—Rhony Bhopla, Sacramento
The vinyl bag is filled with objects,
some hard, some soft,
something like a handle of a tea cup,
something that has a pulse,
a little sticky like school glue.
Who knows what they are
except the one who put them
together. Who, like that sinewy
boy, who sleeps under tarp
and brushes his teeth with his
Don’t be disturbed. Hold on.
This might be an award winning
poem, there might be cream filling
in the center, or we just might go
to sleep tonight having
decided something important.
The boy’s right hand grasps a half
empty water bottle—
cricksy cricksy slopks,
makes the sound of it rolling
like the unpredictable noise
mini firecrackers make.
They don’t take bottle caps at the recycling center.
The first time he learned this, he stood
in the rain
unscrewing every cap.
While he did it,
he came up with the idea to make
a giant beetle with all of those caps.
It could be entered into a high school
art contest. He would win of course.
Someday, he will get his diploma.
We had no idea,
Those translucent caps,
then clock-wise, were a sort of
in an uproar over all of the plastic,
hissing about the growing landfills,
shaking our heads despairingly about
the homeless, not to mention
We live in purdah, an
Our tea cups clink
then a handle breaks off.
We recross our legs,
swap the cream for the sugar,
lay the spoon on the tray
and watch through
the swirling cataract curtains.
THROUGH A COMET'S DARK
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
On the way home your beeper
went off. Small child missing in rimrock,
juniper and pine. Clouds gathered and
pulled back, intermittent snow.
A comet stood in cold black sky impassive
as it passed over festivity and fear.
They say it comes once
in 15,000 years. Luck of a volunteer,
to give up hearthside and
family cheer; load up search pack,
winter gear, grab a thermos of coffee,
take the dark road to nowhere.
Rimrock's cup of time,
a new year's comet. You paced out
the night; a lost child waited
to be found. Listening
into silence, what did you hear?
LAST POEM OF THE YEAR, 6:46 p.m.
—Michael Cluff, Highland, CA
Night falls a touch
and the hiker
separating the rime
from the treeline
he always wants
to go above this point
but the green entices
just as much
as the sudden
white of cold
needs to be defined
equally and eloquently
he plans to hold
his balance now
that is the best
he can only
FIRST POEM OF THE YEAR, 9:22 a.m.
The park across
the valley is still
no touch football
hell-bent on setting
personal best times.
The peace is elusive
holidays are temporal
but the dirt
this hush, my pollen—the ordinary grace in the buds.
my basement sorrows—salt and shadow, saying
Lucky, lucky, your tiniest sadness,
this desert of fragments,
this urge to making a scrapbook of stars—