Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Geckos, Swine and Magic Apples

Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown, Davis

Brittle as ice crystals, morning light
shatters on almond blossoms
in orchards on the hillside.

The fields lie patched beside the road:
corduroy brown of newly turned acres,
brilliant green of young wild rye,
fawn-yellow of dried harvest.

The valley breathes color:
the low slant of sunlight highlights
blades of grass and every stone.

We pass a squad of bikers,
heads down, pumping their pedals
in perfect, bulging unison.
Light intensifies brilliant jerseys.

An aged walnut tree, bare as a coat rack,
shakes free a cloud of crows
which fill the sky in a swirl of flint.


—Katy Brown

The Faerie Queen came down the path—
down the path to the sea-O.
With her knights in green and archers-keen
she rode to the emerald sea-O.

Through rye and sedge in meadows fair
they made their way to the sea-O;
where grass recalls the wind’s footfalls
as it blows from the mighty sea-O.

The entourage—a fey parade—
stopped at the edge of the sea-O.
On the finest sand, at the end of land,
they waited by the sea-O.

Out of the waves, the Mer-King rose—
rose from the depths of the sea-O.
He brightly smiled, Oh, my child!
with a voice that boomed like the sea-O.

My joy! My pride! My daughter fair,
child of the King of the sea-O—
you left your home beneath the foam
to rule the land by the sea-O.

Two monarchs met, two monarchs wept
for joy by the side of the sea-O.
Such a long delay until this day:
when the Fey returned to the sea-O.

We’ve left the woods and mountain stream
to come to the wind-swept sea-O.
We’ve come to play, to spend the day
by the shores of my homeland sea-O.

We pledge our peace before we leave
between the land and the sea-O.
Let the changing wind bring news of kin
both on the land and sea-O.

They both returned to their kingdoms, vast:
the rulers of land and sea-o.
The poets say that to this day
they meet by the edge of the sea-O.
They meet by the edge of the sea-O.


 The Magic Apple Tree
—Painting by Samuel Palmer 

(a painting by Samuel Palmer, 1830)
—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Surely this is not about apples.
Anyone who sits down beside his sheep
as they ruminate their cud on a dazed, sun-dazy
afternoon, under half a dozen trees that arch
and doze to frame a hillside
which suddenly is engulfed, no, glorified
in sunglow—gold-amber as wheat
on a ripe hillside—
might notice that one of the arching trees
bends impossibly full of apples so they tint,
crimson and delicious, the whole
landscape of this suddenly unnatural world.
It's the magic that naturally comes
of sitting with your ruminants for as long
as it takes to digest
a placid, sheepful afternoon.


—Taylor Graham

It's shrink & run again—his white
dress-shirt turned new-denim-blue,
bed-sheets tangled in the goat-rope,
pairing of socks defeated, one rag-
wool lost in the dryer's innards.
They'll fold it up behind a locked
door. Take a forever lunch-break.
Turn up the funky dance music,
two-step together mis-match—
what partners are for.


(quinzaines: the fifteens)
—Taylor Graham

Morning wakes unsettled sound.
In cyberspace, who
will I find?

Everything's broken in parts.
Whose voice puts it all

We trade phrases, couplets, words.
Is the lyric yours,
and mine too?

They say music is numbers.
Must all the fifteens
come between?

This morning is white blossoms.
Do even bees rhyme
in meter?

We don't meet in real-life time.
How is it, you make
me music?


—Patricia Hickerson, Davis

he sports a gecko on his wrist
and asks me to pet it
gecko golden
spotted in sunshine
so pliant yet jittered
with sunlit nerves
little goddess of speed and gold

I pat the gecko
as she twists and turns
wants to be petted
yet yearns to escape
textured fine in squares and quadrants
gold leather unfurled
she slouches to the touch

I capture you in my net of dreams
climbing my wall
my sticky-footed friend
eternal tail cut off? grows back
you chirp you mimic you dart
Madagascar-bred you love the tropics
a jungle will do

the sweetness of your voice
veiled innuendo of your eyes
peering from a steaming nest of palm fronds
now I see you now I don’t


SWILL 1942
—Patricia Hickerson

squirming pliant mud of Aunt Minnie’s front yard
Main Street Kentucky hog-wallow
root snort belch
to my 14-year-old metropolitan eyes
disgusting smelly creatures
they roll in ecstasy
their corpulence insolent, assured
redolent of dark fragrance
of horse dung, cow patty, pig shit

now much later I see them
as flourishing gods and goddesses
porcine perfection
well-fed and royally plump
bellies subsuming earth
mired in exuberance
bellow to each other for the joy of it
roll their straight-lashed eyes
grunt who’s that snooty girl?
while I climb the rickety steps to Aunt Minnie’s porch
enter the gloom of her rattletrap house

Uncle Joe is in bed
soon to die after a stroke
poor Uncle Joe
will never tend the hogs again
or entertain me
by beckoning to his rollicking babies
in a piercing high-pitched squeal


Today's LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

On the extra day
the waterman gave each
an additional sip
it was tepid
but better than zero.

On the extra day
archers paused under the prosceniums
watching anchors in the bay
finally being released
from the muck and brine.

On the extra day
the miller crushed less potash
and pumice
into the meal
but no infant lived a second longer.

On the extra day
the sky was really the same
but the sun felt new
the tillers sowed
the rocky, rubbled earth
with more speed and less sweat.

On the extra day
the commissar claimed
it was his real birthday
the plateau mumbled
and an angel and three devils wept.

—Medusa (for more about quinzaines, see "Forms to Fiddle With" over on the green board at the right of this column)

 Martha Ann Blackman with 
The Hansens: Richard, Rachel and Ru
at the Shine reading on Feb. 22
which featured Ann Menebroker and Kathy Kieth
[For more pix of the Shine reading, go to
Medusa's Facebook page, with our thanks
to Sandy Thomas!]