Wednesday, January 29, 2014

If Only...

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

If he could have just one thing,
make it a rubber band.
Only a kitten could find one
in this shambles of an office. A blue
rubber band to bat around
like a tiny infinity-snake coiled
and kinky, springy, elastic
as a cat. The humans of the house-
hold would snatch it back, hide
it where they think Blink can’t find.
Old Cowboy shakes his head, lies
back down to sleep; what
does a dog know of the dreams
of cats? Even that loco Loki
can’t understand the magic
of a rubber band.


—Taylor Graham

Skeletons of scrub-oak, coyote bush after
the fire came through. Rabbits used to live here,
and horny-toads. Every track across arroyo
was charred at the edges. You brought me here
under a broken moon, ghostly sister of rising
sun, years before we heard of global warming.
A wasteland. But here you seeded lana-vetch.
“Legume, nitrogen-fixing, good for the soil.”
A sort of resurrection plant. Next year, the whole
place bloomed purple, green tendrils threading
hillside back together, blueing the sky electric.
Fireweed, poppy. Scorched seedpods
remembered how it was supposed to be.


—Taylor Graham

Symptom of our times: To want.
After driving two-lane chip-seal up
the mountain to an unnamed creek, then
hiking upstream, across fallen-logs
over rushing water, all I wanted
was an answer. Dogs ranged ahead,
scanning for human scent. Objective,
litter: a pile of clothes some hiker found,
and reported to the sheriff. Whose clothes?
My dog dashed back through willows,
led me to a lady’s floppy crimson
felt-hat. High-heel shoes, gray skirt,
stockings, porcelain pendant on a chain.
Time and weather are detrimental
to fashion. All we found, an old pile
of clothes—evidence of murder?
Or someone cleaning out her closet?
A simple prank? My dog was happy
to find a bit of leftover human
scent. All I found were questions.


—Taylor Graham

From cliff-top, everything fell away. I was sure
I’d die. But I tied the knots as instructed;
clipped myself in; clipped my dog—
also in harness—to the umbilical rope.
She rested restless across my knees. I spoke
some nameless words to her
and stepped off the edge.
Breathless. The view was granite
but over my shoulder, nothing.
I walked at right angles down rock, the deep,
seamed center. At the bottom
I remembered to breathe. Still alive.
My dog put it out of her mind—always
in present tense. She danced across rockslide,
ready to “go find!”

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Wanting one thing
Counting down the scales
from my musical eyes
in walled drowsy half light
of interrupted
press call moments
by a herculean listening
to my pastime memory,
a music critic
from the big city
who advertises
only for himself
tries to blind my still life
by a turn-around remark
behind my back
saying he has my back
of my murmuring body
as only my lips know
my alto sax's ways
I may spot a phoney mouth
but I try to ignore him
as any cop on the road
trailing my motorcycle
going south,
absorbed by my first breath
smarting by amazed intro
from the warm-up act
on before me
remaining in a state
to sing tonight
with impending
into riffs of visited verse
having my reservations
of letting loose
unknown powers
of these horn melodies
by the floodlight hours.


—B.Z. Niditch

It was a story
Stanislaw a fisherman
related to me,
on a long
not forgotten journey
to Warsaw
during the war
of his liberation
he had only one wish
it was to reach
the Polish drawbridge
and to meet his sister
on the other side
yet the enemy
of this little child
blew it up anyway
Stan was nowhere
only in harm's way
even the cat in his jacket
did not survive its cry
in the salt ditch water
by the wide silence,
yet it would be built up
after the beasts had left
that beautiful icy spring
that no one could cross
not even a boy
on a bicycle.


—B.Z. Niditch

Waiting on the vague shore
with my map in hand
and wish for a life jacket
that will not wear out
in my everyday life
on the home harbor sea
to sail on my kayak
is in my blood and body
whirling by the waves
and affectionate winds
mile after mile
casting out for fish
in a huge basket pile
on my morning journey,
at my mind's eye
black birds and gulls
in overflight on poplar trees
even when it is sixty degrees,
my imagination moves
and travels on the ocean,
please let my life jacket
be in perpetual motion
the one just meant for me.

 —Photo by B.Z. Niditch

Today's LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

With my singular eyes
in my lens from flights
of a personal memory
watching a blue expanse
of the ocean mirror
Leda is seen turned around
in the lightness
guiding her swan song
she is washing by fisheries
to my last wave
salutes an unmasked sea.



 Clouds Without Rain
—Photo by Taylor Graham