Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Black Sheep, Cont.

Photo by Bob Dreizler, Sacramento
For info and more photos, go to

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

In black wrinkles of nubbin-wool
he frolics
from mother to garden gate.

The other lamb was stillborn.
Does she meditate
on justice as she chews her cud?

Tragedies of a tilted globe.
Lambs in winter storm.

Thousands of miles away
an earthquake tears a city
from its womb, kills so many

mothers’ daughters.
Windfall branches splinter
from the oak.

Betsy shepherds her living


—Taylor Graham

Just three weeks old – it’ll be months
before he fledges, loses his lamb-wings,
becomes a stodgy sheep; melts into
the mold of his sire, his dam – both white.

He’s a mismatch, “Charcoal” slurred to
“Chuckle”; dark as his new friend,
“Boogie,” who hotdogs around the edges
of the flock. Neither one fits in.

The mother-ewe stamps to drive away
the dog. There’s no honesty in a canine,
no guarantee he won’t devour her child.
Is it instinct, or corrosion of curiosity?

Just imagine, this unfledged lamb
is trying his best to fly,
to perform unspeakable
miracles, to play with the enemy.


—Richard Zimmer, Sacramento

Fred was cast as a black sheep by his family.
Rejecting reality, he lived in a dream world.
In the big city, he felt all alone. He would
visit museums to enjoy beautiful pictures.

He came upon an Edward Hopper painting
of a city scene that had wall-to-wall brick
buildings. Fred thought the windows all
looked like blank eyes staring at him.

In big cities, there are people everywhere,
but in the painting not a soul could be seen.
There was only emptiness. Nervously, Fred
clasped his hands and recited a child’s verse:

This is the church. This is the steeple.
Open your hands. See all the people.

Fred watched his wriggling fingers,
smiled and sighed.


—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

I went to the baa baa to cut my Afro
and he said, yours is a North American
so that will be an extra charge.
OK, start cutting, I told him.

He removed a lot of hair so
big black curls fell to the floor and
formed little cliques that hung tightly
together, but not so snugly as to mask
the gray hairs, those telltale markers
of my personal grooming history.

When he was finally done he asked me
to check the mirror to see if he had
gotten it straight in back…or at least
what was left of the back…

which now looked like one of those
WW II ships that opened up gaping
wide to release hoards of viciously armed
men on the beaches to bring an even
larger enemy under control.

How’s that? Pretty cool? he said.
I kept looking at the mirror, and then
away from it, finding nothing I could
fixate on for more than two seconds.

You’re an artist, I confided, and then I
paid him the fee and a commensurate tip.
I’ll see what my friends and family say,
I thought, as I donned my visor cap and
emerged into the sunlight.


Today's LittleNip:

As his wisdom increased, so did his sense of fragility.

—Stephen Dobyns



Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove