Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cups of Dark

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Barb-wire was born under the sign of Aquarius;
no, Pisces. Wrong, it was Sagittarius with his
patented, twisted-metal arrows. The question is,
whose patent? I've got a tablet with too many
answers, interminable letter-by-letter names
and dates which we must twist to our meaning
by the stars. In what year did the progenitor
finish nailing his twisted, stinging wire to each
fencepost in a line to carve the whole green
blooming field into quarters, that wild deer
must leap to find free range as Earth spins
in her unpatented planetary motion; and cattle
must churn their allotment of grassland to mud;
and only pollinating bees and birds might pass
unimpeded? And yet, once I found a swallow,
driven by fierce spring wind, impaled on a barb.
I believe they've yet to patent a fence that could
hold the wind.


—Taylor Graham

Where my dog led, I followed
off the trail trodden with boot-prints
giving up to mud; through wet meadow,

grasses growing taller for the recent storm,
each stalk filled with rain so it could muscle
higher, take over the vacant fringes

not yet leveled for a labyrinth of walls.
Some scattered buttercups played at sun,
but they were very small. The sun itself

a messy glow above overcast, almost an after-
thought like the miles of meadow that
used to be, winding through miles of woods.

This place so small now on the map.
My dog led past grinding-rocks of a people
gone and, in the mist and midst of meadow,

a sewer manhole far from the nearest
survey-stake. Only oaks stood higher
than the grasses, their heads

obscured like temple-heights in cloud.
Spring without its colors.
My dog seemed to know the way.


—Taylor Graham

Morning coffee. Then at dawn
I walk the wild north corner
where stunted oaks are leafing out
above the creek, where once
I found a lamb gutted by coyotes.
Mornings I go searching
what's left over from the dark.
In the oak-tops, a flash-
surprise of band-tailed pigeons,
as sun fills our small
cupped valley with light.
From a black oak, the nesting
hawk will feed her brood. Hunger
hunts the morning.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

troll rock-moss pond;
old brood owl hoots.

Pond frond growth
crowds grotto-form rocks.
Fronds on stalks bow low
on soft moon-glown sod.

Cork-color frogs
cross brown hollow logs
from sod to pond—
from pond to log.

Fox prowls to or fro,
looks long for toys of
fool's gold moths.

Wood storks groom.
Dogwoods bloom.

(Only the vowel "o" has been allowed in this poem.)


—Carol Louise Moon

Not the copper cowbell
under the brown cow's neck,
nor the church bell
high in the tower
of my Methodist youth,
but this bell
of other significance.

This crystal-handled crystal
bell in the den
of my beloved aunt
tings with the same gaiety
of her voice—
sound waves of the clapper
striking crystal against crystal,
calling the faithful together.


—Carol Louise Moon

When the piccolo bird song rises, my hair
seems to grow a little faster, a little stronger.

My eyes and ear lobes seem to vibrate gently
with the inhalation of flute breath.

There is a deep river in my ear that hears
the song of the bassoon, its haunting melody.

My feet feel securely anchored to the floor
when receiving clarinet news.

But it's the French horn greeting that wraps
affectionately around my heart.

(first pub. in The Word Place, 2011)


(Written in the style of Pablo Neruda)
—Jessica Levin, Davis

When the tides roll in,
They collapse on one another,
Enveloping each other in a dark vacuumed embrace.
I wished I could save them from themselves,
But time was a grim enemy,
And I did honor their memory in sanctimonious prayer.

But what I could not tell you
Was how they called my name,
Their desperation kisses on my face,
Their tears a calming wind that melded into my skin,
Their soul mended my heart as theirs broke.
Shattered glass surrounded them and pierced their lives away.

I understood how their roses became poisonous lechers,
And how passion and love turned them into stark demons of the night.
My heart clenched in my chest, just watching,
How they wait for guidance from the stars when I saw the rain fall.
I saw tragedy strike.

I know that emotion, the height of an exhilarating flight,
For each moment you can fall, you can die.
I see how I can change this sadness,
Sadness and loss that wear down the walls of age.
But to me it means nothing, for my soul, my life,
Will never be changed again.


Our thanks to today's fine contributors! Jessica Levin's poem is particularly pertinent in view of the recent exhumation of Neruda's body; if you haven't been keeping up with that, check out the New York Times article which I have placed a link to in the green box at the right of this. While you're looking at the green box, note the new submissions opportunities I've posted, including a couple of high-profile contests. Any contest that offers money is highly competitive, but don't let that scare you off. Someone has to win, and NorCal poets are among the best in the world! Give it a shot—the big winner might be you!


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The elders—jays, woodpeckers,
ravens—accuse the morning.
It's April. Winter should be over.

Empty out the trash, wash
the dregs from the cup, rinse
it with chillest well-water.

Redemption of wet-green leaves.



—Photo by Richard Hansen, Sacramento