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LisaAnn LoBasso featured at April Open Mic

LisaAnn LoBasso featured at April Open Mic

Story by Portia Choi

Photographs by Ezekiel Espanola

 

LisaAnn LoBasso was the featured poet in April 2018.  LoBasso has performed in California and nationally.  She has performed as a featured poet with past California Poet Laureate Al Young and also in well-known venues such as the Bowery Poetry Club, the Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe, Cornelia Street Cafe, and A Gathering of Tribes in New York City.

LoBasso said that she “started performing when I was about 18 years old. I began performing while in college at Berkeley and then performed at the art gallery at Bakersfield College (BC) while back in Bakersfield for the summer.  During my time in town back then, I also curated and organized exhibits at BC.”  Although she’s been on a long hiatus from performing, she has performed a few years ago at the Claremont Reading Series, in Los Angeles County, after being asked by a retired professor who has been her lifelong mentor, as well as at Bakersfield College in an event that honored poets of this valley.

When asked what it was like to recite her poetry to a local audience at the Open Mic, LoBasso said that “I can perform almost on automatic.  But, I always want to do something new.  I don’t write poetry right now, so I did not want to repeat the same poems again to the same people.”

At the April Open Mic, LoBasso commented that the photographer Ezekiel Espanola was a close friend.  She said, “He thanked me, how I had influenced him to pursue the arts, that said that without my influence he may not have conceived art as a career option.  I met Ezekiel when I had the nX (Non-Profit Arts Venue).  He felt we had created a true artists’ community and was doing his own work to try to influence the arts in our county and he wanted to be involved and try to combine some of our efforts.”

When asked about her writing habit, LoBasso said that when and if she writes, she “sets aside time, usually late at night or early in the morning when it is quiet.  In the past , I might have taken my computer into a corner in a dark bar where I’d be left alone to my soda water and thoughts, but now I don’t do that.  When I was very young, I hand wrote everything. And then typed it out on a typewriter. It was a cumbersome process. Sometimes when I was out, I’d write on anything, a napkin or a receipt, but eventually, as technology advanced, I wrote directly into the computer.”

About the book that she is working on she said, “I wrote 7,000 words in one day.  I’m a high intensive writer when I write, but I’m more restricted physically than I used to be. I cannot just sit at a computer and write. Instead, I may dictate to another person or voice record and then have it transcribed. If I write, I write whatever thoughts I have and avoid all self-editing on that first initial draft.”

When speaking about the poetry community in Bakersfield, LoBasso said “There is an interest in the community more than I have ever seen, but it doesn’t always feel like more people are involved in the organization of poetry events. It would be great to see more and more people who are interested step up and initiate more events.”

LoBasso is currently concentrating on a writing project which is not poetry but relevant to our current societal changes.

She has published two books of poetry:  In the Swollen and Oleander Milkshake.

Two of the poems that LoBasso recited at the Open Mic are “Sugarloaf” and “Third Marriage.”  LoBasso said, “’Sugarloaf’ was written in the first few months of Jasmin’s life in 1992 and ‘Third marriage’ was written in May 2015 when Jasmin married.”

 

Sugarloaf

by LisaAnn LoBasso

 

In Sugarloaf, in the center of 102

acres, her twenty-three inch body

watched trees grow, saw streams

flow below the earth, heard wet

sugar dripping from branches where

whispering birds shot from waterfall

to pine.

 

A poem always has rape in it.

Incest.

Molestation crawling from the walls.

Anger scrawled in a dark place, in a poem.

 

When she turned, I didn’t answer her gurgle.

Her white skin, pasting her body together,

Tightened as she smiled.

And I smiled.  What is this?

Everyone needs peace.

 

Yes, from the fear in a hollow space, in a poem.

Her syrupy body glimmers in the daylight.

Her eyes glaze over as the fog creeps around

her cheeks whining red.

She licks my nose, nodding her football head

when I laugh.

Her small hands clasp my hair, ripping it.

 

I stare at her lightbulb body.

How could anyone not love her body?

How could any man love her body?

She is my baby, my daughter dripping

sweet from her mouth like sap from leaves.

Her eyes are blue-grey like the pewter sky.

 

I don’t doubt for a minute that she loves her life.

Her grandfather blasts Gatorade cans off fallen

logs where I spot deer tracks.

Her grandmother wipes her diamond chin

As white slop flows like a river.

Why can’t life be like the forest, she crinkles

her question, her forehead growing old

like her mother.

I flatten my face in the icy creek

that dries up in seconds.  The tress fall.

Birds boomerang into oak trunks and crash

to the sad earth.

 

I am still mesmerized by her body,

its picturesque innocence dripping

sweet square sugarloaf, I almost cannot

hear the roar of the monster

eating the mountain

filled with rape, incest

molestation in the dark silent squirrel holes.

 

 

 

Third Marriage

by LisaAnn LoBasso

 

It’s 11:14pm, the night before you will wed

The rehearsal dinner just ending, we slipped out

hours early, for the needs

of our abandoned bear

scratches on her head

 

The girls henna and polish, scrub and thread

The black and white flashdrive missing

No, no, not in the hole

of my coral cross-body bag

 

It’s the final hour

The sweet short poem I was to read is tossing back

a nightcap with the flashdrive

I scour the world wide web for something to

capture a moment, a poet’s perfected ppppp

 

(But) there is no alliteration for marriage

I know I should be writing your wedding poem

But I dont write poetry anymore

I read Sharon Olds

 

We stood

            holding each other by the hand, yet I also

            stood as if alone, for a moment,

            just before the vow…

 

            …I felt

            the silent, dry, crying ghost of my

            parents’ marriage there…

            …one of the plummeting flies…

 

I’m zombie-ing through, you

insert yourself to claim a promise

set into motion more than two decades ago

Two weeks, only my back to you

as wedding moments whisk

 

I remember my apartment in Rockridge, 18, before you

As your Grandma and Grandpa set me out on my own

I remember my mother’s back

My father scolding

“Look what you’ve done now”

 

Stuck in the transition, I think liar,

my mother doesn’t cry

But, I edge around her

and I see

 

Today is your third marriage

I should be practiced for this rehearsal, but

Leanardo never took you from the sinking ship

Or my arms, when you confessed your love,

kissing the television

 

It was a marriage of sweet spirit

the storyline already laid out

 

Number 2 was simple too

your sister’s secret elopement with you

never made he newspapers

Or the scandal rags

 

It was a marriage of fantasy

sisters as close as hands and feet

 

Today, this marriage,

your third marriage

is all about reality

That you would rather share a coke

With him, than anyone

 

Mothers do not walk brides down aisles

lift veils, or shake hands

Letting go is in the grace

It’s a love like sugarloaf pines

 

High on the moantian

you stand to the left, my baby, pewter eyes,

tradition signaling marriage by capture,

your groom saving his fighting hand

to pick up the reigns, protect you

 

Weddings are the same everywhere,

families, complaints, promises,

reverie we can forget without the camera clicks

A few moments stick

 

Like Sirius XM calls

traditions disturbed by music

salesmen dripping uninvited

into this intimate moment

 

Your groom is quite sure

“No, no, I do not want to renew my service.”

Inconvenient rings magnifying.  Freezing.

This is one of those stone moments

But hold them, don’t throw them

 

My father once said I will wed many times

I say, let the third be your last, my doll

 

My mother says:  What,

no chocolate cake?

Fluffy promises of a covert cake operation.

My eyelashes fall off. I say

 

Let them not eat cake!

 

 

 

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