Wednesday, March 10, 2010

How Many Cats?

"Pot man", Sacramento Camellia Show
Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Flat on my back in a display case—will they
ever find me here? The glass so smudged
with seasons and neglect. The room so dark
and derelict. Windows boarded. Spiders
own this place—cobwebs above my head.

A sudden crack of light chinks the gloom.
Creak of feet on wooden floor. Can the dog
hear my heartbeat magnified in glass?
I could be a child abducted. A store clerk
trapped when earth shook and the walls

fell down. Today it’s just-pretend, a game.
I’m waiting for a dog to find me in this dismal
cache. A beam of flashlight crosses, passes
by. The dog’s breath more insistent, focused—
closing in. Its handler scans me with his

light, finds his own reflection smeared
on filthy glass. He can’t conceive I’d hide
in such a place. A dog’s a whiz, but
he’s stuck with a partner who won’t believe
in possibilities.


—Taylor Graham

How many different color cats
can you fit in an old yellow school bus?

Why a yellow school bus?

Why not?

An old black queen and a tawny tom.
Small white kitten with a big meow.
Gray-smoky with a midnight howl.
Brown tabby with a bell.
Tortoise shell without a tail.
Raggy’ calico
and jaunty tiger-stripe.
black-&-white tuxedo.
Cats with claws
and cats without.
Every color and creed of cat

all fit in a yellow school bus.
What’s the score?


Thanks to Taylor Graham (and today's other poets) for their poems on our Seed of the Week: Games. Taylor says, I've been wondering what to do with that dream about the cats in the school bus... TG will be reading tonight at 7:30pm at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento, as The Snake Salutes Poems-For-All. (Be there!) And give our Seed a try, too—send poems about games—real games or mind games—to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 94726. No deadline on SOWs.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

I wanted to be matador,
I wanted to rival, no, surpass, El Cordobés,

El Señor Reckless in a tobacco-and-gold
suit of lights, with a floppy Bobby
Kennedy forelock, with a luck-sporting, lockdown

contempt for all purity of line in the verónica.

(Did Saint Veronica keep her pink-and-magenta
corrida cloth pure and free of all Jesus’ blood taint,
cleansed of Christ’s horrific bullring suffering
sweat-and-tears’ tinge?)

This young man shook with rage,
this young matador blazed a page, Evel
Knievel with motocicleta muleta.

I ached to emulate, I aimed to ape him, wove
natural upon natural upon natural, offhand,
with the allemand left of the old red rag
in the right left hand.

Paso dobles cascaded from my juvenile trumpet.

Ah, how my playmates ignored me,
horned me and horned me, contrary to all taurine
rule of school. With fingers their horns
scored me. They scoffed me and scuffed me
—on every bull’s hard-charging forehead cow-catcher:

Oh, Impulsivo, how cruelly before I
could sword you, you
gored me. And a nation, an ocean
of sand-gazing Spaniards, ached for me,
prayed for me, cleansed me with tears, even
gave extreme unction.

Now I am back. In full function,
a kettle of fettle, and virile.
The faena is now. And now you
are the prey. How I say
spells the way of your going. ¡Olé!


—Tom Goff

She is a woman feeling,
clasping the no-man moment.

A widow
is what she is,
says whom
she knows. She

widow in window; her
semblance obscures
as the scouring & rinsing

Wind, oh the wind as it gusts
and it fists on the pane, while the cloud
darkens and lightens.

That sound that might represent
her, keening, speaks
of thumb and fingers,
her fingers, in wet
cloth, cleaning.

A window shares
none of itself till
it glares, till it

Out of transparency,
to and from clarity,
she stares,
she stares,
she stares.

One cool expanse of pane,
admitting the heat of the light and letting it

She is glass.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

This story’s strange—it doesn’t seem real.
One day, in Reno, I played the roulette wheel.
Numbers kept running through my head.
Something told me, Bet 24 red.
The croupier gave the wheel a spin—
to my surprise, it was a win!
That’s when I heard a little voice say,
Don’t pick your bet up—let it play!
I don’t know why, but I did what it said—
the wheel again hit 24 red!
I jumped up and down, reaching for my pay,
But the little voice said, Let it lay!
Shaking with fear—I left my big stack.
My whole life flashed by—I heard, 25 black!
I’d lost it all, a whole lot of bread.
Oh shit! Was all the little voice said.


Today's LittleNip:

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.

—Sir Richard Steele



Wild Turkeys, Ancil Hoffman Park
Photo by Michelle Kunert