Monday, February 20, 2012

Cycles of Rain And Longing

View Oblique
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Against traffic, out of sight.
I was parked watching the rearview reflecting
Saturday morning. Leftover litter
of thoughts, parts of the last half century
but obliquely, hands on the wheel,
key in my pocket; truck going nowhere.

Where would a man go on two gimpy legs
between speed sign and a roadkill
sparrow? Man bent under his backpack, empty
fields on one side, town
the other way. Walking toward a distant
idea in his gray disguise?


—Taylor Graham

My dog is following scents alive today,
this cold February morning—

cherry trees thick with blossom
and fields green in the root-shade of oak.

Birds leave trails of flight-fancy
in passing. Dawn then dusk,

a pond mirrors it all: her walks toward
sunset; cycles of rain and longing.

Scent lasts as long as weather lets it,
tracing our every step on earth;

some bits thinner than mercury
after we disappear from the mirrors.

Liveoaks have grown so dense
around, the sun sets without her.


—Taylor Graham

My dog goes nosing skeletons
of last year's flowers—brittle-brown
stalks—and ground-squirrel
burrows. Disorder of birds; golden-
crowned sparrow pecking
at a road-rut. Never know what
you'll find in a vacant field, a pit dug
into pasture. The dead deflect
a compass off true;
draw the searcher magnet-blind
to sorrow. Bodies passed
over. Scattered in mountain-
misery, released from
skin and skull; or dumped
behind a punky log in forest,
so you feel a summer chill
walking the dusty spur. So many
still missing, haunting to be
found. Here, this
field of leftover star-
thistle, flowers soft as dry snow.

—Photo by Taylor Graham


—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

I have touched the past—
something black.
A wing dips down into
the nine pools.
The inversion layer shimmers,
lays a finger on me—
invoking Jesus.
Too much Matisse.

             * * *

Too much. Matisse
lays a finger on me.
The nine pools
invoking Jesus.
I have touched the past.
The inversion layer shimmers
a wing, dips down into
something black.

             * * *

Something black—
a wing—dips down.
The inversion layer shimmers
the nine pools,
invoking. Jesus
lays a finger on me.
I have touched the past
too much. Matisse.


—Caschwa, Sacramento

(I awoke at 3:00 in the morning to find)

Poems I had already read
Leftover food in the fridge
Stories that were no longer news

TV reruns
Crumbs in the toaster
A load of dishes to be run

A host of unsolved problems
safely relegated to the
black hole of tomorrow

There is no and will be no
today, not at this hour
just way too early



(Like currency at a foreign exchange bank,
Jewish lore defines values in terms of something else)

The Bar Mitzvah celebrates when
After years of religious study
A Jewish boy at the ripe old age of 13
Is finally able to lead the congregation in prayer
Thus, “Today you are a man.”

That about sums it up.

Except, stepping outside the synagogue
In a Los Angeles suburb in the early '60’s
There were still just a few limitations imposed
On 13-year-old Bar Mitzvah boys:

Couldn’t vote
Couldn’t smoke
Couldn’t drive
Couldn’t buy adult reading materials
Couldn’t enter into a contract
Couldn’t join the armed forces
Couldn’t ignore a parent’s curfew
Couldn’t marry
Couldn’t choose which school to attend, or whether to attend one
Couldn’t purchase or consume alcohol
Couldn’t gamble
Couldn’t take a full-time job

That about sums it up.



Tall walls of vandalism vines
Rooted in uncultivated soil
Fertilized by buckets of apathy
Watered with beer and wine

Show me the money:
Urban renewal, help, support,
Spirit, rebuild America,
Yes We Can, FDA Approved

Men in robes preaching values
Melting to temptation like
A snowflake in Hell
This is a transferable skill

Big Money, second chance
Big Tobacco, second rate
Big Pharm, second opinion
Big Leagues, second fiddle

The separation of Church and State
Has created a 2-headed snake
Each ready to bite you
For not following its rules

People who risk money
And come out ahead
Lobby for greater rewards
Than offered to martyrs

If you have to ask the price
You cannot afford it
Some ugly ducklings are just that
Obvious, fundamental, duh!


(To my father Erwin Victor Schwartz, 1911-1992)

Boldest and rarest
Were bottled and corked
And stored down below
In the cool, quiet

Orderly shelving
Enticing labels
Very off-limits
No one could enter

The cellar was closed
Locked tight to the world
As a time capsule

Fine beverages
No merchandising
Nothing was for sale
No public tours

People would wonder
Just what was kept there
They were ready for
Opening, tasting

Dad enjoyed table
Wine with his dinner
But these were his deep
Memories to keep

Death and destruction
Those terrible years
Fighting World War II
His house would have no


Thanks to today's contributors! Taylor Graham says the mirror photo was taken accidentally by her iPad; a happy accident, as it were. Carl Schwartz' (Caschwa's) idea about cancelling today suits me just fine. And we have a new photo album on Medusa's Facebook page, this one of last year's Mardi Gras by Cynthia Linville.

SnakePals will be saddened to know that Katy Brown's longtime partner, Robert Dickover, passed away on Sunday. We'll be thinking of you, Katy.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Cynthia Linville

It started and ended in a motel room—
It was a low budget affair all along.


At first I counted the days,
then the weeks,
then the months
(two, three, four).
Time passes faster when I’m not counting any more.


He counted up his things:
flat tire
torn blanket
broken string.



 —Photo by Cynthia Linville
For more of her Mardi Gras photos, 
go to Medusa's Facebook Page at
Medusa's Kitchen/Rattlesnake Press