—Katy Brown, Davis
Put out the light in the midnight grin;
store the broom and mask another year.
The season turns from orange to red;
and the harvest moon will fade
against the remembered glow
of a long-dead star in the holy,
after-Hallows nights to come.
The seasons turn on faith alone,
from life to life in candle-glow—
in the flicker of a lantern smile,
then the spark that lights the void of night.
Say good-bye to Jack for another year:
a deeper night is on its way
with only a candle and a long-dead star,
a long-dead star to light us home.
UNDER NOVEMBER'S LUNE
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
One green tomato,
its vine drooped by frost—
past its time.
but who warned
Pumpkin about pies?
Garden stripped bare
except in one back corner,
acorn enfolds oak.
Scarecrow lies among
in dimming sunset.
Muddy rubber boots,
new grass, weeds pushing up.
Bless the rain.
HOW DEEP THE POND
We know that ponds are
Not so very deep
So why does the moon
Look so far away
Just as if that same
Had hit ocean depths?
Toss a rock into
And count the ripples
Will that number change
If your rock
Lands on another’s?
There could be a whole
Pile of rocks
In that little pond
Reaching to fill the
Have blemished the moon.
Failed class in Anger
It was not my fault.
To help you enjoy
I got you a snake
That eats its own tail
By the way
There will be no cake
With icing on top
Or ice cream
A big juicy steak
Has taken their place
From rare to well done.
TWO SANDHILL CRANE STANZAS
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Sometimes all available elements commingle
so beautifully: high-brooding Mount Diablo,
a lookout, a viewshed scanning one hundred,
two hundred miles past darkling or sunning valleys
to yet more mountains; the morning or the setting sun
godding it above all this rise and upshoulder; close
to the tuck of the land blanket into the first tree-feathered
upthrust of Diablo’s ridge, Danville; on a bare hill whereof
nests Tao House, O’Neill’s house as sure as any Irish
chieftain’s, and inside that his mirrors and masks
and Carlotta’s trunks and Rosie the player piano
and the bluff sea captain’s desk whose writing surface
underlay misbegot moons and long days’ journeys
whole coasts away in memory; and away past all
this lair of mastery and mountain splendor
the broadly banded plains and delta as fertile
to our empire as Egypt’s; and all along the blade-stricken
cornfields, the big beautiful sandhill cranes primeval,
bodies seagray as the dramatist’s bedroom walls,
caps red as the red red doors Carlotta had installed,
hooting their radar soundings at dusk, creatures
instinct with the lusts to leave wingingly into dawn
after food, these ones as pregnant as O’Neill with
yearnings beyond the horizon, sluicing
valleys in the azimuth-slivered sky...
Brilliant day in the fields of Lodi:
long-bodied, supple birds in the tractor-beaten,
rain-wet corn and rice patches. Loving, sentry-posting,
coyote-watching Sandhill Cranes, families standing
by the hours in the flattened grain, spearing up
frogs and snakes, worms, morsels of corn
and we don’t know what all. Our binocs train
on one sunlit group of Greater Sandhills,
gentle arrivistes from British Columbia, wintering
easy along the loam. And, as the sun fills
their lovely hollowbones, they dance! Two
or three feet off the ground they rise,
wing parachutes billowing their full seven-feet,
making like Nijinskys suspended on the air’s
wondrous long delay of gravitation, shaping
the feather flare of Aztec festival dancers,
and all the while purring like cats. Oh
the Lessers, the Greaters, all Shakespearean
degree of crane in your holy families,
creches of roan and mare and only
colt, living gently among blackbirds,
white-feathered geese, kildeer
and meadowlarks. Rise at dawn, o rise,
and glide again in at dusk, my roan,
my mare, my little colt, be “sire and child
and happy mother,” ply the great chop
of your wingstroke and sing your rattle-song,
calling and hooting broncos in silhouette,
do your dolphin surge and tumble, yet wilder,
On, you noblest, most slippery mustangs of the liquid air!...
—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento
joyous midnight dream.