Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Weed by Any Other Name...

Can you find Taylor Graham in the tree?

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Ancient juniper above treeline
split by lightning
who knows how many years ago
but still standing
hollow-centered but alive—
I step inside.
To the east, the Sierra crest
and, through its window,
view of basin and range as far as the eye.
I press my ear
to its core. It hums—
leaf-scales in a windswept crown,
a lyre more lasting than laurel.
I could stay here,
heart of juniper. Under storm-
clouds, a bird—a raven—to fly into
the desert haze
of distance. Shelter of lava rock,
sky-shimmer, tree.


—Taylor Graham

Today we're the wrecking crew
to tear out weeds gone wild in our garden,
weeds that take over the world.
But wait.

Morning dew's cradled in hearts
of miner's lettuce. Here's chickweed
with its dainty white blossoms,
leaves tangy on the tongue.

Imagine them in a basin
in the kitchen, crisping for a salad.
And here's lace-edged purple
vetch, and filaree—beloved of sheep.

All these weeds, and others
nameless—might they be
answers to questions
we've never asked?


—Taylor Graham

Pinus echinata.
Torreya californica.
I read the tag that's nailed
to each tree—name and provenance.
An open-
air museum
of trees,

a realm
of leaf
and needle, root, cone, and bark.
My puppy tugs the leash, sniffs
a stick,
pebbles on
the path.

What word
for such
adventure? There's a raven flapping overhead,
cloud shadows, scuff in the dirt.
A whole
new world
to name.

Torreya californica (Cal. nutmeg)
—Photo by Taylor Graham


—Kim Clyde, Sacramento

There is a longing
Deep beneath my skin
To kiss
You in the
Dim noise
Of the
Breaking day.
To brush my fingers
Along your
Sleeping spine.
To feel
The thrill
Of your flesh
Along my flank
And await your
But I must wait.
Not long
I hope.


Unlike the Titanic in the movies
there was no handsome American guy who snuck onboard
hoping to deflower a British aristocratic girl
(Leo Dicaprio's previous role of poet Arthur Rimbaud was ‘way better, no?!)
That a symphony band played while the ship sank
was only one of the many later-fabricated legends
What we know from survivors' accounts is that
when the ship hit an iceberg
most passengers were in their cabins in bed—
caught unware—
much like so many times when a tragedy strikes.
Just as 100 years ago today
people prayed harder than ever when they realized they might die,
I also have felt like I'm on a sinking ship
and wonder if my rescue will come before I drown,
recalling Ezra Pound's Canto I:
"…O King, I bid remember me, unwept, unburied,
Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-bord, and inscribed…"

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento



tumble into the dandelion patches
decor of potash gray and yellow
befill the vacated sideyard
between the Duran and Cartowski houses
closed long ago
to human traffic
foretold by downturns
in enterprise and energy
the blessed milkthistle
waves at all the
gone temporarily dry
yet lingers
and still survives.

—Michael Cluff, Corona, CA


—Michael Cluff

The cacti on campus
sting and barb
mobile and intelligent
they search and try
to "appropriately" control
or at least have the other forms
of flora fit into their fanatical, florid ways.
If they can not retouch the roots
into what is their path to conformity
which will finally allow replanting
into a more permanent,
proscribed and impervious pot, container,
they will cut the "weed" out
and leave it to die,
off site,
since a sense of conscience
may interfere with the ever-withering
bottom line.


—Michael Cluff

China is copying the West
much like Kinkade xeroxed himself
seventeen-year-olds try
to sell kidneys and the like
for iPods and such.

I surmise it is probably better
than strafing one's soul
for gain of gold and silver
thirty pieces or thereabouts
depending on what the market
will bear and the other colors
tinting and shading
the canvas show
about the real artist
or teenager in Chenzhou
California or Carnaby Street.


—Michael Cluff

A spare pen on the vanity
aims at the red geranium
atop the nearly clean commode
stem and petals pointed north
the sunlight stampedes on
without them
early April
one flower drops
in midstream
hounded by others
with no words enough,
ever to be.


Our thanks to today's poets for their energetic tackling of Weeds (our Seed of the Week) of various ilk, to Taylor Graham for the photos and her rendering of our current Form to Fiddle With, the Trinet—see the green board for info on that form—and to Michael Cluff for reminding us of the venerable Walter de la Mare. TG's photo of Torreya californica comes from the arboretum in Camino, where Loki, the Grahams' new German shepherd pup (see Monday's post), has had her first search-and-rescue training already.

Trina Drotar has an article in Sacramento Press about National Poetry Month; check that out at


Today’s LittleNip: 

—Michael Cluff

Hardly ever gave him a care or stare
the poet named Walter de la Mare
but thanks to Miss Medusa's Kitchen
I find his verses to be rather bitchen
now to me he is a bigger star
if I want to rhyme alternately de la Mare
and yes I even read him in the car
or sometimes even outside any local bar.

(For the official Walter de la Mare website, go to



 California poppies
—Photo by Taylor Graham