—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Halfway up the new screen door—
its glass slid aside
this first warm day in February,
almost-spring of our kitten’s life—
Blink hangs by four curved claws
of falling, and dread of never
quite living. His hind-claws boost
him higher toward the ceiling.
Nothing keeps him
from a visible, unattainable world—
free air, free birds!—
except the fine-mesh screen.
Outside, graceful arch of oak limb
just leafing out; bird-feeder wild
with sparrows. And inside,
Blink—forelegs extended as if
crucified with desire
to leave his walled life, to reach
to embrace the world.
The small silver box blinks at me, a green light unknown to nature. It says I have 1 missed call: 10-digit number; date and time. How could I have missed it? Where’s the message? This new system is beyond my understanding. The old dread rises: I’m becoming a little more extinct with every breath.
My dog lies quiet at my feet, chewing a bone for its messages of life passed. Forget the phone. I’ll take my dog for a walk under oaks about to leaf out naturally green as March. If I miss a call, it may not matter.
Messages in my
dog’s every ear-flick. Messages
in the phoebe’s song.
above roof and floorboards.
Underneath the house, black space, a void
calling for Wild.
While we were trying to hold onto
papers and forms
the kitten found a gap, a crevice
into crawlspace. Shadow on shadow,
world below our feet
where moonlight won’t penetrate, black
horizon our kitten found—no mice,
no skitter-flitter bird flight.
Nether silence, heart of famine
as we searched the upper house-scape.
Past suppertime, from floorboards
came a muffled mew
mournful, lonesome. At last
dragged out by his kitten-scruff,
tonight under a half-moon, against my ear
the lost-found kitten purrs.
If after all these years we’re still
together, then it’s a clutter of planning
and improv, jars of chutney,
old tax returns, bird skins not yet sent
to museum. If the two of us
are paired parentheses, then we hold
something together, a language
before it’s lost. If we hoard images
behind a coupled eye,
one is a campsite in the midnight
sun-shadow of Denali.
And if we’re glued together
in a decoupage of bats, forsythia,
and winter sunrise,
then thousands of snatches of moon-
light are filed away safer
than boxes, furtive as memory
after all these years.
—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento
Tremendous Diminutive is soft curves,
But, enough of Tremendous Diminutive
VOLLEY THAT BALL
—Carol Louise Moon
Barkley the miniature Doberman lives well
The apartment has a very small nook separate
Barkley positions the ball with precision between
His enthusiastic jumps lead Carolina to consider
for David Houston and String Theory
What strikes me is how, when cramped for space,
violinists will still massage their bows
so’s not to fiddlestick the face
of a next-door-shoulder, a neighbor stringfellow
virtuoso-swirled into the jigsaw pace.
Not once does violist Michael Frost,
while he slithers the fingerboard slalom run,
upbow his upbow too tempest-tossed,
no misplaced tip ever smacks or abrades a spun-
sugar painting’s impasto that hangs embossed
on the wall, out of bowshot, we hope, at Luna’s.
No eyeballs endangered? (O Fortuna!)…
OUR WILD ONES
(in memory of Marie Ross and Michael J. Cluff)
A student reminisces with me at lunch
in the glassy cafeteria around which loom
the Folsom hills: growing up, she would see,
on grasses just south of Highway 50, a small
herd, not of cattle, but horses, the purest
of wild horses. Few enough to count;
she counted them. Five; then three; one,
then gone. Did they starve, were they sold?
What cattle now graze there, we prefer
not to mention, but murmur of the lost
ones a while. We’re looking out on these
greenhill expanses the rainless heavens
have grayed one by one, in small batches
rich with houses, not horses.
And what of our wild ones? Where do they go
dwindling, these lyric horses? Will our wild
lutenists plant themselves on Parnassian slopes,
as does that brave new Tuscany all around us?
When all are gone from our sight, how
is that fair, how can we even talk of
a herd being culled? My student lives
high up in the green uplands of Lotus,
the rapid cold water runs Lethe.
(for two late February poets: Victor Hugo, 2/26
and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 2/27)
We note celebrity dates:
Hugo a city romantic
became an opera pick,
Longfellow wrote of
Hiawatha's fate and pride
also Paul Revere's