—Taylor Graham, Placerville
After so long drought, I woke in the dark to rain.
What could I do but wash all my yesterdays?
Nothing works as well as water. It overflowed
the floorboards and made the windows weep
for joy. It scrubbed both skin and soil and pulled
up bones through bedrock. A skull floated down
the creek, bobbing over rocks and mini-falls.
Was it a crate of pirate treasure? Quite empty.
It gathered a coming winter darkness in its eyes,
and the hinged jaw laughed. All along the banks
moss was giddy-green with praise.
You sent your message as a poem wrapped
around a map—enigma even before a surge of
power/electronic glitch shivered it to pixel-
puzzle-bits. Parts of letters, contour lines and
colors, calligraphy in tatters. Words as a mock-
ingbird might riff on speech. I try to put it back
together, whether treasure map or childhood
secret hiding place outgrown and metaphor’d
beyond your years. I’ve pieced the word for
Nothing, or was it Angels? along with half a
moon and the sound of rushing water. Wind.
The elements tearing at rock and language.
Too much wind and river to fit inside the house
of a poem, even with mirrors on every wall.
But isn’t any poem, any map an unknown to
be solved, to be put together? In this puzzle
lies a whole new world.
—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Using mother's scissors
snip by snip I cut off
the long white beard of God.
He winced, then grinned
as if he had bungled
a silly magic act and I had
caught on to his game.
The God of chlldhood gone,
rosebuds bloomed all at once.
Over the ocean the sky
changed from gray to
and gulls in slicker tricks.
God changed into an iris,
a snowflake, a lullaby,
a long hug; changed
into strands of hair
freshly washed and drying,
prismatic in the sun.
—Claire J. Baker
She does a fast-forward,
sees around the next corner,
finds herself a heroine
at handling rugged changes.
"Mellowed" is her middle name.
She dynamites blocking walls
into pebbles; laughs at foes
and each faux pas along the way—
a rite of passage hobo queen
moving on to hot soup, a fire—
cares cradled in a red bandana
with a hole in it as large
A student where I T.A. offers me the controller for an Xbox Marvel Superhero game
I have to explain that I don’t understand how to manipulate the thing with many buttons
I am “old" because the video games I played had just a joy stick and one button
I quit playing when I busted a controller, and didn’t want to pay for a new one
Of course computer games have become far more complicated
along with being a lot more violent
Watching others play, it just doesn’t seem so fun
perhaps a waste of time too
I think I’ll get along fine without knowing how to play Xbox
—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento
OR, HOW YOU GONNA GET FROM
HERE TO THERE?
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Neal will drive.
I’ll drive, but
I’ll have to charge
Will drive me.
William Carlos Williams:
Too far for
I’ll just hike:
I’ve done it before.
But I have
To tend store.
Drive? He knows
The old ways.
Love to go,
But I can only
Get as far
As the hospital
I’ll do it,
Take the side
Drive, he said.
Fuck you all.
I’m not going
Homer was poor. His scholars live at ease,
Making as many Homers as you please,
And every Homer furnishes a book.
Though guests be parasitic on the cook,
The moral is: It is the guest who dines.
I'll write a book to prove I wrote these lines.
Time heals not: it extends a sorrow's scope
As goldsmiths' gold, which we may wear like hope.
Within this mindless vault
Lie Tristan and Isolt
Tranced in each other's beauties.
They had no other duties.
Epitaph for someone or other
Naked I came, naked I leave the scene,
And naked was my pastime in between.