Friday, April 20, 2012

As Earth Day Approaches...

—Photo by Jane Blue

—Jane Blue, Sacramento

A man wearing stonewashed blue jeans
one leg pulled up and tied around his stump––
a large talkative man––
burst into the sandwich shop
out of a drizzly morning, and immediately said,
"Have you ever seen an acorn this big?"
thrusting it right at me between thumb and forefinger
and I felt it gritty from soil under an oak
that must have been magnificent, dropping
hundreds of acorns, spreading over a vacant lot,
squirrels scrambling. The acorn was almost as big
as a magnolia cone with red berries
sequestered in woody, thorny folds, but no––
it was a humble acorn wearing the obvious little
acorn cap on top of a polished, eyeless face.
The man sat down hard in a clanking metal chair
while the almost invisible woman ordered for them
from the counter. "I like the little things, I guess,"
he sighed. Then they left out into the fine mist;
I saw him swing his truncated leg over a bicycle
pushing with his good leg, as the woman
thin and mute, walked beside him.


—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

In Astoria, Illinois,
So deep into the back
Country you could hear
The dueling banjos,
There was a place
Called Dog Bury Hall.

Nineteenth-century law
Required lost or strayed
Livestock, cows, goats,
Dogs, oxen, whatever,
To be held for thirty days,
Then disposed of
By the township.

Out back was a blighted
Oak you’d quickly
Glance at then have
To look away. This
Is where the dogs
Were disposed of.
You’ve heard the
Phrase “Hang-dog look.”

No, somehow the
Cattle, oxen, sheep,
Always got claimed.
Besides, they would
Have needed
A bigger tree.


—Caschwa, Sacramento

Members of the community
Saddened by the tragic and
Entirely preventable deaths
Of little children decided to
Vote on speed bumps

A grumpy few viewed these
As cursed impediments
While the majority accepted
Them as blessed reminders
To slow down for safety

Are mighty oak trees
Mother Nature’s way of
Giving us a blessed reminder
That leveling the land enables
The misguided to hurry though?



Okey-dokey, oak trees are mighty big
But compared to the almighty
Pulling an all-nighter

Everything is relative:
One oak can live for
Several human generations

While in its later years
It may need the help of humans
To keep surviving

Will cockroaches, weeds
And oak trees outlive their creator
Like corporations outlive humans,

Or will the almighty tire of this play
Fold up the board and
Put the game away?


—Michael Cluff, Corona

The begonias
underneath the mighty oak
grab Lianne's eight years old attention
while Sylvester the engineer
sees the solidity of
the more mundane
over the flash and impermanence
of the striking and fragile.

Annie just rests
under the tree's heavy, brooding
yet sheltering branches
secure she can enjoy
the bursts of floral tints and hues
in a solitude that does not
threaten or impose
as rooms and corridors
are wont to do.


Today's LittleNip: 

Reducing variety
to routine and tedium
is essential I am told
but my spirit
feels it should be
another way.

—Michael Cluff



—Photo by Annie Menebroker, Sacramento
[See Medusa's Facebook page for more of Annie's photos
of what goes on Under the Mighty Oak. Is she the
"Annie" that Michael Cluff is talking about
in his first poem today?]