heard a song
on the radio today
and strangely enough
for my funeral
thought about putting it
a last wish
“to anyone still breathing,
if i die,
please play this”
to even think it
there it is again
the one i almost picked,
playing over and over
can feel my chest
heaving with emotion
on a cold, drizzly morning
says a few words,
makes the sign of the cross,
ever so sweetly,
plays in the background
if i wasn’t so dead,
i’d be crying
STOP AN GO
got up suddenly
third time tonight
thought i was leaving,
stood by the door
i’d take off my hat
if i had one,
so i could
put it back on
when i leave
—Katy Brown, Davis
The poet passes a leaky pen and apologizes for the sticky smear
of bituminous ink, carrying possibilities of yet-unwritten words.
Pervasive-black stains fingers and palm in unspoken sonnets,
a haunting lament of red moon and fireflies.
The ink renders a bruise of feeling and observation, of
love and loss and love re-found across seasons.
There is something delicious about stolen words, borrowed phrases;
something about another poet’s breath exhaled through your lips—
Last night I dreamt of an emerald mast on a black ghost ship. I flew
the white flag of capitulation from the tallest battlement where I stood.
The ink on my fingers fades into lines he would not have written
about an ordinary distaff life kept inside a moated fortress.
Words wash out with the stain. What of the poet and the emerald mast;
what of the thief who captures phrases from another’s mind.
Is this how the first magic was born? a poet’s breath; recast words;
stolen visions—a thread of ink drawn to the hand of a bruised soul—
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
A leaky pen passed hand to hands—
our fingers smudged blue-black
to chart a way through unknown lands
of words that won’t be taken back,
that makes us ink-blood kin.
Our fingers smudged blue-black,
the whorls and flourishes of skin
stained with poetry, transformed
to make us ink-blood kin.
Now I take this phrase you formed
as if blotted in reverse, and changed,
stained with poetry, transformed
the way I saw the dawn arranged
this morning in my waking words
as if blotted in reverse, and changed
with the first song piped by birds.
A leaky pen passed hand to hands
this morning. In our waking words
we chart a way through unknown lands.
I could no more understand it
than how trout rise,
or the beauty of a rusted metal door,
dawn’s ink-blood clouds,
shaft of a feather filled with flight,
or the music of gnats.
So how do I explain the gray
delight of January’s short days
at such a latitude,
freeze in our throats, rattle of ice
over permafrost’s subterranean way?
Hand shielding my eyes
against the brief, low sun,
just trying to see.
It didn’t need to be an illusion—
some causative quirk of light
cloaked the black bird—
Raven of blinding whiteness.
No prince to living people,
he began planning his immortality
before he was grown,
ruling uncounted clay statues
to guard and guide his earthly body
beyond this world.
Just knock on his tomb.
Is he still alive?
Thousands of clay subjects emerge.
Look in their eyes, their unflinching
smiles; fingers on the reins of clay horses.
Call each of them by name.
A path in the woods becomes a walk, a labyrinth
of summer fallen into soil, and fog obscuring
the opposite ridge—gray leviathan surfacing
out of gray. This axe-blaze on ponderosa marks
the fork. Fox might stop to sip at this silent pool
under last night’s crescent moon, before clouds
slipped over—or the young buck who levitated
from brush toward distant traffic. Might he fly.
But this is the mind’s maze-meandering,
conjecture, fancy. The woods, dark but for that
spot of pixilated amber seen through tarnished
oak. What kind of tree? transfigured brief
as rainbow, the way leaf and weather, light and
death conspire to hide and fade and iridesce.
—Robert Lee Haycock
The pistachio bleeds summer
Into the night
A vermilion stain
Beneath the street light