Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Has This Valley Ever Been a Sea?

Sea Horse
Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

Sun swollen
a wanton wave
peels off sand glitter
under salt blistered sky
while in our ears
the roar of incessant coupling
sea with shore
inky kilometer of silence breaks the surf
slough off skin
recover new mantles of gristle and bone
startled by the opening eye of a clamshell
we wait for the foam
whatever it brings from the rim of the future
cargo of jelly sting or tailspin of semen
in a rage to create ‘mid starfish and swordfish
our own streaming kind


Thanks, Pat (and D.R.)! We're Sea-Dreaming this Week, which kind of overlaps with last week's tippy old boat. Send your sea dreams to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. No deadline on Seeds of the Week.

But don't forget the deadline coming up for Swan Scythe Press chapbook contest submissions: June 1—sooner than you think. Go to for info.

I hope you're watching the pix change over there on Medusa's bulletin board at the right, including the ones 'way down at the bottom. Our new Poet-to-Poet includes Katy and Miranda Brown talking to Jane Blue a couple of years ago at a Rattlesnake B-Day Bash.

This from Charles Mariano, who says he's floatin’ on an innertube in the sea of life:

(Sonoma Coast)
—Charles Mariano, Sacramento

we sat in a stylish
dock restaurant
just off the bay
a mid-week getaway
from real life

through our window
just beyond the kelp, seals
and thin layer
of morning fog,

a small boat
the masts down
slanted, staggered
copping a lean

i hesitated asking
our waiter
the obvious question,
but couldn’t resist

“what’s with that boat?”

he frowned, tried to mask
his annoyance,
then gave me the standard can

“been stuck out there
three years,”
then left it at that

i frowned
wanting details
cursed quietly
between bites
of my steamed salmon,

“well, that explains it”
i said


And Taylor Graham sends us three, which she says are an assortment, some of it kind of weird. But isn't that what dreams do? (Speaking of Taylor Graham, you can see her and other Placerville-area poets tonight, 6-7pm, at The Upstairs Art Gallery, 420 Main St (2nd floor), Placerville. It's a poetry open-mike read-around, so bring your own poems or those of a favorite poet to share, or just come to listen. No charge.)

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Mercury is leaking into your smile. No, your smile’s
gone dull gray, a diminished scale. Beachfront
property in fog. It could be depression, it could be
dental amalgam in your teeth. The paint in your studio,
your favorite grilled salmon. Mercury slides inside
your skin, a musical arrangement sleek as tides
or mermaid song.

Your wife has put out flowers, tarnished-gold
chrysanthemums for a son’s birthday.
Beyond the breakers below your window,
silver-scaled fishes sing pure tone.

Isn’t a symphony at the top of a composer’s
food-chain? Your son dreams in at least four
movements. When did you stop making your own
music? An offspring’s imagined planetary work slides
through the measures, his fingers easy as fins,
as inspiration. It slides in and out of your dreams,
this music.

Maybe he’ll call it Mercury.
Maybe he’ll call it The Sea.


—Taylor Graham

(for Elihu Burritt)

From this upstairs window, such a view
over green England. You can almost
see the ocean—that gulf between
mother and child; families split apart

by old hunger and its New-World chances.
Why can’t a Bristol mother
sail a letter to her son in Boston?
It would cost a pirate’s hoard.

You sit at a plain three-legged table
with creeper curtaining the windows,
scent of flowers, chip of birds
through an open casement, writing

pleas to both sides of the ocean—letters
whose postage costs so dear. Pleas
that repeat, repeat like tiding dreams.
Like the tang of salt air. Tang of tears.


—Taylor Graham

The once-dry creek is wild. Water overflows the banks,
the culvert, floods the drive, my dreams. Debris
backed up against the lower fence. Our house
on its small hill—has this valley ever been a sea?
Did humans climb Stone Mountain as the waters rose?
When hunger taught them it was safe to come back
down, did they sink out of sight in mud,
earth mixed with ocean? Did Ravens spring from
their bodies to become a new race
of man? Listen to Raven with his rumble-croak
from a live-oak down the hill. In my dreams
it’s the gravel-notes of land and ocean changing
places, changing everything.


Today's LittleNip:

[I want to create] something that goes from the eye to the soul without passing through the brain.

—Richard Tuttle



The Sea as Memory
Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner