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SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

[Three Poems]

by Ann Menebroker

When the Light Fails

for the 33 miners from Chile, 2010
Down in the sleeper’s darkness
it is so deep
that above, the weather
can be any kind at all, any 
season; but down here
it’s too dark to matter.
If he had one wish
what would it be?
There are so many wishes
and so little need. But 
the human mind
is an odd one
and he asks for someone
to send down a picture
of the sun. Let him remember.
Let him realize
the memory of light.

—Previously published in the blog, Medusa’s Kitchen (9 November 2011)

—Also available on a magnet from the R.L. Crow Magnet Project (square magnets with poems from local poets and art design by Richard Hansen)


I Will Put in Your Mouth the Words of the Ancients

and in the smirk of dark ages, add coins and
executed thoughts. You will never be hungrier. History
is a sensuous woman who stands by an evening
window, holding a candle, and no one knows if the light
is for getting her through the house, or inviting someone in.
Upstairs, the bed chamber is cold and quiet. For warmth
you will need a lover or warm bricks at your feet, and 
prayers, even if you are not religious. Many prayers.


Chaplin, Harold Lloyd & Albert Einstein

Charlie in situation #1
runs from terrorists
in his strange dance jog
holding on to his
derby hat, looking for occupy—
safety—while the funny
man who climbs on the
giant clock of time
hangs high above the streets.
Then it’s midnight.
Everyone turns to kiss each other
leaving the comedians
to their own devices. The world
view is roof tops and interiors.
Time slings its second hand
over its shoulder, and Einstein
dashes in some impossible race.


—Previously published in Interludes of Passion, a chapbook produced by Kamini Press as a New Year’s greeting in 2012


SHJ Issue 7
Spring 2013

Ann Menebroker

was born in Washington D.C. five years before the onset of World War II. She was in San Francisco when it ended, and remembers her mother taking her brothers and her to Market Street to watch the celebration. Since 1951 she has lived in or near Sacramento, California.

Menebroker has published 23 chapbooks and poetry books, taught in the prison system, and judged poetry contests. Her work appears in anthologies, including The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry, in broadsides, and on postcards; and she has collaborated with other poets over the years, including an exchange of letters with Kell Robertson in Mailbox Boogie (1991).

Her poetry was included in the textbook anthology, Literature and Its Writers, edited by Ann and Samuel Charters in 2010 and 2013. Her latest collection was published in 2011 by Kamini Press in Sweden, The Measure of Small Gratitudes.

[Updated November 2015: Additional information appears in Wanda Lea Brayton’s comprehensive column at All Poetry: Ann Menebroker: Information and Sources. Please see also Brayton’s tribute, poem for Ann.]

“...we have been born here to witness and celebrate. We wonder at our purpose for living. Our purpose
is to perceive the fantastic. Why have a universe if there is no audience?” — Ray Bradbury