—Ann Privateer, Davis
Intersecting lines move
in all directions like our
paths tracking decisions
the who, what, where
and with whom to be
enthralled or not, to bind
with roses or carpeting
after the dog runs away
and what was uncertain
is a hum and a drum
grafting intersecting lines.
THE HEART TATTOO
Hell bent with insatiable desire
beyond thunderous passion
looking for forever, before
the wild became harnessed
in the garden of beastly dreams
where the dogs are civilized.
Submission's running out
lost in the delicate balance
when tranquility becomes stout
when throwing the stick
again and again plays
with the bare arm's thick
heart tattoo, the origins
of which were lost
when you drank too much gin.
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
In the midst of forest, as if the centerpiece
of garden, lies a long meadow guarded
by a boulder dark as rock issued from the depths
of Earth. Under-topographics hidden, but
hinted by subterranean burrows sandwiched
between bedrock and lupine—one yard
of frost-heaved dirt to sink the foot of a hiker
to his boot-tops. The lupine has gone
to pod; a single ripe gooseberry where, a month
ago, the fringe of meadow promised fruit
enough to feed a bear. I picked that single jewel,
brighter by August sun than a ruby;
bit through its equator, sucked the pulp, never
touching spine to flesh. It was sweet
enough, then gone. And in the midst of meadow,
I grew dizzy with altitude—no, sudden
sapphires aloft and all around me, dragonflies
too many to count, enough to sparkle
remembrance through the coming winter.
A MONTH FROM EQUINOX
You’ve given up dreaming of Colorado
Springs or Santa Fe, of travel.
Here at home you see the wildest cloud-
scapes—as if peaks of cumulus
cut through a lower-level fog plateau.
What’s the likelihood of such a bloodless
battle? Someone says “earthquake
weather.” But your home is rock rooted
in landscape. This morning the sun
rose amber as lifeblood petrified,
a gem. You feel the change of sky, its
shiver like a lovely dread.
ABOVE ICE HOUSE
The sky’s cornflower blue
with just these cirrus clouds coming
together above a meadow full
of yellow lavender and crimson petals
fading, wild grasses waving
a breeze for my dog to pull into her
treasury of scents. One raptor overhead—
could it be a peregrine? The clouds
are building dragon cathedrals
drawing winds from all directions,
I expect a storm. This meadow’s
laced as if by spider-silk
invisibly to lakes and summit
passes, to the cow-camp and the
rutty road that dreams August-long
of snowbank; and summer’s
always on the willow-verge of ice.
Deep in forest I came upon a tree
with a nose. I looked closer. Eyes and ears,
mouth, lichen hair. Bark-wrinkled brow.
From his trunk, as many limbs
as an Indian dance but slower, absent
a storm. Relic of olden times, of comets,
bonfires, lightning-swords. Must we
fell him dead to count his rings?
How many of those around him
he’s seen collapse. I call him
“he” as I’d speak of man in the generic;
he seems without gender, individual
and universal. Prelapsarian.
His dance is rooted in place. Does he
yearn to be set free from his spot of earth,
his canopy to heaven? His answer
is wind-sigh and bird-song,
the long recurring narrative of leaves.
An old letter from a grandmother’s
brother who eloped with music—
a letter of dashes and ellipses as if
he were about to seize the lost chord.
But he ended up teaching piano,
looking through smudged northern
windows at sunrise; opening the sash
to listen for distant church bells, or
were they birds just outside the pane?
The music caught in those ellipses.
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
After the humidity, thick air
Of summer, the Midwest became
An almost magical place—if those
Words could all be put in the same
Sentence. “I can live again,”
You thought. “I could even
Stay here a while longer,”
Does the Irish Setter’s coat
Take on a more vibrant sheen
Now, in the sunlight?
Should I wear a jacket
Should I fall in love?
Claire J. Baker, Pinole
after years estranged
my sister and I play
Pick Up Sticks
using dry spaghetti.
—Claire J. Baker
After dark nights
of the soul, there's oatmeal,
—Claire J. Baker
This is a time