—Taylor Graham, Placerville
In my iPad’s kaleidoscopic lens:
a bench in the park at the edge of trees,
a shield of flattened rings as wood-grain bends
to spokes in opposing circles squeezed
between techno-mirrors: arrangement meant
to tease the mind. Nothing lengthwise, to lead
somewhere; but joined at the I-am-here point
that’s looking out, to forest. Needle-green
the same pines repeated like a fan coiled
unfolding, held in place. Pegs of a tent.
I’m at the center of a compass-coin,
the perfect image of a lost man’s mind.
Every direction is the same, conjoined
tree-roots beneath a trail that can’t unwind,
as boots keep tracing the same extent
of path that promises at last to find
a way out of what’s never left behind.
ELEMENTARY LOST & FOUND
Children are unaccountable, how they
release their sweaters to be transformed
in rows hung like the condemned—
the ghost of a thespian stilled in a dark
jacket, the spirit of Charles hiding
his kingship in guise of a 5th grader.
That book that isn’t a book, empty box
for secret papers, a spy-map, vial of
red dreams, a diary composed to be lost.
My dog leads me through deserted
schoolyard where even cast-off clothing
wants to burst its walls, find a break
in the fence. Beyond. Invisible birds
talk to the trees; a dirt path picks
its way through berry thicket to a pool
with no name. Here the mind feels
like moving. Only the wind
knows how to cast off attachments.
Flowers were sent to me today—
in eight shades of red/orange/purple—
a sunrise of colors washing the meadow.
They weren’t delivered to my door,
uniformed men ringing with the news:
your blooms are dead. No,
I drove for miles up mountain two-lanes,
then a rutty road that rapped the oil-
pan. Turnout, trailhead. Thin air fragrant
ionic. A raven was commenting
on malfunctions of a human world
that intrudes biweekly as if on recess
to this high-country realm
of summer storms; then retreats
at the first deep-belling of thunder.
Clouds dark-purple blossoming
with hail. Wind wild as chance to sail
a raven. My dog and I
set off up-trail to see the flowers.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
The ministers' recital
of 35 congregants
over the past 18 years—
then Persian cat "Slats"
who died the day before,
laid to rest in Linda's
large Berkeley backyard
back of the bay tree
where he liked to curl
Note: Mourned also by those
who cat-sat for him.
WINDOW TO THE GARDEN
—Claire J. Baker
When Richard works
in his den
a visiting mockingbird
beside computer desk,
waits for Richard
to chirp a few words
as is their game.
Then all's well for bird
and poet the rest of the day.
Yes, they’re lovely,
And I’m glad
You like them.
Yes, picked them
My garden? Not exactly.
There’s that park
down the street.