Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Last Night, Hoot of the Owl

Photo by Ronald Edwin Lane, Weimar

—Ronald Edwin Lane

It’s cold today
The moon lonely
A waning sliver
Adrift in the blue
Endless blue

The wind blows
Too cold for this time of year
An oak fell across the road
Its leaves already withered
Branches broken

It’s cold today
The moon lonely
A waning sliver
Adrift in the blue
Endless blue


Thanks, Ron! Ronald Lane reminds us that the wheel of the seasons continues, as the days shorten into autumn even in the midst of summer heat. We're talking about The Winds of Change this week; send your poems to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. (But I notice that last week's moon continues to haunt us, to slip into our poems here and there...)

Here are three "change" poems from Taylor Graham. The first is from her new book about Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith and peacemaker; see the bulletin board over at the right of this column for more info on this book that is especially appropriate for July 4th. Then Mitz Sackman continues her "Urban Solace" cycle. And D.R. Wagner says his contribution came out of nowhere; he just "sat down and there it was."


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

(Governor David S. Reid, North Carolina to Elihu Burritt, 1854)

The North Wind off Yankee hardpan.
Abolition Wind—
does it speak in the voice of your brother Elijah?
The South Wind from deltas and bayous
full of the plaints of slaves longing to be free.
Wind of Peace,
the Olive Leaf Wind in accents of Boston and Bristol,
Worcesters on both sides of the sea.
The East Wind bearing news of the Vaterland,
the five languages of Schleswig-Holstein.
Atlantic winds mournful as a Highland mother calling
to her son, emigrated to far-off Montreal.
Ocean Penny Postage Wind delivering his tidings.
The West Wind, wild with rumor and whisperings
in Spanish, Russian, Canadian French.
Winds eddying in the laps of mountains, speaking
in dust storms,
in Miwok, Navajo, tongues you’ve never heard.
God’s Wind, language before the earth was divided.


—Taylor Graham

A perfect day beside the lake,
crystal blue of snowmelt mellowed
by the warmth of summer bursting out
in butterweed and lupine, columbine; sky
a stainless blue, earth rejoicing
under the red-check cloth; anchovy-garlic
spread on sourdough, a plate of oysters
on the half-shell with chardonnay; the two
of you, plus warblers singing in their sweetly
foreign languages as clouds build
over the summit and an unexpected breeze
ruffles the edges darkening, a flash
and rumble of thunder, but still far off;
riffling the red-check cloth above earth’s
mantle convecting, magma rippling our
surface to imperceptible shift, a hawk-
shadow crossing some small creature’s
idea of protection, its warren.


—Taylor Graham

This fresco teases the imagination,
frustrates the mind that wishes answers.
Only this after the sand and wind
came through. They must have been
upscale people, for their time—what
time?—women in robes and ringlets,
sandal'ed men with swords.
A fragment of fresco makes no sound.
Last night, hoot of the owl.
This morning, a flight of crows.
Wind and sand wordless as their
secret, hermetic in time.


Garden Night
—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

She looks out the kitchen window
Her small garden a picture of stillness
In the fading light
She has worked hard this summer
Planting and harvesting
Been abundantly rewarded by fresh food and herbs
She reflects on the turning of the year
Solstice but a distant memory
The cross quarter day approaches
Her garden dance of thankfulness is due
She prepares carefully washing with herbs
Donning her cloak, she steps out in the moonlight
Slowly dropping the cloak, she circles the garden sky-clad
She thanks the earth for its fruits
For her life and dreams


—Mitz Sackman

He kept a moth
In his wallet
To remember the past.
—Stephen Dobyns

His family moved from the farm when he was twelve
Just in time to be a city boy for his teen years
And yet….
He keeps a moth

Moving from nature and morning chores
To city nightlife and constant busyness
He needs to work, to have a job
Needs his own money
In his wallet

Sometimes it feels as though his life has changed too much
Newness blows through with unfamiliar rhythms
These times he feels uncentered
He slows down
To remember the past


—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

We had been traveling for many days.
The far lands still seemed as far away
As ever. Everyone looked young, ready
To devour whatever might be placed
Before us. We had a million ideas.

From the evening hills, just before the dark
The purple winds could be seen gathering.
We had no idea what they were, only that
They seemed ominous and unwelcoming.

By the time they were upon us all was
Confusion. I could not see past my own
Hand. Voices could be heard but it was
Impossible to identify anyone because
The wind claimed even their voices.

We had no idea when the wind passed,
Only that we were no longer young, that
It was harder to see due to the dust
In the air. We were scattered but still
Traveling. We tried to regroup, to find

Our friends from before the winds.
The sun was much less bright, so many
Looked familiar. The dogs had wandered off.


Today's LittleNip:

Our lives are like the plants
floating along the water's edge
Illumined by the moon.

—Ryokan (translated by John Stevens)