Monday, January 30, 2012

Ars Poetica 128

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

When salmon came dancing
up the spawning stream,
we watched dark wings come closer.

A wheeled plane settled, sea-bird
on sand, letting out fifteen fishermen
who checked the tide-table,

pulled on hip-boots, opened tackle-
boxes, cast rainbow-colored lures
into silver ripples whose rocks

clasped them tight, a river-queen's
ransom, so fishermen offered
new lures shiny red purple green

while the salmon danced in their red-
scale armor upstream, the river
sang, quick red voice summoning

tide and sunset, till the wheeled
plane lifted fifteen fishermen away
into evening's dark wings.


—Taylor Graham

Mozart draws me much too lucidly
tonight, from lux perpetua to kyrie eleison,
and lacrymosa dies, the way the world
spins red and ashen from a girl's
not coming home for supper
to finding her asleep under her own
backyard. Sand, tiny fragments
of rock. Cunning as music,
how she was wooed or wedged
into that hole, and the earth made as if
right again above her. One more
death I never knew—what loss to me?
Ask her mother, ask the man
who made the music and is dead.
This sweet art, skin of sound,
notes soaring off like birds let loose
in a blown-apart sky. It's winter
when the birds have flown.
Requiem aeternum.


—Taylor Graham

I thought I was in love with the Buddha
but he was huge and distant and wouldn't look at me.
Then I followed that poet Bukowski for a spell,
but I lacked gumption
to stand with him cold on the shoulder
waiting for a ride from Vegas,
with all that roadkill
unpoetically concrete on the two-lane,
and hurt poems limping along in the dark beyond
the headlit edges. Oh beautiful maimed
anapestic rabbit. Is poetry always about love?



The rainbow colors
in our school palate

Just the howling wind
blows open
the classroom door
wafting all
off of their desks

Noses start dripping.
Tissues are born in
the air, shooting
out of cardboard

Shoes scatter on
the floor by

Eyes don’t blink
Mouths wide open
Knees bumping
on the floor.
Let’s Go—

—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento


—Caschwa, Sacramento

(The director told those who were picked to be in
the crowd scene of a movie to just say “rhubarb”
over and over again, in their normal speaking voice.)

Emboldened by the positive feedback
From Ronald Reagan’s challenge to
“Tear Down This Wall!”

Activists have been busily tearing down
Other walls viewed as limiting or confining
Our precious freedom of speech

Unleashing a veritable prison break of
Dominating terms and images borne of
Alluring, evil, manipulative, sly, you name it

Cries arise of triumph, anguish, incredulity,
Hatred, humility, arrogance, defiance, and love
Starting as a buzz and escalating to a roar

Which has eventually drowned out the memorable
Slogans of our patriots, whose singular embattled
Voices had finally reached sympathetic ears

Only now the din of the crowd is reduced to
Rhubarb repetitions disconnected from reality, which
Nonetheless vibrate the air like a powerful engine

Mass media, which had gained acceptance
By spreading the news far and wide
Now boldly sprays rhubarb everywhere



Because they couldn’t pay their bills
Those lofty aliens who hold
Sway with our pay
Decided to poke us working folk
Squeezing our income outrageously low

Mirroring the Mazatec ritual
Of crushing Salvia divornum leaves
To extract juices to infuse in tea
To create an altered state of consciousness
For ritual healing ceremonies, yippee!

After years of practicing
This awkward procedure a lot
The budget is finally balanced
So everyone can now go back
To just being normal. Not.



I was just expressing my heartfelt gratitude
And saving it in some handy metal canisters
I got from the camping supplies store

When some self-righteous snobs told me
That was offensive and not appropriate
Behavior to do in a public forum.

Well!! Imagine that? Feelings are banned
If you are in a place where others can see you;
We could be on the threshold of a major
Decline in the greeting card industry.



It’s 5:00 at the art museum
Close of business
Consumption of the body
Can of beans

Tear away from that painting by
Jean-Francois Millet
It will still be there
The next business day

Hanging in another place
Depicting yet another face
Some memories we can’t erase
A missing head and bloodied lace

So rests poor Barbizon at last
Slain by tourists who move too fast
Burying the richness of its past
Ignoring the flags that fly half mast

Shut the door and
Leave it behind
Go home, let TV
Take control of your mind


Today's LittleNip: 


A can outside
The wind blew in
A candle inside
The wind blew out

The French inch passed
Its British kin
Napoleon’s height
Was left in doubt

(for more about Napoleon's height, see


Thanks to our chefs today, including Taylor Graham, who writes about her salmon: Salmon in process of being smoked in the smoker we built of river rock so we could transport our catch home from the island. Ah the old days of adventure [when she and husband Hatch were living in Alaska]. Good to have Rhony Bhopla in the Kitchen more these days, too. And we have a new Facebook album of the American River from Carl Schwartz (Caschwa); be sure to check that out.


—Photo by Caschwa
(Be sure to check out his new album of
the American River on Medusa's Facebook page!)