—Claire J. Baker, Pinole
Dear harvest moon, I'm back
listening to your melody
over village hills.
You greet me with a sublime chorus,
separate notes emerge
into a nocturne.
on your lofty throne,
I was pinned to a podium
by a small glaring light—
room dingy, audience blurry,
I wished listeners were moons
in all phases, or that
I could tell beyond silence
or delayed applause
that my poems moved "someone"
in some little way.
my words and I are home,
grounded, looking up,
enrapt by your pizazz,
your expansive poetry
lavished over earth and sky.
—Claire J. Baker
When I "stop
to smell the flowers,"
they stop swaying
to smell of me.
—Claire J. Baker
on a hillside.
Native grass frames the sun.
The giant poppy stretches, then
—Taylor Graham, Placerville
You walk the back alley at odd hours,
beyond a neighbor’s over-leaning orange tree
dispensing fruit that no one plucks but you.
Your pockets sag with puckered gold,
wind-fall plunder. You find letters
among leaves blown into corners—
S for the sound wind makes, L for sun lazy
on spring air. In that alley far from streetlights,
once a white cat called down to you
with a quill-sharp PHZZT. Not quite a hiss;
a summons? syllable unknown to your
alphabet, repeated until you wished to form
that song with your own mouth. It tasted
of letters mulching to leaf-fall, citrus-zest tang
past sundown; a question, like hunger.
WHITE CAT OF THE ALLEY
Moon makes a chessboard of lattice behind
the old seaman’s snug cabin with nets
hung from the siding, and jasmine twining
like the arms of the tattooed lady. Oh tonight
the moon is cast and crew, just now aiming
its light on ovine droppings like chocolate
chips scattered by the lamb who follows its
Mary through a boarded gate, pastoral
creature contrary to city ordinance,
but this alley somehow evades the sophistry
of what’s allowed by writ and what is not.
The white cat sees it all with moonglow eyes,
withholds judgment, or keeps it to himself,
as the spirit of such a place must do.
PARTS OF A MILLION RAINBOWS
Green-collar girl’s our old dog’s shadow
no matter sun-angle, no matter how carefully
he steps. He lifts the corner of his lip
but never bites.
Blue-collar boy will leave today
with a new master. How does he know he’s
chosen? A flaming bird—fine, soft sable
puppy-feathers in the low but lifting sun.
Red-collar feisty girl sets her
mother off again, gets mother-scruffed
back down—again. Yesterday she climbed
the rocks. Who could love her? she nips
the sky to catch its light, she feels all golden.
is ours. Red-sable tiger of the puppy-
yard—annual grasses ripening their seeds,
the grist of creation. He sleeps beside our bed
at night, breathing silent as tomorrow.
—Painting by Vicky Mount