—Taylor Graham, Placerville
They’ve found one in the wreckage of 9-11.
“Corrosion,” the skeptics say. “That’s
what happens to metal after all these years.”
Not an angel.
But just yesterday a crook-tail kitten
appeared, scattering papers with invisible
cat-wings, revising my poems.
MOMENT OF CLARITY
People were listening
as an unseen wind passed through
the walls, his mouth forming
words, a difference in air pressure
as if mind were meniscus.
Believe the wind, he said,
sensing they already breathed it,
it was already gone again.
The east wind
that carries everything away
to bring this morning
fresh over the mountain.
Everyone was trying to sell me something.
So I followed my dog down the street,
to the park; the lawn waiting for my dog to roll
in grass, the trees beckoning. Under oaks
I found acorns beyond counting, each gracefully
tapered, polished chestnut-brown. Each of them
free. Even the leafless fig danced in the wind,
scattering fruit like pennies. So much bounty
wishing to be transformed. I picked acorns
till my pockets were full. Acorns wishing to be
flung in brief parabolas between sky and water,
to root in dirt without the hype of words.
This evening’s fog and drizzling rain in the dark.
In the dark
I’m following my Shepherd dogs. In the dark
of a new moon that guards its coin
behind clouds, I’m in unknown
country, my own land. Nothing seems
familiar, strange seeds are sown
in the dark.
A ghost-tree bends its hanging limbs in the dark.
In the dark
I stumble on a fallen branch, in the dark
that tricks a traveler’s steps astray.
My old dog plodding ahead,
the new puppy rushes past him,
is gone – where have my dogs led
in the dark?
I listen for whatever moves in the dark.
In the dark,
brief headlights on a distant road. In the dark
a single plaintive call – wild goose
that’s lost its mate. What’s to guide?
Frog lament from the pond, the soft
fall of rain. Dog at my side
in the dark.
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
By the cedar woodland
the foresters with wide eyes
mingle with the country secrets
of a thousand years,
more of them here
than blazing infant stars
in the open chimerical sky
by first light,
a boy hides his verses
glistened by the sunshine
near the Rhine,
Rilke taking his reverie
of imperishable words
no longer on blank sheets
with his first halo of language
hidden in his pocket of notes
covering vistas of childhood
concealing his once fractured wrist
swollen from all-night writing
Bohemian folk poems,
with the ringed school notebook
held in his unseen hand
of his winter gear and glove
your neighbor has created
from scratch from a magazine,
astonished by another early bird
eating out of his shadowy arm,
by a river fountain,
half-unconscious from excitement
of his first clandestine venture
outside his bedstead house
a graphic memory
held here in the silent snow
of a moisture white path
he stands frozen
in his pulsating wet tears
no one will understand,
a domino falls out
of his pea jacket,
spring wants to entice him
and weigh him down
to rest along the ditch waters
of the now unfortified river bank,
there is no flood tide,
or splashing children
here along willow trees
but the burdock countryside
makes even a slim body hungry
long for honey cake and strudel
by a warming wood stove.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
He came up behind her in a dark
Alley (Isn’t it always the way?),
Didn’t realize what she was
At first, then a Lauren Bacall
Voice: “Are you looking at
My wings or my ass?” He didn’t
Have to respond. “Yeah, I know,”
Angels are supposed to be these
Androgynous, genderless beings
Whose only purpose is to serve
And worship. Thomas Aquinas
Never could get some things
Right.” He gulped, hoped it
Sounded like a question. “You
Don’t believe? Here, take a look
At my navel.” She caught him
Glancing farther down. “You
Know, I have been lonely,
This detached assignment
On earth and all,” she smiled.
It was a wild, angelic night, but
He knew there would be hell
To pay sometime later. “You
Got that right, mortal,” she said
Shaking out her wings. “Move along
Now. I got souls to save. What?
One more question? Be quick.”
“Are, are you from Montgomery?”
“Nope. Chicago. Why
Do they always ask that?”
paper dissolved by time. Just light.