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Poetry Page | The poems of Portland expressionists


by Mary Ought Six

“My Place Is Where I’m At”

Right now I’m in Portland, Oregon
a booster town
while Sinclair Lewis cries in far away Minnesota
for all the good he did
no longer read

enshrouded condos, dozens of them
one by one their outer walls and beams stripped.

We paint up shit a builder whispers
Sue me another builder says
before he skips.
The daily news turns purple
about creatives drawn to our Zona Rosa.

For a rich man’s son we cough up millions:
we need a baseball diamond and soccer stadium
to draw thousands, put Portland on the map.

Urban renewal is not about the poor
except to arrest the homeless
clean up commercial doorways
knock down the veteran redbricks
as many other veterans wander the streets.
Let’s build a streetcar run
right by my and your block.
We’ll draw thousands of tourists!

––Robert A. Davies

Robert A. Davies has recently published SOMETIMES SUBVERSIVE, Recent Poems -- they can’t be bought, but will be given free to people attending his readings. To find out where and when those reading occur, email Mr. Davies at

“Gracia’s Gift”**

My student Gracia knows Fidel. She marched for him
in her school uniform, listened to him speak for hours
in Havana. “Ever since, I can’t sit anywhere for long,”
she tells me. “I am so sorry, but I must leave class and walk around.”
“Did you know that I have a connection to Cuba?” I say.

My Aunt Dorothy sent our family a tiny crate
of candied oranges all the way to Nebraska from Havana
where she was honeymooning in 1954; postcards too—
casinos, a cigar factory, their hotel, the sea wall.

Gracia’s parents left her in Cuba with her grandmother.
They came to the United States, worked in Florida,
saved all their money to apply for a special Visa
costing thousands of dollars to bring her to them. Fidel agreed.
Gracia arrived in 1989. She met Ramiro here.

Now Gracia is homesick; she wants to return to Havana.
Ramiro is working, building a house that they and their boys
can live in. Habitat for Humanity wants to write a story
about Gracia’s journey here. She says no. “Fidel does
not like people speaking out or talking about themselves.
He likes children who march and listen to him speak.
I want to go back to see my country. I will bring you something.”

I bring a faded postcard to show Gracia: Hotel Nacional de Cuba.
“Americans will travel to Cuba again,” I tell her. “What will you bring me?”
I imagine the seawater, taste candied oranges.
“A cigar,” she says.

–– Marie Buckley

**Recently published in the Oklahoma Review under the title, “Miladys’ Gift”

Marie Buckley has been an adjunct developmental reading and writing instructor at Portland Community College’s Cascade campus since 2003. Prior to that, she was an English and speech teacher in the Oregon public schools. She’s served as a board member and vice president of the Oregon State Poetry Association and her poetry has been published in Thresholds, Writers’ Dojo Literary Journal, and Verseweavers. Ms. Buckley was also co-author of Quartet: four poetic voices (Media Weavers 2006).

“Sonnet V: Better Things To Do”

Said:”Investigation is a waste of time:
“We’ve more important things of now to do.”
Elections now have come and have renewed
The trust once had: America, sublime.

His slick deception, manipulated Congress,
and us against ourselves to take a stand.
“We need time to think!” wise claim too bland,
with doubt, to face fals’d information process.

With rhinestone pins, waved happy flags in hands
That waved good cheer to children-soldiers’ hearts.
Soon pleading, mothers beg his office stay.

Then wave on wave of soldiers’ blood in sand.
Still, Congress says, “Not Prosecute – false starts!”
“The presidential vice will fade away.”

––Marian Drake

Marian Drake has been a progressive activist for more than 50 years. She is a multi-faceted artist who lives in Portland.


My moods are usually unremarkable.
No big, urgent ups and downs,
no enormous surges, or slamming slumps.
Mostly they float along, dealing with,
accepting, whatever Life delivers to my door.
Winter, though, is trying, I admit,
with its gray and dreary days and skies,
with its monotonous, dull and gloomy weather,
with its bare and unexciting aspects,
its views and landscapes and thoroughfares,
whether on foot or behind the wheel,
or simply looking out a window, wondering
which is more inviting––staying in . . .
or venturing out in the damp and dripping air?
But on my windowsill, a feathered little
mood-lifter – dipping and bobbing and hopping
to and fro, waits its turn for a happy splash
in the rain-filled, concrete birdbath on my deck,
where another chipper, black-capped
chickadee creates an energetic blur, a miniature
storm with its two tiny, furious wings––
luxuriating bombastically, while its small,
spritely companion and I both view
the performance with intense anticipation,
for another chance to experience
that incredible, boundless
JOY. . . !

—Pru McDonald 3/29/09

Pru McDonald is a lifelong graphic artist (Illustration, Design, Writing -- a 20-year contractor for The Oregonian), a frequent contributor to the Portland Alliance Poetry Page, and is still working and learning at 70+: writing essays, refining her memoir, and coming up with tons of poetry.


“ROCKPILE ON THE ROAD: Collaboration and The Troubadour Tradition in the 21st Century”
Thursday, May 14, 1 p.m. - David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg talk and reading
Columbia Writers Series
Clark College
Penguin Union Building Rm 161
1933 Fort Vancouver Way
Vancouver, WA 98663
Beat generation dissident poet/musician David Meltzer and poet/songwriter and editor of Michael Rothenberg talk about the evolution of song and poetry throughout history, censorship and activism, and the role of poetry and song as an instrument of change.

May 14, 7 p.m. - David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg reading and open mic hosted by Christopher Luna
Cover to Cover Books
1817 Main Street, Vancouver
(McLoughlin Blvd. & Main Street)
For more info call 514-0358 or 694-9653 or e-mail christopher

Verseweavers read award-winning poems
On Sunday, May 31, at 6:30 p.m., recent Oregon State Poetry Association contest winners will read their work from Verseweavers Anthology at Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe.
Free and open to the public. Donations welcomed to assist Haitian orphans.
45 South State Street in downtown Lake Oswego, OR

what’s up or list an event of your own!



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Last Updated: May 22, 2009