you want dogs? I walked all four shepherds
in the park, by day and dark
and nobody dared come near; bark?
all they had to do was walk,
the four big shepherds in the park
love? you want love? I hardly miss her;
but her dogs I walked
by day and dark, yes,
I miss the dogs, the four
big shepherds in the park.
Source: Intensifications, published by Red Hen Press (2010).
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y., Austin Straus has been drawing and painting since childhood, but began writing seriously in his mid-thirties. His poems and illustrations have appeared in such literary magazines and anthologies as Caliban, Grand Passion, Jacaranda Review, Red Dance Floor and The Maverick Poets. Known as the host of KPFK’s The Poetry Connexion,
Last November unions won a resounding victory when voters defeated Proposition 32, a ballot measure that would have crippled labor’s political influence in California, partly by barring public-employee unions from using payroll-deducted funds for political purposes. The initiative, which enjoyed a huge lead in early opinion polls, was heavily funded by wealthy conservatives and far-right groups.
Union leaders were overjoyed by its defeat.
“You can’t buy California,” Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association (CTA), told an election-night victory party in Sacramento. “We’re not for sale.”
The celebration hasn’t been long lived. In a little-noticed move in April, a conservative legal organization that has pushed to overturn the 1964 Voting Rights Act filed a lawsuit in federal court in Santa Ana that could accomplish in the courts what Prop. 32 couldn’t at the ballot box. The players behind the suit may not be household names but the millionaires and private foundations covering their legal fees represent a familiar klatch of extreme libertarians who,
Valley after valley,
as if some primeval fiend
dragged its talons here
as it fell from the coastal shelf.
Eighty years ago, after the gold
and copper towns ghosted,
before Gunsmoke came to Vasquez Rocks,
William Mulholland’s dam gave out
and flushed the canyons clean
54 miles to Ventura, and the ocean.
We’ve seeped in, bloomed
like thrush in hollows
flecked with rust-capped roofs,
and bone-white stucco.
Now, across the 14’s eight lanes,
vast scabs of sooty earth
and blacker scrub proclaim:
the land finds ways to slough infection.
David Eadington is a fifth-generation Southern Californian who lives in West L.A. His work has appeared in several places, including Xelas Magazine and Check Other. He was named one of Los Angeles’
See Gary Cohn’s article, “Why Charter Schools Are Tearing Public Campuses Apart.”
— for the family of Trayvon Martin
This poem wants to write itself backwards.
Wishes it were born memory instead, skipping
time like a record needle stuck on the line
of your last second. You sit up. Brush not blood,
but dirt from your chest. You sit up. You’re in bed.
Bad dream. Back to sleep. You sit up. Rise and shine.
Good morning. This is the poem of a people united
in the uniform of your last day. Pockets full
of candy, hooded sweatshirt, sweet tea. This poem
wants to stand its ground, silence force
with simple words, pray you alive, anyone’s
son — tall boy, eye-smile, walk on home.
Tara Skurtu is a Teaching Fellow at Boston University, a Robert Pinsky Global Fellow and recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize.