by Ronald Edwin Lane, Colfax
—Charlie Mariano, Sacramento
picked up my granddaughter
so we could go to our
is Boston Market
and according to her,
“the best mac-n-cheese in the world!”
this place rules
while gobbling that goo,
“Happy Martin Luther King Day grandpa”
between sticky gulps
“well thank you, same to you”
she puts down her plastic fork
and looks at me all serious,
“grandpa, i don’t know what we’re supposed to do
“what did they teach you in school?”
“my teacher said this is a holiday for people
with dark skin,”
“is that so,” i said, “she said that?”
“no, she called them something else”
“African-American?” i asked
“very important,” i said
“you know, you have dark skin too,”
i told her
“but i’m dark like you, they’re different,”
“no, not really,” i said, “we’re all the same”
her face got all scrunched up
trying to soak it all in
then she smiled,
“ohhh, so today is for everybody?”
“sort of,” i told her
“Happy Mac-n-Cheese Day grandpa”
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
at the edge of dirty pavement.
Every mark on the gauge
No juncos, no robins,
a month since rain.
Soil wrinkles like old skin,
the pasture's waste.
Not a wing
feathers the air.
as if under a spell
under this unbreakable
WHERE HAVE THE BIRDS GONE?
samisen music sown on rumor—
sewn in reminiscence.
memories revive: a mecca, a caress,
a wren, a crane, a vireo, a swan.
once-aurora, now an eve.
susurrus. musicians score an aria
sonorous as au revoir.
we owe a raven's ransom.
a sorrow soars.
HE RECITES “TO A SKYLARK”
They all laugh. He mutters, stutters—words
wing-clipped, till he flutters, utters birds.
LOOKING FOR THE ROSY FINCH
The trail steep and winding, grinding, long.
Birds against sun blinding, finding song.
(Inspired by Michele Kunert’s photo of Canada Geese in McKinley Park—see Medusa's Kitchen post Monday, Jan. 16)
They flocked here from Canada just as others before
had from Ireland, Scotland, and England
Disease would cut short the lives of many,
And some would be shot for sport
They did not migrate here to flee the inadequacies
Of Canadian Universal Health Care in favor of
The allegedly better services offered when big gov
Puts big bills in the collection trays of private enterprise
Each quacky one, as they enjoy the serenity of the park,
Remembers those fateful days when predecessors of
Our “better than them” health care professionals darkly
Feared the side effects of X-rays more than a lodged bullet
Putting poor William on a permanent path to gangrene
By today’s standards, assisting the assassination
Hamstringing first responders with the mandate:
Wait until the FDA finally, officially says it is OK
OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS #1
—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA
They please me
with their melodies
merry and sweet in natural
trilling without restraint
and bias unless
the call of bees and avians
The cage is a killer
even unto the domesticated,
wings were evolved
for a purpose
that contains many acres
of unbounded skies
OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS #2
Emus, ostriches and chickens
eagles, orioles and canaries
as well as offensive.
OUR FEATHERED FRIENDS #3
Deluded and elated
what birds obtain
Dad warned Icarus
does have its downfalls
I love bamboo how it looks
and because men carve it into flutes
—Ikkyu (trans. from the Japanese by Steven Berg)