Monday, April 27, 2015

Evacuating the Night

Poster for "Evening of the Word" Reading
featuring Art Mantecon, Charles Mariano
UC Berkeley, April 21, 2015
(Medusa with pencils for hair by Edel)

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Don’t give me a diamond studded
Digital pocket watch with
Roman Numerals
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest

Don’t tease me with a new luxury car
Adorned with all the latest electronics
That drives itself
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest

Don’t offer me a large screen HD-TV
Complete with DVR, UFO, HIV, etc.
Remote control
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest

Don’t give me the royal tour of a loft
With a view of the smog-smothered city
Handily close to traffic noise, crime, pollution
Urban renewal
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest

Don’t invite me to look at time share properties
Teleconference, videoconference
Communal saunas
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest

Don’t roll out projections and statistics
Bar graphs, pie graphs
Actuarial data
I’d sooner take a slow walk in the forest



I expect that if I win the Lottery
In that span of time between
Matching the numbers and
Collecting the money

I would feel like a patient
Who had just been told
He was first in line to get
An organ transplant

None of it would seem real
Until I could wake up one morning
And know that I had survived
A life-changing event

 Scout on the Rocks
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

I got up early. You’re my alarm
in the crate beside the bed, always a breath
ahead of me, catching up in puppy-
time that never lasts.

I lift you out of whimper, out the door
to do your business.
You’re the weight of life exuberating,
mumble of leaf-fall underfoot,

rustle of brush-pile loved by the beautiful
spotted towhee. Twigs dry as vanilla
bean pods. Taste of coffee before it’s brewed.
Sometimes—this very morning—

I follow you into the woods
where you’re friend of the oak-stump
scored by years, each lichened boulder.
You show me what light

smells like as it moves through shadow;
you find every gap that leads
to discovery. You’re the first syllable
of a full sentence not yet written.


—Taylor Graham

What could people make of morning
without that word? Its premonition—Ahnung,
almost a warning—wakes me
with my pup’s first whimper. Get up,
get moving, evacuate the night, its dreams.
The color of something not there
anymore, but weighing on the heart like waiting
for a knock at the door. A shimmer between
shadow and bright, infused with its own
light like moon-shine on hill pasture
that’s not quite ghost. A silken veil whose color
changes—char to mid-gray, pewter,
silver golding—as I watch. Did the ancients
have a word for this, before dawn?
Have we lost it like a child vanished?

*noun first used, they say, by Shakespeare

—Taylor Graham

Her eyes were new moons dark and blank
behind cloud; even blind, she crawled to edges,
the shores of an unknown world as if

she heard voices from under the rug—forlorn
or beckoning memories of what she didn’t know;
calling her from the whelping box, sniffing

her way to the sliding glass door
where voices escaped to drift on April wind.
Nine weeks old now, ready to follow

a stranger into her new life. But this morning
I followed her as she checked fresh
scents under the buckeye where deer slept;

paused, listened to traffic on the two-lane;
moved on, down rimrock to the swale,
wandering wondering. Stood for a moment,

a statue of what she’ll grow to be. I clicked
the picture in my mind. Pixels, dust
motes. An instant. Already she was vanishing

as children do, wandering farther away.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Tom Goff, Carmichael

Young sweet light, if I may talk to you,
one human supposing for this instant you are human,
I could bathe forever in your odorless perfume,
that which we call warmth. Because you
are tender, and if you were human I would call
you blond, young light, I must not deceive you
about my feelings. Too much of your darling
fingertips’ pressure upon mortal skin, and I
will singe, burn, somewhat of myself
peeling eternally from myself. It isn’t self-involvement,
young sweet light, that holds me back from too
much of your bright life: oh no, I have a prior friend
who is dark, she is all swirl and can become
funnel cloud when she despairs, yet she wheels
her dark spare frame in joy. She comes in
at my window all California, yet when I scent
her atomic structure black as a girl’s hair, what comes
in a rush like smoke is all Aegean, the salt that cures
the “wine-dark sea” so I consider her preserved for me
since Homer’s own dark day. Oh, and she unveils
herself: stripped naked of her robes she too
is young light, a more silver morning, a being compounded
of the air she is and the window glass shutting me
away from her unbearably beautiful touch. Do not
despair, young light: perhaps you and she
are one, and so I will turn someday from her to you
finding no one taken from anyone forever…


Today's LittleNip:


—Olga Blu Browne, Sacramento
‪ ‬

Monday's moon, and the
‪grind of every wind.‬
‪ ‬

Tuesday lost, and yes kindness
‪ ‬

Wednesday sharing in sin, dreams‬
‪ ‬

Thursday brokenness and sleepless‬,

‪sleepless nights.‬
‪ ‬

Friday, the heart forewarned.‬

Saturday, GOD is quiet.

Sunday, others don't forgive.


Our thanks to today's chefs (thanks to Charles Mariano for the Medusa pic from his recent reading in Berkeley!), with apologies to Olga Blu Browne for last Friday's rude truncation of her LittleNip. It was a cute-and-paste thing....


(One of Medusa's snakes on the loose)
—Photo by Stacie Sherman, Orangevale