—Taylor Graham, Placerville
My gas gauge slipped toward empty
on the long, deserted, dead-end road. But
we had a tail-wind that brought us
to a gas-pump petrified in time. Winter
wind down bare hills, through the boarded
doors remaining. I hoped for a bit
of magic here, of mystery—but there wasn’t
a soul, at least none with a body.
Silent balconies, broken stairways.
In shard-sheen of a storefront window
an ancient doll, dead; and a small bright
sphere like the moon glowing with wonder;
a face—a child? Gone to moonlight.
My dog pulled me the other way, winter-
bare hard into the wind. At hilltop
she sniffed, taking in whole histories
of scent. Moving slowly across horizon,
a man bent to the wind, tattered coat
color of soil; a shadow across the mouth
of knowing. He beckoned or was it
wind in my eye, sun-glare? Gone to earth.
Slant sun-sparkle like coin-metal
shattered, scattered on dirt.
stories, but withheld all the endings.
My gas-gauge magically not yet on empty.
—Michael Cluff, Corona
Time to sleep
in lavender sheets
paisley wool blankets
on the second-floor patio
dwarf pineapple trees
and a pure white trellis
with thorn-less roses:
all this for however long
The soft non-acidic rains
of Corona never touching me
in this permanently paid-off
part of a valley
that has gone hidden again
except for happily pondering
who view bolts on doors
government internet spying
Dobermans for protection
and police overuse of bullets
—Michael Madigan, Santa Rosa
A fence, chains pointed, separating the
cupped sanity from obligation's
quills. Once humorous, now a
strangle. How it loves to see me in
this figure, they, those bats.
Even the air around me
notices, the off chords—
a new song, barely, a
tree looking back
from the other half
feeling sorry for me
but cheering. Me: grin.
Travel from block here
to corner here.
(for Poet Mary Rudge, 1928-2014)
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Mary, after the poetry gathering
where images of you whirled,
crashed, rose upward & crashed again
I'm home. Your "Poem Garden" slim books
silky white, staples like twin page-kisses,
gaze & gaze at me. One cover a pink
water lily photographed in China—
the other your collage from a photo
of your great-granddaughter in pink tutu
& ballet slippers, standing
in circle of a flower wreath,
favoring you around the cheeks.
Child "Jennifer" is holding a huge
fluffy flower, a repository for
poignant phrases you left us?
—Claire J. Baker
I foolishly tried to
walk in your footsteps.
Upon finding my steps
my own path
as you would want.
(An earlier poem for Mary Rudge
from a 40+ year friendship)