Noe Valley Voice May 2011


Poems by Janell Moon 

How to Write Awareness

Take the place you once lived and erase its memory. There is never a blank scene. Follow the dog to his house out back across the lawn. Let your feet sink in the grass. Glance at the boat encountered. It’s before the doghouse. But why is the boat up in the tree? Lift your eyes from the spring-summer ground and the boat is afloat in the sky. Awareness. Is the dog really so important as long as he’s fed? That’s what I was trying to tell you last night. Your eyes raised to see what’s overhead. What’s hidden in trees. Go ahead. Wander. Enjoy the night air. The story line and the find of rising things imprints the ages, a reaching for midnight runs on the chalk dust of stars.



She likes the way she tells her story in a rectangle sometimes punctuation sometimes not it depends on how she’s feeling that day, no period or comma makes it harder to read but her day may be a bit harder than other days so you are joined with her oh reader, as you struggle through and don’t you always get through? And doesn’t she too? Haven’t you been warming the egg that hatches many lives and hasn’t it lived more than not? ­Together you are on an acacia branch over a pond on such a hot day. With voices soothing in the summer air, you jump and find coolness, the water deep enough for your splash. Then back to the nest and the shape of the story that also harbors a nest that holds more than ­thistledown and feather, more than tiny sticks and shiny strings; it grips in the crook of the branch and stays. It stays in the crook of that branch, an arm extended, gently and firmly. You wish not to be alone you want to step into the shade that nature holds hidden in its deep body of soil rest in the body of life in this soft cotton resting on a tuft of summer.


How to Write Awareness II

Find the next clue: the man in the suit without the pockets, the woman whose hats hide her face, the city remembered by the coastline: windings of beach and surf, sturdy trees blown back by wind over sea. When the wind dies down, read in bed with a cat, digital TV softly telling its crime story. Glance up when the man next door murders his wife. He wears brown wingtips. Wingtips and time enter memory but leave a space for you. Carve a place for yourself there between words. Take a leap. Go ahead, add layers of meaning. Add a 1960s fashion, a pinstripe suit if you wish. Maybe an office with pane glass windows looking out on a parking lot of Corvairs and convertibles. Park where you wish. Touch. Aren’t fragments enough? Even a bit of red paint? Who needs the back bumper or trunk to know a hood of a car? Fill in and go on smelling the sand and the sea air, sense the danger of the silent boardwalk at night, the one that curves into a dark holding room away from the rain. Imagine the link between tin and toast, seaweed and lemon, the weight of them. Hold them in your hands and you’ll feel a lightness. Your body knows.


Streaming Through the Veil

At three a.m.

the cloth of night loosens,

an alphabet hovers above us

watermarking our dreams.

Words slip through sleep’s netting,

City warriors, wounded souls,

stories in the streets we live.


The heavy stone turns

into a midnight cross,

swallows rush ahead of rain.

Rain has time.

Rain waits in the leaves,

summer trees, a high tide in flight

showers a mulberry sky.

The foggy night desolate, then drenched.


Row of poets—Sexton, Platt, Bishop—

a camera, Lord Byron directs them

as they say,

We can only guess the soul.

There are answers in the quiet.

There are questions in the sky.


Never Tell Anyone at a Party

I work as a hypnotherapist in Noe Valley. I try to think fast and tell a stranger the other positions I hold but usually I’m not quick enough, end up saying weakly that I have a private practice as a counselor and hypnotherapist in San Francisco. Hoping that the counseling or distance to San Francisco will negate any interest. But no.

Wow! I always wondered if I could be hypnotized. Did you ever have anyone not be able to? Is there really such a thing as hypnotized? Aren’t they faking? It’s called trance, right? Trance, now that’s a crazy word. To be gone, out of control. I don’t think you could get me to do it. Do anything someone says. Could be really scary but might be fun! Do you think you could do it right now? Like right as I’m standing here? Could you get me to act like a chicken? I don’t think you could. I don’t think I could be hypnotized. But could you get any group—like this group, this group right here—get these poets to cluck like chickens? I bet if you were good you could. This whole group clucking. That’d be a good one. I once heard of someone who got hypnotized and the hypnotherapist couldn’t get him to wake up, had to call emergency, and the guy had to be taken to the hospital and he never came out. Did that ever happen to someone at your office?




For 24 years, Janell Moon has been a hypnotherapist and life coach for individuals and couples in Noe Valley. She works out of an office on 23rd Street near Church. The author of two poetry collections and the current poet laureate of Emeryville, Calif., Moon also excels at writing poetry and creative nonfiction. On Tuesday, May 10, starting at 6:45 p.m., she will teach a free poetry workshop at the Bernal Heights Library, 500 Cortland Ave. Her most recent nonfiction work is a memoir, Salt and Paper: 65 Candles, published in November by Raw Art Press. For more titles, visit her website, You can reach her at her office, 415-824-2490, or via email at

—Olivia Boler


The Noe Valley Voice invites you to ­submit fiction, essays, poetry, or photos for possible publication in Other Voices. Mail to the Noe Valley Voice, P.O. Box 460249, San Francisco, CA 94146. Or email Please include your name, address, and phone number, and a stamped envelope if you want your manuscript returned. We look forward to hearing from you.