[Best of the Santa Clara Valley 1998

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[whitespace] The Best of the Valley in Verse

Metro watchers may have noticed something unusual on this year's Best of the Santa Clara Valley Readers Survey: a plea for submissions of poetry treating any aspect of life in the valley. The result was gratifying. The first annual Valley in Verse Poetry Competition drew a range of responses that positively boggled the judges' minds. How to choose between pith (Roses are red/violets are blue/Santa Clara/I love you) and the exhaustive rhyme and meter expressed in a 26-line ode to the Sharks? Would we award the laurel crowns (or cotton T-shirts, as the case may be) to the perky rhymesters given to whimsy, or to the old-school melancholic bards singing of the valley's demise? In the end we sacrificed art to democracy and voted, assuring a variety of styles a place in the winner's circle. And now we'd like to offer our hearty congratulations to the winners, whose contributions fairly sang with wit and lyricism.

Silent Steel
Oh Caltrain! My Caltrain! Our fearful trip is done,
The engine's clattered every mile, arriving on track one,
the station's near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady steel, the coach at last arriving;
But oh start! start! start!
Oh oily drops of red,
Where in the back the engine dies,
Fallen cold and dead.
Oh Caltrain! My Caltrain! rise up and hear the yells;
Rise up--for you the bell is rung--for you the woman shrills,
For you the screaming passengers, for you the tracks a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their angry voices shouting;
Oh Caltrain! Oh bother!
When all is done and said,
We'll still be stalled upon the track,
Still fallen cold and dead.
My Caltrain does not answer, its fire pale and still,
My Caltrain does not heed my calls, its speed has dropped to nil,
The train is stopped, its woes compound, its voyage nearly done,
Woe! The problem is not fixed before the setting of the sun.
Exult O bus, and sing O plane!
But I with growing dread,
Fear I won't be home before
I've fallen cold and dead.
--Sam Freund, San Jose (with apologies to Walt Whitman)

It seems to me that it's absurd
to use a Rover for transportation
If you reside in Sunnyvale
And not on a Kenyan tea plantation.
Is such a monstrous vehicle
Required to protect your carcass?
Have you seen rhinoceri
Roaming down by Neiman-Marcus?
--Emily Burns, East Palo Alto

Snake Ayes
Hey Quetzalcoatl
Baking in the sun
Back turned to
The Intersection
Gotta give that artist a hand
Sold a papier mâché dog turd
For four hundred grand
Hey Quetzalcoatl
Baking in the sun
The politicos lunched
With Anjelica Huston
I wish they had, I suppose
Stayed home and read
"The Emperor's New Clothes"
--Brian Boyd, San Jose

Nuked Lunch
arugula with pine nuts--
double mochaccino short--
cell phone beeper page
--Muriel Karr, Sunnyvale

Rheum Without View
Yellow clouds of poison
Ruin the view
We're flushing the Valley
Right down the loo
--Kimi J. Winters, San Jose

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From the September 17-23, 1998 issue of Metro.

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