—William S. Gainer, Grass Valley
They sell mortar size fireworks
for personal use
People shoot them off
in their front yards.
On the Forth
the sky is lit 360 degrees,
the noise makes it sound
like a war zone,
the smell of gunpowder
takes me back
to my youth.
The morning paper
is quick to report,
not a finger or eyeball
no houses burned.
On the fifth
all that’s left
is to pick up
the beer bottles
and figure out
is parked in your
I love it.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The poem was coming from far
Across the hills. I could see
The riders with their dust of words,
Phrases and half-heard conversations.
The stories unpacked and fluttering.
The packages of winds and words all shuttering,
As I lay beneath the trees muttering
And I was trying to breathe.
It would wind in close and say
Things to me that I knew were true
But would never happen,
Could never happen,
To either me or you.
Close up, one could smell the horses,
See the foam upon their lips
And catch a glimpse of the riders
Only the briefest glimpse of the riders
And their shining eyes.
Then gone, completely gone.
No bird sounds or hush of insect feet,
No drifts of stars or sense of night
Or day. The wave uncurled
Completely and took the poem away.
—Brigit Truex, Placerville
The far hills' distinction
is lost beneath the heavy-handed
sky and snow
while on a branch
white on white
without a leaf unfurled
or even a budtip pushing
from the birch-bark
here, out of season, a shiny
ornament, this thumb of green
sparks the leaden, colorless day
with a turn of its head
ignites alternate colors
holly-tree flame flashing
ruby and emerald
beyond its singular ink-line beak
precise in its dimension
abrupt as bird-flight.
ON THE MOOR
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
This cold desert, with its ritual
stones and medieval crosses
standing as if to bless a wayfarer.
Inside safe walls, townsfolk call it
bleak, the stuff of murder-
mysteries and travelers' tales;
they trim their candle-wicks
and light flame against the dark,
its unhouseled barrow hauntings.
Don't go there, they say.
But of course you do, to see the rows
of stone, Bronze Age evidence
of men long buried. A place
to wander, wondering at the long
archeology of language:
Barrow, a word that echoes
out of moorland rock. There's
Old Saxon in it, Old High German
and Norse… by ancestry of tongues,
Old Celtic, Sanskrit, Persian.
How far it traveled to be buried here,
dug up again by archeologists
in your own time. Ghosts of ancient
dialects, a semantic wind whispers
to you from the haze of time
and distance, where landscape
becomes memory in stone.
—Katy Brown, Davis
We notice the smallest things:
a breath of air in the topmost sail;
three rubies in a drawstring purse;
the sheen of mica in moonlight.
When we use the huffing sail
we could have told
how the small brown mare
plucks an apple from a palm—
stiff whiskers, velvet wet nose,
and the chuff of warm breath
just before the sound
of square teeth, chewing.
We count the rubies in a silken bag—
three travellers on a long journey
heart-stones clicking together.
We see light released by moonglow:
as subtle as the aura of emerald angels
dancing rings of protection
under a shower of stars from Pleiades.
We collect small joys:
a cup of coffee in the afternoon;
a song that cracks the shell of night;
a bumblebee in a cactus flower.
Small joys that bind us ever closer
with a line of ink; with a cast of phrase;
with dreams we share
of remembered and imagined love.
The average man who does not know what to do with this life, wants another one which shall last forever.
—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors. About his poem, D.R. says: [This poem] has been sitting inside and looking out through my eyes for a couple of days now and I kept wondering if this is how it happens. I believe it does happen this way much of the time. One can see it coming and then there is is and then it's gone and I usually can't read my writing after a few hours of writing it or sometimes even a few minutes.
Be sure to take advantage of the Sacramento Shakespeare Festival 2011 in William Land Park again this year. As You Like It opened last night at will play on weekends through July; The Taming of the Shrew opens Sunday. Go to www.sacramentoshakespeare.net for more. Or heck—travel up to Ashland for the longstanding Oregon Shakespeare Festival—Shakespeare and more! See www.osfashland.org