Art History Class

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.50.14 AMThe wholeness of self-lubricating antibodies
inspired by knitting patterns
cut and pasted into chromogenic prints
looking like a goddess of that for which
there is no god
where blood of young men
done up in red, white, and blue
ribbons, a class cremation
of discounted coupons
an airport of light
landing and taking off
in drones, the color
of eggplant painted along the perimeter
an invisible stroller heading
for a walk in the park,
listen to the stillness of ridicule
taste a patchwork donut
sprinkled with rain.

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Yizkor 2016: Kehilla Community Synagogue

Hear Lenore read “Yizkor.”

Lenore Weiss at Moe's Books, 10/13/2016

Lenore Weiss at Moe’s Books, 10/13/2016

White robes and prayer books
automatically flip to the right page,
and the cantor, voice of the synagogue,
possessed by the spirit of the sanctuary,
blesses us with a three-fold invocation,
passed along through the centuries.

Facing each other for the priestly blessing,
shawls tented above our heads in stripes and fringes,
I feel hushed like in a scene from Schindler’s List,
Jewish factory workers standing and singing
together in one pleated voice; tonight I know how to read
Hebrew and sing all the melodies. I am in my house.

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Refugees: for Muriel Rukeyser

Syrian refugees, NYT, October 5, 2016

Syrian refugees, NYT, October 5, 2016

A rubber dinghy
off the coast of Italy

cream cheesed
two hundred and fifty

Syrian refugees
29 men asphyxiated

19 women. No more treats
from the table of the dead.


Kamar wonders how to use the toilet
standing on one leg,
and those who are able,  flee,
hear a battery-powered radio
from the mukhabarat police:
don’t worry, my friend, you are safe now.

The speed of darkness
engulfs us in a mask of clouds
as the world waits on standby
for something to change
hoping to board
the next plane out

to where Akiba, the shepherd,
sings his Song of Songs.

Links to My Work

Author, Author!

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dumpsters, backpacks, garbage cans
in the officiating moment

alongside a sidewalk
of cement slabs

cellphones dangled people
running in traffic

faster than a subway
pressure cooker

ticking off
minestrone minutes

diverted brownstones
along Second Avenue

empanadas pupusas
Turkish coffee demitasse

check cashing

police headlights
flash a man, down

five counts
against him,

black tennis shoes
propping up toes,

arm bloody, head wobbly,
_____ terror.

Debut of my new poetry collection, Mortal, October 13, 7:30 pm, Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Y’all come to my reading!screen-shot-2016-09-02-at-11-47-47-am

Links to My Work

Author, Author!

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What’s Love Got to Do With It?


Never meant to return, which is not to say I didn’t have dreams about the redwoods with their fragrant pine needles or the Pacific Ocean.

Sometimes you can appreciate a good thing and still have too much of it—

Never considered that the whole affair would be a round trip ticket.

Unblemished blue skies, a temperate Mediterranean climate no end to great food with salad bars offering at least three different preparations of tofu and artisanal pizza heady with rosemary-flecked goat cheese.

I followed a string in reverse.

A free breakfast program.

A place of Beat Poets and City Lights.

A Bay Area earthquake.

A hot bed of progressive ideas fostered by listener-supported radio  and media outlets that delved into the racist nature of our government with its willingness to sacrifice citizens upon a pyre of profits.


Maybe I needed to upset my neatly arranged apple cart.

Where the weather is well-behaved and the living easy.

Black Lives Mattered even though cops still shot black people dead in the street like anywhere else.

We all loved Bernie Sanders and hated Donald Trump.

Longshoremen had shut down the docks in 1934, the University of California at Berkeley still clinging to its Free Speech Movement patina.

So what if housing costs three or four times as much as it does in most other places?

There are no discounts in Paradise.

The Bay Area didn’t have an Underground Railroad or Civil War.

Like I said, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing.

An era of so-called hippies and radicals who introduced a free medical clinic and piped love throughout the country.

A refusal to believe earthquakes had anything to do with weather.

Easy enough if you live in a place where grocery shopping allows for fresh and organic grains, produce, poultry, and grass-fed beef.

Genderless bathrooms.

Traffic across the the I-80 interchange proves it’s a fucking mess.

Take a number.

A culture that promotes self-health and distains those who rely upon FOX and Walmart for news and shopping needs.

If you haven’t yet converted to vegetarianism.

Home is where the heart is.

Before the drought we used to have winter rains, but no one complained. Every downpour promised a good ski season.

Never seriously concerned about the weather because it didn’t exist.

Summers were predictable, a grey sky that stripped off its sunblock to reveal a brilliant sapphire.

Spoilers remind Northern Californians about earthquakes and the Big One.

Jobs, weather, access to fresh food and enough racial and ethnic diversity to keep everyone a shade above honest.

An attitude expressed in the equation, “Go with the flow, man.”

The one caveat was that our fog bank, otherwise known as “the air conditioner,” caused temperatures to fluctuate.

I thought I had found love, but instead, it was my labyrinth.

Links to My Work

Author, Author!

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Mortal, New Book by Lenore Weiss

My poetry collection, Mortal, the third in a trilogy of books about grief and love, has been published by Black Cat Moon Press. To order books, open links below.  (Books will also become available on Barnes and Noble and listed in Ingram’s catalog in 6 to 8 weeks.)

Debut of my new poetry collection, Mortal, October 13, 7:30 pm, Moe’s Books, 2476 Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. Y’all come to my reading!


