AT LEAST THREE WAYS OF LOOKING AT CLOUDS
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
She said the sky was full of cloud-fish
yesterday, which was an ordinary afternoon
made fairytale by a poet's eyes.
He spoke of sky as a page of ancient
script, secret elemental texts
for a mind deciphering beyond its words.
Today, the sky is fire in all its faces—
spark, then flame above ember
igniting everything so even the trees sing.
you're a voyager down passages
of dream without a map, blind tunnels
branching only to reconnect—
you've come this way before, last night
or forty-seven years ago, these same
midnight caverns, perpetual eclipse
without a headlamp. You never meant
to go underground. Voice of winter,
ceiling hung with stalactites
sharp as questions. From somewhere
deeper, sweeping flight of fire-cats.
Here's a nether locker room
of thunder-wolves, toad-tongues,
where they keep the nightmare
changes: outlandish, ugly, or just
plain strange. Shift of planes
and spaces in and out of time. Will
light never penetrate your brain
down here? How is it, then, that night
at last disbands,
and every dawn you come awake
again, out of the unconscious
MEDITATION WITH DOG
I stroke her chest. She smiles, and veils her eyes
to amber slits in pupils dark as dream.
Fingers on fur—sparks, static. Old dogs rise
to memory, living still, or so they seem.
Gone; never coming back. Some say,
only Man lives in God's immortal scheme,
while dogs must die at end of Dog's brief day.
She smiles. See how her muzzle's turning gray.
I stroke her chest. Her heart in mortal guise
still opens doors. She'll find a passage-way.
BLUE BUICK BLUES
The old car sat there rusty waiting on the drive.
Waiting, like old men just survive.
The old man sat there on his front porch humming.
Used to be a drummer, banjo, maybe vibes.
Nowdays barely still alive. Like the old car
sitting there, just a thing he used to drive.
But how the wind would fiddle with the stick
and croon. Something big was coming soon,
was gunna blow, and who to light the fuse?
Fireworks for wedding, or last day of school,
fireworks for wrecks that no more run the road.
Lovers passed in whispers, the bride just glowed.
On the day, the old car groaned. Old man didn't
come outside. A day of fireworks denied—
no bomb, no bloody chase. Just a grand subside,
the old man humming before he died:
You gotta live and love the song
before you try to improvise.
in a black and blue sky
our sleeves rolled up
in first frost
on a sleepless road
elm trees turn barren
from green and song,
from the telephone pole
except for grackles
and a dozen sparrows
taking in an east wind
by my ankles
near the pond.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Our eyes turn crystal
in slanted sunshine,
submerged swan boats
under friendly elms
murdering a croissant
and Orange Julius
in October's sleepy hollow
of parking acorns
by a loveless bench
I'm reading index cards
for an English exam
to an always late student
with a gentleman "C."
EARTHQUAKE ON OCTOBER 16
by the window waves
to a poet
correcting an adverb
on a Fall evening
in New England
my lamb dish
starts to shake
from my wine glass
land on the tablecloth
by the knives and forks,
the phone rings
my neighbor tells me
has been confirmed
there is a slight weight
quivering on my chest cavity
at the after shock,
asking for silence
and the St. Francis poem.
But don't neglect your own fame and fortune, with all these readings going on! Our Submissions section of the green board has just been spiffed up with lots of new opportunities to get your work out into the big wide world. Don't be shy—get it out there!
That nervous blind
conundrum of a sax
on side streets
voicing the blues
here at midnight
in packed clubs
living in the torque
and tongues of Bird
a stranger sweeps
by open doors
with a fugitive face
of a runaway
ashen with pale voice
among the chaos,
she asks me to dance
near the fire escape
her trodden steps
in unfamiliar corners
absorbed by whispers
in vigilante beats
against the graffiti wall
of a lost sax
taken up by flashlights
of mercenary love.