We leave forgotten monsters
in the carport near the mower
— let them weather and crack
in frost and rain.
These sad humbugs, covered
in dust, curtained with cobwebs
— belched fire when we
were younger, more theatrical.
Today’s nightmares are kept inside
where sunlight can’t fade them
— where occasional laughter can’t
round the edges on their teeth.
We save the deepest hours
of the longest nights for them
— these shiny new terrors
that squeeze into shadows.
These new fears, created from
older minds— from more
scientific stuff— these new fears
won’t crack and turn to dust
like the papier-mâché creatures
we constructed when we were young.
The new ones are guaranteed to last
for the rest of our lives. . . .
old friends’ faces
a stranger like my lover, long ago
eyes, or the way he holds his head
Redwood-shake storefront like the dive bar
where we listened to music, danced
love hoarded, treasured
friends gone, family dead
why do I still see you
do you think of me as I re-create you
in Safeway, Mom’s ghost
peers into my eyes
from the lines on a woman’s
deeply tanned face
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
I woke up thinking it was dawn's
gossamer, pale-silver light and
bird chip-chipping with an under-hum
of song. But it was just
the refrigerator, guzzling
electric current in mechanical slurps
through cord and plug
and down that consistent drain,
the power meter. I'd
be a low-grade user if we hadn't
gone solar. As a child
I was burdened with every
problem. I've turned off the clock-
radio. Is it folly
to just take a walk in the dark?
HANGING THE WASH
alone at the clothesline, what's left
of a week's stains and splatters. Alone but
for the breeze on a rustling tangent
through bandannas. Just watch how they
flutter and redden as if recalling
some great-uncle who left the farm
with dreams of a concert hall,
if not the Follies. Family fable or history,
such fancies ran in the blood.
Maybe it all ran downstream to right here,
alone at the clothesline, windsocking
the tangents of a breeze.
WHERE THE SKY BEGINS
As if her living-room were nothing
but a compartment of a train traveling
through the evening news; joined
by a thin wall to the next apartment.
She gets the neighbors' noise,
the same old worry over wages; hyped-
up unveiling of electronic gadgets;
factions among the rebel ranks. A crane
has fallen out of the sky. Somebody
hits the mute. A crane? to raise
the scaffold of a skyline even higher?
Or did a 747 clip a great bird with soaring
downstroke wings? She saw them
dancing once in a floodplain stubble-
field, dancing to undo the day;
she felt their thrumming rumble-song
in her passages of heart. Her mind
is loosening. She walks out the door,
down the platform steps to leafing green
as evening thickens into dark.
Past the last overhead light until
she sees a star, and then keeps walking.
...especially the dog next door.
I could hear him woowing. He wasn't
woofing, but woowing. Woow. Woow.
I didn't know what it meant. I didn't know
what he meant it to mean. He wasn't mean,
he was just woowing—whatever that means.
It's not like we woo when we're wooing.
He wags while he's woowing, and
it bothers me when he wags his tail
because it's attached to his spine.
And if he's spinning and whining,
and woowing and wagging that means
his spine is wiggling, and that's
what really bothers me.
I almost died in the hospital last week,
and if I had died and was dead
I never would have met this dog next door.
I wouldn't have rung the door bell and said,
"Is that your damn dog woowing so much?"
But I now see him spinning in circles on a
circular carpet, and I see those big brown
eyes bulging from this little beagle—
and I am ambivalent about his barking.
Can you calm and quiet him?
He's kinda cute.
(Prev. Pub. on Medusa's Kitchen, Dec. 2007)
but today I'm dry,
except inside, of course.
I'm wet inside, but
tomorrow I rain.
The sun is shining today.
Who knows about tomorrow?
If the sun doesn't shine tomorrow,
I won't know it.
Neither will you know it;
we'll be frozen.
But if the sun should shine
again on the third day
we'll thaw, and we'll know it,
because we will be raining.
Yet, who knows if this
will really happen?
Just because we've never heard
of it happening this way before
doesn't mean it hasn't happened.
Why else would it be raining,
except that ancient people
(Prev. Pub. in Rattlesnake Review, 2009)
THE MOSS GREEN QUESTION
Must you speak of Moss Green
in such uncertain terms
as if you're confused
by the colors green and gray?
With such uncertain terms
as "Well, what is it
the color green, or the color gray?"
you make it sound as if
"Well, what is it?"
is an appropriate question.
You make it sound as if
this color hasn't been around too long.
Is it appropriate to question
a color's validity based on longevity?
This color's been around quite long,
in fact, for thousands of years.
So a color's validity IS based on longevity,
in case you're confused.
For the next thousand years,
will you be questioning Moss Green?
Oh—and happy birthday to Ann Wehrman!