—Taylor Graham, Placerville
My dog led the way up a logging road
cut through toyon, pine, and cedar
to a firepit—thin drift of smoke flirting
with a bed of ashes. Recent boot-
prints up a skid trail. Sun hot enough
to strike sparks without a flint.
Spent cartridges in a dusty clearing;
and wooden laths lashed together
to form five crosses in a row, old
towels for headdresses secured
with duct tape. Human effigies—some
taller, some meant to be children.
OUT OF THE ASHES
There wasn't much to save. One
box, its cardboard just about burned
away. Inside, a dozen years
of contributors' copies, from back
in the writing-days. Broadsides
and journals stapled or spined, mimeo
editions. Corners and edges charred,
the pages scorched. But I could
still read every line, each
word. A sign? A summons. Write.
glow like pearls
the awesome dear idea
the natural cease-and-
desist of kindness
coming from every bone
in one's body—
an irritation. And then
the gorgeous glossing.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
—Claire J. Baker
We sleep at ocean's edge
on a beach lustrous
from grains of stars.
All night we tiptoe
through the cosmos—
itself a kind of sea.
At dawn, migrating
butterflies on horizon,
sun rising on wings.
Later, at a meadow
monarchs have landed
—Michael Cluff, Corona
than is there
refuses or ignores
what may be
if he would
only look beyond
lumps of moralities
COMMON SIN: INTO ANOTHER SET OF ASHES
"All I can remember about him is
he wore a light purple sweater vest,"
the woman with the multi-tinctured darkened eye socket
flattened, eggplant-colored nose
and talon-like scratches on her swollen cheeks
said, while unceasingly staring at me,
"like the one you are wearing now."
now the same shade as
my dress shirt;
the top pearl collar button cutting
into my throat,
a garrote atop my psyche,
and the shame of being my sex
flood over my cheeks
matching the cherry and plum blotches
of swollen skin rimming her neck.
My colleagues all blinked at me quickly
sharing my sin as men,
the guilt of being who we were born to be,
a tourniquet tied and ever-tightening
between us all.
I filed the crime report away;
she did not need to.
Towers can only completely contain
the bodies of people
the rise and fall
of such structures
as it should be.
There stood a young laddie named Scare,
corn-husk where he should have had hair.
My dog took a sniff,
said “it isn't as if
that thing's human,” and went on from there.
—Medusa, who's late posting today is due to computer problems, now resolved...