on the faculty of the University of the Commons.

This year César Love created a bridge between the poets of Mérida and the poets of the San Francisco Bay Area, sharing their poems at each others open mics. He brought to San Francisco the work of Mérida poets Itzel Gallegos, Fernando de la Cruz, Jonathan Harrington, Cher Bibler, and Feliciano Chan. In Mérida, he read the work of Bay Area poets Gerardo Pacheco, Dan Brady, Alejandro Murguía, Jeanne Lupton, and others.

 

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jane15

Artist: Jane Gilday

O Blessed Gaze

Acrylic on panel

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Poetry

Lightning: a poem for Cafe Poesia

by Cesar Love

 

Lightning

To Café Poesía 2008-2013

Your odds are equal to the lottery
And you too might die
The second that you win

Stand in the rain with a jar
Become wet and wrinkled
Wait through the hours, the days, the weeks
Endure the taunts, the stares
Brave the indifference
The months, the droughts, the summers
Last through the poverty
The handouts, the years, the decades

One black and silver second
And you’re done.

Seal the lid with lead
Take it home.

Talk to it
Sleep with it
Frighten the cat
Disturb your roommate

Do not feed it
Do not give it a name

Once a month, bring it outdoors
Take it to your roof
Show it the night
Show it the stars

It will long for the sky it came from
It will beg you to let it go
It will bargain with you
Offer you a comet
Offer you a ride to the Heavens.

Keep it in the jar
And bury it
Beneath the Ceiba tree
Of your courtyard
Inside the chosen café.

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César Love is a resident of San Francisco’s Mission District and an editor of the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal. His book of poems While Bees Sleep was published by CC. Marimbo Press. He is on the faculty of the University of the Commons.

This year César Love created a bridge between the poets of Mérida and the poets of the San Francisco Bay Area, sharing their poems at each others open mics. He brought to San Francisco the work of Mérida poets Itzel Gallegos, Fernando de la Cruz, Jonathan Harrington, Cher Bibler, and Feliciano Chan. In Mérida, he read the work of Bay Area poets Gerardo Pacheco, Dan Brady, Alejandro Murguía, Jeanne Lupton, and others.

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Samuel16

Artist Samuel Barrera

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