for John Harris (1820-1824), Cornish hard-rock miner
who gave it up to become a scripture reader
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
If poetry's a bruise, he worked on these:
some bits of rock inscribed with words; and stone
engraved with images; a buried breeze
that teases giants' knuckles—granite-bone—
to tell their legends out of earth and seas.
He made these stories all his own,
then climbed back up to daylight, brightened words
with sky's blue-purple and the songs of birds.
WHERE SEA AND RIVER MEET
Firelight shadows, waves on shingle
in the dark. High tide, river coming down.
Flames consume a driftwood fire.
Where has all this water come from?
Has it lapped the shores
of Carthage, Havana, Crystal Basin
by cycles of sky, land, sea—
tumbling down Mokelumne rapids,
sailing the trade winds, rain
on scree, flowing the Deshka
like memory of salmon finding home;
or chuting through the small streams
of my hand—look, in my palm,
a fragment of jade glass you discovered
at high-water. Smooth and beveled,
where did it come from? Did I
hold it, a stemmed bowl, in a distant
century or place? Time like water
separates and binds us across
such distances. Transparent blue-green
heart pulsing our life-blood.
scream—a cry like coughing up feathers,
like running a kris over spine.
My dog took off barking
down the hill. The cat rose hissing
against my hand. Silence.
Dog slunk back, lay down
muzzle-on-paws on his cedar-bed.
Dogs can go back to sleep.
Nothing outside but dark.
No neon eyes. I imagine claw or talon.
That cry—all but the blood.
In sleep my dog
pulls his long breath
out of the dark of dreams.
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Mornings a fraction colder,
car tires a tad flatter,
last chance for the “green fuse”
igniting ripe pumpkin matter.
Dawn’s a shade grayer, later;
our comforter-curled dogs much
sleepier, tails tucked in,
miles farther adrift from touch.
Sleep in, my Billy, my Skaidra:
the fullness of autumn teems.
You mutter your dog sleep-language,
scent, swiftness, mouth-feel the themes.
Play to us is for spring or for summer.
Our autumn’s a laboring time.
Your dreams even savor of bacon;
your dog den, our Eden: sheer prime.
I woke up to inches
one inch from the wall
two inches from my pillow
three inches from my dog
four inches from the drool spot
five inches from my sock,
only to find the other sock
was still on my foot,
where I had last left it.
Damn I had missed the bus again.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The moonlight on the street.
It is always more than enough
Except for your lips which are
Never enough and the dawn which
Is always too much and then becomes
So much more, a sad earth,
A place where we might fall
Asleep and miss the tigers
Walking slowly past us as the night
Remainders us on its shore, waiting
For another night to pass, another
Dawn, another pair of lips, then more moonlight.
Even if we never see these tigers
Except in dreams
Dime acaso no baston?*
(*"Tell me, are they not enough?")
THE END OF SUMMER
—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento
Labor Day means
shorter days, longer nights,
football, basketball, World Series . . .
Labor Day means
store beach gear, do windows,
homework and holiday gift lists . . .