September 6-12, 1999: Dominic Martia and Nancy Etchemendy

Week of September 6-September 12, 1999

Dominic Martia and Nancy Etchemendy

Dominic Martia


Dominic Martia is a retired professor who began writing poetry a few years ago and realizes he needs more time He lives in Chicago.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by
Dominic Martia and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


Right, he had the moves
our friend
Played with the pros
at one time How long ago?

Two plastic hips
Moved, right?
Vegas, right?

I was there last year Won two hundred I can hang around
casinos all night
no clocks
no moon Watch them
play the slots
for the prize
that never comes Zombies

So, do you ever
hear from our friend?

Chet Baker’s Paris, 1955

The Seine flows
beneath vibrating
Gargoyles stare
down in serene
Girls line
their eyes to look
The west wind
is large
and dry and warm.

Paying Respects

November sorrows
are all the same
I put connection aside Even paying respects
is by formula
Still, I visit Without visits, I think
the very seeds might petrify
Returning to the car
I feel clods of earth
under foot
hard, separate It’s November.

Nancy Etchemendy


I was born in Reno and grew up messing around in Nevada, where there is a lot of weird and fascinating stuff once you get off I-80 I live in the San Francisco Bay Area now (Menlo Park), but Nevada seems to be in my bones, and I’ve kind of stopped expecting to feel really at home anyplace else I’ve had some poetry published,  though only piecemeal, and only in places most people have never heard of I’ve never done a reading Well .I do read for my dog sometimes.

The following work is Copyright © 1999, and owned by Nancy Etchemendy and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Life Passes on I-5

Right now I hunker down
in the middle of time,
just my age, I guess,
standing in the dirty
brush beside I-5
watching 18-wheelers wail by I might see first
their points of origin:
some Peterbilt perfected
by a floodlamp in Salinas
where mestizos laughed
and loaded it to groaning
with tomato culls;
or a flashy custom Mack
hauling beeves from
the Great Basin,
my own point of origin;
I’ve come that far Or I might think
where they are headed:
some cannery, a slaughterhouse,
a place I know from postcards,
Portland, or Seattle, say;
maybe a freighter with
a weird flag waits
to carry steaks or ketchup
to some land of skies
busy with bright birds
and crazy stars It’s all dependent on the day,
and how I’m doing at the moment Baby, it’s all new to you The only words you know
are someday and tomorrow,
how you’ll ditch this town,
head for Paris, Katmandu,
or Bakersfield You don’t believe me,
but I feel a time
come roaring down this road
like a trucker with no load
except the past,
when we won’t see any way
but back, to how
we used to leap,
we used to love,
we used to plan.


toward morning the noise stops–
not of a sudden, but softly,
just the way night ends Most of the cabbies
have rolled home to bed,
or they doze, smoke, read westerns,
parked in the neon lights,
waiting for tired fares Even the high rollers have to sleep
sometimes That’s what I whisper, alone,
alone in my room, alone in my life,
everyone has to sleep
sometimes Sixteen trains
pass through this town
every night of the year,
some short, most long I have counted the cars
that’s how desperate I get Fifty, sixty, eighty-two once,
seven engines down by the tracks,
a lucky number I felt them rumble through me
like a herd of mustangs
following some stallion
none of them knew Sometimes
toward morning I hear them
pounding down from the mountains
to the wide brush, the dry land
where I think he rides Sometimes
I hear their wailing far off,
deep, like his sadness or my own,
the sound of our wild longing
to find the way home.

Mustang Woman

I came here to be free It was hard ditching what came easy,
hard even to feel the rope on my neck
it had been there so long Everything I’d been told I should need
or else be half a woman, I had acquired:
a strong man, a roof, a yard,
a stove, a couple kids and more,
just how my mama did it,
so it made my pa say, “Princess,
this is the life “
That’s the part you remember: Princess,
alone in the dark, bruises gathering
on your cheeks, branded like a pony,
downpour rattling on the tin,
and the kids trying to cry quiet Princess The way your heart flies
when he’s pleased It’s good you give me this ride,
but judge me not I may look the same to you,
hardlife woman in a trailer,
who cleans a stranger’s messes
to feed kids she oughtn’t have But I ain’t You don’t see what I’m free from now.

Working Toward Shore

This is the dream of swimming,
the air not really adrift,
like curtains from the sun’s high furnace,
only seeming The world is heat,
the water so salty I won’t sink,
even if I lie motionless upon it How dare I try to cross an inland sea
this way, without a boat,
who couldn’t save herself in a backyard pool?
Some man swims up to whisper it’s impossible,
I’ll never get what I’m after,
he hates me for trying But I take another stroke and another Slowly the red cliffs glide past,
And miles away the shore
seems closer.

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