Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Poet Meets Thoreau

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

SEPTEMBER 11, 2013
—Michael Cluff, Corona

A dozen years ago
is hard to forget
as much as one may want
them to be encoffined
in the steel and mortar
of chosen avoidance.

this is also Hispanic Heritage,
International Square Dancing,
Self-improvement, Better Breakfast
and National Courtesy Month.
The better side of life
can offset one day
of shattering cataclysm
so easily
if one is open enough
to let all above
and others


—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

I've wondered and would like to know
was there ever a time when
Mr. Edgar Allen Poe meet Mr. Henry David Thoreau?
Both 19th-century writers who died around middle age
(Poe at 40 in 1849 and Thoreau at 44 in 1862)—
Imagine anyway a situation if they met about 1845
Thoreau, still in his 20's, of course would be more 
upbeat than Poe
because Poe in his 30's was already starting his 
sad decline
especially with his increased drinking at his wife 
being ill
Polar opposites: Thoreau the transcendentalist 
and Poe writing Gothic literature 
But it probably wouldn't be a long meeting at all,
Thoreau talking about his projects like saving trees 
and ending slavery
as well as his friendship with Ralph Waldo Emerson
Poe's concerns would be about his writing earning 
enough money
for instance he only got $9 for the publication of 
"The Raven"
and only a few dollars each time for his fiction tales 
before that
(not sufficient funds for debts Poe owed)
and feeling nobody appreciated him enough while he 
still lived
Thoreau maybe would say, "Mr. Poe, you are perhaps 
the most miserable man I've ever met, though I must 
admit that I remain an admirer of your work, so
sometimes I read you to satisfy some darker side of 
nature I do possess within..."
Poe would respond with something like,
"Well, I assure you that I do not dislike 
Transcendentalists, only pretenders and sophists 
among you."
Poe then would add,
"Besides, alas—though it is my misery that 
makes me,
even so, it will be my demise
and won't gain me praise 'till I'm dead and long gone..."

Leaves of Three
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

This house full of things—pry-bar
and baskets, bolts and springs, slant
of light through blinds at approaching
dusk—this house is a box. I sit
with a book of poems with a tree
on its cover. It’s not a real tree, just
on paper, in a box. In my mind I can
climb the living tree from branch
to branch, out of the box that is
the house, the book, myself. Climb
as high as my thought of climbing.


—Taylor Graham

My young dog races over stumps and mounds,
knowing the leash is ready in my hands.
Freedom is running loose inside the bounds

of formal boxes and the woven strands
of stockwire keeping garden from the sheep.
And while the leash is ready in my hands

I stop to pull one weed—its roots reach deep—
and toss it to the other side, a treat
past stockwire, sweets of garden for the sheep.

Look, everything’s gone wild with blossom-heat.
I’ve heard, nip the bud lest a young plant die.
I toss that to the other side. A treat,

this fresh, cool morning. Look, my dog would fly
from gate to open swale, and farther yet.
Who said, nip the bud lest a young plant die?

Some rules are empty boxes. Let’s forget
and just go running foot-free in dry grass
from gate to open swale, and farther yet;

declare a holiday as hours pass.
My young dog races over stumps and mounds,
I’d like to join her barefoot in the grass.
Freedom is running loose inside the bounds.


—Taylor Graham

It started at midnight, the first puppy slipping out, guppy-form 
slick and dark, looking nothing like a dog. The new mother 
licked it dry. Someone tied a piece of yarn around its neck. 
Half an hour later came the next; different-color yarn to tell 
each pup apart. By dawn there were six. Red-yarn girl was 
first out of the whelping-box, followed by her brother and 
sisters. When strangers came to look at the pups, red-collar 
girl was adventuring the backyard, stepping at a scout’s pace 
through high weeds while her littermates clustered tail-
wagging around puppy-buyers. At last, only Red-Collar was 
left. Too independent. Too bright, too hard. When we arrived, 
no litter of pups, only Red-Collar. We had no choice, we took 
her home. She was nothing like any of the kennels and
comforts of dogs we’d ever known. One of a kind. We named
her Loki: trickster, shape-shifter; but, if we looked her in the
eyes, one in the great family, the friendship of dogs.


Today's LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove

Just finished moving into our
First home in California.
Glanced out and saw
On the porch, one of the
Empty moving boxes moving.

Went to check.  Inside,
The tiny gray tuxedo cat
Looked at us, seemed to say
To its Siamese partner
“They’re not too impressive,
But they may do.”



 Barn Side
—Photo by Katy Brown