After Bukowski by Nicole Michaels

People die of the dumbest things.
They slip and fall,
they get TB and wreck
cars. They choke on ramen noodles,
and succumb to allergic reactions to bees and wheat,
blow up their junk with firecrackers.
Ever had an aneurysm while shopping for oranges?
Somebody has.
We love,
we drown in waterfalls,
heads upturned like turkeys.



Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.


Detail, photo by GFreihalter, of Charles Bukowski, Graffiti, Rue d’Alsace im 10. Arrondissement von Paris

Old Manuscript by Alfred Kreymborg


The sky
is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun
and the moon
keep their diary.
To read it all,
one must be a linguist
more learned than Father Wisdom;
and a visionary
more clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
one must be an apostle:
one who is more than intimate
in having been, always,
the only confidant –
like the earth
or the sea.



Alfred Kreymborg, 1883 – 1966


Photograph Starry Night at La Silla, European Southern Observatory.

House Hunters by Mary Ellen Saughan

We looked at house after house and though you would have been happy with several we found none to my liking, this one too large, that one too small, this one too new, that one too old, one too near the neighbors, the next too isolated, one with too many walls, another too few, who wants a bathroom without a door? I asked and no one answered and then we came to this house, perfect in every way, not too big, not too small, not too close or too far, not too many walls or too few, though with the condition that we never remove the wallpaper from the master bath, the black wallpaper with pink flamingos scattered across the landscape as it was the sole surviving reminder of the owner’s honeymoon 30 years earlier and she believed that to remove or conceal this wallpaper would put a curse on both herself and the buyer, so we were required to sign a contract swearing never to tamper with the existing wallpaper, not ever, which we did – sign I mean – not looking at each other, the paint chart secreted away in my pants’ pocket, the bold new color bleeding into the gabardine of my best trousers and indelibly staining my leg, a constant reminder of the day you took your bags and drove away leaving me in a house perfect but for the wallpaper, your parting words staining the air blue, the color of a curse, I’m pretty sure.



Mary Ellen Shaughan is a native Iowan and a late-blooming poet. She now lives in a hotbed of poetry in Western Massachusetts. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Foliate Oak, Blue Moon, 2River View, A Quiet Courage, and in a recent volume of poetry entitled Home Grown.

Califragile’s Chico, CA Launch Party a Great Night; Gets News Coverage

social stewards at launch partyCT leads closing activity at launch party

C.T. Butler facilitates an activity.

Wren & CT at launch party 2

Wren Tuatha and C.T. Butler at the greeter’s table.

CT introducing Wren at the launch party

Co-Publisher C.T. Butler introduces Editor Wren Tuatha to start the readings.

Mike, Kate and Paul converse at launch party

Califragile contributing poet and organizer Paul Belz (right).

Thanks to the many Chicoans who braved an unusually cold night to celebrate the great contributors and planned projects of Califragile. Special thanks to Guillermo Mash of ChicoSol News for his photographs, video and coverage! Enjoy them here!


Political Experiment by Paul Belz

The landlord, “The Laird” went away,
deserted this island like a pond drying up.
His mess – broken down houses and pier,
spotty electricity, bare land, followed him.
Dancers, farmers, dreamers took charge.
No awaiting laird’s permission to plant trees.

A mud matted border collie
demands hikers toss stones towards Laig Bay
and Isle of Rhum whose wind slashed hills
slip in and out of clouds. No laird,
just an insistent dog who digs, tosses sand
when her guests pause to watch ring necked plovers
scurry on rocks. The hikers aim stones away from birds
and their barking friend fetches.
Late feudalism stumbled,
choked, flowed into abrupt democracy.
Cattle graze
on common land among old volcanic peaks,
Rabbits hop, corn crakes flutter among blue flowers.
Bats zip and zap mid air
near hidden cottages and crofts.
Thin roads weave through grassy hills.
Drivers pull over for sheep who “Baaa!”
in a hundred tones. White waterfall crashes
down black basalt cliffs.
No laird here;
farmers, historians, artists, teachers, cooks –
and a dog who runs back with a stone.


