—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Early morning May. The air’s a wall of glass
over fields of brittling grasses dying.
Another year of drought. The slaughter-barn
makes sparse shade. Nothing but wallpaper
holds the farmhouse together. Out of dry grass
rises Coyote, who disappears. A girl once
lived here in forever-mourning—for herself,
her people, maybe for distant rivers, ocean,
their thoughts of water. Did she look
through paned glass, hoping to see mythic
dragons? Instead, only Coyote, shape-shifter
of this parched land. She holds hands
with shadows of people scattered as the sun
moves. The sun that disappears like Coyote,
always to return. When it’s gone at evening
she walks the hill overlooking her thoughts
of water, drop after lone drop falling
one on another, uncounted as the dead;
dancing on the grave earth.
Perpetually with us, those spirits
who make things disappear—first draft
of a poem; a bowl with its indelible
taste of blackberries; that photo
pausing forever the yellow flutterings
of goldfinch among bull-thistle.
One by one, these lost things
reappear, in their own good time.
You say, it’s our resident daemons,
inscrutable heroes of an unmanageable
material world, who know
the exact rotational mesh of mind
to finish that first draft, to pick ripe
blackberries; to whistle across
silver thistle-seed and give it wings.
At your doorstep
a gray vixen
with no tail, her sharp bark
comes to rouse you
from your mourning,
to stir you from your dark.
What creature is
this? A vixen
whose kits are lost, whose stark
gaze could chorus
in shadow, a brief spark.
I touch her paw and bow. May I, human, have
this dance? My wild little puppy doesn’t know
the steps, she’s constantly knocking me around.
I swing left, but she’s already twirled across in
front to trip me. She doesn’t grasp that two
bodies (mine and hers) can’t occupy the same
space at the same time, even dancing.
Elementary physics, a human construct. How
much we think we know; how much goes
dancing off beyond our understanding. Like my
dog, obeying laws of a parallel universe.
—Ann Privateer, Davis
When obsession strikes
and you want to run away
and live on the moon
unseen, we pair, I draw
water while you preen,
tease each feather
until clean, tug at my
whiskers for mites
then we fall asleep
confounded and attached
to dream each other's dream.
The camera keys in
tops peeks, bottoms up
in foggy elevations
terminal, without end
beneath the harbor
above the bend.
Gone whale watching;
won't be back for cobblestones
in this lifetime.
Glaze clings to the sand bar
Like frosting to a cake.
The sea twists as it rolls
Into shore, whipping up
Creamy froth, bear claw style.
I am hot and frapped,
Sprinkled with custardy
French cruller goodness,
An ample Snapple lover
Canning my heat, wanting
to be SoBe.
You become more beautiful
the farther away I go
Looking down on you I see
Your mound like holding cups
Your tunic sculpted
and scalloped to bend
over every curve.
Your cotton candy
hair voluminous with sun
and shadows intensely curling
like some live creature, covering
and uncovering your body below.
Sand and copper etchings,
serpents tracing your loins
to bridge abutments, to reach
commerce and delight.
From this sky point I see
Earth’s total, enchanting beauty.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Sunset slow motions
down ancient rock
pools on ledges
like watery gold
to stay forever
two eagles gliding
rim to rim
Yet we know
from life and love
how quickly heaven
comes and goes.
—Claire J. Baker
Faces wet, lashes
beaded, we climb
beside the plunging white.
The trail leads into
and out of fountaining light.
At trail top, we rest near
a snow-melt stream.
On the climb falling waters
flung spray, curved rainbows
all over us,
which now we let slide
over cliff edge.