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Dorbin, DeWald and Ford

A Soviet of Sound, 1986



Here’s Sviatoslav Richter

scouting the steppes by train.

Stops ad lib in some unpromising village

& his aides have a concert organized

in an hour. A tortoise convention, full house.

The tender and tough-love way he addresses the keys

lifts their bread-and potatoes-hearts.

People who’d never heard this kind

of music before locked elbows after,

swaying in the aisles in tribute—

Richter-scale enthusiasm & away

first thing in the morning.


[NOTE: In 1986, Richter embarked on a six-month tour of Siberia with his beloved Yamaha piano, giving possibly as many as 150 recitals, at times performing in small towns that did not even have a concert hall. It is said that after one such concert, the members of the audience, who had never before heard classical music performed, gathered in the middle of the hall and started swaying from side to side to celebrate the performer. –Le monde de la musique, May 1989]


Sanford Dorbin is a retired librarian and wood cutter living in northern California. Never Enough Light: New & Selected Poems 1966-1994 was published by Igneus Press of New Hampshire in 1995.



Sleeping Lions



Evenings, in the damp grass under the folding table.

   Were you grappling with your loneliness, even then,

      Little plastic sword across your lap?

The pine trees

Rustled in the darkness; the Coleman lantern hissed.

I remember: I would tap my father’s workboot, and

One callused hand would descend,

pinching a scrap

Of pork meat. My mother would skim her bare feet

Over the grass. Hours, watching the shadows dance

In the turnip garden,

listening on the TV to the war

In Iraq. But they had made a space for you: a chair,

      A placemat. Once, against the chainlink fence, I sat

Reading Aeschylus,

ignoring their bellowing at me,

Hot blood spurting from Agamemnon’s neck. Rain

Brought us together again: beneath a dripping eave.

      Did you believe you’d find something—

         a little soul—

         Deep within? Mornings, and the gray lambs bleated

In the silence, in the mist. I lay under our dark coats

In the closet, my mind flittering from empty sleeve

to empty sleeve.


Jaydn DeWald, a graduate of Pacific University’s MFA program, currently lives with his wife in San Francisco, where he plays bass for the DeWald/Taylor Quintet and serves as Senior Poetry Editor for Silk Road. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Bellevue Literary Review, Columbia Poetry Review, The National Poetry Review, West Branch, Witness, and many others.



Taft, California: January 10, 2013



At the base of the grapevine

You’ll find a valley which city-dwellers

Forget exists

Emptiness. Finally out of L.A. smog, but

You wont be able to see

Air thick with oil and pesticides

Your lungs channeling more energy

Simply to function

Unless you grew up there

Horizon dotted with rocking oil drills

Back and forth, up and down

Nonstop, relentless

Big white Chevy pickups

Farm owners

Small houses where workers live

Working to keep roaches from occupying their beds

Merle Haggard and Buck Owens

Bakersfield sound

Country music on the radio stations


If you proceed west from Highway 99

Like a tumbleweed, you’ll roll into Taft

Conceived with the railroad

Nursed on oil

Still nursing on oil

Standard Oil’s corporate headquarters

Local holiday: “Oildorado”

It’s the Wild West, but rich

Chevron rich

No labor unions rich

Named after a huge trust-busting president

A union man

Who is gnawing at the wood of his coffin

Disgusted with his name

Being used for a corporate town

His legacy ignored

Making his way back to the surface

To scorn his namesake

And that slave labor legislation of 1947


Today, a child brought a shotgun to

Taft Union High School

Carried it down Wildcat Road

Past the neighbors

To shoot two students

Now you’ve heard of Taft

It’s on the map

First school shooting of 2013

Some say guns don’t kill people

I believe that

But they wont say

Social environments create people

Who kill people


Matt Ford lives in Fresno, California. He is a history teacher, traveler, and writes poetry to stay sane.



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