Friday, September 09, 2011

Have Gravity, Will Travel

Butterfly on Bleeding Hearts
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Faint odor of skunk on the air.

You're looking through old letters
for what you never quite understood

of them, phrases misread, words hiding
in dashes and margins. Roadkill

skunk, white stripe on centerline.
You fold a letter back into its envelope—

things gone by. Shall now the postal
service also fail? What would you write

the dead of how their fair world has
changed? Elegant creature with its rakish

white scarf caught in the turning wheel.
Now alights on your papers a moth,

wings laced ebony and umber.
Perfection in the wind.

Alive. A window to let things fly.


—Taylor Graham

I thought it was the sea breaking
into my sleep, but the sea lies beyond
mountains and valleys. What woke me
must be the swoosh and grind
of waves of cars moving on asphalt
shingle—sound of traffic crashing
against my dreams. Or a neighbor dog
howling his grief down the hill. Or
tinnitus in the coils of my ear. Echo
of TV commentary, men in dark
suits arguing how to sand the splinters
of a shattered world. Words flailing
at the edges of understanding.
I'd like to think it was the sea,
its ageless, ceaseless, tiding
lament to the horizons.


—Dave Boles, Grass Valley

in 1978
in college
they called me
a baby killer

in 1984
at work
they told me
i did not
fit in

in 1989
they told me
as my son
was being born
i was not fit
to be a father

in 1996
upon the birth
of my second son
they tried
to take
my boy

in 2011
at a presidential
they cheered
when a candidate
was acknowledged
to have killed
over 254 people

i wait
with a clear
for the end
of time.


—Caschwa, Sacramento

That’s right
We need a canine candidate
On the ballot for president

True, devoted, loyal,

Perhaps a little fuzzy
On grammar,
But fully cognizant
Of intentions

Fiercely territorial
A dog doesn’t send
Pups to war,
It leads the pack
On any attack

Leaving strategy advisors
On the sidelines
As in professional sports

A dog takes the field
Stands up tall,
Then both makes
And answers
The call.



You’re not stupid
And you’re not alone.
Others have looked just as
Bewildered and lost as you
Trying to follow complex
Computer instructions

That fail to articulate
Exactly what needs
To be done
In what order.

Now where were we?

Start from the top and
Peruse all the instructions…
Yes, all at once…

Let them touch your mind
From a distance
Like waving your arms
At a flock of birds

It’s worth a try…



Said the vibrant young man
To his blushing girl friend

And she did.
Then the father was killed in combat.

I want you to have my baby
Pleaded the struggling young mother
To the equally shattered and depleted
Government agency

And they did.
Then their budget was slashed.

I want you to have my baby
Mandated the State to recipients
Of public funds

And they did.
And they still do.



The rejection slips
And then more of them
Pile up on the floor
Beginning to look like
A dumpster without sides.

All those admirers are
Artfully and efficiently
Skillful at keeping it
A secret.

Won’t tell
Can’t tell
Big secret.

The larger the collection
Of rejection slips
The more evidence that
There must be plenty
Of secret admirers.

Poker faced
No emotion
No spark
No fire
Big secret.

Another stack grows
Sorry not a winner
Try again later
That position
Has been filled
We’re totally booked.

The mirror reflects
Discarded snake skins
Broken tools
Expired coupons
Dead light bulbs
Big secret.

Now pretty much
Everything I do
That I want to be admired
I do in secret…



Here on Earth we relish our poetry
For its symmetry, meter, rhythm, rhyme;
Each poem is open to a universe of
Varied readings and interpretations

But did a higher power create astronomy
For exactly those same reasons?
A veritable fugue of planets and stars
Mimicking the podium, score, director, baton

Pitting the constancy of constellations
Against the apathy of asteroids
Cocky commentary of comets
Mystery behind the moons

A planet in orbit is a poet laureate
Recognized with equal esteem
For its history and its future
Mile 250 at Indy

Earth is the editor’s floor
Pock-marked with castoffs
Hurled from the heavens
Have gravity, will travel.


Today's LittleNip: 


A beautiful lawn
In the best part of town
Greener than Ireland
Softer than down

Well nourished to grow
Manicured and left moot
It is meticulously cut
A labor without fruit

No sheep safely grazing
Would come here to chew
Blessed with only a crust
Hardly food for a ewe.


Thanks to today's contributors: Dave Boles writes about the Republican debates this week (and reminds you to submit poetry to Primal Urge at; Taylor Graham writes that it "seems like DR's poems this morning clicked right into last night's dreams"; and Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) writes about thisnthat, including rejection by publishers. Our Trap of the Week, in fact, has been about not taking rejection personally. I notice on Kate Asche's facebook page that she has submitted 224 pieces of work to 56 venues this Fall; girlfriend is focused and diligent and brave!

About the Trap, Trina Drotar writes: A young friend of mine, a very good poet, kept sending his work to the big guys (whatever those are), and he received rejection after rejection after yet more rejections. I kept urging him to submit locally first... Well, he never did those things, but he did change the venues where he was submitting and finally received some acceptance notices. Sometimes, our work is just not quite right for one publication or another. In those big guy publications, they often have tired students or volunteers who read through the zillions of submissions. I have been told that if a piece is rejected today by Publication A, and I were to resend it the next day, it might be accepted because it might be read by another person. It is, after all, quite subjective. Anyway, I liked what you had to say on the subject. Sometimes, too, people are so comfortable in sending their work only to this or that publication they fail to submit to others because they are afraid of rejection. Rejection, though, is part of being a writer. Not everything we write will appeal to everyone. Sometimes I write pieces that don't appeal to me.


Jonesville Barn Wood
—Photo by Katy Brown