–Isle of Eigg, Scotland, July 2015.



Paul Belz is an environmental educator and writer, currently based in Chico, California. He teaches natural history for preschool and elementary students, their parents, and teachers. Paul has published articles in Terrain Magazine, the East Bay Monthly, Childcare Exchange Magazine, the website Boots’n’All, and the blogs Wild Oakland and Green Adventures Travel. He’s co-editing a book on bioregional education with Judy Goldhaft of San Francisco’s Planet Drum Foundation. His poetry appears in a number of publications, including Canary, Living in the Land of the Dead (an anthology on homelessness by San Francisco’s Faithful Fools Ministry), Poetalk Quarterly, Just Like Cabbage, Only Different, The Poeming Pigeon, Blueline, the anthology What’s Nature Got to Do With Me? and others. His other joys include hiking and camping, world travel, vegetarian cooking, and long walks around San Francisco and his hometown, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

#MeToo: Infused by Amy Baskin

The teapot, still on the table
knows how to keep still. She waits here,
holding hot water and tea leaves,
insulates your brew, works for you.

Defense is not her vocation.
The teapot, still on the table
can’t scream or burn you like kettles.
Still, don’t handle her swanlike spout.

Thank her whether she’s full of tea
or empty. She can nourish you,
that teapot. Still, on the table,
she just wants to keep the tea hot.

What reason, if any, should you
respect her weak and fragile clay?
Can you hold and give and pour like
the teapot? Still. On. The. Table.



Amy Baskin’s work is featured in Every Pigeon, apt, What Rough Beast, Riddled with Arrows, Fire Poetry Journal, The Ghazal Page, and more. She’s a 2016 Willamette Writers Kay Snow Poetry award recipient for her poem, About Face. She’s worked on revision with Paulann Petersen and Renee Watson of I, Too Collective, and participates in generative groups hosted by Allison Joseph and Jenn Givhan.

My Brother, a Broken Violin String, in Four Parts by Michael H. Brownstein

The tension in my brother a router bit
slipping away from its collet and shaft
tormenting all of us into worry and expense
as if money is the only matter between us,
the only act of love, of caring, of speech,
friction and the noise of friction, metal
and the noise of metal, wood and the noise
of wood, empathy and the basic spread
of impious injustice, a total lack of power.

He could have been a hurricane,
but when the storm surge came,
he backed away rather than move forward.
In the tension of rain and wind,
he howls, scratches, screams
and then opens the sky to quiet,
but he cannot sleep, he cannot dream.
What if my brother could take
his hurricane and run into another?

The Atlantic is heavy with warmth,
sun, wind, hollows, thick humidity,
even the moon a lampshade of light.
My brother, my brother, he sighs,
worries, asks the same question,
retreats within the same answer,
stumbles into rusted out landscapes,
tension and rusty bits of machinery,
decisions best made by someone else.

My brother hides in plain sight
near the frontier of Israel and Palestine,
a checkpoint, soldiers with automatic weapons,
armored vehicles, more automatic weapons,
summer heat, winter heat, shade and shallow imprints,
barbed wire and rusting barbed wire, water
caught in sand, wind caught in sand, tensions
a category three soon to grow into a five,
my brother, broken bits, maybe a hurricane.



Michael H. Brownstein has been widely published throughout the small and literary presses. His work has appeared in The Café Review, American Letters and Commentary, Skidrow Penthouse, Xavier Review, Hotel Amerika, Free Lunch, Meridian Anthology of Contemporary Poetry, The Pacific Review, and others. In addition, he has nine poetry chapbooks including A Period of Trees (Snark Press, 2004) and Firestorm: A Rendering of Torah (Camel Saloon Press, 2012), The Possibility of Sky and Hell: From My Suicide Book (White Knuckle Press, 2013). He is the editor of First Poems from Viet Nam (2011).


Detail of After the Hurricane by Winslow Homer.