—Taylor Graham, Placerville
From the barricaded dead-end of
pavement, back along the trail, I met two
men in black with stars on their chest.
My “good morning,”
their “what are you doing here?”
Walking. Where do you live? Around
here. Have you seen anything
out of the ordinary?
How to explain the many species/
colors of green in chaparral?
The hooded sun. Abandoned homeless
camps; that small sky-blue tent
below the ridgeline. I thought, that must
be friends, companions of solitude.
Make a riddle out of an answer.
Point those stars up the sundown trail.
A DAY’S JOURNEY
I found where they tunneled into the mountain,
mining for something richer than daylight.
A tall pine guarded the entrance; at its foot, owl-
pellets full of tiny bones and hair. As far as I
could see into the adit, its floor was littered
with cigarette butts and bones, shadows as if
crows left their images and flew back to the sun.
My dog, my journey companion, had no interest
here. Inside that tunnel, the air would kill
a canary. My dog ranged farther up, following
game trails in the brush. Where does mystery
give up and history turn sour? A crow told me,
I shouldn’t look for sacred places, they would
I sat and smelled apple crisp
the smell of
(erasure poem from “Advent and apple crisp” by Monica Sawyn)
At the top of an unmarked trail,
out of sight of the last paved road, almost
beyond the sounds of children running,
singing, leaping into a new year;
at the top of a straight-up climb—I found
shining stone, shadows melting into
stone making light, and beyond, a green
panorama lit in all directions by quartz-
eyes glittering and gleaming in winter sun
the fire-works of ages.
—Lelania Arlene, Sacramento
Frost attaches to the exposed,
The sky opens too wide to warm them.
It pains and it feels familiar,
But it’s just radiation from source winds.
The letting go of grief, of those
Starbursts of pain, cracking you inward.
The rocking of the discomposed,
The solace of curling into a sliver of moon.
Hoary weeping of the disposed,
Is it meditation, is it forever undisclosed?
For some people
OLIVES AND GASLIGHT
Loving you unbearably,
The unlikeliest bookmark.
I keep time in my heart's library,
Like an unlicked stamp.
Not as a notary of ingenuity,
More an abacus of sanity.
Illegitimate I am accustomed to justifying,
My very name, not my own under the gaslight.
I scribble notes identifying
My very feelings, only my own in stonewall niches.
Am I a haystack target,
A scarecrow in other people's sackcloth?
But as for myself, when my parents were sick
My receiving blanket was goat’s hair.
My pure, I know you exist,
for I have nourished others with the same.
My Motto before YOU appeared,
Nolo Mi Tangere, Touch Me Not via Gethsemane.
Press my oil not, my fingernails are broken
I summoned the weight and pressed, awaiting always to anoint.
DRIVING THE BLEEDING
They drove the ocean with their madness.
It looks blue, the Sea— But it runs with undertones of rust.
Like blood, like sadness.
Sometimes they protest, the sea creatures amass.
We puzzle and ask of why,
DAWN IS BURNING DOWN THE NIGHT
—Robert Lee Haycock
Clouds flame from East to West
Fog smokes up from the river
The wind burns
Our world is a smoldering pyre
Nought but charred bones
Cinders and ashes
DAMN, I HATE POEMS
—Robert Lee Haycock
Bridge that ends in mid-air
Left you hanging
Doors without numbers
Sour smells of cooking
Street that dives into the sea
Left me longing
Friend long dead
Damn, I hate poems
He was fond of saying