—Taylor Graham, Placerville
The wind came up, a wind as chilly as a
plaster bust of Keats. It blew into the mind
of sheep—our sheep, confined by labor
of stockwire fencing, but they found a gap
and out they slipped from misty field, in
search of who knows what green pastures
in the mind of sheep. Past the cattail pond,
onto grassy verge of two-lane—whoosh
of traffic and there goes the paramedic van
with a siren wail to startle even sheep along
the road of loss and finding. Who knows
what wind blows in the mind of sheep?
AFTER THE ANESTHESIA WORE OFF
Incredible to be cut free
from life, and sewn back as if whole;
my thoughts still scattered as they be—
how to unzip my stapled soul?
The sky so brighter, blue as sea
and blessing like a bough of tree
the old body inert as coal.
How I’d unzip my stapled soul
and let it loose, if it might see
what I’ve been blind to; a peep-hole
beyond my reach; now hopefully—
help me unzip my stapled soul!
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Was Bloomington Illinois,
Was the seventies,
Was a tiny house
But it didn’t matter:
Our first place, first
We wanted plants, inside
(Don’t we all?). Was
At a service club yard sale.
Saw the weeping fig
I’d always dreamed of.
Huge, appropriately, even
Healthy. The one I needed,
Wanted, had to have. Five
Gallon pot, recently
Dampened. Heavy, they
Said, need help?
Nah, I said, I’ll carry it;
Friends will see me,
Help me out. Two miles,
Grunting, sweating later,
I realized, I didn’t
—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento
The party laughter and the rasp of lighters, always lighters… from outside my window and from down the hallway.
Krony the Jackalope kicks the sphere of time while slack-eyed dreaming.
He drools from curled rictus lips past the two fer of his gap teeth.
The garden burns whilst Bernie Terrapin fiddles mad songs, butterflies singed and screaming.
He Johns the tricks with tricksy licks jigging amongst the heath.
The longest night of the year and the critters are beaming.
While the sandman and moon watch sloe-eyed and scheming.
Horus alone waits for Set and tales of eye and testicle funerary unwreath.
RANCHO SAN JULIAN
Diddle-dawdling with Kuno the love-lapper,
Crossing fields of new grass and ancient ploughs.
Found things, Mud Slide Slim located exotic,
Skirt the dresser drawers that line up like gravestones.
Hives where brother trespassed, paid in swell.
Turtle shell recently vacated, peering I feel trespass.
Don waist deep in crick, flogs his hairless head with stinging nettle.
Toads as witness, they jump off the bridge, mortified,
Alarmed by man’s aberrant scourge, nature's degradation.
Wild rhubarb blushes as if abashed, they have no word for blasphemy.
A little bit gentle now,
a little bit drizzly and black.
I ride a becalmed horse,
with jujube hooves on licorice streets.
Street clouds follow in my wake,
Lighted snapshots the scenery.
Our thanks to today's diverse artists for this New Year's Eve champagne and caviar, and a note from the Bay Area's Jannie Dresser: I would like to let you and your community know a couple of things that I'll be launching on New Year's Eve:
—a poem-of-day class for the month of January hosted through Nicenet (it is free)
If anyone wishes to be notified about either, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or link up on Facebook's new California Poets page that I created. Thanks!