Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancing With Thistle

Photo by Frank Dixon Graham, Sacramento

—Carl Bernard Schwartz, Sacramento

I was doing things I always do
On the computer
Checking balances,
News, weather, emails,

Then the playing cards
On the screen
Suddenly blipped to
Vertical bands of
Jumbled pretty colors

Modern art, maybe
But no longer
Something that computes
Or processes or functions.

** ** **

The computer tech
Assured me
It was a hardware problem
Too much dust inside
Out of sight
Fan stopped
The motherboard
Poor old gal
overcome with heat

The repair bill came to
More than I paid for my
First used car
(shows how old I am)
But I am happy now

** ** **

There are network places
That don’t recognize me
So I get to reinvent myself
All over again
Put on a different face

When the Recession is over
I’ll have a T-shirt made up:
“I survived the crash!”


—Katy Brown, Davis

If I flatten my ear against the wall, I hear voices;
I’ve been warned to stop many times.
I have a pen.

I don’t know how long I’ve been here.
They won’t tell me how long I must stay.
I hate closed-in places.

I draw a mirror on the wall
to see who I am.
The red-haired woman looking back is not me.

I draw a pair of windows:
one overlooks the sea;
the other looks onto moorland.

A tall ship waits just beyond the breakers.
Sun sets over a ring of stones on the moor.
A cinnamon scent of expectation seeps in.

I couldn’t stop when they told me.
Others outside the room tap on the wall.
How much of what I see is someone else’s vision?

The tapping is persistent.
I hear scraps of conversation.
Someone is writing me out of the room.


—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

What impression do I make
on myself or on God by coming
to church each Tuesday morning
to write in group for 40 minutes
off the top of my head to
whatever bottom of my soul
can be reached in 40 plus.

Mary Oliver,
this week's launching poet,
writes of owls, their furry prey,
of white death in the snow.
Meanwhile, I touch upon
Nun's white for purity,
flag white for surrender.


—Claire J. Baker

A blank page stares,
dares me to tell you.
I write, actor in a play.
When I read the scribble
my clumsy pen has hidden
what I need to say.

Another day the telling
will be face-to-face—
a few short words, and slow.
Will you still love me?
Maybe you have guessed.
Maybe you already know.


—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

I sit in an old, metal patio chair soaking up
the sunshine this cool day. My little black dog
sits in my lap, close to my chest. And because
I wear bifocals, and his sweet furry head is
close to my face, I see as God has told us
many times before—that each hair on his head
is numbered. When you love someone to the
point of obsession this certainly seems true.

Now, each of his head hairs in magnification
is surrounded by a halo. Each hair looks like
silver x-ray in this late morning sun. Each hair
has a series of rainbows clipped on.

I marvel at the colors bright yellow, blue,
teal and magenta. This rainbow effect must
emanate from his fur oil. Haloed, skeletal,
rainbow hairs have formed a floating roof-tile
collage. Oiled dog fur, in pure light, has become
a wonder.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

I've come to this place again,
a clearing where three paths meet
at a single stone.
I lean against it and listen.
It says nothing,
its words gone gray as granite.

Did Miwoks carve snakes
and suns on its face? A stone
soon covers with lichen
man's design. Over aeons
this mountain has been bruised
from inside out, its skin
abraded by time and weather.

I need this silence that refutes
me. I rest my hand against
the stone and feel for a pulse—
blood in my own thumb
opposing. This is where a man
might become a monk or
a spirit, if he waited long enough.

The stone says nothing.
I need this silence.


—Taylor Graham

These stones in front of City Hall—
remember when they were
dancing in a circle by plenilune
around the koi pond and over
the arched bridge?
We were sleeping beyond
city limits, our sheep bedded down
in moon shadow, while the stones
danced their long history.
Where did their stories come from?
Black stones aren't native here.
Wise in their own place;
then, bulldozed, trucked, and
heaped as backdrop for a koi pond;
as landscaping over landscape
that used to be
before the leveling of dirt.
And our native gray
stones hauled away—where
do they dance now, while we sleep?


—Taylor Graham

Today I do the weed-eater dance
with thistle. Bull-thistle, king
of the mountain. It's July. Gone
are the royal-purple thistle-crowns.
Où sont les neiges? A snow
of thistledown. My footsteps leave
no prints as I swing my partner,
waltz and two-step through
the native chert that crowns this
rise. Growl and slash of small
machinery, tingle of 2-cycle
vibration in my wrist. Path
of thistle-slaughter behind me
on the hill—no mountain but
in my mind.


—Taylor Graham

He comes to the river with that audio
tape repeating its mindless ear-worm.
Diet of Worms, he thinks. But puns
and other word-play don't work here.
Styx on the map—or is it Lethe? He
left map with backpack in the forest—
all his courage zipped inside the top
flap pocket. Stupefied that he can't
make sense. One last time he'll snatch
at “why?” A broken toggle. Then take
his first last step into the dark waters.


Today's LittleNip: 

Faith is the bird that sings when the dawn is still dark.

—Rabindranath Tagore



Thanks to today's contributors, including the prolific Taylor Graham; some of her poems today address our Seed of the Week: Mountains and Molehills. Send your poetic mountains (or molehills!) to or P.O. Box 762, Pollock Pines, CA 95726. Or, like Carol Louise Moon, write about last week's SOW: Small Joys; there are no deadline on SOWs. (See Calliope's Closet on the b-board under the Snake on a Rod for our growing list of seeds from the past.) By the way, the new issue of DADs DESK which Carol Louise edits is now available at The Book Collector.

And thanks also to another Graham, Frank Dixon, for sending us some photos; to far-away (Pinole) Claire Baker for checking in; to Carl Schwartz for sharing his pain; and to Katy Brown, who writes: I got up early, ate some breakfast, read email and Medusa, took a morning nap. When I woke up this poem grabbed me by the hair and threatened me until I took down every word.  Yeah, sometimes poems will do that—if we're lucky...

—Photo by Frank Dixon Graham