Saturday, March 31, 2012

March 31, 2012...almost National Poetry Month!

Ah, the best intentions.
I had such plans to continue this blog after April last year.
But alas, I did not...but I have decided since National Poetry Month is nearly here THIS year, I will again, make a commitment to at LEAST post during the month of April.

This poem is a new one, written a few weeks ago to read at Sierra College's "Love Your Body" Week.

The Memory of Breasts

When my mother had her mastectomy
I was 300 miles away,
a first year college girl
who loved to touch her own breasts
until the nipples hardened
and my thighs quivered,
something my boyfriend had yet to master.

After the phone call with my father
his voice broken and lost,
I ripped a pillowcase into wide strips
and bound my breasts
flat, until they seemed to be gone,
strained sadness against my heart.

When I finally unwound the strips of linen
my breasts were still there,
and eventually I learned
to love them again.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Saturday April 2, 2011

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This is a poem I wrote many years ago about one of my very favorite Degas paintings, Ballet Class. What is so remarkable to me is that for a school French project, my son Patrick, age 15, drew/painted his own rendition of the painting...not knowing my attachment to it. I felt that his art and my poem might go well together!


Just as we strain to recall
dreams upon waking, I keep
returning to your Ballet Class
struggling for clues to
secrets I know you alone claim.

Unlike Pissarro or Monet, you shun
sunlight, scenic green, moon-white
on water. Haunting the dim, gas-lit
rehearsal hall, filled with dancers
at work, you found the secret that kept
your brush stirring over arched torsos,
arms coated in sweat, fingers aching
in their perfection.

(Without effort, we witness the beauty
of first snowfall, autumn leaf-changing,
the sea-tide skimming the shore)

Yet, you wanted to see beauty becoming.
You are saying that
learning beauty is like
learning a new language.
We must live with it
moment through lifetime.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

Greetings...and welcome (or welcome BACK) to my poetry celebration of National Poetry Month!
Last April, I began this blog with the intention of only posting daily for a month.
I really enjoyed the adventure, and had several followers suggest that I should have kept it "going"...
so I am excited to begin again...and who knows, maybe my musings and writings will seep into May, then June, and July....

The following poem came about after having a most lovely summer soiree in my friend, Shelley Blanton-Stroud's, backyard. The discussion at one point led to figs...and me going into a silly dissertation about how seductive the fig is...and how it was probably not an apple at all that Eve was tempted by, but a fig! Then Annie introduced the possibility of a pomegranate being Eve's demise...and on it went...

The True Story of Eve’s Seduction

On a summer patio
after several chilled servings
of grapefruit juice and vodka
glasses sweating in the valley heat
conversation turns to DH Lawrence
eases into figs and Women in Love
how luscious and exquisite the fig’s fruit
guarded in soft, purple casing .

Many insist it was an apple
suspended innocently
prompting Eve
to reach
and pull
and commit the historical misfortune.

This red orb of crisp flesh
is fodder for fairy tales but not well suited
for Eve’s first fall into humanity.

Yet, the soft seductive fig skin
velvet cloak of purple darkness
splits at the seams
thick with sweetness
the sugary reward
secret seeds of mystery.

Another cocktail, another prediction.
Surely a pomegranate is equally alluring
rich scarlet pods, captured inside
a thin smooth skin of hope.
Definitely this triggered
Eve’s lust and longing
for eternal perfection.

It is not coincidence
sharing this conversation,
all of us women
all of us familiar with the forbidden.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Last Saturday, the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento celebrated their 125th anniversary. I was very honored to read my work at this event. I wrote a poem especially for this celebration--in thankfulness for Margaret Crocker and all she left for us in this lovely city of trees.

--for Margaret Crocker (1822-1901)

the gift of gazing
the invitation to climb
into and over and around
through and under
to test the edges
and continue traveling
until we reach
a pear glazed with sun
a woman’s supple brown shoulder
lines of India ink sailing across canvas

there is often
no way to halt the imagination

a pebble strewn path
water dripping
the shadow of a walnut tree at dusk

we have questions
and all the answers
have merit

the gift of art
is the never stopping.

