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Trina Baker

Found:

One reluctant poet approaching middle age. Makes only passing attempts at housekeeping. Obeys commands of muse. Will respond to being grabbed by the ear and dragged to a chair before a pen and paper. Known to revise some poems as much as eight times however. Has been seen pulling over in traffic to scribble notes for a poem on the back of a map. Possesses several folders filled with rejections slips.

The Facts:

News of the active writing landscape in the Bay Area filtered out to me in San Diego through the Blue Door Bookstore, which stocked The Poetry Flash. It was not the only reason I moved here though. Other lures included the University of California, Berkeley School of Library and Information Studies and the man I met at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair. But the sheer profusion of artists, especially writers, is a lasting draw.

I daylight as an archivist and records manager at a scientific laboratory. Degrees in Library and Information Studies take you to the strangest places.

My favorite topics of conversation are poetry, gardens, and my house. But I have been known to be reasonably conversant on other subjects.



Once Begun


It (painting) got too intense. I turned to horticulture.
from "My Grandmother Who Painted" -Honore Moore

It stains my forefinger and fills my nails,
slices my palm with burred weeds,
and blisters my love line with tools
required to bring it to submission.
For the dried skin and sore back
I get stock so heavy that watering
forces aromatic heads downward.
I get nasturtiums creeping
across the stump of the Ponderosa Pine.
I get snapdragons throwing themselves
up along the wall of peeling paint.
Morning glories long to climb
the trellis that's not yet hung.
Tomato vines reach out
to the sun from the shade beneath the stairs.
Marigolds battle snails
who munch on young spinach.
Pansies turn their faces to the sky
so that they can grow up to be bushes.
And I get more wild, thick-stalked anise propagating,
propagating faster than I can pull it from the earth.

Trina Baker, 1996

Spring in the City


Once again the rain falls late into the night.
Plum tree blossoms wait to be battered.
Away from branches, the petals cling to shingles,
making winter-worn roofs ornate beneath the wood smoke

from chimneys. With no stars to brighten the spring skies,
cold and wordless poets meditate about warmer days.
When the storms end and the fruit sets this year,
skunks will mark the air to court and mate in the dark.

As day light lengthens and darkness grows short,
young men in the dingy city bars operate into the night.
The scene drives me to boredom over my Corona,
yet their eager energy will emanate through the stuffy room.

I abandon the restless boys while they search
for a narrow woman in black to sate, until sleep overtakes them.
And behind me, a face glimpsed in the corner of the bar
separates from the crowd, follows fate, beyond the neon lights.

I decide not to follow those hypnotic eyes outdoors,
after my mind stops to evaluate the danger waiting out there
while pollen moves up the hills on skyscraper winds
and finds no one there to irritate with sweetness.

Remembering the young faces in body-warmed North Beach
haunts will lead me to speculate about the cost of warm beer.
Daffodil blooms fall beneath the rain's weight.
It's me the scent will captivate, even overwhelm.

In silence, I'll trace ancient olfactory messages.
It's me the scent will elevate alone into the night.

Trina Baker, 1996

Holding the Gods Accountable


Kokopelli plays his flute
to gather clouds, heavy
with water over the winter desert,
a creator carved on stone.
Koko plays his flute
to make the corn grow,
a stick figure dancing.
Koko plays his flute
to call the women to him
so he can tickle their tits
and rise off the hard
surface he rests on,
a hunchbacked little god.
Freed by the wearing of stone
by wind and water,
Koko wanders off,
following the trail of
his own musical notes.
Another winter, and Koko's
too busy to play his flute
to gather rain clouds,
too busy to play his flute
to make the corn grow.

So a magician saddles Koko
with a wife, and inscribes
them deep into desert stone.

Trina Baker, 1996

Amtrak by Night


My friend Edna dropped me off at the station, tossing my bag at the porter and driving off before my heel hit the curb. We were running a little late because she insisted on showing me that ugly old Superdome. She was in that much of a hurry to get to her son's house for dinner that she didn't even get out to give me a hug good-bye. Actually she's always been afraid of thunder storms and the sky rumbled for our whole drive. It was as dark as dusk, but still no rain.

The sky made the stark train station seem even bigger. But the porter was real helpful. Can I help you ma'm? he said as he bent over to pick up my old suitcase.

Trina Baker, 1996

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