Monday, November 18, 2013

Flickering Candles

—Photo by Katy Brown

Did you see the video?
—Katy Brown, Davis

Somewhere in Turkey
a white cat
and a winter-grey fox
are best friends.

On a stony beach
beside a distant lake,
these two share food
and sun
and a romp on the shore.

Startled magpies
look on—as if waiting
for an impending kill
—surely, the fox
will kill the cat.

Surely, they will both
turn and kill the gawking birds.
But, no.
Like a pair of tourists
from vastly different backgrounds

meeting on a foreign shore,
these two find something exotic
and compelling in the other.
Like Dutch and Lithuanian,
the languages of cat and fox,
no longer matter.

The lexicon of attraction is spoken
through expression in the eyes
and in proximity of body to body.
One can parse the intransitive play
in all its forms
and never uncover the full affection
shared by any two divergent souls.

Somewhere in Turkey, along a lake
where tourists watch the fishermen,
a white cat and a winter-grey fox
prove the unlikely paradox of attraction.


—Katy Brown

The lake is flat as far as I can see
— flat like foil, crumpled
then smoothed out again: slightly crushed.

Light and shadow dice in waves
— draw the eye toward
a dead-level fading horizon.

Once in a while, a tanker creeps
— glacially-slow across the line of sight;
and the water seals-up behind it.

That’s the essential nature of the lake
— water sealing pathways under the surface;
concealing even the trace of passage:

hiding where entire ships have vanished
— all hands clawing under water
and the water swallowing them whole;

hiding where a child slipped overboard
— off the family’s sailboat
and dropped to the bottom like a shell;

hiding where lovers lingered
— concealed by starlight on midsummer,
conceiving a springtime miracle.

So many small and major passages
— erased by wind on water and left
only as a trace in memory. . . .


—Katy Brown

Aging wood darkens to lilac-rose,
fine-grained, satin-smooth.
The regulator, secured with a deer hide thong,
is a carved pine bear with turquoise bead eyes
positioned to watch the player.
See the beauty of the workmanship;
feel the rhapsody of wood.

Unmoving air surrounds the wood.
Inanimate air fills the barrel of the flute.
Without warm breath, this wood
is but a hollow branch, retaining the memory
of the sound of wind among trees;
the sound of water trickling through stones.
A simple breath re-animates the flute,
gives back the voice of the shadowed forest.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Katy Brown

They might be poets—
dressed with flowers under painted skulls,
attending the mass for the dead.
Fiesta music winds around gravestones.
The living dance among angles
—ghosts, silently listening.

Today, living metaphors speak in the forked tongue
of symbol and contradiction:

           I am the bounty of orange blossom  
           and the corruption of rotted fruit.
           I am skin
           and the marrow underneath.
           I am the flickering candle
           and the trail of smoke from a blown wick.


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

(for Margaret Atwood's birthday Nov. 18)

The nightfall sky
fades by rain
where your nature
still reaches out to us
on our shadows
in an Autumn repose
of dissolving darkness
with your mysterious
presence of language
flies like the mourning bird
will return to us as new life
with its clairvoyant
voice by the woods
where wan memory
resides below
the earth-wise who read you.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Loki presents me with
a bone. A favorite old bone
from the butcher, honed by her
teeth. Quite hollow. Polished,
devoid of marrow. She rolls
her spine over it, and grins.
She stares as if it held
mysteries. She stares at me.
Look! See! The leg bone’s
connected to the
knee bone. I kneel to pick it
carefully up to my eye,
gaze through it. It’s a monocle,
a singular spectacle,
telescope to other worlds.
Cross-section of some creature’s
shank, this bone glistening
with stars. I blow through it,
exhale breath into wind
in her dog-face. Scent-music.
She has no words but wonder.

 —Photo by Katy Brown

—Taylor Graham

We’re following the way you went. My dog
chooses our path, a billion scent-fragments
scattered along rough dirt track; and then,
surprise, onto the new concrete ramp—an oval
spiral into sky. Such shining. A gateway
over-pass from main-street to the northern hills.
Four lanes of transcontinental highway cut
between. Falling is everywhere below. My dog
gazes over the edge at traffic. I gaze across
rooftops—courthouse growing smaller
as my dog gains momentum; ahead, the old,
odd frame houses planted among oak trees
on the hill. A hawk rising, wings bright
as angels. Everything shining morning-light.


—Taylor Graham

Once I saw a picture of giraffes swimming
in waves of water, or maybe clouds—a sleep-
scape unreal as mind afloat in its unconscious
sea. I woke, remembering something I’d read:
horses driven into the sea to save a doldrum’d
ship, drowning in waves. No dream; a tragedy.
Was it historic, actual, real? On last night’s
news—as prophecy-for-real—a coastline
submerged in rising sea, beachfront property
dissolved in waves. Clouds as waves: when
will it rain? Waves of tiding, merciful heartless
weather, real/unreal as the endless sea.


—Taylor Graham

Morning’s less than half-light                                              
through a dream-door not quite closed yet.                      
Breeze-fingers on a fret                                              
of song outside; grass wet with dew.                                  
Your window waits for blue,                                              
for whatever’s not new, not old—                                  
time’s treasuries that hold                                               
a well of stories told again,
again. Here’s paper, pen,
and fancy. There’s the wren of song,
flicking her tail. What’s wrong 
with you? Come sing along, she says.  


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Light zings along the power-line
and sparkles live-oak leaves and dead
leaves on the grass. The air sings.
Who needs special effects?


—Medusa, with thanks to today's cooks, and a note that Taylor Graham's new book, What the Wind Says, is available from Lummox Press,

 Sad Old Ghost
—Photo by Katy Brown