Friday, January 18, 2013

Dragons & Ice-Fairy Gardens

The Next Farm Over
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

A cool greeting
prolongs your day
makes the bread
taste sweeter,
the Matisse
"Red Interior"
look brighter
than any vase's rose
over the blue table,
gives an aimless dawn
a patchwork of sunlight
you never expected,
or the mystery person
in the ski lodge
you are about to meet
over a new trail
on the snow lift
who follows you,
or the crossroads
of words which leads
to an exciting poem,
or a daybreak monody
sings to us alone
which stays with you
all winter
reminding you
of a close friend
visiting on a week-end
and not returning
until you hear it again
as friendly shadows
of a whispering solo;
a luminous welcome
enters your world
and you again belong
to what you hope for,
an unexpected moment
at nature's communion
as a tree, the pine woods,
an ice pond
circles your quiet body
of wily perception
with breathless insight
even before you chose
a life of mystery
poets call imagination.


(about Great Aunt Sarah)
—B.Z. Niditch

When a benevolent
reaches us
on the mushroom field
out in the country
where your great aunt
visits the dead souls
and gives bread
to the sparrows
near the bird fountain
a mute man
in sign language
with a ragged coat
asks for direction
Sarah gives him a love
and peace offering.


—B.Z. Niditch

Blinding snow
gnaws and snaps
the unnamed trees
fairly ancient
by woodland
with skiers, skaters
on blue hills
as tumble-down sleds
by wavering sunshine
move on spectators' eyes
recovering soaked gloves
which fall like clouds
touching the white earth
as a professor
from a nearby college
with "Beginning Bengali"
under his arms
points out something
to one of his students
trembling from
the frozen sensations
of a new ice sculpture
the sky pours
its abdicated flakes
to float on the ice
capturing a local poet's
abstract narrative
amid birdsong
of bathing voices
against the wind.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

Neither child nor grownup lady-dog,
neither pup nor bitch—will she ever be
tamed? There she is in the frozen yard
in her dark-sable coat
crouched on the ground, making crunch-
crack noises, making shards of light
splinter in air. What sleight of paw? an ice-
garden's blossoming on grass
where you left the hose slightly dripping
so the pipes won't burst; pebbles
erupting in ice-bloom sprays.
It's freezing-cold. But she's got a sable
coat and puppy-fancy, and look
what she's found, an ice-fairy garden
in what we thought was nothing
but dog-yard.


—Taylor Graham

Through the fog I'm following my dog, from point-last-seen where yesterday an old man disappeared in fog along a winter bypass wallow, unmapped muddy road that swallows footprints as I walk shadowed in flashlight-halo. Fog shuts the world down. Nothing here but fog's illusion of a missing man. Thick voices or is it water trickling through fog? This midnight search hollows possibilities in the mind as fog forms images of man-tree and tree-man drowned in fog. He could be anywhere, along with dragons and tall masted ships so far from navigable waters. In fog's illusion the deep channel shallows. Still I follow my dog as fog swallows the world and its lost old man, and leaves only this: everything to the imagination.


—Taylor Graham

From the basement, vague shrills and thumps,
notes of a murdered music. Nudge the door
ajar. A butcher-block, red flesh scaffolded with
ribs and scapula; the whole anatomic
construction too much for a crockpot. A man
works away at it with hacksaw. At risk
of her fingers, a woman heaves-to with meat
cleaver and mallet. But even the small ribs
defeat them. Steam and sweat magnified by frost
outside. From walls and ceiling hang
dippers, nets and ladles, old unpolished copper,
all bent on supper. On the floor, piles of bones.
Pig, sheep, tiger? How can a now-dead
organism still possess such formidable body-
armor? Mysteries of the life-force. The woman
wipes at a slurry of grease on her arms.
A single light-bulb winks like a bird of great
wingspan tethered in mid-swoop, accusing.
No music anywhere. I tug shut the door,
walk out into January chill. What is hunger?


—Michael Cluff, Corona

Jack Frost
arrived Faulkner-like
but signifying something
much too important
to reduce to literary terms.
The hydrangea, shamrocks,
forget-me-nots and kangaroo's paw
were too awed to react
against his arctic halitosis
but Jack did not notice.
For the initial time
in quite a while
this soon
in the new year,
So-Cal was his alone
even the dedicated joggers
would not venture
into his jabbering
and chilly maw.


JF #2
—Michael Cluff

The tires were showing flat
on the control panel
early last Monday
but Jack Frost
was just tampering
with my checkbook
the dealership implied
since running cold
in Corona
is not his usual forte
and the Inland Empire
can be so expensive


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

I opened the door to winter.
Frozen doorstep, the same old Thursday view
except everything dusted with shiver
and frost.
What was it
drew my eye past our little car parked,
past the utility trailer, to a trampled patch
of frosted mud?

And there you lay
in mud-brown camo; head-up, ears
at lamb-attention. Your mother, Sophie,
stood beside,
to guard and show you
the world, beginning as it must with warmth—
winter-fleece, milk. I'll give her grain
and learn your name.

Welcome to this world, little "Thursday",
born on Thursday, Jan. 17, and celebrated
in Taylor's "occasion" poem
(see our current Forms to Fiddle With)!
—Photo by Taylor Graham