—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Her dog peers from the dark—
gate-post holding a fence upright.
So dark you can't see living space beyond.
Just this gate-guard, each amber eye a pond
of memory: lady's step once light
on dog-walks in the park.
One day she changed—as if a magic wand
shut doors and windows, turned to fright
each siren, distant bark,
the streetlamp's static arc.
Against such horrors of the night
he guards her, guards the memory of their bond.
The sacred texts warn us.
Nettles, farewells, pain.
Look at this flower.
I hold its thistle in my hand.
A traveler waves from the distance,
then keeps climbing
toward the building with high arches.
A dead horizon.
Always the crystal dome
floats ahead of us, and higher
as if on waves of sky,
as if to magnify the stars.
I walk my dogs late evening. Dark but ghosted
by still-meadow fogs. Headlights on the curve’s
asphalt arc. Whatever happened to the frogs?
I stop to listen in the swale down by the pond,
the marshy bogs where life begins. How could it
fail? Whatever happened to the frogs? Our
progress dug and dredged and mined. We’ve
cleared, and stacked our piles of logs, and under-
neath, what did we find? Whatever happened to
the frogs? I wonder, walking in the night, and trust
direction from my dogs, dumb creatures—are they
always right? Whatever happened to the frogs
who used to sing their spring lament? A Kyrie
for mercy clogs the throat. Is this the song
they meant? Whatever happened to the frogs?
The waters were rising
in the dark—something had broke
at the core. Earth woke
from her dream and shook off the bedding.
Asteroid, icecaps melting, apocalypse?
the commentators would tell us.
What we built subterranean to service
this city—the hidden flues, chutes, passage-
ways, the conduits, elevators, freeways
of filth, sewers and storm drains, vagrants,
terrorists, and rats
had broken loose.
I walked out to see what was left.
Underneath was tossed together with Over,
an Escher-print where only gravity
Come with me.
Forget the fragile sunlit world we knew: past
and future, what was and ought to be.
Take my hand, we’ll help each other walk.
What use are words now?
We shall see.
(My new computer and adolescent printer
do not communicate. One of them must
a lack of
to either the
had they but
that it was
may we have
—Photo by Taylor Graham
Who would’ve thought that such beauty
could be interrupted?
Who would’ve thought that
one wrong step
could damage so many lives?
who would’ve thought
that such exquisite precision
could be altered by treading
onto unfamiliar ground?
That day I watched you
as you drew circles
on the frozen water
Same frozen lake we swam naked
with each other just two years ago.
Watching you skate was like
watching Astaire dance.
You were so graceful, so refined
You glided so effortlessly.
Five years have passed
five years since one wrong step
put a hole in vast beauty.
Five years since
you were swallowed into abyss.
I have never felt whole since.
every part of me broken
the edges too rough
cannot fit together.
Terrified, I never feel safe there.
The crispness of the air
the soft snow that circles the water
the crackle of the wind
all forever echo in my brain.
I can’t even find the red mittens
that you wore that day.
I could’ve sworn I put them
in my pocket after I removed
them from your motionless icy fingers.
To this day, I wonder
what made the earth so hungry
that it had to swallow my desire,
the one person who knew me,
knew my nakedness.
What made it so hungry
to swallow your soul and mine?
My heart is still at war
everyday with you
sometimes I do not know why
accepting loss and pain
you keep me up all night
with your mischief
with your shenanigans.
I am the calm one
while you are the wild one.
You repeatedly turn me on
when you wear your hair just right
set just above your shoulders
and you kiss me all over with
your wet moist lips.
How you have put a spell on me
constantly leaving me wanting
You tease me by chiming in
for only minutes at a time
or just visiting for a night.
You never tell me when I will see you again
keeping me in suspense
desiring you, wanting you.
What is it you gain by
catapulting me to the highest mountain
with your smile and laughter
and then tearing me down
by never staying
I fall, you are never there to catch me.
Seems with you there are more locked doors
than open ones.
You have never given me any keys
any clues, any hints, any signs
on how to keep the doors open.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Under the trees
with a landscape painter
on Beacon Street
the Boston Marathon
with our body and spirit
or on a television screen,
as we separate
before the end of the race
on a deserted park,
and judging by the crocuses
earth day will be here soon
as fragile spring emerges
from our nature's refuge,
and a new season enters
and we vow
no white vertical smoke
or worn-out suspicions
at the finish line
will keep us from beginning
at every delicate flower
from the freshness
of a marvel
on our leafy eyes.
into day dreams
on a background made
harsh by realities
sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings
things that do not belong in a dream
good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite