Wednesday, February 08, 2012

The Jaguar's Cough

Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

I probably have this all wrong.
Even looking up at the great dark
Flocks of birds coming in low
Across the acid green lawns seems
To give an indication that something
Is not right but has not yet gone wrong.

The way the beautiful golden orb
Weaving spider moves quickly
To see what it might be that rips
The strands of his web has more
The flavor of a necessity to eat
Rather than a drama or a broken
Hunk of darkness detached from the night

About it. It hangs from a perfect
Strand of perfect silk and is spun
Round and round until entirely wrapped
Into the shape of a teardrop,
So smooth light from the fire
Reflects on its impossible surface.

For weeks I have been waiting for the jungle
To open some kind of path, a path
Back to creation, a hint that its womb
Might attract something other
Than stinging flies and columns
Of large ants with scimitar jaws
Flowing over the ground, up the trees,
Into the eyes of everything that cannot
Move fast enough to give them way.

There must be some kind of resolution.
I think: “It may lie in the birds,” still
They seem too dark to be such.
Then it comes to me in the cough
A jaguar makes on a fine afternoon.

“This is all we shall ever have, all we
Shall ever know, all we shall ever be.”
I draw my knife and proceed.


—D.R. Wagner

The hardest part is living
Without blue. The jugglers
Still come into the rooms cranking
Out their soft melancholy music
On the accordions and harps, clarinets
Building little wooden castles on
The table tops and chairs. There was
A breathlessness about it all that recalled
Childhood once again, digging
Beside the sea with a wooden spade.

But finally it was blue that was gone.
For days I would move from room
To room, whisper to the animals,
Gather them to me and make
Some of the old songs to them
I knew they would recognize.

But no blue, out of the eye of the mouse,
Or the sky above the house
As an empty palace then, nothing
Could be said, nothing that men
Could ever make could take its place.

Perhaps blindness would be better.
But no, oranges spinning in circles
Before the jugglers. The red and yellow
Fire makes from the tall torches
The angels plied the hall with,
Keeping the night in order, the
Moon in its pale choir
Glowing dumbly down on the place.

We began to pray, to make up
Words to say things as they had not
Been said before. “Please return
Blue to us. Our souls cannot
tolerate this. It is worse than
Losing verbs or silver’s shine."

But blue no longer came.
We could no longer call day by
That name. So sweet the pain.
A child all alone on a train at night.


—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA

The pressure really got going
in the French presidential election
they are always cooking up
something hard to digest
to sate the pallid state,
so Madame Seguin
added flour
to front-running
Francois Hollande
to make him into
a sort of socialist sauce
that would go down better
than the tripe candidates
serve usually with baloney.

Maybe this one time
it will work.
C'est la vie.


DEL ROSA, 1968
—Michael Cluff

In the full moon
of an August Sunday,
the one before Labor Day,
the stingy musky slap-smell
of grapefruits
from the tree next
to the half-covered patio
on Holly Vista where
Dogwood does a "T"
is another special specimen
of lanterns in the darkness
which add a sad spice
to such a series of nights
right before autumn
and elementary school
come galumphing in.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Today she's done up like a supermodel,
that cherry tree he planted
by the pond, how many years ago—all pink
flounces on her skinny branches,
arms raised, ready to dance.
As if a tree could think it's really Spring.
Every shade of pink in the spectrum
(as they say) on a cherry tree.
Like she expected that old thug, Winter,
to be done already—no more wind-
fits of hysteria to blow off
all her blossoms. Pink petals
to linger awhile on those bending planks
that used to bridge the creek;
petals hanging around to “sing the glories
of the circling year.” Another
year without cherries.


Today's LittleNip 

—Taylor Graham

The old cherry tree
and scabby.

Its new blossoms
can't stop


Thanks to today's artists for another fine day in the Kitchen: D.R. Wagner for the photos and poems, Michael Cluff for galumphing through a couple of our recent Seeds, and Taylor Graham, who points out that we already did the Septolet as a Form to Fiddle With. Ah well, what's an extra Septolet or two between friends...? If you come up to Poetry Off-the-Shelf in Placerville tonight, you can catch a glimpse of Judy Taylor Graham, and maybe even another member of the Red Fox Underground, Brigit Truex, who has a new book of poetry and prose out (from Lummox Press) entitled Strong as Silk, the story of California's Gold Hill Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony. More about that at

Tonight is also the inaugural event of a new poetry reading series in Folsom: Verse on the Vine, presented by Petra Vineyards and sponsored by  This series will be held on the second Wednesday of each month at The Wine Gallery, 627 Sutter St., Folsom, from 7-8:30pm. The first reading will feature Shawn Aveningo. Congratulations on this new adventure!

And be sure to check out our latest "album" on Medusa's Facebook Page: What Redwoods Know (at Sac. Poetry Center) by Michelle Kunert!



 Photo by D.R. Wagner