Thursday, May 19, 2011

El Tango del Misterio

Roller Clouds Announcing Something
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Lost in the waltz, the wind skirls briefly,
Opening the morning hours toward ten
O’clock and examines the branches of the trees
Almost as if it were inspecting every leaf.
The trees shutter and toss their crowns
Back and forth across what may be real
Music after all.

There have been the clouds every day
For weeks now, mountains of them,
Never tired, constantly flying by, excited
By the air and how the sky holds them,
Letting them be free, but still, in its blue
Dream of atmosphere.

There was a chalice suspended
In the air tonight. It glowed with
Silver light and the moon rose
Just above it and centered itself
Over the cup. The animals dropped
To their knees and the barnyard
Was still for a time except for crickets
Singing to one another. It was lovely
And had never happened before.

Now, wandering the hills in this moonlight,
I find myself at the base of an oak tree.
The grass in this place has been cropped
By sheep for one hundred years.

Except for the hiss and pop of the night
As it rises to the moonlight in an erotic
Dance, I can remember little except
For saying, “Hello hills. Hello moon.
Hello trees and hello,” to this huge
Stillness as I press myself deep into
The earth pretending I too am planted
Here, hard against this night, able only
To give praise, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah.”


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

How could you know we had a history,
paella and I? A local eatery in Valencia;
spring-break before I ever met you.
Spanish delight—paella is a long-time
savoring, like lovers.
Years later, you came to visit.
I was fixing paella mixta—sautéed
chicken with mariscos in a bed
of saffron rice; a bottle of cheap
white Spanish wine.
In you walked, bearing as a gift
the mother of all paella-pans,
fit to pan a mother-lode of golden
chicken, clams and mussels
opening their shells
to sing the bounty
of land and sea. What serendipity,
to catch the same thought-wave
on air—how could you know
I loved paella?


—Taylor Graham

Tackle box of shiny lures and all
the line in the world. Play of current
over stones, musical with stories
like moving water. Tricky eddies,
faint nibbles hinting at another chance,
the mysteries of underwater hungers.
On a sandbar-beach, the skull
of some small creature, its bleached
beautiful secrets. What's certain
is sunset passing over riffles,
reflections dissolving into dark.


–C. Piper, Napa

Some loves burn with a passion
like powdered lead igniting—
a spit of sound, a pungent smell,
the briefest flash of lightning.

Some loves burn with cold fury
like steely cables rusting—
relentlessly condemned to fail,
possessive and untrusting.

But some, like Moses’ burning bush,
on fire but not consumed,
ignite before the lovers’ births
and blaze beyond the tomb.


–C. Piper

Across my heart
I have a blue tattoo

a woman’s form
reclining innocently

It’s not a work of hand
and ink and blade

an image picked

It is a birth mark
or a natal scar

of injury forgotten
far too poignant
far too far

She has been with me
all my days

beneath my skin
across my heart
upon my ways

and I have never shown
my blue tattoo

but stand before the mirror
she is visible
in you


–C. Piper

Across the room
bejeweled, perfumed
champagne flute kissed with lipstick

She flips her hair
and meets his stare
with well-rehearsed dispassion

She looks away
and none can say
what latent want her eyes belie

A measured pace
and panther grace
he circles and advances

He grasps her arm
she feigns alarm
but follows to the dance floor

The music swells
and none can tell
exactly when their dance began

In tango pose
their bodies close
each step and swirl seems fated

Walls fall away
the ceiling fades
warm wind, cold stars surround them

Their hearts entranced
they dance and dance
El Tango del Misterio

They twirl in time
their legs entwine
precise improvisation

They move as if
each spent a life
of secret preparation

How is it so
that they should know
El Tango del Misterio

The tango turns
the tango burns
with sudden strident movement

He spins her out
she spins about
he does not follow after

No fault is hers
nor is it his
both souls are darkly wounded

The thing to blame
it has a name
El Tango del Misterio


—C. Piper

You reply as if
we were speaking
to one another, and
I can hear you
from where I stand
across the room as if
I was listening.
I go to you as if
that closes the distance, and
you let me touch
your persona.
We kiss as if
we were kissing, but
when I open my eyes
I see you beautiful
and so near and
you look back
at me so far away.


–C. Piper

I don’t recall if the glass
was half empty or half full
when it fell.

I only remember
the shattering and
water flowing
finding its way down
always down
to the lowest points,

where love and water go
when they run off.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

Back when photography was still
dabbling in black and white

Faces came out ghostly gray
sharp contrasts of colors were just stripes
subtle shades, textures, and tones were
not captured by the lens

Artists, though, with brush in hand
could bring out those true colors
textures, shades, and tones
to depict true people
even if only showing minor parts of them.



Chris Olander and Todd Cirillo 
grin about their new publications from Rattlesnake Press
at The Book Collector, May 2011
—Photo by Trina Drotar, Sacramento