KING OF THE HILLS
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
royal-purple crowned now
as we bow to the first hard heat.
Brown grasses needing to be cut;
dust, stubble, sweaty brow.
The fields repeat
You've checked every
place you might have put it.
Think of gremlins, or the off-chance
it's outer-spacing your memory.
You thought it would just sit
when it could dance?
It's not lost….
THIS MORNING THE MUSE
walked right in. What a dump, she said. Papers
all over the place. This, I suppose, was going
to be a poem. She balled it in her fist
and lobbed a shot at the wastebasket. Where
are the trees of your childhood? Yours, on loan.
Gone forever. Scratch paper. Such things
aren't for keeping, no more than dreams of sailing
to Greece. Or even San Francisco. Too much
baggage. Why don't you just take a walk—no,
put that pencil down! Nothing in your pocket.
Pick up a rock, look underneath. Whoosh
of wind. What tribe of tree whispers to you
its unrecordable history, itself beyond metaphor,
its name? Before you're back, I'll have
these heaps of paper sacked for recycling.
The whole place humming like an empty hive.
Pure air, pure possibility. Not a written word.
SOUTH OF THE NORTHERN STAR
We have no crows' nests here.
But in the valley oak
below the salt-block, a bluebird
broods five azure eggs.
She watches me with a bright eye,
her feathered patience.
Above the field,
six flycatcher nestlings form
a perfect ring, their broad
yellow bills a-gape as goblets
And where do our mourning doves
nest this morning—
the ones who walk our autumn
Such secrets the birds keep.
At night, their nests are roofed
with stars; Aldebaran
on watch. I've seen constellations
in the smallest egg.
buzzing with bees
I believe the first place I got stung at age seven was
trying to clip some of its flowers for a bouquet
Fascinated, staring a little heart on a stinger
pumping into my finger
when little clover heads bloom
along with little orange flowers
with the grass going to seed
GLASS DOOR. CLOUD.
When by chance you entered
the large staff room where I sat
munching something it was pure
cold January and the way you stole in
a friend was with you at first and served
you as a cloak under whom you could enter
You stole in no stride not one footstep
to be seen or imprint the carpet but
came in soft and soft you were before me
when for two months I had felt my mind grasping
outward blindly for any door you might come
in through There you stood before me
and in me at once How does it happen
the cloud opens as simply as that glass
And it is that glass door the cloud
alters releasing one beam of solar light
from the millennia But now now that light beam
presses at the glass panel for admittance
and in that instant is already through
behind inside before the glass door
splashing itself in one perfectly even
coat all over that large and waiting lens
This is how you came and stood soft
before me and in me at once
Are you my cloud my light my radiant glass
Are you my mind my entire mind
—Tom Goff, Carmichael
Now is the time for you to learn
from someone, a gentle mouth or a bruising one,
what the flare of love can do. At least I can claim
to have painted a hot sweet blush on
your pale, softly ardent face, once, just once.
What you’ve done: sealed me up, turned me
a motionless Bodies Revealed figure, lungs,
heart, kidneys, viscera frozen to the view
except that through the clear resin of my
replacement skin throbs one pulsating organ,
if we agree on what constitutes an organ. Misery:
misery, a translucent inner pink skin, tightens
and loosens around that inert heart impregnated
with glue. Sheets of real blood flow and filter still
through that living skin. Now is the time
for you to become sticky with desire, no, not for me,
never for me, but anywhere in the world, anyone
in the world whose love is the true yet canned pineapple
juice, sweet but a little off, that may feed you and
not fill you. What might Walt Whitman say here?
Oh the beautiful unkiss’d mouths and you,
my wild loon of the marshes of Manahatta,
among them? And where do mouths like yours,
pink and full without lipstick, disappear simply
to receive the official imprint, those entry stamps
of lip, of tongue? Where do any of us run off to,
just to get wise and feel hurt?
one that is fifteen years or older.
Kittens are so overrated