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The Constellation of Extinct Stars
March 2016

Thousands Flee California Wildflowers

Scot Siegel

ISBN: 978-1-907056-94-9

Page Count: 92

Publication Date: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Click to play audio 'A Little Sweetness at Cafe Marzocca" from Scot Si... play
Click to play audio "Heaven of the Moment" from Scot Siegel's collecti... play
Click to play audio "Placer County Roadside Marker" from Scot Siegel's... play

About this Book

California, with its huge economy and ethos of tolerance and environmentalism, has long been considered a bellwether for American popular culture, high technology, and politics. "As California goes, so goes the country," they say. It is also true that California is less a place than it is a state of mind. Is it possible for one to live in California without actually setting foot there? Part-Elegy / Part-Song / Part-Travelogue, Scot Siegel’s latest book uses California as a springboard for considering "the age we live in." Humorous, wise, and at times melancholy, the poems in Thousands Flee California Wildflowers are at once local and universal in their appeal.  
"Scot Siegel writes from the deep pools of his imagination about subjects on the surface of contemporary life. These are deeply satisfying poems that bring you closer to knowing the lived-in world, the actual world, and the known world in a way only a poet can render. All along the poems come forward in a soulful, endearing, and generous fashion. Here is a poet who knows that the feelings that matter in life need a language that matters -- a language of clarity, vividness, and tenderness."
– David Biespiel, The Book of Men and Women 

"Thousands Flee California Wildflowers reads like a coming-of-age road trip interspersed with adult wisdom. Despite looking back to a world full of potential, the introspective poems are deeply nestled between the future and a present beset with natural calamities, wars, even prospects of aging. Siegel's elegies and reminiscences move with chiaroscuro realism that echoes his own words: There is no such thing as light / poetry--A shaft of darkness / runs through everything--"
--Arlene Ang, The Pedestal Magazine

Author Biography

Thousands Flee California Wildflowers is Scot Siegel’s second full-length poetry collection. His other volumes include Some Weather, Untitled Country, and Skeleton Says. Siegel’s poems are anthologized in the Aesthetica Creative Works Annual (UK), Open Spaces: Voices from the Northwest (Seattle: University of Washington Press 2011), Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology (County Clare, Ireland: Salmon Poetry 2010), and Before We Have Nowhere to Stand (Sandpoint, ID: Lost Horse Press 2012), among others. He has been awarded a residency from Playa, and has received awards and commendations from Aesthetica Magazine, Nimrod International, and the Oregon Poetry Association. He is a member of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and edits the online poetry journal Untitled Country Review. More information is available at Red Room:

Read a sample from this book

Placer County Roadside Marker

Here is the Goth whose father sleeps 
around. She is the Purple Heart he keeps
on the mantel. She’s packed the camo
duffle, stuffed it in the blue Beetle she stole
from her ex’s shop. She punches it with 
the top down. Hwy 49 wends south
through scrub oak like a black snake
or a garter snug on the leg of the Mother 
Lode: Gold Country. Peach Blossom
Ghosts of Crocker’s Chinese Railroad 
men. She can’t get away fast enough
She longs for the scent of bull pines slung 
among the swayback hills of Calaveras 
County. Angel’s Camp. Sweet gin from 
a still. Scruff of a boy’s chin on her lap
Promise of a little lakeside tryst. She’s 
famished when she arrives on his door-
step. He hands her a fistful of yellow 
asters, runs a hot bath with lavender salts
and feeds her a rib eye steak. His single-
wide is homey and she’s happy here. The 
floozies and the whiskey fits, the night 
terrors, and the strange calls for bail
all fade like a crass mural on the bar’s 
south wall. She’ll never fall in love 
again, she tells him in the dream. She’ll 
never return to That Devil! She’ll 
sleep here forever, if that’s what it takes,
turning under a canopy of aspens 
buried in amethyst lupines.

Heaven of the Moment
After John Morrison’s “Heaven of the Moment”

She scared herself on her horse today,
loping over the mole-pocked paddock
at the Lone Star Ranch. First day 
of dry weather in months. The sky,
through the sycamore branches, was 
a stern vole. A black lab frolicked 
on the hill. The air bristled with velocity
Cars pulled over just to watch her
She was that beautiful moving across 
the deep green field on a chestnut horse
Though she knew from his breathing, 
something wasn’t right. The lab was really
a wolf on the hill. The tourists had become
Iron figurines cast against the witch’s wood
His gait was a drumbeat, a human femur 
on an elk skin bodhran. She grabbed a hand-
ful of mane and closed her eyes. Mother 
looking on…The horse huffing glue, 
lunging for an imaginary heaven

A Little Sweetness at Café Marzocca

The barista’s going on about a little girl 
with red curls and hundred-dollar jeans
who reaches into the tip jar

The barista sees her, and it’s a standoff, 
a seesaw staring match in the middle 
of the midday rush

The barista wants to tell her mother, 
but the sun slants through the blinds
and she’s lost in a dream, 

recounting her own childhood–– 
The toy she wanted badly but didn’t get;
the gift that went to her sister––

Then mother enters and they face 
one another, and the girl has the gall 
to ask for a piece of candy!

But she’s so charming, flashing two 
one-dollar bills, like revolvers, 
in the barista’s face––

And we see the anguish rise
in the young woman’s eyes, dark eyes 
that say, I’m doing my best, but she’s killing me!

And the barista wants nothing more 
than to see the bad girl squirm; 
Watch mother dress her down,

Teach her a lesson she’ll never forget; 
the one she’ll spend the rest of her life 

Copyright © Scot Siegel 2012

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