THEY’RE AT IT AGAIN . . .
three adventurers—leaving messages
corked in old rum bottles,
tying notes to Medusa’s snaky curls,
tapping out codes with granite boulders.
They cross paths by starlight, take their
bearings by Cygnus in the Northern Cross,
sail close to the wind, looking
for landfall along the rocky coast—
somewhere to build a cairn.
They move in synchronous paths—
never quite arriving at the same place,
but leaving dispatches along the way:
prepare to fly the spinnaker;
look here for lost sheep;
search the mine for treasure.
They leave fires banked at campsites
near egret roosts where
cottonwood shadows swallow light and sound.
They pass along compass bearings:
look, an owl’s feather points north. . . .
—Katy Brown, Davis
THE EDGE THAT KEEPS HER
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
At day's end she'd walk
the grassy ridge above a lake
where the world lies upside down
in reflection—to a western
overlook, to watch the sun descend
toward sleep. How strange,
that it sails west, across swell
after swell, to reach the eastern
shore of her own naming. Perhaps
she loved this one spot
to be alone—if she could love any-
thing so far from home.
This is where they buried her,
so her spirit could look
forever west. But
now there is no view.
Native oaks—live and blue—
have rooted into her hill, grown
huge, a sweep of dark
clustered canopies. Deep green
leafy sea she dwells
within. How could she sleep?
LANGUAGE UNDONE BY FANTASY
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Finding the poem unable to contain
Anything of real value it moves
To tell an ancient tale, a Lady
Greensleeves or a forum open to
The air that fills with error
So exquisite it reflects the morning
Just as we drop off to sleep
In order to catch a dream
Still hungry and difficult
To understand. How lovely to
Be born in such a place even if
One robbed it of all its marks
Of creation and the possibility
The people, others, could visit here.
Logically perfect with its random
Knowledge of how to proceed
From the specific to the universal
And dumbfounded that such a
Thing as this poem could exist
Without the probability of it ever
Losing traction and depositing us
On the edge of a sea,
Trousers creased, totally without
Awareness and yet driven
Beyond all reason to stay
With the whole thing until
It becomes some kind of prepared
Seagoing vessel that will carry
Us home so we may explain
To all, why we came to be here
In the first place, high and full
Of shine and able to present delicious
Food in the form of fantasy. Desire itself.
Opens and finally allows us to drop
Off to sleep completely exhausted
Twinkling like a new star at wonder.
ON CANNON BEACH
in memoriam R.L.K.C.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
I am thinking of a beach and a young woman today,
young woman I never met who knew well that beach,
that seaside that may be landscape or seascape,
really strictly neither, more capeswirl afloat in a liminal
zone, a threshold place of drift and mist, where the sun
if it comes, comes filtered, gentling over the bathers
and dog-walkers and frisbee-chasers, where feet
as they tread pick up a pulsebeat of lightness
from the soft wet give of the tidal sand.
I never knew the young woman, and she is gone;
but I know such beats of the sun and caresses of mist
as she knew, and I know beaches not this very beach,
yet this light-washed basin the salt ocean fingers
is universal & nests near a monolith of green-tufted,
bird-settled rock, three times higher than a human,
making as if to lift utterly out of the water soon:
whenever it last will comfort or terrify or beckon.
Its name is Haystack Rock, a thing existing to paint
obsessively, as Monet painted actual haystacks
outdoors in the teeming wind and oilpaint-resistant
grit, each day a different race at a different hour to catch
the quality of the light in paint that can never equal
light, but works by strenuous heroic brushflicks of evocation…
this rock, as you came to see it, sixteen times and more,
did it rear up just to impose its indomitable shadow
on your slow-bronzing skin, your mist-susceptible mind?
I sorrow for the rock archetype that paints
the back walls of our minds with its shadow,
asking us to lie down with oblivion long before
our hour; I wonder at Robert Frost’s reminder we all
obsessively look out at a sea we’ll never possess;
I ask you too late, Turn back and look at the town
that wishes to receive you! its geometry of roof
and church steeple, the occasional eccentric
pepperpot turret atop a length of shingle,
all these humanshaped lengths of board under
heights of dark green living tree, wanting you
to stay and be cradled, and rise again from cradled
sleep refreshed and engaged with us
in the fresh young fog-clad morning,
our backs to the ocean for now.
With a whole great summer-world outside,
what honest man would sit here,
wandering the local landscape of his mouth?
I don't belong in the traffic of tiny metal
vehicles across my teeth. Or is it
errant imagination—those muffled clicks
from down the hall, as if knives
or pistols being tucked away in drawers,
who knows? Everything's so steel
and scrubbed, devoid of purrs and whiskers.
I was never meant to be so clean.
Instruments probe my floss-faults—for
what? traces of candy? caviar? I can't
afford this. I confide nothing.
In another hour I'll be out the door.
Libido: the body's happy charioteer.
—Medusa (with regrets that today's pix are late—Blogspot apparently had a problem)