Men and Women I’ve Kissed – Brandon Cesmat

Men and Women I’ve Kissed

Sometime during my second year at college, Eva comes to a party
    at our apartment while her boyfriend was studying.
    I fall behind the couch and she falls on top of me.
    When I leave school at the end of the semester,
    I fail several ways.

Grampy sat in his car at my freshman football practice
    while he was out of the hospital for two weeks.
    On the way to the locker room, I leaned in his window
    to kiss his cheek. The guys, sweaty and winded in pads,
    just carried their helmets around us.
    He passed during wrestling season.

In kindergarten, I had a crush on Julie Snyder,
    who lived down a ranch road on the way to our house.
    She and her mother wore white go-go boots
    like Goldie Hawn’s on the forbidden “Laugh-in,”
    which I watched while hidden behind the couch.
    Mom said Julie’s parents were hippies and
    wasn’t surprised when they divorced.
    Julie moved away with her mother. In our class photo
    she stood between Alfonso Ruiz and Ricky Bradley whom
    I couldn’t help kiss
    as I kissed her when no one was looking.

“When I get old,” I ask my youngest son, “will you still kiss me?”
    Without taking his arms from around my neck,
    he says, “You’re old now.”

When my sons are in grade school, Grandma takes me to lunch
    to tell me, no matter what my father says,
    ”You can come to my house anytime.”
    She holds my arm on the way to her car and tells
    about a kid hitting him in the head with a board.
    When we kiss good-bye, she cries and
    says, “Be kind to him.”

The more seniors who graduate, the better an underclassman’s chances
    of getting a girlfriend. One February night in my junior year,
    Andrea and I sat at the lifeguard stand at Little Solana,
    high winter tides on the bluff below.
    Soft kisses, gentle on her braces that a moment later
    hooked on my sweater.

On the chair in my dorm at College of the Siskiyous,
    a pink ribbon and a note:
    ”Bring this back to me if you want. Monica.”

It was two summers before I would have a driver’s license.
    I spent July at my Aunt’s on Mission Bay but
    not with my Aunt. Under the diving barge,
    I held onto a crossbeam and Shira held on to me,
    her legs wrapped around me under the water.
    Her older sister swam out and said
    her father would kill me if
    he could swim.
    Shira spent the rest of the day on the beach,
    crying on a blanket with him.
    had a mustache like Omar Shariff’s.
    I stayed in the water up to my knees until they left.

Brandon Cesmat is a poet, teacher, and musician living in San Diego County, CA. He is active in California Poets in the Schools, and has won two San Diego Book Awards for poetry – in 2003 for Driven into the Shade, and in 2010 for Light in All Directions, from which this poem is taken. Both were published by Poetic Matrix Press.

From the Empress Hsi-Ling-Shi – Joseph Zacardi

From the Empress Hsi-Ling-Shi

The mulberries will soon bear white fruit.
On thin branches silkworms
feed on heartshaped leaves.
In early summer they will spin their silken
threads, spin silk threads as a gift.
We will take the coccoons, boil them,
and after throwing, weave fine coats,
embroider them, wear all the colors
of snapdragons, chrysanthemums.
In the court of the Yellow Emperor.
In the court of the Red Emperor.


Joseph Zacardi is a poet living in Fairfax, CA, where he is the associate editor of the Marin Poetry Center Anthology. His 2009 book, Render, was published by Poetic Matrix Press.

Kings River Canyon – Joe Milosch

Kings River Canyon

This old, bald pine has to know it’s dying.
Maybe it over heard the whispers
of evergreens, growing on these
glacier-sheered cliffs, or maybe
the pine knows it intuitively
as it knows yearly it has to manage
to squeeze out a thin ring
between heart and bark.

Only in the middle does this
old tree show any green.
The top ten feet are marked
entirely by dead branches.
In the lower twenty feet,
bees nest in a charcoal scar
from an old fire.

They form a blossom, brushing
back a ribbon of sunshine
that threads itself through
shade and ground fog.
At its base squirrels abandon
old tunnels to dig new ones. Yet,
this tree still roots down in the face
of winter, in the face of a spring thaw.

In the grip of summer’s
morning breeze, it creeks
as it stands solitary and cinctured
by a semi-circle of saplings
too supple to creak.


Joe Milosch is a retired highway inspector and MFA-trained poet. His 2005 book, The Lost Pilgrimage Poems, was published by Poetic Matrix Press. His upcoming volume, Landscape of Hummingbird and Woman, will be published as part of our Summer 2013 Season of Poetry. This piece is a selection from that manuscript.