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Camp of the Sacred Stones

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 9.50.14 AM
We drive to Sacred Stone Camp
SUVS, trucks, pick-ups
from four directions,

stand by the sacred medicine rock,
touch the side of the mineral’s flank,
watch land and water

in the Cannon Ball River
turn red with blood,
an open trench, a scar dug

through a cascade of states.
The courts are slow. Judges silent.
Burial grounds and farmlands

bulldozed into the same pit.
Oil and pipelines guarded
by dogs on leashes who bite

those who protect children,
no trading futures
on an open market,

how the black gold
will help us god.
Come to Sacred Stone Camp.


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My Avatar

by Sinthop Katawanij

by Sinthop Katawanij

For the first time in years I could see the veins on leaves and recognize moles on faces, which was worth wearing a patch and completing a regimen of eye drops, except at the end, the doctors decided to find something else wrong with me but it didn’t have a recognizable name like cataracts. The problem was they didn’t know what was wrong. I hated that. I’d spent years getting things right, moving around from one job to the next, love affairs, children, divorce, the usual stuff, and after surviving all that, now they wanted to find something wrong with me?

The hospital thought it had to do with my heart, but why didn’t the doc order an EKG? First he said he needed a blood panel. Fuck a blood panel. Vampires sitting behind an oak table with long needles, probing my arm for a juicy vein. I hate needles.

I had no other plans for the day except to feed my cat, Knickers, named by a one-time roommate from Great Britain whose feet were half brown, half white (the cat’s). He’d had earned an MBA at UC Berkeley, then moved back to take a job with Barclay’s leaving me two dozen Darjeeling teabags lying on the kitchen counter.

The tea bags had nothing to do with it. For months, there hadn’t been a drop of rain. Northern California was in the middle of a drought. Outside my window, trees slumped over the pavement, and even worse, ash from wild fires up north cast an eerie glow over everything. It’s like we were caught in a magician’s spell. The sunsets were gorgeous, but that’s not the point. I wanted clouds to open up the same way a three-year-old rips apart wrapping paper on Christmas morning, only in this case, it would be thunder and lightening.

If I arrived at my doctor’s appointment too late, I’d be sitting in the waiting room for an extra hour thumbing through old copies of National Geographic.

Outside, my neighbor’s dog did its business on a hydrant. With one leg raised high in the air, the mutt seemed thrilled to take a long piss on a weird piece of metal.

One friend had been recently diagnosed with malignant polyps; another had broken her hip. Up until cataract surgery I hadn’t gone under the knife, but at any moment, I could get a call from the lab. The doctor had said something about fibrillations and lectured me about not taking care of myself. Back when my husband was alive, none of the doctors said a peep about fibrillations. It used to be all about thrombosis. Certain diseases come and go like designer jeans.

“How busy can you be that you can’t take care of your health?”

“Busy answering telemarketing calls.”

He laughed but I didn’t mean it as a joke. The doc wouldn’t believe me and I wasn’t ready to explain. I’d been too busy building an avatar on a video game called Top Dog Ramono. For months I’d been setting her up, knew her like the back of my hand.

faceMy avatar girl had to be clever enough to go through a bunch of colliding mountains, and if she didn’t get squished, collect gems from slime-toads that were actually people who’ve been turned into creature features by this Lord Grunion who thinks the world is his oyster. The problem is that Grunion’s got an army behind him and every time my spunky avatar drops glowing rubies into the crater of the volcanic colliding mountains, the army comes after her and locks her away, and if she doesn’t have the right key in her pocket that she hopefully won at an arcade game before reaching the mountains, she could die of hunger—shrivel into a stick of beef jerky. But I can think of worse ways to occupy my time like watching the evening news: shootings, bombing, and politicians clucking their tongues about how terrible everything is. I’m trying to create a place where I have good odds, where I have a chance of winning.

My avatar is getting better at fighting my battles. I named her after my mother and father, Morgan and Rena to become Morena, but she gets all her good looks from me.

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Just Like Fruitvale Bridge Park

Fruitvale Bridge Park

Fruitvale Bridge Park

Fruitvale Bridge Park
where fresh water mixes
with ocean tides,
storm drains
from Oakland
empty into its mouth
wide open
rents are industrial
and zoned cheap,
hold out for fish
away from tent cities,
the favelas
that crowd source
highway exits,
where a Monarch butterfly
sucks the life
from a milkweed
and lacy anise leans
on a cyclone,
gets off on it.
Now riding past me–
a man who balances
aluminum cans,
plastic bags
on the handlebars
of a bicycle.

I prefer intertidal zones,
brackish places,
salt marshes of sweet and sour,
fresh and salt,
a sandwich of charoset and horseradish,
honey and the taste of root knowledge.

Fringes of the city where I grew up
amid warehouses and plate glass studios,
auto body shops smelling of motor oil
promising to fix a vehicle in 24 hours.
Dark, dirty ceilings
with batmobile things

and equipment only men
in overalls knew how to handle.
I fell in love with the blue collar
of cities—What it took
to make things happen,

for stars to come out,
coffee breaks,
roach coaches,
deliveries and pickups,
and all the gravelly curses
that made a day go by

inside fans of corrugated
aluminum siding
wrapped around a city block
cooling its heels
against the whine
of heavy metal,

almost like the Fruitvale mudflats,
places that stink of low tide,
spangles of window glass
on sidewalks
bequeathed by minor gods
of the neighborhood

on their way to the courthouse
at the outreach edges
where rules
are broken and ignored,
for this
is an in-between place

that doesn’t attract attention
unless there’s a hip bar or club,
or a politician stumping for votes,
people who go about the business
of eating, sleeping, breathing
and making their own peace.

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Wellfleet at Olga’s

Wellfleet Harbor

Wellfleet Harbor

floating on my back
murmurs from the shore
a lifeguard’s whistle
boogie boards

water color red
a cloud of seaweed
hisses of bubbles
dissolve my feet

scissors to locksmith
time tumbles away
Einstein wears sunblock
count the waves

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