--Catherine Fraga

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Friday, April 30, 2010

The last day of National Poetry Month...and there is just no way I can just...end this blog! I know I will continue to post poems because after all...this blog is titled: poetry is a bit of sanity.

One of the things that struck me...quite simple really but so profoundly, so tangible somehow...was talking to the island's women when I lived on Flores for a month. I was one of only two "visitors" on the island at the time...some of the natives were quiet and reserved and kept to themselves...but surprisingly, many many other residents were so kind and open with me. I made fast and lovely friends. I heard many stories from the women I met...stories of the island's past, stories about their own lives. Some women had very satisfying marriages, and others did not. I wanted to write a poem that SAID that...that somehow spoke of the sad, universal fact that some of us are truly fortunate to find lasting love, some are not.

Reality is not always probable, or likely.
--Jorge Luis Borges

She believed
when she married him
she’d step
into a new life
zip up
like a second skin
she was religiously
patient for her poetic vision
to become reality
in the beginning
a perpetual waiting
the charged stillness before a thunderstorm
it sagged and billowed no matter
how much weight she lost
or gained
she bought
Electric Seashell lipstick
slippery see-through lingerie
perfume with promising titles:
Evening in Paris.
Years tumbled into each other
gathering speed
until it seems it all happened
in the space of a breath
the moving close
then the forever
backing away.

--Catherine Fraga

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Thursday evening, April 29, 2010

Just before I turned 15 my dad was transferred to Portland, Oregon and I was devastated about the move. I had been born and raised in Oakland and had established my group of friends, and the last thing I wanted to do was to move ANYWHERE. Starting at a new high school where everyone had already established their social crowd was so difficult. However, things got a lot better when I gravitated to the drama department and met Nancy Heisel and Marc Bellis, fellow drama enthusiasts and soon to become my very dear friends. This poem is for Marc and Nancy.


Above Portland, above my teen-age imagination
so high that stars teetered in the late May winds
we rattled past the steamy cars, our headlights
low and sneaky, the snior threesome in search of passion.
Idling around each bend, passing cars once, twice
peering into each window on the dangerous side,
craving a flash of bare skin. Once, Marc eased up
too close to a powder-blue Impala, catching
Jimmy Sausser’s famous quarterback ass
mid-air, a pom-pom streamer stuck to one cheek.
We held our bellies, sucking in laughter until Nancy
snorted like a race horse, until Jimmy’s motor sputtered up.
Past the heady rose gardens, gulping icy mouthfuls of air,
We escaped. Circling Washington Park, whizzing down, down
hunched forward, straining to see the mulberry giants
marking our exit. Racing down Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway
together we shouted Shakespeare
from Mr. Diesel’s rehearsal class:
"I see a woman may be made a fool,
If she had not a spirit to resist."
Counting stars between phone lines
between clumps of fog
Marc, the native, called it a pea soup night.

--Catherine Fraga

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

During my childhood years, my mother told me more times than I can count, that I was responsible for my own happiness. And that there was never any excuse in life to be bored, at least not for long. I took this to heart. As an adult now, I cannot imagine ever being bored. I am seduced by so many things in life: ideas, places, people, projects, words, books, food, is a most lovely sort of longing.


One voice pulls me out onto the dance floor
slips an arm around my waist coaxing
my legs in new directions, keeping time
with an insistent violin, or another voice sits with me
in a shadowed corner, adorns me with dark glasses and
nourishes me with wine that tastes like tart apples.
Still, a different voice envelops me in quilted layers,
blessing me with dreams too heavy to carry.
Another slips through the sweet needles
of flowering rosemary and eases under garden gloves
until I must stop watering and photograph
the silence of plants growing.

These voices:
tenuous yet seductive
always rattling in my throat
chanting in my ears.

I am all of them, even those
I cannot yet hear.