March 2-8, 2009: Mike Cluff and William Kennedy

week of March 2-8, 2009: 

Mike Cluff and William Kennedy

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Mike Cluff

Bio (auto)

Mike Cluff of Highland,California is a full-time English/Creative Writing instructor at Riverside Community College at Norco in Southern California He is currently working on a book to be published by Riverside Community College and a second by Petroglyph Press In March 2009, he played Roger in the West Coast debut of David Skeele’s play Double Bulldog in Pomona and Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing in May 2009 at La Sierra University.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by Mike Cluff and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

San Bernardino


Cruising down E Street
was just the thing
to do
or hanging out at Seccombe Lake
and Wildwood Park
made summer days
a bit more bearable
under the beige heavily encrusted skies.

And wildfires
and riots
and mass murders
took place in that city
of awful angels
all the time.

Trying to understand
the bad Spanish
Whites had created
in “Del Rosa”
instead of “De La “

Moving from there
to a place
about a half mile
west from where
a lazy creek
fed poverty struck
Native Americans
a long, long time.

All just I could to go
to a better sports-oriented
high school
that the one where I started
freshman year.

We could have relocated right above
the local mental hospital
into a flat-roofed house
of two stories
sharing a fence between
sanity and not .

At sixteen
sometimes it’s hard to figure
where one begins
and the other ends.

A bar
down on Third
caused too many problems
at home
too long to count
but making dinner
without a parent’s permission,
caused more pain
than it was worth
to eat at a regular time
no matter how hungry and scared
one got.

And my brother
made a path worn
down the backyard
to where a slight ridge
separated fence
from a railroad track
used too little—
only at 9:15
at night

and then he went back
to a redwood fence
with nice roses planted right before it

he never ran into their petals

Out near the place
where the hills and pass divide
we never buried the pets
in a cemetery just for them

it was still
a touchstone
in my life

especially when you lived
in the shadow
of a puny knoll
in the center of a valley
bounded by Baldy and Gorgonio.

Perris Hill
was a goal
I raeched only to hide
from dissection and formaldehyde
in biology class
and a home life
where only one adult,
didn’t cared.

And oranges
at a second-rate
carny/amusement-like sideshow
always brought rain,

who wants that
as a local legacy
in the years before
one is seventeen.

I won a goldfish
there once
and there was a slow crocodile
in a cheap pet store
right below
the radio station
its three towers
introduced some temoprray
melodious middle-brow music
into my life.

I see them now
and I really
don’t have to look hard enough
to do so
even now.





Newbury, Pacific, Arden, Echo Ct Golden, Holly Vista, Mirada
streets of promise
here is in this town

where the vertical freeway
divides the Black side
from the White
on purpose
but of course
no one ever talks about it

but behind cupped hands
laughing lips
in the part I lived in
one did.

Santana, Uriah Heep, the Hollies
and Redbone
bought at the K-Mart
early musical me
although Mom’s foray into
mid-sixties music at Sears in The Inland Center
was .


although Jeff Beck is way cooler
than Donovan
and Richard Harris was the end
for me
since the yard does go on

Santa Anas and blossoms
from the lone orange tree
in our too well-maintained backyard
made September
right before school started
a sneezing hell for me.

And the arrowhead in the hills
was always pointing
away from me
while planning raids and war
and death in the arid olive grove
beyond the railroad tracks
near the point at which
two continously waterless creeks
pulled into one
twenty feet below the freeway
that cut the north from the south part
of the city.

Winning all my sprints
in junior high
trophies of cheap construct
even then.

Snow at Sage’s
at an age of ten
while in an Oldsmobile 88
was a stellar event then

and even still now.

But the wind-blown October skies
at sunsets of silver, cerise, daffodil, and cornflower blue
were what was needed
to keep me here
and not
from running away.

But the rain
hardly came
I would have liked it
to do so
more often.

A change of pace
from a heat that holds
one down.

William Kennedy

Bio (auto)

William Kennedy is a product of many hot Arizona summers, DIY hardcore, swimming pool accidents, and bong rips He has been writing and performing poetry ever since competing in Speech and Debate and doing theatre in high school One semester at Arizona State pursuing a degree in acting taught William how to drop out and move to Oregon Since then, William spends his jobless days consuming massive amounts of hot sauce flavored groceries purchased with Food Stamps, writing everything down, and creating trashy art out of treasure found in side and in front of the many trashcans and alleys Portland has to offer.

The following work is Copyright © 2009, and owned by William Kennedy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Self Ritual

Everything I’m not will one day be built up like a shrine
Lined with the fragile china of lost dreams,
Littered with bike frames and car tires,
Full of awkward exchanges searching for words,
Scattered with ashes of swollen black ink throat,
Dotted with half hearted goodbyes to friendly souls never seen again
I will come pray at this altar and pay respect to its passing
The light trickle of rain drops will Christen it
The heavy flow of blood will baptize it
And I will bathe in it
Wash clean the years, bumbling fears,
Wedding bells and nursery rhymes,
All the nights cloaked in black charcoal
A miner of real beauty and truly precious atoms
Your lips to mine,
Early morning tea, all day grass, suicide packs
The reckless abandon of punk rock
The passionate release of two bodies
Late night gluttony
All the Top Ramen eating over saltines for broke reasons
Stealing firewood from stacking neighbors when the heat’s gone
Windy, cold all alone nights walking streets like endless tourist
.of worlds full of dirty looks and grave stones
Terrifying forces too large for wrapping heads around
So I keep pacing and smoking trying to get warm
What kind of person can I expect to find when I dry off?
Hopefully someone with a less monumental shrine

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