—Photo by Caschwa
counting months to term
belly expanding greatly
weeks left, then days
finally the moment
First we count the fingers
and the toes to make sure
no factory warranties
can't take it back
we start a savings account
with the hope that its
future owner will mature
enough to use it wisely
then we look around and see
some of the horrible things
grown adults do
to other people
she will always be our baby
—Charlies Mariano, Sacramento
staring, somewhat cautiously
racing ‘round the bend
scraping at a bowl of oatmeal,
and typing this
did you know
you don’t even have to lick stamps
and the stamps,
famous dead poets
(least i think they’re all dead)
Stevens, Roethke, Hayden,
Brodsky, Bishop, Cummings
dead poet’s society
billions of unknowns
in life’s darkest rooms
trampled to death,
and no postage stamp
just take your complimentary
and exit out
the back door
But only now there were no more parking lot attendants as before
I guess they said they were now all fired
so we go back to chaos as usual
with the fear of a collision with someone else in the parking lots
and what your insurance company will consider about that
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Back then, we set out in the old van—
the also-ran, max speed set by the weather,
oil-pan held in place with duct tape.
Carefree days before cholesterol pills
and fueled by the astonishing fizz of lime pop
from a bottle; before someone told us
the evening news was truer than
poetry, full as it was of people falling
to their knees in hopeless gray cathedrals.
Now we keep arrays of jars carefully labeled,
and worry about water from our kitchen tap.
Look outside, it's raining. Let's set out
again and wear out the tires. Find
a world. See how everything could change.
Phenomenal snowfall, afternoon into dark.
Erstwhile granite heights meringued, ermined—
we searched for simile as east-wind played
banjo with our tent-strings, tent-flap a flag
extended for battle. Still the snow fell as we
shivered in our mummy bags, made strategic
plans for morning. Uneasy sleep to the cant
of fir-sway, pine-limbs creaking under weight
of snow. We woke to dawn—gold-rim sun-
burst under cloud, this silver snow-gift world.
END OF THE OLD
On this last day I put away my books
of otherworldly journeys, gothic lore
and fictions, history or not. How dawn looks
now, here: endangered, never seen before.
I walk out, latch the latch, and gaze around.
A hawk is taloned to the highest bough,
a towhee goes scratch-shuffling winter ground.
A scrub jay tells me, loudly, This is Now.
My two dogs chase each other on the grass
until the old dog stops, lies down to roll
and grunt delight. All this has come to pass
like shadows playing catch on fields and knoll.
The old dog rises, shakes, and leads the way
down fence-line, to the gate of this next day.
Your mother's larder, when she died,
was full of chicken-fingers fried
and fish filets, a breaded tide.
Put it aside, put it aside!
It's so greasy, it makes you sick.
But it's a dish to fix real quick.
Pop in the microwave—it's slick.
A breaded trick, a breaded trick.
And yet you love my homemade bread
so full of fiber. In its stead,
this stuff's enough to leave you dead.
That's what I said. That's what I said.
Here poetry is the thought of
Where there is more space than
time can offer,
and the night is empty except for
a thousand stars,
waiting for a winter's moon to rise.