Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Lambs And Four-O'clocks

A new apricot tree flexes its muscles in spring
—Photo by Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

You gave no sign—
grazed all morning with the others.
Then, four sheep
instead of five. You were gone.
Among rocks, back-side
of the hill, I found you
with your newborn—nudged
into a cubby of stone
mossed with rain.

Such a tiny thing, wrapped
in nubbins of wool.
Shall I call her Tsu,
for Tsunami? That's
the news I was watching—
terrible news
from the far side of the globe—
so I almost missed
your small news,

this lamb with knobs
of ankle and knee,
and legs much too long
to manage.
But look, she's
to her feet, she's
nursing. Better late
than no good news at all.


—Taylor Graham

Windows open all by themselves,
breezing out the winter's depression stew.

Wild-plum bursts into white petal,
miners-lettuce a loaded gun of tiny blooms.

The new lamb concentrates on a blade
of grass. Soon he'll be a robber of roses.

Rain-spatters rattle against the garden spade.
Daffodils golden on the old dogs' graves.


—Tom Goff, Carmichael

In our house hangs a poppy painting,
Nora’s watercolor of Jamestown,
Wildflower Train town. In the grass, watery
threads pass needle’s-eye through pools,
licks, puddles: pieces of water, just like
the idiom in Proust. Nourished

on these liquid morsels, poppies, purple
lupine, baby’s breath; countless unpaintable
blossoms too come forth, stain the paper
metaphysical. Memory reawakes now:

near Jamestown, all the country over,
tors, upshoots, outcroppings of rock,
granite, gneiss, and who knows what,
stone-blooms all but guaranteeing this land
inviolate by strip mall forever. Bless
the spring that issues in such running
stalagmites out of cave.

How many times in this life may we return
to this Edenic enclave? Flower and rock,
is this the right instant to invoke
James Wright, step free of body
and into boulder blossom?


—minhocao, Austin, TX

My mornings
change, a second
cup of coffee and
then, I am on my
knees, clearing weeds.
Pulling them one by one
from the garden's fabric,
weaving seed and bulb
and herb into the pattern.

My fingers sort and
pull and plant, numbed
by frost-chilled dew,
while I breathe the
sweet robin-song scent of
white jasmine blooms.
Dreaming already of
summer mornings stitched
neat with the love calls of
doves, of moth-laced
evenings hemmed with
fragrance of four-o'clocks.


—Mitz Sackman, Murphys

She walked hesitantly down the steps
Chiding herself for her fears
Struggling to keep her game face in place
She repeated her mantra for these rides
I am safe, I have nothing to worry about
She hated taking the train this late
Especially by herself
Without the comforting bustle of people
The platfom for her train was empty
She sighed
Small noises kept getting her to look around
She felt like a deer in the head lights
Finally her train pulled up
She got into a car
Saw someone and almost fled
Looking again, she saw another woman
Thank God she said


Today's LittleNip:

—Joyce Odam, Sacramento

Faded signs would never name the towns. It always rained, and there was no one to give directions. The sole café was sad—like in the movies—or in the Hopper paintings.

A child always stood in the road behind us, bouncing a red ball in the shadows between the few thin trees that stretched toward each other across the lane. A woman always appeared in an open doorway, watching us leave.



We are sad to report that Piper, one of Hatch and Judy [Taylor] Graham's German shepherds, has passed away after a long and rich life as a rescue dog. Piper was very helpful in the search-and-rescue movement, and he will be sorely missed.

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis