—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I climbed loose scree, lava rimrock
ribbed with nests of raven; granite peaks.
A landscape turned to stone. Too high
for mortal snakes; just the lonely
wolverine, who knows to mind his own
business. And there she stood against
skyline; no taller than a queen, stately
as ancient juniper. Hair a tangled wind-
blown mess of ruddy twigs, writhing scaly
leaves and cyanotic berries. A long scar
where a lightning-sword tried to take
her down. Weak-kneed from the climb,
breathless lacking oxygen, I didn't ask
why she oversaw a world of stone all day.
And so she never answered questions
and, lucky for me, never looked my way.
—James Lee Jobe, Davis
It wasn't under the messy birdcage, where the morning sun mingled with the discarded feathers and the spilled birdseed on the floor that I usually ignore.
It wasn't on the coffee table in the stacks of old newspapers, mail (bills), rumpled magazines, empty forgotten glasses of iced tea, and a 3 foot long back scratcher.
I tried the desk, there were poems there, alright, but not the one I was I looking for, though I dallied for an hour with 4 or 5 other poems I didn't remember writing and a copy of Robert Bly's COLLECTED POEMS that I hadn't seen since the first Clinton administration.
And the poem wasn't in the garage, the laundry room, my grown son's empty bedroom, my briefcase, the dining room, the full-to-the-point-of-bursting hall closet, or mixed in with the collection of magazines and anthologies containing my published poems.
And in searching, I started to forget the details of the thing; what did I title it? How long was it? Wasn't it about my mother? Or wait, wasn't it political?
Back into the living room with the TV set left on, I see that the Giants are up 3 runs over the Dodgers in the 8th, but wait—the Dodgers have guys on base, then a hit! And 2 Dodger runs score! Another hit! Damn! The Dodgers have tied it! I curse and pace the floor.
IN THE SHADE OF THE MOAI
You cast your shadow over me,
blocking noon day sub-tropical rays.
A dark figure still unfinished, you face
away from the quarry of volcanic tuff,
surrounded by unstable red earth, anchored
by lupine, grass, and wild rose.
Your broad face towers over my head
as I look up into your wide nostrils
past lips, pursed into thin lines.
Pendulous ears extend down
beside your flat cheeks,
lack adornment, hear nothing.
Empty eye sockets await sclera of coral,
pupils of obsidian or red scoria.
Your arms, wrapped in soft soil,
end in finely sculpted fingers,
unable to hold your figure
encrusted with white lichens,
bathed in salt air borne on soft breezes
flowing over Isla de Pasqua.
Basalt tools lie dormant,
no one there to complete the job.
Once you were destined to face your village,
a reminder of ancestors, well regarded.
When complete, the force of mana moves
you to your ahu. Instead, unfinished, you wait
with me, offer shade and awe,
while time changes us both.
CODA: Moai are stone statues,
each placed on an ahu or platform,
carved by Polynesians who settled
Easter Island in about 400 A.D.
—charles mariano, sacramento
on a freezing January night
kids laughing and screaming
at the ice rink,
across from 24-Hour Fitness,
i stepped out of the gym
looked down the street
to The Chambers,
realized i was thirsty
it’s a little hole-in-the-wall
‘bout a half block away
close to the jail
(always thought that convenient)
ran across an old newspaper obit,
my dear friend Jesse,
who died ten years ago
hadn’t been to The Chambers
in years…since Jesse
it was one of his favorite stops
in fact, there were three he’d hit
downtown on a regular basis,
Chambers, Quorum, and the Monte Carlo
“the Bermuda Triangle,” i used to tell him
Susy, the bartender at Chambers said,
“he used to play dice with me all the time,”
she remembers smiling, “he’d always say,”
“Like taking candy from a baby”
“yeah,” i said, “and when we drank
way past time to leave,
he’d always talk me into one last drink,”
he’d say loudly with a toast,
“One more for the ditch!”
—Dewell H. Byrd, Central Point, OR
Look up yonder, Boy.
That's whar he be a-comin' from.
Right down outen them Ohia hills.
Turn up yore collar, snug down yore hat.
Keep the river wind from a-bitin' yore neck.
He's a-comin', shore as shootin' he's a-comin'.
Stan' close on the bridge rail, boy.
Be still now. Quit kickin' them rocks in the river.
Hear the yellin', way off. He's a-comin!
Stan' tall, Little Jesse. Be proud.
He’s the first president from these here woods.
Honest Abe! That's whut they calls him.
They's six of 'em. All on horseback.
Been on the National Road a week now
in this misery rain.
Look, Boy, Look! Abe's the tall one,
hunkered down there rockin' in the saddle,
dabbin' at his crooket nose. Abe’s gotta cold.
Listen to 'em shout! Guns a shootin' off!
Boy, this is better'n Foth July.
Feel this bridge a-rockin'!
300 more miles to th’ White House!
See 'em windin' up them Virginy hills.
They's gonna be a change in govmint!
Sometimes we be a-comin',
Abe has done his due.
Listen up, Jesse! Abe's a-comin' back,
down outen them West Virginy hills.
Hear that slo' moanin' funeral train, a-comin'.
Abe is a-comin' home, home to his rest.
Do you see her, Jesse? Black... black.
Abe is a-comin' home to Sprangfiel‘!
Black, they say, nose to tail,
whistle moanin', lo' and slow.
Hats off, Jesse. Bow down yore haid.
No shoutin', shootin', hootin' or hollerin',
only a-sobbin' an a-prayin'. Abe is home.
Gawd hep us...
Keep him close in yore heart, Jesse Boy,
deep in yore heart. Gimme yore arm, son.
Take me home.
Scores of jobs and no rest at
Ma & Pavane and Storage
was sonata good career path
forte piano player
moderato bassoon enough
toot turn the page
in time for her signature
to beat the fiscal clef
the key fermata's family was
rising above the staff,
tuba her oompah
failed to pass the bar
—Michael Cluff, Corona
My closet would put
the Rapa Nui disappearance
into a category
of minor status parallel
to the state of Donald Trump's hair
or a dent in Dick Cheney's Land Rover.
I have had it swallow
whole books of checks,
several computer storage devices
all the way from the mid-
eighties to just last November
and a Playboy from March 1998.
was it April 1986?
My best bud's worshipped sports coat
is claimed to be in there
although Hal and I have not conversed
since the Y2K flap.
it took away
but did allow
the release of a white carnation
to my eldest son's wedding
fresh and new
although the marriage
is as old
as Honey Boo Boo's
There he was
sunk into the sofa
larger at the bottom
narrowing toward the top
just sitting there
remotely akin to
the pearamids of Egypt
one a wonder of the world
the other just enjoying a sweet
moment of wonder