September 8-14, 2003: Suzi Kaplan Olmsted and Janan Platt

week of September 8-14, 2003

Suzi Kaplan Olmsted and Janan Platt

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Suzi Kaplan Olmsted

Bio (auto)

Suzi Kaplan Olmsted has appeared in The Sun, Blue Satellite, 51%, F.T.S, Lummox Journal, and Napalm Health Spa She is also one of illustrators of The Ellyn Maybe Coloring Book (Sacred Beverage Press, 1997) She has been a student of Deena Metzger since 1994 and now lives in San Francisco with her husband, poet Marc Olmsted and extraordinary cats Girly-Girl and Boyly-Boy.

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Suzi Kaplan Olmsted and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Milk of Human Kindness

I’m walking in the rain on the way to work
Exhausted, with a terrible cough
Thinking about how hard it is
Carrying all these dark stories
Accumulated in my head as a counselor
Building up a pain mountain.
This morning on the news they announced
A new game show –
Whoever can spend a million dollars
In less than half an hour
(With no notice)
(Just getting a call from Donald Trump)
(Spending every penny completely before another half hour has passed)
Gets to keep it.
I walk all the way to work
Thinking I know exactly how to win this game –
Give all the money away.
Every penny.
Thinking about the people who
Like me
Carry around years and years of horror stories in their heads
And don’t get paid enough to live in the city where they work
I wonder how much you actually have to get paid to keep
Feeling okay about this
To not want to cry when they talk about their parents raping them
To still have more than a hope’s shard when you see their kids in tow
Learning the same things, the same way, or even harder
I figure out a scheme so I can give the money away and still get the taxes paid
And not have the money pissed away by the stupidity of
The non-profit people
Also thinking about just how stupid I know they can be
And a man in very elegant rags swoops up on me in the rain
We are alone on the sidewalk in the light rain
He has made a sign on a square of used cardboard
But he says the same thing “I’m looking for the milk of human kindness “
“I’m running a little short on human kindness today “
He says he really just needs a cup of coffee.
I don’t get him that either.

Not a Ballerina

Soft ass pressed against red velvet seat
Floppy thighs spread trying not to touch the stranger at my side
Dancers float without effort
Legs lifted in zero gravity
Nutcracker fairies hover and I sink deeper into my own lost plans
Once held before ballet class as an exemplar of perfect ballet feet
I groan quietly as I can getting up for intermission


Driving through the hot December San Fernando Valley
I pass several car carriers full of newly minted Mercedes
Shiny and fresh, perfect
Then I get stuck for miles behind 
another carrier with
a jaguar convertible
(giant bucket holding disconnected parts on its back seat),
an old Volkswagen engine cover lodged firmly into its own bumper, Datsuns, Hondas, and other cars that would never be whole again
a dull sheen in the southern California sun
headed for the crusher
the driver in no hurry to get them anywhere
I choose not to pass
turning on my headlights
joining the procession

Passing Judgement

As I drag myself home from a 12 hour day
working with junkies, drunks
and the kids who will become them
passing two ragged men on the dark park bench –
One announces
“We are judges, and we have determined that you are
a really classy lady “
From my derelict madhouse fan club
I get that a lot

pink tutu, green sweatpants

Perfect San Francisco Sunday morning
park shining January cold
little Albert toddles away
from his mother
with pink tutu over green sweatpants
Mom gently calls
no Albert no
we’re not doing that now
come back here
pink tutu over green sweatpants
still flying away
on tiny legs
sweet, sweet, mommy no

The Words

Why do you have
so much stuff
they ask me
as I work to get
admitted to the
mental ward the
night of my 39th
I’m a professional I
think, it’s hard to
get them to keep
you, but they’re
not interested in
my reasons for
they want to know
why I have 20 books
and more magazines
than I can carry
and other questions
that I forget to
answer before they
come to the next
I couldn’t remember
how to pack
and words were
more urgent. 
They leave me cold
on a gurney and
tell me nicely “Now
don’t you wander
from here” and I
pile the books
around me while
I wait for someone
to bring me sleep
and stop the words.

Evading Sedation

Shitting charcoal for three days
Finally sedated
Not dead
Like Dee Dee Ramone
Just back to rehab

Without You

No little kisses as I climb into bed long after you have gone to sleep
No arm around my shoulders as I try to change positions in the dawn light
No dozing to the sound of a mad melody sung to a cat following your every move

Hospital Poem

You’re going to be so far
and my rings
.have fallen off
.because my fingers
.have lost all
.their meat

“Hey Nutcase”

says Julie on the phone
friend magnetized the first day of
pre-school, neither of us two years old yet
now both 39
I’ve answered the payphone in the mental ward
we’re veterans of rehab and psych wards
Julie’s in her apt where the next door mariachi music is too loud
She can make me laugh so loud
The wardens run over to shush
We compare psych med side effects
we hate,
the relative merits of institutional food
who makes a better temporary best friend
the depressed borderline who sleeps 18 hours a day
or the girl in the dissociative fugue
who’s perfectly normal 30 % of the day but sings to
herself in Spanish the rest of the time.
Twice a week at Miss Anita’s house
for yoga class and carrot juice when we were 4 4 times
a month at the psychiatrist now,
talk & medication checks,
doing the 21st century asana
we could give a class

Janan Platt

Bio (auto)

Janan Platt works in accounting during the day Her web site is She is also the co-writer (with Stephen Mack) of a computer technical manual She lives in a small, tourist town south of Mt Shasta, California.

The following work is Copyright © 2003, and owned by Janan Platt and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Hello I Want My Counter to Skyrocket

I’m sorry if I disturb you,
but hello I want my flowers to explode
sideways to the cosmos Call it
middle age crisis Hello I want
Madonna to find Saddam
while riding her bicycle
and wearing Puma sweats
in England I want my hello
to hit the charts My Web page
is just sitting there I want,
I want, I want I’m sorry,
can you please help me for free.
I hear you can crash MSIE
with just 5 lines of HTML code.
But, hello, you show me
the URL to a freakish Turkish
comedy Hello, they’ve killed
Cal! He was making an under
ground movie with Holly in Seattle
His address has expired It must
be a conspiracy I want my rocket
to sky counter Just to one thousand
by June Can you help me
with my code Hello, hello, hello?


This is sand, where I went from dark to light,
where the turtle and toad dig,
sad green skin that sags,
tongues of salt, the eyes
touched with fossil and foam.
Aleatoric sounds float
where the kelp swims freely.

The heat absorbs like water
and the silt is like a powder
choking and dismal.
Some ice plant grows here
brighter than a dream.
This is clay, unfired and healthy
fermenting in the humus.

Grasshopper parts and dead beetles
are ingredients by the stream.
My adulthood is a pastlife debt,
no score keepers, not a plan.
I will take the soil to fill the holes.
God’s tangled hair is the roots
that my shovel cannot cut.

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