Thursday, July 19, 2012

Toward Time's Edge

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

At the edge of woods, this weedy field
where Queen Anne's lace goes from flower
to skeleton—birds-nest, candelabra—

I'll find its finger-bones still reaching, dry
into October, fragile-tough as any survivor.
Dust rises of itself, stirred by heat.

Here's a track the wind left. My dog
picks up a scent, leads me into scrub-oak;
willow, cottonwood, a single leaning,

silver snag once struck by lightning.
Can my dog show me who else walked here,
days or months ago, leaving scant sign?

Molecules of scent, syllables of poems.
Shadow of a figure disappearing
in haze. Through woods, my dog brings me

to a clearing, a ring of charred rocks:
the bones of fire, stories told in sparks rising
from the dark toward unfallen stars. Scars

of old histories healing as words that let
yesterday go to silence. One willow glows,
as if it held fire in its arms like desire.

In autumn, leaves will shiver down gold
at its feet. We pass through here
separately, but we never pass unchanged.


—Taylor Graham

Scrub-oak lives by rooting in
to sunbake hardpan,
thistle by flinging its down
into the hot wind.
Dirt roads arrive by dodging
boulders, jumping swales,
forgetting notions of straight.
Thirst summons water.


—Taylor Graham

She's all loose
ends and bark—leap to
be let out
the door run-
ning scouting unfenced fringes
sundown thistledown

foxtails in her fur
dashing speech-
less tales of
beasts out of bounds. Just hold on—
I've got my red pen

in hand. I'll
“sit! stay!” her syntax,
curb her hot
tongue panting;
force her to a pace of strict
metered couplets, five

feet to the
line with classical
and rhyme. But
what happened to her pulse, her
heart? Wild metaphors…


—Taylor Graham

She tugs the leash.
Choke-chain doesn't faze her. Pinch-collar fails
without warning. Loose dog!
All this hardware and fitted leather, fidgeting
with snaps and buckles. Metal fatigue. My hands are
blistered and my arms ache.
Loose dog!—
I love to watch her at a flying trot, barely
skimming ground,
nose aloft, pulled by scents
from across the valley. A vista—
maybe something's lost to find.
I'll invent a halter of wild grasses, we'll run past
fences, over the high passes,
to a place we've never been before.
Heart-strong. I'll unclip us—
loose dog, loose handler— 
startling birds who rise from bushes on unleashed
wings and fly—
I'll find her on the wind as she finds me.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Michael Cluff, Corona

Stared at upon entry
into a family resturant
in the hub of town,
the pie place that plays
country/honky tonk
all the live-long day,
Dennis is uncomfortable,
forgetting he has cobra tattoos
cornering not-so-cute rats
on both biceps.

He usually covers them over
with longsleeve plain oxford dress shirts
while at work
at his banking job.

Corey does not receive such a notice
but would
if anyone
knew where he had
a specific pierced ring
placed not so recent ago.


—Katy Brown, Davis
Yours was a heart filled
with moonlight and lilies;
with a little bit of ginger;

—and in a rocky corner,
a warty frog
singing off-key.

Yours was a smile
easy to coax
all the way to your eyes;

but with a wry downturn;
and bit of mischief
that lingered in your beard.

Yours was a thoughtful gaze,
seeing through impasses
to compromise and harmony;

past unpleasant reality
and inconvenient evidence;
a dreamer’s look.

Yours was a mind
that held minutest detail—
recalling all the cousins’ names;

remembering birthdays;
rattling off obscure facts;
waiting for the rest of us to catch up.

—Katy Brown, Davis

Sailors long for baskets of ripe pears
under faded prayer flags.

On this journey, the ancient gods sail
against the memory of war,
remembering when Helen was young.

The sails of their barques billow
like executioners’ capes
in the shadows of an apricot dusk.

They float on a shattered mirror,
listening to the rhythmic creak
of rigging in the evening wind.

In the company of bones and eels
they measure the longitude and latitude
of isolation and howl under a rusty moon.

The purity of song rings across the sea:
the crimson breath of mermen
curling into the dark.

Tonight, there are too many edges to bypass.
Rocks and monsters mark their path.
Tonight, the sea collects secrets.


Today's LittleNip:

—Michael Cluff


Roaming through the new ruins
a camper sees spots
of dull sparkle and shimmer
a point of intrigue
to the glucomaed bound eye
equal oscillates
lack of firm shape and insight
rain won't clarify

Wearing the gray three piece suit
Bart will hesitate
the pinstripes a real prison
imposed for profit
never leading back to him
bald bile from the brain
rips opal cufflinks from sleeves
tattoos rubbed rare raw



Katy Brown (left) and Claire J. Baker
—Photo by Annie Menebroker, Sacramento

[For more photos of last Monday's 
Sacramento Poetry Center reading, 
see Medusa's Facebook page.]