Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Smell of Sulfur

Trinidad, CA
—Photo by Dewell Byrd, Central Point, OR

—Caschwa, Sacramento
(à la Cynthia)

Among all the images
Captured by the camera,
Some are brutally distorted.

That is cruel and unusual punishment!
They cried from their cells
But no one listened

Until practitioners of law
Fashioned a class action suit
On their collective behalf.

*** *** ***

On their collective behalf
That is cruel and unusual punishment!
Fashioned a class action suit

Until practitioners of law
Some are brutally distorted
Captured by the camera

Among all the images
They cried from their cells
But no one listened

*** *** ***

But no one listened
Until practitioners of law
That is cruel and unusual punishment!

They cried from their cells
Captured by the camera,
Some are brutally distorted.

Fashioned a class action suit
Among all the images
On their collective behalf.


—Brigit Truex, Placerville

Who says there is just
one moon, one that always
lifts itself—no visible hand, no
pulley, block and tackle
to heft that seemingly
immense, pockety apparatus

up, up, always away
from apartment blocks, the web
of tensile wires, slick-rock
shoals of canyons, barbed
ribs of fir trees so gaunt
you can see light
through them, touching.

Can you be so sure
there is only one moon,
not one for every
moon-rise? And what about
the days, the nights
you don't see that rubbed-shiny
dime, so far away its face is
impossible? Are you
so certain?

What about those
songs you hear
in your dark
head, one you never
talk about? They probably
belong to angels.


—Dillon Shaw, Davis

i tell her i can't stop thinking about her
can't eat
can't sleep
because it sounds romantic
i tell her that her smile keeps me going
i'd die for her
i'd live for her
tell her that i see the beauty of the world through her
she is my muse
she is my everything
it sounds so romantic
until the day she leaves
when i discover every word was true


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Our canoe—beached
above shoreline, a bleached bone,

but safe after yesterday's storm—
loons thundering the water,
sweep of wing-black clouds.

I dreamed dark swans migrating
on fronts of weather.
Are you asleep? Another dawn

has found us, our common words
untangling in daylight,

mummy-sleepers waking to waves
against sand; our waiting

craft. We'll navigate
by the death and birth of stars.


—Taylor Graham

Is it only metaphor that merges
sea and swimmers
in the waves bearing us closer

in toward shore? Almost too close—
we dive, hold breath and
words, to come up in her cavern.

Smell of sulfur, where a queen
could clothe herself
in mud, and then emerge radiant.

But we're mere poets. It's only
later, back on ship's deck,
that we merge in reminiscence—

all the words we find for this
adventure, before night
blacks out everything but stars.


—Taylor Graham

A road ends or begins at this skeleton
of a windmill on the hill—clouds
passing through its ribs and sails—
a high place to watch wings of sky.

Years ago I saw cranes fly overhead,
throat-rattling as they disappeared.

Day after day, sun passes over,
making crippled shadows of wheel
and aero-tail—moving points of black
like letters inked on a manuscript,

thorns sharp as foxtail memory. Light-
points moving of their own accord,

fireflies to explain this place.
If we don't write it down, it's gone,
gloaming into a dark age.
The rutted road—why not follow it

into the woods' labyrinth?
Fox and deer leave their prints in earth—

signatures, a message, proof at the edge
of our knowing. Ravens make wing-
tracks on air. Are we allowed
to mourn what isn't quite gone yet?


—Taylor Graham

Morning comes clear
and silent as Fox
across the road, so fluent
that what passes between us
can't be English—syntax
of scapula articulating
reach, wish; ears pricked
to receive, eyes to send
messages. And then he
slips away. Let Fox whet
my waking.


—Taylor Graham

Come up to the foothills,
past liveoak leaning toward a ghost-
pine (remnants of native forest
after centuries of man). Turn off
the four-lane; through an alley,
gold-rush one-street town. Behind
storefronts, rock-ruins dig
into hillside, periwinkle binding
everything back to earth. GPS can't
help you here. Follow the hazy
blue of distance—Nile lilies
planted in a row; one blossom
points upslope along a cracked-
cement walk that disappears in green.
Keep climbing. You're looking down
on 2011AD: ice cream shop
out of business; car-wash, pizza-
joint. Watch your step.
Out of its adits, the mountain
still breathes secrets of gold. Look
for sign—a bird, a slant of light,
a hand-drawn map. It's all
in metaphor. Don't expect English.


Today's LittleNip: 

Today, I'll let my ideas dance upward and breathe. I will have faith that they can find their own logic. I will make myself available to write them down when they fall.

—Susan Shaughnessy, Walking on Alligators 

[See also our Poetry Trap of the Week.] 



With thanks to today's contributors! About her poem, Brigit Truex says: I just HAD to write to and about D.R. [Wagner]'s latest [see Monday's post], "in the beginning"—I cut it out and am putting it on my office bulletin board...

—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove