August 3-9, 1998: Stazja McFadyen and Robert O’Sullivan-Schleith

Week of August 3, 1998-August 9, 1998

Stazja McFadyen and Robert O’Sullivan-Schleith

Stazja McFadyen


Stazja McFadyen, poet and chocolate lover, is publisher/editor of the Austin Poets at Large weekly e-newsletter, board member of the Austin International Poetry Festival and Austin Poetry Society, and founder of Austin’s East End Black and White monthly venue She has banked 5 cash prize awards this year, including first place in the Christina Seregyevna Poetry Contest

In his Next Magazine feature review of the 1998 Austin International Poetry Festival, Mike Cluff wrote: “My best memory of the festival will be the read Stazja McFadyen had at the DiverseArts Little Gallery at the Heritage House,,,A fine poet herself who read with us, Stazja McFadyen deserves the high praises I heard about her all weekend ” Stazja did not pay Mike for the kind words

Stazja McFadyen Poetry Page, with excerpts from “If You Can’t Eat ’em, Join ’em” Chapbook and links to other poetry-related websites, is located at

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by
Stazja McFadyen and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

The Gate

Although there was no gate to pass through,
those who knew the place would always say “The Gate”
when mentioning the entrance to
my beach of childhood summers,
safe and winsome on the Chesapeake
Worlds away from Washington,
western shores of Maryland,
hour’s drive by country miles
Motorists must pass between a pair of pillars
flanking narrow gravel road to summer havens;
Met by warning sign, 
could have read “beware of narrow minds” Long before I learned to read or know the meanings,
I knew dewy summer morning glory
city-anchored children never dreamed of,
knowingness of being loved
Family cottage, mother’s side Old Glory flagpoled in a yard of arbored roses,
dogwood trees and powder puff mimosas Inside, the summer house alive
with laughter and canasta games,
baseball afternoons with Pop Pop, 
rooting for the Senators
slugging out the innings
against the likes of Pee Wee Reese and Campanella Learned my Pop Pop’s red-faced navy jargon
spiced with foreign phrases;
would have made those “Boys of Summer”
blush if they spoke Polish
Summer mornings I’d awake to chase the dawn
and later join my friend, the bay Gritty sands of August always found their way
inside my bathing suit and rode me home
splashed with salty bay cologne
of decomposing crab and mollusk shells along the beach Summer smells still cling to blistered shoulder memories
caked in cool noxzema
Winter of my chicken pox and measles,
between the bouts of childhood illness,
bundled up in winter woolens,
off to visit father’s parents, Max and Goldye, 
(never seemed to see them in the summer)
Something always older world about them
Something happened always holier
than synagogues or tabernacles —
knowingness of being loved Why else was I allowed to clear
the leaded crystal candy dish
of sugar sprinkled lemon slices?
Long before I knew my history
I learned a universal language
spoken in their smiling eyes
Once, accepting Pop Pop’s invitation, 
Max and Goldye came
the country miles to summer cottage,
turned away within a stone’s throw, 
driven off by words of hatred —
“Gentiles Only” posted at “The Gate”
fewer words than those it takes to say “I love you”
drove away a pair of gentle souls
Children by their nature ask the questions:
Where does sky begin?
Why does Uncle Irvin smell of alcohol?
What does “Gentiles Only” mean?

There was a rumor later, never proven;
I believe with knowingness
of being loved the accusation
Pop Pop stole the sign
that barred my Max and Goldye at “The Gate”.

flirting with crawfish

you crazy crawdaddy
crawlin’ around drizzly sunday afternoon
clippin’ and clappin’ your claws like castanets
drippin’ with eau de muddy creek
what you tryin’ to do
catch you a crawlady?
no one want to be your sugar baby
with a such face only
a blind crawmama could love
crusty old crustacean
i seen better personalities
on rattlesnakes
but honey you sure got
one fine lookin’ tail!

Robert O’Sullivan-Schleith


Robt O’Sullivan-Schleith, known in San Diego as host of the popular Sundays@ Java Joe’s readings, has been publishing with the Conservatory of American Letters for 10 years, and recently won top honor in the San Diego City College poetry contest (for “waters-edge”); He is finishing up his first volume of poetry “The Smell of the Greasewood, the Roar of the Cloud” and plans to be shopping around for a publisher by October He is also editing the first annual “JOE’S JOURNAL: Best of the Beach” anthology, featuring the talented poets & wordsmiths of Java Joe’s open readings- deadline is not til end of Sept, so anyone out there in southern Calif interested- come to Java Joe’s in Ocean Beach the 2nd or 4th Sunday of every month- 4-6 pm: submit 1-3 poems in person- that’s all there is to qualifying for the anthology & subsequent P.R readings that will follow-

The following work is Copyright © 1998, and owned by
Robert O’Sullivan-Schleith and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.


You & I walking in the cool
.my evening reverie
green, shaded at waters-edge
.folds into itself
in the lateness of summer;
.like this sherbet sky
August has colored the landscape
.of sticky, melted colors-
the yellow of sweet decay
.summer after high school, 
& over-ripeness:

.the first time ever sycamore leaves big as plates,
.my first car, 1962
mottled like bruised
.red Rambler Classic-
& discarded fruit;
.Hunters’ Mill to Yate’s Ford,
there are blackbirds
.we parked at waters-edge:
clinging to the willows
.clinging to your crumpled blouse,
filling up with breeze
& feeling the blackberry wine
now that the sun has slipped
.you finally let silk slip
below the waters-edge
.to the floor mat below
Just then,
.Just then-
in the onrushing silver & rose,
.faces flush,
the day’s last wasp brushes up against
.wet flesh, 
the swaying castorbean-
.a frantic gathering of clothing the windswept water echoes
.dampness in both
a million frogs under a million stars,
.trouser & skirt;
and two cinnamon ducks fly into
.two virgins still, we
a wafer-thin, crescent moon
.thought we’d seen Jesus standing there
at waters-edge
.at waters-edge.

Valla Escondida

When I first came to this hidden place,
there were still citrus groves along Via Rancho;
lemon-scent’d air hung over blue lilac hills,
and those who grew up here talk of orchards
where now freeway & shopping mall
continue to encroach upon elfin forest I could not
have endured the devastating sight of flowering oranges
bulldozed under for days on end in preparation for the parking pavilions
.We don’t fight, we don’t scream-
.we rarely look up from our magazines The so-called end of the dry cycle this past year
has further eroded the land’s reprieve from development;
prickly pear & coyote gourd have overrun the disturbed soil
of the drought-abandoned country club/ golf course
(a resort in harmony with nature, the marketing ploy insists )
& it has resurrected my buried soul to see this cactus fence
restore the scraped & raw land with waxy yellowrose blossoms this past
.We don’t scream, we don’t fight-
.just fevered reading half the night Before the mall, before the orchards,
.Many native plants here produce seeds, 
.I read in sweating bedsheets,
.that will only sprout when exposed to the high temperatures
.created by extreme summer heat in combination with
.uncontained,  cyclical open-range conflagration before the rails, before the tools even, were the fires;
it was brown skin that lived in the valle these past hundreds of years-
Kumeyaay & descendants of ancient ones far south of here,
and it will be brown-skin spirit that survives here long after the fiercest
Ana’s have relentlessly burned these guarded acres of Yanqui commerce &
investment, and arbutifolia once again covers this wounded land
from La Jolla to the San Gabriels’, and to the high desert beyond.

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