—Taylor Graham, Placerville
The Pope has spoken.
Paradise is open to all God’s
creatures. As I announce the news,
Blink the black-ink cat
and Loki, dog soul of wild,
lie quiet on the bed.
Amber dog eyes and gold-moon
cat eyes regard me
without words. Loki sniffs
Blink’s nose as if to question, even
you? Blink turns away
in answer, cats are not like dogs.
Both God’s creatures,
I think. Blink assumes his
Spiral Gaze to Heaven pose.
When amber eyes and gold moon-
eyes close, what can they
see without my human words?
The horses are nameless, secret
pounding hooves to a storm beginning.
I search the dark. Each day we dig
then cover the trench back up, following
someone’s idea of the infinite. Our future,
de-scandent into earth? They assure us,
everything about the heavens is known,
computed: metal fatigue, broken weather.
Nowhere to go but inside, down dark.
A grave? we buried it. Some, suffering
from memories, wander the flea markets for
a small child’s toy, a bit of hardened wax
from cathedral ruins; a lost world. Others
delve like a bad conscience. I look skyward.
No more stars to wish on, but I call the name-
less names, lightning that used to flash,
shocking as a new idea. I pray to a god out-
side the clockwork; let that name fly
before my shift at shoveling a trench to fill.
My own the words, the name.
If you make the world your study,
how can you be lost? I mean, the greater
world—the archangel mountains you walked
when a southland sky was always luring,
alluring, blue as a mallard’s wing in flight;
and as the world turned past sundown into dark,
slanted streets of black homes spinning
below the fixed constellations. You knew
every star; the formula for thunder-weather;
that silver lining in a heap of ash, after
pyrocumulus—the fire-cloud—swept over.
When it cleared, sky became transparent
straight up, into and beyond. They say
you took your last breath laughing.
—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento
Something happened here
It tore a hole in the skies
It tears a hole in the sky and the witnesses.
You mend the rents
You close one eye to the torn
Pretending it’s the same, you witnesses.
The wrenching occurred
Inside tears like cold sighs
It scars and mars, the listlessness.
The healing intense
You stand on watch, worn
Alert and wrenched, submissiveness.
NIGHT ADMONISHMENT ROSARY
A tear rolls and drops into the briny soak of my other eye.
Blood is both salt and sweet.
Flesh against flesh the same,
Some moments between consciousness are places to get stuck, terror rending us away from all love.
These stockyard terrors are more powerful than love, which is a fragile rain, ephemeral.
Once you've clawed the earth, only the longing connects you.
Darkly tragic, a balloon stuck on a root.
BLIND CALF CALLING
There used to be this blind calf, all night long he lowed in terror for his mamma.
Swimming in the womb with my chosen twin
A thin young man
The middle son of three
Ventured into the forest
In the hours wee
To find a metaphor
Recently a student who’d
Eat nothing but pork
Whole avocado in blender
A needle in a cork
What is life for?
Hugged a small sapling
Then a large tree
Breathed in foul air
But at least it was free
Frozen water will not pour
Threw his smart phone away
Ignorance is bliss
Even in his dreams
He could not get a kiss
Kept working at the store
Brought his dog to the woods
To give chase to a hare
Now you see it here
Now it’s over there
Among some more
Followed a stream
To see where it wound
Dried up into nothing
Was all that he found
No knock on the door
Volunteered at NASA
To test outer space
Zero gravity sucks shape
Right out of your face
And or neither nor
Have you heard the news?
No more shopping days until