Wednesday, August 10, 2011

They'll Have to Catch Us First...

—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

the beginning?
there is no beginning
no beginning, no ending

heavens expand
that is not the beginning
planets circle
that is not the beginning
big bang?
that is not the beginning
earth evolves
that is not the beginning
light shines
that is not the beginning
waters flow
that is not the beginning
snakes crawl
that is not the beginning
birds fly
that is not the beginning
humans hunt
that is not the beginning

species die out
that is not the ending
earth implodes
that is not the ending
there is no ending


—Patricia Hickerson

Grandma stands at the stove
peering down through her eyeglasses
at the iron-clad skillet
making fried chicken
spit and crackle
crispy chicken parts
how do they feel sitting in lard-boil?
they spit they crackle they sizzle
smokin’ good chicken parts
breasts, legs, thighs and wings
salted, peppered
put the lid on
turn down the heat
leave them alone to bubble and shine
rising to the occasion
they sizzle, crackle, snap and surge
chicken crusty flame-burnt skin
the hour of revelation
throw down the chicken
on the warmed-up platter

Grandma’s eyeglasses,
they’re all steamed up with the excitement


Notice how so many tales' characters travel into the "woods" or "wilderness"
including even religious founders such as Jesus of Nazareth
and also philosophers such as Henry David Thoreau and John Muir
Perhaps it’s also a metaphor to reflect many actual life realities
including the experience of the "dark night of the soul"
where one's very being is supposed to be transformed, surrounded by nature
One reason why children and adolescents are taken on camping trips
where they’re also given lessons for "survival"
and taught not to fear nights without any light but from the moon and stars
Oh yes frightening creatures do go "bump" around
But one remembers at that age nothing really profound coming of it
as if not caring to see the forest for the trees
craving to go "home" rather than enjoy living during the escape
and desiring one's own bed rather than trying to sleep upon earth
even though burdening hurt can also dwell where the heart lives

—Michelle Kunert


—Caschwa, Sacramento

“Oh, look at that over there!”
Said the excited voice
from the back seat.

Driving through unknown territory
Windows, mirrors, instruments
Focus on steering, speed, controls
Spontaneous changes in traffic
darting of kids and animals
And now “that over there.”

Pronouns are now strictly banned
From dialogue inside the car.


—Katy Brown, Davis

You two work the stage tonight,
conjuring and captivating the audience,
while I slip among the crowd unnoticed.

We take turns as the cut-purse,
the pickpocket of language:
thieving plunder made of participles

and the syntax of streams
caught in nets of verbs.
We pirate phrases and images.

After the main show,
we meet in a midnight alley
to divide the treasure among us.

None of us wants to be captain,
to take charge and give orders.
We work too well together

as independent contractors in the
subtle art of larceny of the lexicon.
Someday, they will catch-on to us:

those formal folks who insist
on rules and decorum.
They will try to have us organized.

They will demand schedules and
chore lists, so they can track
what to expect from us.

They’ll want logs of our interaction; how
we choose our phrases; how we operate.
They have to catch us first.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Doe with fawn
crossing the road—
my headlights catch
Gone. This road
climbs toward sunrise,
the next surprise.
I'm eye-struck cresting
the ridge. Sun
stuns, so I'm in love
with light, poet-
changeling, chameleon
about to metaphor—
sun already changing
its slant.


—Taylor Graham

The sheep wander from dry to dry, pausing to
nibble at this or that. They've lost their faith
in green. Their rounds go counter-clockwise
to sun, to shade. Some instinct we've lost, or
gotten past. They pause to dip soft muzzles
through a scrim of dust on water in the trough.
Nomads of sparse living, hunger-maggots
moving from field to swale with lowered
heads, as if they always hope but never trust
what earth or master or government might
provide. Sheep know how a world survives.
Count the dawns and darks and pray for rain.


—Taylor Graham

Dusk. A traveler has lost
his bearings where trees crowd
themselves into forest

as he puzzles out the azimuths
of his mind.

But look—could that glow
above treetops mean
East? Over there, where Moon

lofts pale as myth,
silver-slicing through traditions

of shadow, our human
faiths or proofs. In gratitude
he'll call it Moonrise.


—Taylor Graham

Why did the bird fly?
       Willow thickets guard the stream
       with lupine and columbine.

Is it far away?
       From Eden to yesterday,
       so many petals fallen.

When will the train leave?
       Two rails make lonesome music
       of so many departures.

What does my house want?
       Narrow corridors keep out
       thunder-snow and meteors.

Where did the day go?
       Rain-slick pavement, dusk. A car
       passes on a one-way street.


—Taylor Graham

It drives past the bank, police station,
the dentist's window dark with dreams
of perio—drives right by
as if escaping from town, like something
maybe illegal. On wet pavement
it lays down tire-tread soon dissolved
by rain. It's leaving town
mysterious. We never saw the driver's
face, we couldn't read the license.
Already its taillights are disappearing
toward the outskirts,
where rain has stopped, the sky
has cleared aloft.
There might be stars. The only trace
the small car left in passing—
fragment of music—
a sonata echoes in my head.


Thanks to today's contributors! About her "Question Unanswered" poem, Pat Hickerson says it's her "reply to the question Stephen Hawking never addressed on his show the other night." She's talking about "Stephen Hawking's Universe" on PBS that airs on Monday nights, in which he propounds his theory that God couldn't have created the universe because there was no such thing as time before the Big Bang. Our other poets are working on last week's Seed of the Week (The Forest Primeval); this week's (A car passes on a rainy street); katautas (see yet another new feature in the green box on the b-board); as well as other, well, stuff, including the continuing dialogue between Taylor Graham, D.R. Wagner, and Katy Brown. If you're up Placerville way tonight, drop in on the Poetry Off-the-Shelf read-around; see the b-board for details. (I bet you'll catch a glimpse of Taylor Graham.) And Sandy Thomas reminds us of her reading with Trina Drotar at The Shine Cafe tonight: 

Today's LittleNip: 

—Sandy Thomas

14th & E Sts.
glows in the blue neon
a sea of Poets

The Shine Cafe
—Photo by Sandy Thomas