LIFE ON THE STREET
Animals meet and greet in the street where they sometimes
share the shade or shave suave sheaves of leaves to fashion
a canoe wanting to depart into unknown lands for reasons
yet unclear to them, or bodily bold will hold a swagger sure
that the opposite sex is watching, then snatch a switch for
keeping the kids in line, sweet life on the street.
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
Oh tennis ball oh tennis ball—
it is the greatest ball of all!
I love the fuzzy feel in my mouth
oh tennis ball I want roll around and play
then leave you sloppy wet on the couch
Oh tennis ball oh tennis ball—
it's all I want for Christmas!
Not a silent night
It's a loud scary night
Around a decorated tree
Who are these strange people in the house?
My co-habiting humans with others I sure didn't invite
Alas there're also some children who want to tease a cat!
Heavens, I've got to hide out of sight
Oh please, I just want to sleep in my fleece bed
Oh Jesus let them please let me sleep in peace!
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Incense of summer, a basket of fresh-picked
purple plums. Pressure-cooker waiting on the
stove in a sun-yellow rented kitchen. Mason jars
filled with plums. The niece, who never spoke,
reading in the pebbled courtyard just outside
the kitchen door, when
something blew. Purple-plum preserves erupted
from the pressure-cooker. Purple festoons from
yellow ceiling. Purple icicles from windowsill
and cabinets. Niece standing mouth wide open,
as always speechless as the open kitchen door.
You’d think she might have found a word
for such a show.
I sat listening as he outlined his findings on the
chalkboard, new methods for inculcating desired
response from our dogs—which, according to his
studies, share too close kinship with wild beasts,
at odds with their devotion/undivided attention to
Man, that giant-brain CEO of the animal king-
dom. He stressed that dogs are “which” not
“who,” as the session lengthened shadows
outside the room and his chalk skreecked across
the board, my mind blistered, and my eyes
blurred. I walked outside to find you, best friend
in dog suit, who’d been waiting like a prophet
all these hours. How you leaped to see me,
then dashed across meadow pursuing
a sparkle who floated from dusk into dark,
an earth-shooting star never landing.
The two of us ran happily after fireflies
as if we understood
nothing of instruction.
What truth, what talent with you must disappear
And inside this dream within a dream
I was at a parking lot looking for
My friend’s car to get a ride home
However my friend and I had exited
The building from 2 different places
And I wasn’t sure I was in the right
Portion of the parking area
And there was another problem:
I couldn’t remember what kind of car
My friend was driving, but I kept looking
And confounding myself over and over
Then in a brief waking moment
A shred of memory came back to me
That put things in a different perspective:
This particular friend doesn’t have a car
More waking moments brought more confusion
Was I going to have to read thousands of pages
Of scientific research about the meanings of dreams
To begin to understand what was going on?
Was any part of this dream a valid comment
About what is happening in my life or about
What approaches I choose in order to cope
With a variety of unsolvable dilemmas?
I tried turning the pillow over
To get a broader view of my dream
And was greeted by rude sunlight
Sneaking through the blinds
Hoping to buy myself more REM time
I reached over to press the snooze button
On my digital electric alarm clock
But it was Sunday and the alarm wasn’t on
So I got up
Dressed for bed
And went on to
Have a normal day.