THE NOBLE BEAST
Rather than horns
—Ronald Edwin Lane, Colfax
BETWEEN WORLD AND IDEA
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Over so many years, a glance
loses its focus even as the outline
remains. Let’s say, light
defines a parapet, Venetian gothic,
Oriental cresting over a flat
face of stone reflecting water
or the other way around.
(Rats inhabit the low-
tide.) “So gorgeously decadent.”
Or do I only remember
what you might have said?
As in any dream,
I see you clearly: tall, slender
column bearing the grand
façade. Arches. Eyebrow arched,
arcing as you look down
from that height. Beautiful
world that always was and never
THE HAP-HAPPIEST SEASON OF ALL
—Katy Brown, Davis
Tony Bennett’s song bounces around the living room
on this deceptively sparkling morning.
A chill breeze whisking remnants of last night’s fog
from Ceylon-blue skies.
Brilliant leaves swirl in the yard.
How different from last evening.
In fog that muffles every sound—
a car door closing sounds like a rifle shot.
The doctor’s words echo over and over in dense grey:
here would be his headand here his feet—
the MRI image-slices of anatomy.
Here the lungs: see, they are grey . . . uniform.
Going a little further, here the pancreas,
see the shadow. . . .
and the left kidney, the long shadow on top . . .
and here is his colon.
See the narrow wall, just here.
That’s how it should look,
but here—this thickening—
a shadowed noose
Fiery leaves falling like embers
in the sparkling light this morning—
IN A MATTER OF SECONDS
—Emily Camacho, Sacramento
In a matter of seconds you can either fall in love, or have your heart broken.
You can witness a miracle or experience a tragedy.
In a few seconds you can spend wisely or lose everything.
You can make someone's day or make them miserable.
All it takes is a few seconds.
A few seconds and everything can change.
A few seconds and nothing can change.
But the question we always ask ourselves is,
"Why can't we decide what happens to us?"
If nothing happened to any of us,
then we wouldn't be able to relate to anything.
If everything happened to us,
then we would be so vulnerable and numb and able to relate to everything.
But is that a good thing?
Only if you able to come back from it with a smile on your face.
Is it a bad thing?
Only if you let it bring you down.
When people say, "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger,"
it is hard to believe because it isn't always true.
You can experience something so traumatic
and life-changing that not all of you, stays with you.
You leave something behind when that happens.
When you lose someone you love,
a piece of your heart goes with them too.
For some people, there is always someone else
that can make them whole again.
But for some people, there is not enough
to bring it all back.
But no matter what,
you will always have a scar to remind you of what was once there.
A scar reminding you of the good things that happened,
or a scar that reminds you of what you're missing the most.
THAT NEW CAR FEEL
The familiar closing bell calls forth
men in expensive suits
clapping their hands
No matter what happened
Up or down
They made it through another day
To trade again
Like that shiny fender
On their new luxury automobile
Lots of close calls
No dents or scratches
YOUR VOTE COUNTS
(Our huge numbers have made us a democracy by proxy
Exploding the original Greek version into
Countless hanging chads)
Even before ballots are printed
The pollsters are super busy
Counting our votes
All that secrecy and privacy one expects
To have in the voting booth
Has been sold
To profilers who evaluate our situations
And quantify our expected opinions
That’s our vote
Forget about free choice or common sense
We are basically assigned to one or another
Specific voting bloc
Perhaps the greatest chance that our vote will count
Will happen when pollsters find that swing voters have
Become the majority…
Death is only one consonant more
Than life which surpasses sin by
A vowel, so it boils down
To just me, alias
I have to go now
It is my time
A new baby
When all the papers are signed
We’ll say that infant has your eyes
And more hair than ever topped your head.
A FINE LINE
Around 63 years ago I had a
Terrifying near-birth experience
Unable to vent the expressions to describe it
I just gritted my tiny gums
And waited to be born
Shortly after graduating high school
A motorcycle crash left me in a coma;
Was I near death, or just revisiting
That same near-birth experience again?
After coming out of the coma
I was ushered through a phase called
Rehabilitation, like with prison inmates
I was confined and could only do
What I was told to do, written off
As unable to make correct choices
For myself. Told to wiggle my toes
Better just do it, or else
Now I perceive, comprehend, understand,
Disagree, throw a fit, alienate others,
Defy authority, astonish onlookers,
All for the near-life experience.
Thanks to today's contributors, including newcomer Emily Camacho, one of Cynthia Linville's CSUS students. And Carl Schwartz (Caschwa) has a new album on Medusa's Facebook page; check it out!
Frogs burrow the mud
snails bury themselves
and I air my quilts
preparing for the cold
Dogs grow more hair
mothers make oatmeal
and little boys and girls
take Father John's Medicine
Bears store fat
chipmunks gather nuts
and I collect books
For the coming winter
—Photo and poem by Ronald Edwin Lane