Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Medusa's Birthday!

Tygh-Bo before shearing
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

The neighbors said she never had guests. Not
even family. No elephant in the parlor. See-
through walls proved no skeletons in the closet.
But where was she? A child caught a glimpse
of her from desk to hearth, lighting a fire with
written pages as if, once imagined, an image
survived the paper on which it was written.
The house hollow—neighbors say—empty
except for the sound of wings and hooves,
wolves in the hall, crows above the hearth. Or
is that just the mirror effect of glass? Such
a house will never burn but brighter, more
transparent, molten sand-crystal. Neighbors
fear it could spread. Wolf and crow watch
the perimeter.


—Taylor Graham

In corpse-pose she considers
dissolution of the body into nothing.
Disparate cells and atoms with no interest
in reunion. Free of ought-to's, no
fiat of social bonding. Birdsong becomes
white noise, or dead
silence. Surrender to chaos. Sweet release. But
wait. There's
an itch in the middle of her forehead.
Irritating. Small but, in the
vacuum of nothingness, huge. How many
eons by time unmeasured before
she can scratch?


        for Elihu Burritt at Ashburton, 1864
—Taylor Graham
You left your Civil War behind,
and sailed back to England, your second home.
Even there, you found America at odds;

your countrymen signing tourist guestbooks
“CSA” on the same page with “USA.”
What a thrill, then, to see proudly suspended

over the street of a little Devon town
the Stars and Stripes. Who unfurled it there
from a cottage window? The stars

of every State before Secession. Pondering,
you heard metal on metal. Soldiers
at battle? No. Click of a blacksmith's hammer.

Soul-fellow of another land. You kept on
walking, into the wilds of Dartmoor,
its myths and monsters, its tales of travelers

who never made it out the other side.

Freckles gets the salon treatment
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

Here comes
the shearer. Clip off that dingy
wool coat, it's much too hot.
Ewe'll feel so cool,
so clean.

eyes in a stone skull; mellow, for
a ram. Shorn, does he look
safer? Don't turn
your back.

as big, now, as its mom sans her
winter fleece, the lamb bleats,
are you still my

Spring grass
is mowed, wind-rowed, put up as hay.
The sheep are shorn. Low sun
shadows, puppy
at play.


—Taylor Graham

I pushed the door ajar—buckram
brown as earth, bound with a warm light
from inside. Not warm—bright. Chilling,
almost. The room full of breathing.
So many animals, each with a look of—
what? intelligence behind the eyes.
The Crow, the Rat, the Bear—or was that
the Man himself who, with his words,
brought each one here? Did he speak
so many languages, or just the one?
All those hungers. How could he tame
the beasts, abiding as host or guest?
Opening wide its mouth as if to speak,
the Bear swallowed whole the Man.
Or was that metaphor? Whose world
was it outside these walls? Within?
This breathing cabin, can it survive
in the woods forever?


Today's LittleNip:

I open a patio cupboard for magazines in front of Sunny
Instantly the old orange tiger cat gets up from his napping in a sunbeam
   just to stare, wide-eyed
   he acts as if there is another world to explore inside the cupboard
   just like when I am going to walk through the patio's screen door
   and then he has to be shooed back   
   because he's an "indoor cat" who would be in danger if slipping outside
He's over fifteen years old and still doesn't get it—
   that in a cupboard he'd just get shut in and trapped
Perhaps he doesn't get that there is no alternate universe to travel to
   where he can see cats other than his brother and adopted younger sister
   maybe play with friends who've already passed away

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Our thanks to today's contributors: Taylor Graham for the pix and poems (including her sheep-shearing cinquinos, her reply to Katy Brown's photos last Sunday, and her riff on our Seed of the Week: That Big Bear of a Man), and Michelle Kunert for her poignant cat poem. See Medusa's Facebook page today for Michelle's fine fotos of Bob Stanley's book release, which took place at Sac. Poetry Center last Monday night!

Today is the eighth birthday of Medusa's Kitchen, and it's fitting that Taylor Graham be posted here, since she was one of the earliest poets to appear in the Kitchen. First was Don Feliz, then Carol Frith, then Judy Taylor Graham sent in a poem in response to Carol's. Happy Birthday, MK, Gorgoness Extraordinaire! Thousands of fine poets and artists have crossed your pages over these eight years. (To see the earliest posts, scroll down almost to the bottom of the blue box at the right of this column, to "Medusa's Rap Sheet", and click on the bottom month: May, 2005. If you click on the arrow, you'll see the list of posts for that month, and we started on May 29.)



Shorn mother and unshorn lamb
—Photo by Taylor Graham