—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
(for Bill Latimer)
Bill'd been right about the Yellow-
Billed Magpie being only from California.
Bill'd said, over the nest they always
Build a dome of thorny sticks. It's
Billed as quite a protective fortress.
Bill'd be wrong, though, if he said the Black-
Billed Magpie's got nothin' on the Yellow-
NIGHTLY IN THE CABIN
—Carol Louise Moon
Every night by candle light
an old woman cannot sleep.
From the past a random shadow
settles on her tired chest.
The settling of her tired chest,
her breathing rasped and shallow,
lulls the woman's cat to sleep
every night by candle light.
(first pub. in Brevities)
THE MASK I WEAR IS NOT MY OWN
—Carol Louise Moon
A face like mine
is given to me...
I wear, I wear...
but not for me, for you.
Light plays this mask,
I think, the light too bright
for me to think myself.
Vibrations of mask:
a mask of plaster melting
skin—a soul undone,
an eye unseen.
Neurons of itch that
can't be scratched,
beneath a question
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
Minding my own business
being shy for the cameras
on way to my gig
walking over this metropolis
without an attache case
only this cold luggage
like a pawned violin
held by four strings
containing a life's work
of quartets for alto sax
and songs for our time
with vital plays on words
a cup of java on one hand
and a murdered Danish
in the other
shaking off a coffee cup
on a Northern hamlet road
in a runaway midnight
of All Souls Day
such as this,
you may not yet recognize
the composer inside him
in his all black cape.
—Photo by Katy Brown
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
At the edge of greenwood, I said “go find!”
My dog knew, I meant human:
a friend who said he’d hide so well, he’d never
be found. Poison ivy with greenbrier
lacing trees so dense, only my compass kept me
from fairytale circles. Everything glowing
green, lost in green. Where
was our friend? After many twinings,
my dog’s head popped up—quick turn, mid-
stride—disappeared in green—
came back with
that look in her eye. She bucked a pirouette
in front of me, whirled around,
nosed into thorn-thicket. I saw nothing
but leaves. Pivoting, she stared at me, stared
into green. Leaped in. A gasp—squeal—
our friend crawled out, head to toe green camo.
Not quite the liar, but human caught
in woods-disguise. Trickster
Puck, Pan—this world’s unending shape-
shifter, spirit of green.
THE MOUNTAIN’S DARK LIGHT
The puppy has knocked these old folders
off their pile—loose pages shuffled,
reshuffled by flying puppy feet. Decades
of reports, so many missing names without
endings. The miner who hiked to town for
supplies. The one who drove from the city,
out yonder to his claim. The earth is full of
small openings. Shafts and adits, tectonic
shifts. We searched the canyons for a miner
goat-footing trails and passes. Could he be
the one who fell in love with ancient languages
of underground, mistaking a black-glow fire
for veins of gold? Or the one who wanted more
than the river washed down, and reached too
sudden too deep for flakes of gold; held himself
above water as our dogs searched the banks,
and then let go? No, that was a fisherman
casting too quick for his catch, gone to tidal
quicksand before we could arrive. Skeletons
in the mountains, children dreaming just off-
shore. Maybe it wasn’t the new puppy, after
all, who strewed this chaos of stories all over
the floor. Maybe it’s just the nature of lost.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
A huge one sprawls
on forest floor
trunk propped up
year after year
on crash-broken limbs.
What brought down the giant?
Lightning? Disease? Age?
Time and weather have peeled
the bark, the trunk silky
to touch as an ancient scar.
Part native American
feeling ease in a forest
I try to see my face
in the silvered wood
even just a shadow.
—Claire J. Baker
Let this poem be
a few moments when
If anything stirs
let it go. After all
it is nothing.
Yet, if you insist
see a prayer wheel
maybe stopping at a love
you are meant to relive