Monday, March 30, 2015

The Cat's Game

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

I call the pup but does he hearken?
What’s my voice to him, just weeks from
the womb? Sparrow trill or bleat
of lamb, one noise of many. I might as well
be a squat tower on the lawn calling
“Puppy Come!” Even the simple command
is beyond him. At edge of brambles,
he’s in a world of sky, of airborne freedom
outside his fence. Scent! His nose
goes down—involuntary, genetic. News
rises from underfoot. Crushed grass
decomposing, leftover spoor of what passed
in the night. Odors sweet to him
as fresh-baked bagels to me on a frosty
morning. As if a saffron thread drew
him across the green—forefeet reaching out,
hind propelled by thought-less intent,
he’s on my trail, following scurfs of skin,
what drops off us humans, melding
us with sky and earth. A quarry to pursue,
puzzle to unravel. What he's born to do.


—Taylor Graham

Do the trees live in terror of us?
As we set match to burn-pile, I wonder
at a shiver in the oaks above us on the hill.
How to explain, this is not random
brutality. We’re burning winter’s dead-fall:
shepherding fire to make us fire-safe
come summer—the wild elements
proportional as the mind of man. Are live
oaks mocked by my arguments? See
the scars where, long before us, someone
sawed away a limb—leafy arm
of a tree, its rotten cavity that might have
housed a nuthatch nest; gone. Our
burn-pile flares like fireworks; smoke
rises, dissipates, settles. When it’s over,
we’ll rake the embers, make sure it’s dead
before we go. Nothing but a circle
of ash, after-scent of char, a blue horizon-
haze on valley. The memory of trees.


—Taylor Graham

Granite, lava, sandstone—up-tilt here,
extruded rock there—my dog disappears
over the crest, catching updrafts seasoned
with scents from miles away.
The whole knit crazily together by
contours that make sense topographically,
uncut by highway or dam, man’s
attempts to re-image nature, to use or
redeem it. It sets my head spinning—
or is that just altitude gone past human
tension, intention? Here’s
a boulder scrolled with lichen’s long
histories. Buzzards kettle on thermals,
counting not naming the temporary dead.
I’ll follow my dog a little farther
uphill as landscape falls away. Could I
see the world she hears, smells,
knows in her bones?

 —Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

A lacewing lands on my palm—I might clap, smash it, or let it
rest and, when it wishes, fly. Shockwaves in air widening circles in a
pond fluid dynamics the laceflight of wings, or my bare hands
concussing. Listen. I’ve heard a single butterfly passing through sky
has consequences not guessed. If I write this down,
or speak it so the free sounds fly,
what repercussions? What ringing unrhymes? Might someone
believe the metamorphosis of words in
metaphor, so they metastasize to
something I couldn’t imagine….
What dare I
do this

(prev. pub. in Snapping Twig)

—Taylor Graham

Walk out the meeting-room’s glass door
where once stood the alms-hospital.
Here, mercurial pane becomes a portal, you
find yourself a hundred years ago
among the dead, inmates buried on the hill.
You almost stumble on an iron spoke. It speaks
with neither voice nor name, just a number.
There were so many. This morning
they regard you with blue periwinkle faces
gazing out of green. It’s spring. Yellow
crowds the edges—Scotch broom
which even on a cloudy day blooms vibrant
as sunny life, invasive as disease.
And periwinkle—look closer
into its vinca face. You don’t know its
name but it knows yours.

—Photo by Taylor Graham 

—Richard Hansen, Sacramento
Mr. Mister
designed a refined
inspired by an idea hidden
deep inside him

traded his trade one day
to work for RainBlurred but they
didn’t hire him
he didn't have a science degree
had nothing to do with his
facial disfigurement which
caused a speech impediment
he didn’t get Frustrated

He applied for a patent instead
it was granted and
the banks cooperated
and he manufactured it
and it sold

He paid back his debts and
all his taxes
he's a rich man now
happy with himself living
in a big house and
for a while had
of any substantiality

the sprinkler works
with all the little tiny gears
remains a
to everyone
currently working in the Industry
and even the Chinese
and also
the Japanese
have failed to steal it
through reverse engineering

Mr. Mister
really likes his sprinkler
It’s great for ferns and things
that require
jungle-like humidity
It's easily adjustable
for growing banana trees
made tons of money and
bananas cheaper

Then Mr. Mister
kissed his wife’s sister
and got a blister which
Pissed Her Off!

She loved him you see
the money
and the speech impediment
no difference

She left him out of self-respect
and he’s really distraught about it
wealth means nothing now
but he doesn't mope around
He travels the world and tells
people how to grow bananas in just about
any and every
kind of

—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

It was about the patience of these trees
It was about the color of those bells
It was about the swimming of a kite
It was about too many Bibles
It was about three old men
Dancing arm in arm


—Robert Lee Haycock

My life's the cat's game again
Noughts and crosses
Snakes and ladders
Seems I'm always starting over


—Robert Lee Haycock

Circumstances be damned
I've never done my best
Here's a slackard and a sluggard
And your drunkard and your fool
Always been too clever by half
Possessed of a pornographic memory
Fuck me if I can forget anything
I know I ought to try harder
But the world is so beautiful
Sometimes I just have to stare
Out the window of a train
And dream a poem home

—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock

Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The wicked muse of our obsession
was jingling ditties to an eastbound train,
that systematic wailer of the same old yearning
on a sing-song track;
the rash that itches till we can’t refrain
from scratching at the flimsiest
foundation of a fancied fortune and a rapidly
dispersing fame.



—Photo by Robert Lee Haycock