Thursday, November 22, 2012

Letting Loose Our Gratitude

—Taylor Graham

Grass in muted shades of green
under oaks, and the lesser-known forbs
that feed a hillside as we lapse
into serenity of fall—no one worries
about blooming; no guilt
of gardens. Grass grows. Oaks let loose
their gratitude in acorns. So many
acorns this fall, more than raindrops.
Acorns loved by wild turkeys,

who used to dance on the lawn, then
leave their prints in creek-mud. Where
have the turkeys gone? So many
acorns this year, as if the oaks
were sowing seed against another drought.
I try to read these omens like a trail
of ambiguous picture-postcards mailed
to us by mystery-weather. Our autumn
landscape cloaked in velvet green.


         for an old dog
—Taylor Graham

Sheet of plywood for a stretcher—
we lifted you onto the vet's steel table, told
how you went under the truck's wheel.
Thanksgiving Eve.
His hands probed, x-rays reached deeper.
Diaphragm sprung, you worked hard
at breathing. Nothing else wrong. It was
Thanksgiving Eve.
Vet put you on your feet, you walked to
the car. We drove to big-town surgery. Left
you there, drove home to a dark
Thanksgiving Eve.
By dawn, you were sewed back, almost
whole. A hundred miles to bring you home;
to watch you napping by our table. What
makes Thanksgiving.


          for Cody, 1996
—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Someday, this route that's not a trail—
a slip-through-thicket
like a thought through tangles—

someday I'll remember how we made
it out the other side, grateful
for a clear view over meadow, and

far below, the trail leading back
to road-head, highway, home.
I'll be grateful for this hard hike above

timberline, higher than you've ever
been in your short life; how
you learn to keep up with the big dogs,

pushing through willow thicket,
then lying in a seep of snowmelt while we
consult, again, the contour map.

Years from now, I'll remember this lost
adventure like a solace. The long
drive home; your puppy head in my lap.

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

After visiting the rock
and like any guy
in a new turtle neck
taking his camera out
for the family
scattered like my long hair
around the country
feeling like Walt Whitman
for some reason
shaking from a fever
to write a thanksgiving
grabbing a towel
from working out
of my broken-down car
longing to see
that old picture
of the Good Speed ship
from the first Pilgrims
on the sparse wallpaper
at nana's house
and her talking
of the Aldens and Winthrops
like they were relatives
or lived next door
unwilling to shed
a youthful memory
I wrote a Beat poem
in a tavern nearby
the server
leaning over
from the next table
wondering whom
she started talking to
and waiting up for me
at the no exit sign
which made up my life
that holiday.


—B.Z. Niditch

On an all-night diner
behind big bolted
double iron doors
in Santa Anna
after a wind storm
with pavement waters
by the vacant lot
my black boots
discovering my tracks
and the collie,
with my red eye
clouded in the fog
that I couldn't see
the edge of a fork
and knife
for the turkey leg
wet cranberry bread
in despairing gravy
on the blue plate
feeling deserted
even at the pumpkin pie
with a cold cup of java
for a traveling stranger
with a cowboy hat
in his adolescent time    
still grateful
for God, food, my dog,
and thanksgiving.


Today's LittleNip:

—Michael Cluff, Corona

This is the day when turkeys
and pumpkins
give thanks as well
for making it through
a pernicious, perilous period

with neck attached
seeds intact
and feathers unplucked.

Yet tomorrow
is their Black Friday too
when they wake up
from aviary dreams
and realize Christmas
is just thirty-one days away
lurking with a plate
carving knife
and dessert fork reserved
for them.



—from the Gorgon and everyone else at
Rattlesnake Press!