—Cathy Hackett, Sacramento
It turned slowly,
probably sometime after forty.
Gray hair was hidden
under color for years.
Hiding the gray to look younger.
To fit in a society that worships youth
Looking more competitive with
Younger co-workers and bosses
The dye stopped not long ago
Now I honor gray hair
not trying to please anyone
It sneaks up on you
A slight slurring of speech
A weakness in the knees
How is it possible that
Life could change
in just 24 hours
He walked, drove a car,
took care of himself
24 hours later he needs
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
He fingers each nail before hammering
it into the sole. A sturdy boot,
this platform between foot and soil.
But isn't it foolish to pound so much
metal into leather, so a man
must stomp his way across earth?
Imagine standing on a hilltop, gazing
at distant features of a landscape
that beckons in all directions—
like standing on the compass-rose
of life. Couldn't lightening the step
also lighten the soul?
The snake casts its skin,
the sheep rubs its old woolen coat
against the tree-trunk and comes away
without its itch. It is done by us all,
as God disposes, she's been told.
It has to do, she thinks, with currency.
Last night the moon, dark
as a dying year, cast its jawbone
to the morning's dogs. Like
last semester's teacher, pale specter
in a bright crisp sky. Today,
her old soles fell into the trash.
Without a glance behind, she slipped
into fairy-sneakers, salamander
skins, her new skip-hop-
IN AND OUT OF MIST
Glimpsed so briefly, a point of land
between horizon and the tide.
We left our footprints in the sand,
we watched the gulls and petrels glide
from shoreward to the other side;
glimpsed, so briefly, that point of land
we puzzled off the map, denied
its presence. Must be sleight-of-hand,
a trick of light and eye, some grand
illusion that would not abide,
glimpsed so briefly. That point of land
became a myth: somebody lied
to set his tedium aside.
As shadows gather and disband,
shall we just let the question slide?
Glimpsed, so briefly, one point of land.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Horses did not always need shoes.
The mustangs of the steppes and deserts
Do not wear shoes and yet they hurry
Across the great spaces, keeping the sky
In its place with their hard running.
The Katak dancers of Northern India
Tell their stories without shoes, their feet
Keeping taal and sliding us into
Endless patterns as the tabla
Drives their feet to be calloused and split
Open even as they cycle us through
The hours, days, seasons, years.
I am wearing heavy shoes today, the kind
Used to hike to high places. My
Feet need these shoes. They are too
Soft and do not touch the earth
As much as I would like them to do.
The ground gets hard. The air gets cold.
I enjoy the warmth of socks on my feet.
The shoes become friends, comforting me.
I never wear shoes when dreaming.
My feet always find the way to proceed.
Eyes glazed like tar.
Are tossed over our body
Meat. The air thrills
With our writhing.
We are substitutes
For fame. Red-faced
Factories full of
Discord and the smell
Of merciless victory.
We are lists of the unidentified
In unknown cities. There are chips
Of us encoded in silicon
Dream warp belts.
They apply their warm
Sticky selves to our outer bodies.
You could synthesize pain
Like it was the real thing.
I was no good at this.
We would whisper together
As we walked. Occasionally
I would bleed from the eyes
And ears. “You look like
A souvenir,” you would say.
My thoughts would scab over.
The stage lights would come on.
We could barely hear our music
Above the noise of the crowd.
“Take it to the bridge,” you
I could only understand
That we were traveling.
I looked down.
There wasn’t any net.
The air thrilled a second time.
Thanks to today's contributors! Check out Cynthia Linville's photos of historic Locke on the Medusa's Kitchen Facebook page; thanks, Cynthia.
Cathy Hackett is a new poet on the scene, part of the Wisdom Woman's Art Program at the Sacramento Food Bank, where she attends Allegra Silberstein's poetry class each Wednesday. She says it's "a rare mix of woman from different backgrounds. Each has a unique style." A chapbook was published in December, and it can be purchased from Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. (Contact Helen Plenert at HPlenert@sacramentofoodbank.org/) For more about Wisdom Woman's Art program, see www.sacramentofoodbank.org/programs/womens-wisdom.html
Also, D.R. Wagner has a new chapbook out, called Pentecost, from Green Panda Press. All of the poems have appeared in Medusa's Kitchen. You can get a look at the cover at greenpandapress.blogspot.com/ There are six poems, 9 pages stapled, stamped, no fold. 60 copies only, $5.00 each. Green Panda Press also has a page on Facebook.
Errata: About yesterday's second photo in the Kitchen (by Jane Blue), Jane writes: That is Cathy's husband, Eric Weaver. (Also, Peter is not her dad—he is only 8 years older that she is!)
For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.