—Taylor Graham, Placerville
The heart of poetry
is a skylark singing out of sight.
A bird flew up past walls reaching
hands, straight up through rafters, beams,
lifting wings for heaven.
I snapped a picture but I couldn't
make it sing.
A new day. My dog runs
the hypotenuse from mailbox-corner
on the county road to a wraithlike angle
of woods, its legion shadows, scent
of deadfall, ghost of a digger-pine.
And then he's noonday-relaxing
from all that running fun
in the sun's updrafts, under spirals
of cloud and hawks riding sun-showers.
Such is his day, till bedtime, the stars'
turn to shoot across the sky,
and a dog runs uncalculated lines
and angles and tangles of dream.
After a restless night what's a new day
good for? The dark exhaled its dew, leaving
fresh grass-trails up the swale,
through rimrock bones, to the creek—
something besides bad dreams
stalked the nighttime, and is gone.
Ruckus of acorn woodpeckers courting
in blue oaks below the sheep-yard,
as ewes and lambs come filing out the gate,
dream-walking into dawn.
Lilac's suddenly in bloom. Behind the house,
waves of birds have raided
pyracantha berries. One pauses on a twig,
just long enough for sun to ignite
his colors and flare his crest. Cedar
Waxwing. This day is nothing but new.
In dream I was speeding down the highway,
dreams being magic full of impossible tasks,
and cunning to carry them out. Dreams are true
metaphor, how they can change everything quick
as poetry. And so I was speed-dreaming along
in my rhyme-magic world when WHOP! my
grown prosy self butted in—right into
my dream!—and I woke up just in time to
put on the brakes, shift gears, and get control
of my steering. Of course you know how it
ends. I crashed my dream.
2. Quantifying Wonder
He appeared from nowhere saying he had
the answer. What would it cost? That's not
the question, he said. Just look what I've got
here. Geegaws, tricks, gimcracks.
No dragonflies? gold-leaf dawns?
Shut the door.
3. An Ancient Story
One lovesick bullfrog
in search of a
A BROKEN TOWER
overlooks the landscape-furnace red
as the stars above are bright, and scarves
in all colors of the Northern Lights—
if you could see through the smoke
of furnace-fires, running flames,
you'd swear lava-slag from Earth-center.
This is where your studies of astronomy
come in handy, and Dante, Milton.
A shooting-star might be Lucifer, if you
could see through the smoke of his
hands, for a glimpse of the immortal
forms that haven't fallen. Angels, stars.
—Evan Myquest, Rancho Murieta
I doubt Munch in a dream
Could ever paint a real scream
No one thought Paul Klee
Would even try to paint a horse’s neigh
Fast Eddie Manet
Shouted show me the Monet
But still could not convey the click or clack
Of a bumpy trolley track
Dali thought time was sheer folly
But even he in all his viscous majesty
Still could not render the tiniest tick of that melting clock
Or the iron scrape of a key in a lock
Poor old Hopper, oh yes, poor old Hopper, he came a cropper
Trying to paint the doink of a pulled out stopper
Currier and Ives were in a jam
They had agreed one would paint the door and one the slam
But neither of them and more
Could ever do justice to that still resounding door
So it was up to Jackson P
To capture for all eternity
The sound of splat
Oh yes, that ended that
(one for Bertolt)
one helpless sad eyed camel
inconsequential in its existence
blowing in the dust
lands atop the bundles
the burdens already placed
on the camel's back
locked knees buckle
down goes camel
splayed legs bellied and
emptied of lung air in a whoosh
of plaintive bleats of pain and panic
broken of spine and limb
where is the owner
there whipping the dumb animal
poor camel unable to rise
loaded now without
benefit of standing first
the owner kneels
and eye to eye curses camel
who with last will and effort
spits in his owner's eye
saying whip all you want
whip away little man
I'm done and out here in the blazing sands
where you needed me most—
so are you
for even though it was not your straw
and not your wind
it was your place to allow me
a breathing space
not back-breaking overload
but said the man
at home I treated you royally
the best of food and stall
your time was your own
your life a paradise
look around said camel
what do you see
only pulverizing windblown dust
and soon a pair of skeletons
previously locked in need
now locked in fate
offer me your many paradises now and
although I will surely try
I will not rise and so it also
falls to you who chose to ride and whip
instead of walking at my side
I'll have that
tea to drink please
on the potatoes.
hold the tomatoes
they are fragile