Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hunting With Harriers

Ibis, Yolo Bypass
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

They are easy to miss—ibis in the bypass:
iridescent espresso on spindly legs.
They’re shorter than the diva egrets
and not as dramatic as the herons.

They plunge their beaks
along edges of shallow water,
preferring not to get carried away.
Their curved Egyptian beaks,

hunt among the rushes
like hieroglyphs come to life—
stabbing over and over—
feathered glove-maker’s needles
stitching mystery into mud.


Thanks, Katy Brown, for the poems and pix. Katy is anxious to re-start her poetic conversation with Taylor Graham, about whom she writes: These poems either used lines or phrases from Taylor's poems over the last couple of challenges. I mostly used the photos as prompts, but went fishing in the teeming seas of her poetry for some help. And thanks, too, to Taylor Graham for responding to our Seed of the Week: Detours, and to Pat Hickerson for the LittleNip.

We also have a couple of poems today by Michelle Kunert, whose littlesnake broadside, If Trees Could Talk..., will premier at tonight's rattle-read at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sac., 7:30pm, along with a new rattlechap by Ann Wehrman, Inside (love poems). Katy Brown will be "opening" for them, getting things off to a roaring start at our final presentation in the Rattlesnake Reading Series. Be there!

And the new issue of Poetry Now is available online at        Beautiful as always!


—Katy Brown

That’s Diablo in the distance—
slouched hat of a mountain dropped
on the horizon.

A keepsake from the time
when faults were livelier,
and mountains rose with fire—

when the one great sea filled
all the valley and sang with
wild ocean-song.

In the stillness of the bypass,
when the light fades into lavender—
put your ear to the still-warm earth,

you can just hear the first stones
rattle with the tide, hear the
echoing call of the last leviathan.


—Katy Brown

I’ve seen the cones of dust
following tractors in the bypass,
watched crop-dusters

swarm like bees to seed
and spray the new-plowed fields.
Not this year. Not yet.

The ground grows anxious,
the field hands wait for signs
the sun has heard their prayers.

Corduroy fields remain half-plowed
under rain and rain and more rain.
Waiting for a spring that never comes. . .


—Katy Brown

We hunted together, the hawk and I.
I drove beside him, trying to keep
my car on the gravel road—

he flew low over the ditch beside me—
using the car-sound to flush
some timid creature out of hiding.

He appraised my camera lens,
staring like wide-eyed Cyclops from
my car veering blindly toward the verge.

He was the one with experience,
taking the wind for a ride.
Taking me for a ride.

His sharp-beaked head swiveled
from side to side as he scanned the reeds
for something fleeing.

He grew tired of my attention—
preferring stealth to automation,
he dipped his wings and banked away.


This year I don't mind all these dark clouds and rain in June
God is being merciful sending all this water
which will actually relieve drought
rather than send fire
which the previous year burned up our state's woods

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Dad once bought a Webber grill
that he's just used a few times to "entertain" guests
now it sits unused as the pet cats' favorite perch
for being warmed up on the patio by sun beams

—Michelle Kunert


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

“Nothing like a roadtrip,” he says,
“to shake us out of our inertia.
No itinerary engraved in chrome.
We’ll take every detour.”

Aren’t we gun-shy from the last
adventure? Breakdown
in the desert, a dirt road, no
signs or cell phone.

Might as well rig a Chevy Volt
with a paddlewheel.

We sat under a shiver of stars,
listening to the dark
hum its solitary nocturne
into dawn.

No one we know
has such adventures.


—Taylor Graham

They’ll tell you it’s all laid out clear,
your future, the perfect job…

What if things somehow
get skewed, detoured onto back-ways
through places kept as if a secret,

or the images of dream:
an equation shaped like an envelope,
or bones that haven’t fused yet,

an infant’s skull; featherless
swallow’s wing; a child waiting for
Goethe; one magic color

among all the wild brushstrokes
on a canvas.
Which color on the map?

It’s your road trip, your
secret. Follow it.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

chalk it up
whatever it is
bloodied scratch
skinned knee
purple sunburn
broken record
chipped dish
skinflint mother
lost lover
rotten tomato
lying husband
drunken son



—Photo by Katy Brown