Thursday, September 19, 2019


—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

    on the barn-quilt trail

Summer past solstice, a brisk wind
up-canyon. Orchards ripening to apple-colors,
spray of lavender by an oak-barrel
table above vineyard.
Rucksack pattern painted on wine-
cellar, a quilt design storied from somewhere
in Africa, ending up here. We’re all
The land grows like
crazyquilt—pumpkin-patch and pasture,
harvest-shed, woodlot. Our land’s a comforter
stitched with roads and fences.
At edge of forest, Raven croaks a warning:
Winter coming.
He speaks of transformations as we
might talk of quilts and poems, metaphor and
art made from scraps of living—
memory-remnants worked into patterns
to pass down generations.
Raven’s words are true;
see how clouds converge, darkening bright
with storm.
We’ll gather up our wrappers,
scribblings that might become poems,
leftover words to take back down the hill,
and home; starters for an autumn song.


Traffic’s cruising down the two-lane
too fast for the nasty curves, but so goes
a country road.
And there—a dark form
elongated into human, man lounging
at edge of pavement, feet in the westbound
What strangeness repels fate?
His destination: direction the sun sets; he’s
on his way to see his sister in the Valley;
he stands up, strides away.
On his ballcap: Cookies.


From Feed & Seed (Stetsons and rat traps),
the county 2-lane follows old overland trail but
with gaps—fences obliterating the route.

You’re still a ways from your destination.
Forget location devices, GPS will get you lost.
Old RR track, and a bridge that gathers

flowered crosses on the shoulder—slow down
for the curves. At the T, look sharp
for an old house rooted on hilltop rock, but

with a garden of solar panels, an avant-garde
outpost with generations of antennae,

satellite dishes trying to connect to this
world spinning almost too fast

for wheels on a country road.


7:35 a.m. School bus is stopped at intersection to make left turn— crosswalk occupied by two wild turkeys, tails fanned. Traffic stopped all four ways. A gray SUV waits to turn right; lady in high boots gets out, arms wide, shoos turkeys away but they pirouette, regroup at crosswalk and centerline. Lady chases, kicking, turkeys not impressed. Man in corner house comes out, stands on his porch to watch the action. Vehicles in four directions at a standstill, backed-up out of sight. No one’s honking but laughing.

turkeys with tom tails
at full banner—rush hour
in our little town

 Main Street, Placerville


Back in ’84, we stepped into Cash Mercantile and I bought myself a pair of Redwing boots I still wear. Cash Mercantile? Maybe it replaced the Round Tent, but that was before our time. Cash Mercantile’s gone now, along with Rivendell books and Hidden Passage and a string of indie bookstores that couldn’t make it in this world of big chains and cyber-shopping. But the Bookery survives. And people still walk their dogs past Placerville News and they still smile and say hello under foothills blue sky

and on the ridgetop
tall pines looking down on us
changeable humans


Kink and twist of chipseal. Look for scarecrow in a pumpkin field. Apple trees far as the eye—pears, barn, vineyard. Beyond, dark of evergreen. A flight of crows. Maybe I dreamed scarecrow, but what’s autumn without one? Scarecrows in a school garden we passed miles ago. Keep on driving, looking for scarecrow wearing family castoffs, come to life stuffed with straw. Crow and raccoon, honey-bear at edge of winter. Who stole every apple from the tree? Scarecrow keeps it to himself, family secrets into dark.

scarecrow in patchwork
field as sun lengthens shadow
this day to ages

 Sue Crisp, Improvisationalist

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

rime couée for Royal manual portable
at WINEderlust, Placerville

Vintage typewriter, vintage wine—
a perfect fit, a match divine.
Might I type you a verse
in honor of this festive day?
What subject? That’s for you to say.
It won’t empty your purse….

Donations always welcome, but
we do this for the love of—what?
of poetry! of rhyme
and words so wing’d, they fly for free
as I press down each vintage key.
Verse, like wine, takes its time.


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for today’s fine poems, taking us into the country and talking as we have been of quilts and country roads and autumn. She and Placerville Poet Sue Crisp are improvising poems on typewriters for visitors to Main Street in Placerville. For more about the
rime couée, visit

Tonight at 6 pm, Taylor Graham will be reading at Arts and Culture El Dorado’s Confidence Lab, 437 Main Street, Placerville.

Before that, at noon today, Third Thursdays in the Sacramento Room of the Central Library in Sacramento (on I Street) will hold its monthly poetry read-around at noon—bring poems by someone other than yourself.

And here are FOUR new calendar entries for today and tomorrow:

•••Tonight at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar presents Sojourna Jennings plus open mic on 16th St. in Sacramento.

•••Also tonight at 8, Poetry in Davis will host Elana K. Arnold and Mischa Kuczynski plus open mic at John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis.

•••Tomorrow night, 8-11pm, Luna’s will host the Sacramento Unified Poetry Slam.

•••And also tomorrow night, at Capital Books, 6pm, Six Poets Laureate will be together for one evening in a discussion about Social Justice issues, including some readings from the anthology,
Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice, followed by a Q&A with the audience. That’s at 1011 K St. in Sacramento.

Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

—Medusa, refreshed after her mystery day off

 Chicken Contemplates Crossing the Country Road
—Anonymous Photo

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.