January 14-20, 2019: Poetry from Ellen Sander and Cassandra Dallett

Ellen Sander and Cassandra Dallett

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Ellen Sander

Bio (auto)

Ellen Sander, a pioneering New York rock journalist, author of Trips: Rock Life in the Sixties, incubated her poetry in Bolinas, California in the seventies. After a stint in Los Angeles, she was an editor of Women of China magazine in Beijing in 2005, having taught college English in both Xiamen and Beijing. She was the Poet Laureate of Belfast, Maine in 2013 and 2014, where she lives today. Her 2017 chapbook, Hawthorne, a House in Bolinas, is published by Finishing Line Press. Her forthcoming chapbook, Aquifer, will be published by Red Bird Chapbooks in 2019.

The following work is Copyright © 2018, and owned by Ellen Sander and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Reunited Farewell Tour,
Thousand Dollar Ticket

the rows were neat and even apart
apart, plush covered and every other elbow 
used only one armrest
as curtains opened with brocade aplomb
trembled a skosh, then 

the band stalks on—
instruments glinting in the lights
magenta caught the horns, 
the fretless bass, cerulean gleam,
bald keyboardist’s head glinted 
the color of gold you see for pawn, the 
dead drummer’s replacement an opulent dandy—
his traps in a purplish shadow

guitars whinged pentatonic 
arpeggio loops, old hellion 
songs namecalling wars—
bold and bruising in the velvet hall, harmonies 
preened, vocals washed like fine linen, primped
to the strut-kick backup rhythm section

the rows were neat and even apart, and even
acoustics and lights were flawless—
solos delivered with muscular frenzy 
sweat mopped with ritzy hotel towels 

standing ovations echoed in patron boxes of
dungareed hedgefunders and their dates, 
would-be starlets, whose hands struck rhythmic
together— feet pounding out 
encores of towering hits that just kept coming in the
studded iconic recreated nostalgic reunion tour concert


Cassandra Dallett

Bio (auto)

Cassandra Dallett is a five-time Pushcart nominee. She has been published in Sparkle and Blink, Great Weather for Media, Sensitive Skin, The Oakland Review, and The East Bay Review among many others. Cassandra reads often around the Bay Area, she hosts the monthly writing workshop On Two Six, is a facilitator at MOWW, (Mills Oakland Writers Workshop) hosts The Badass Bookworm Podcast, and co-hosts and curates the quarterly reading series Moon Drop Productions. Her first full-length book of poetry Wet Reckless (Manic D Press) was released in 2014. In 2015, she authored five chapbooks, one of them, On Sunday, A Finch (Nomadic Press) was nominated for a California Book Award, 2018 brought the release of another full-length collection, Collapse, also on Nomadic Press, also nominated for a CA Book Award. For links and more check out cassandradallett.me

The following work is Copyright © 2018, and owned by Cassandra Dallett and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Goat Cheese Is an Abomination

The door was heavy, a loop of twine as a handle
I often struggled with
falling backwards on the wooden ramp
worrying the fat-sacked grey speckled barn spiders overhead
afraid they would lower onto me
and the goats running from the barn
especially Bucket with the biggest horns
the meanest disposition.
They had goats that chased kids,
and adults that found it amusing.

At Sweet Peas’ house
It was hard to get so much as a drink of water
having to stand on something to pump.
The bathroom was the whole outdoors-
no outhouse, or bucket, no electric light, or lantern
just grab toilet paper by the door and find a spot
away from the goats and the spiders to shit or piss safely.
Which meant surely holding it all night long
and not adding bed wetter to the embarrassment.

Each night I sobbed I wanna go home, I want my Mom till dawn.
At home when I thought about spiders I loud-cried
till mom turned a light on.
Here there were no lights and there was no Mom.
Sweet Pea’s mother wasn’t tender like that with me
She’d say, why did you bring her? she cries every time!
The dark was vast sleeping on the pine floor
unable to see the ceilings bumpy plaster
windows framed with splintery grey wood
terrible branches swaying in the pitch-black night.

There was nowhere to run
it was all fun when we left my house twenty miles away
I had someone wanting to play with me,
wanting my company, when the adults were all stoned
glazed nods of agreement when I asked could I go
I’d fall asleep riding up over Eagle Hollow
rolling puppy bodied down tree lined roads
and up up the hill a running start
foot smashing gas pedal to floor
from Don’s house where the mailbox was
and the nearest telephone was,
up the steep part fishtailing, gravel flying against the car
just when it seemed we wouldn’t make it
we’d be barreling across the flat part
where the puzzle grass grew and the stone wall
led to the gas tank, we rode like a horse.

The trees parted at the dooryard
and the house tucked in there like a wicked witch.
Each time I remembered the terror freshly
as if brainwashed to do it again
the barn spiders in the woodshed
you had to walk through to get into the house
The whole family, her family, Sweet Pea’s family,
laughing at me, the scared one
just five or six years old.

When thirsty eyes fixed on the huge mayonnaise jars of milk
I made the mistake of expecting cold cow milk
instead the gamey shit taste of goat filling my mouth
causing me to retch.
Inescapable fleshy and warm like their teats,
scary like their horns,
impossible to get from my mouth.
The dirty taste of animals
that ransacked the house
strewing clothes as they munched,
knocking jars of food to the floor
and spreading it around while shitting
and giving side eye, a fuck you, but more sinister.

I’m gown now, the goat guy is my step-dad,
they’ve long since got electricity and running water
I love a Thousand-day-gouda almost as much as sex,
but people, please, what’s with all the goat cheese?
I don’t want it on my salad or looking tempting on baguette,
goat milk tastes like helplessness and fear,
like licking the barn’s dirt floor, the twitching tail and shifty eye.
Don’t, talk to me about goats, or goat yoga,
or goat cheese, even if it has a creamy French name!

Ejection Fraction

old lovers text
now and again
finger to wind
should have cupped hands
when they held me
I slipped
to wet another body



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