Sometimes there is a long thunder
That comes down from the hills.
It seems quite quiet at first, then
Builds, rolling off the tops of the high
Places and tracking across the valley
As if it were a floor of dreams,
Not the kinds of things one normally
Thinks of as dream, but more refined
As if years had taught the sound
Exactly how to lean this way so our
Ears could find the voice there, that
Of rain, that of electricity, that of change.
It was the change that made the difference
For it came without desire, dressed
In plain clothing and limping slightly
As it reached down through the weather
And softened the air for the water.
How quietly it came upon the thunder
One would think it was something expected
But still surprising in a particular way
Like falling in love or dying.
—Kevin Jones, Fair Oaks
Though I’d been
On the job
The new dean
As though I were
A new hire.
And so I talked
Through a lunch
I eventually bought.
She smirked as only
A college dean
Her eyes. “So—
Has anything good
I shrugged. “I’m
Done,” I thought.
And a short
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
How shall I re-engineer hope
after the morning news?
Shark attack in a tranquil bay.
On our globe’s winter-side,
sheepmen tending their frozen flocks.
As if all creature-kind were foster
children of sore distress.
The boy binding his father’s leg,
nudging the lamb back to life.
IN THE DARK
Awake at 2 a.m. to silver-soft
song of the house-wren tipping her tail.
No birds in the dark. An unfamiliar
scent through the screens. Is it
the cat purring in the crook of my knee,
this sound, steady – no,
hesitant as stepping down splintered
stairs, the barefoot end
of summer turning everything
what we thought perpetual – our
Earth – so brittle, antique and fading into
joy. Open every
window, listen to the rain.
What, that we could look across the harbor
And still see the boat that brought us here
Steaming away like a black maggot, belching
Diesel and left-over evening, splashing red and lurid
Blues all around the upper air. We would be here
Forever and we knew it. Someone lit a cigarette,
Passed it around until it was nothing as well.
We were not seeking. We weren’t even saying.
It was mostly that it was cold and we were without
Features now that night had taken the brush,
Painting furiously to get ahead of a moon that
Would be pale, almost green as it tried to overcome
The entrance hymn that night had prepared.
Somewhere someone began to play an old tango,
El Amanecer, I think it was. It felt like blood coming
From a cut wrist as it inched it way closer. If we
Hadn’t been so distracted by the situation we
Might have tried to forget the little bird sounds
That filled its middle, but we were unable to do so.
Better to stay huddled here, away from all
Conversation, dedicating ourselves to leaving
Rather than looking for Albion. Pierre suggested
We try to dance. I took a long drink and stood up.
“Two step or waltz, tango or polka?” I bowed to everyone
Gathered there in the black and imagined they did so as well.
I can always hold you in the thrall
Where your own dreams are the commander,
Where the drums lighting the frames of waking
Trip across your legs and your eyes and pull
You down closer to the earth, to smell the actual
Dirt of the Renaissance of understanding
That comes with our waking in the morning:
“Look, look the beautiful redbreast is making
The thrush song just above our bed where we
Are loving such as never has been seen before.”
This will drain our blood, make us remark to
Our loved ones that words such as these are
Dark and without attempt to make them beat
Upon the doors of our daily lives and resonate
With the perfect clarity they might bring to any
Literary situation. “Psst...take this gun, may it
Serve you well.” But we do not adopt this kind
Of reason, instead we use our lips and loins to
Describe to one another the thrill as it moves
Into these very dreams. It is here
I will disarm you finally, look across the gadget
That is time, past this pathetic renaissance
I will speak to you purely here. Come here!
Here, hold me as I tell you to, believe
That we can actually communicate this way.
I will touch you where you most desire to be
Touched and you will do the same. We will work
Our mouths to elicit this intensity of contact.
We will grind together like the graphite against
Paper that made the drawings of Piranesi—
Those very things within we wished to be lost.