Monday, May 25, 2015

In Every Whisper

Five Bluebirds in the Nest
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

No longer small—five baby blue-

birds fill the nest-box. Air full of hissing,

bluebird mother dive-bombing

as I open the box to find her five nestlings

inert but waiting to fly; hunkered down

as I gaze inside. Bluebirds

don’t trust me with their blue bird-sky.

This box full of longing, full

circle of feathered wings quiet as clock

ticking toward fledge-time.

I shut the lid so as not to break

the circle. Tomorrow

every baby will be gone.

The sky’s full of promise: tomorrow

bluer with birdwings, birdsong.


—Taylor Graham

Nest Box #1: 5 titmice nestlings; #2: 2 bluebirds
on fenceposts nearby; hwy shoulder: 1 roadkill
turkey—supplier of feather-down for a swallow
nest; #3 jumble-bed of grass with yellow thread
(who knows where that came from), and skunk-
fur trim—another titmouse nest. You know
every species, I look to you for guidance.
I take field-notes, try to be scientific. Repaid
in birdsong. 1 meadowlark.

Above the confluence of creeks, revels of cliff
swallows under the bridge—silver kites too
many to count, swoop-sailing after insects
the livelong day. And look, 1 gray fox stares
at us, moves off as if to lure us away, trots across
speeding two-lane, cars & trucks eating the road,
spitting out chipseal. Fox left behind her 3 sable
kits tumbling, skittering, disappearing into dry
culvert that is their safe den. Sky full of wings.


—Taylor Graham

Load up the car. Drive away

to where open hands are filled with rain

and our wishes stilled in the cool vastness

of gray.

Where are the lambs and their ewes,

the pasturelands greening grass? No clouds,

the skies have the blues. Nothing grows.

All things must pass.

Did you catch that flicker-

arc? A half-signal,

lightning-beam without thunder—

a ghost gleam.

Might a storm quicken the dark?


—Taylor Graham

Bree left her scarf here, neat lavender bow

tied around a gate-post: entrance

to a story. “Check Bree! Track Bree!” Off we go

as if we could unravel teenage syntax.

Edge of lawn: cowboys recite roundup verse

in August. A corridor of slatted trellis

woven with vines: fashion sense inherent

to 10th grade—she matched her scarf to wisteria

in bloom. A trailing blossom vibrates

with scent on a breeze; Bree’s passage

worthy of a tale, a trail. Fence sweetening

with berries; is this where they make

that kosher blackberry wine to sell at the Fair?

Fascination of the purple gate, the fair

lane—but she didn’t turn that way. Instead,

livestock pavilion: corridor edged

with lamb pens, floored with dirt, Loki had her

first lessons here as a pup. Is that Bree’s

slim footprint, fresh as morning, headed out?

Pick up speed getting closer to this chapter’s

end. We’ve got all summer till the Fair. 

 Something Ridiculous Jugglers
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove
Theo wasn’t my grandfather.
But for the rest of the Crabtrees
It didn’t matter: close- 
Enough cousin.
So we were all surprised
That Sunday dinner
After fried chicken, taters
And shots (Theo liked Kentucky
Bourbon) when he told us
He’d sold the south acres
To the county fair.  Had to,
He said, because wife Hattie
(She stood, blushing by the
Kitchen door) wasn’t feelin’
So good, and there might
Be doctors’ bills (Hattie outlived
Most every Crabtree in the room,
Though that was another
Matter).  Was okay with us,
The Crabtree boys and myself:
Less corn detassling, less bean
Walking in the summer heat.
We became, such as it was,
Fair security—orange cone
Flashlights to guide parking,
Odd and young and flexible muscle
If there was trouble at closing.
And if there was a bear that
Caught a Crabtree’s attention
Just before the blowoff—
Three balls at the milk bottles,
And “We have a winner!”
Most all of the Crabtree boys
Eventually went into
Law enforcement.
And me, I wrote this.

 Chinese Acrobats of Hebei
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

After war
we invent silence
even memory,
inside the quiet rooms
of our nerves
in the recall of him or her
will find us offering a prayer
when the sunlight appears
on Memorial Day
through windows of birds
who flutter up over our windows
covering May's cool heavenly air
hands outstretch to poppies
is reflected in our mirrors
along the surf's breeze
knowing we exist as words
become our lives
in every whisper
and tiny gesture
we choose to pick flowers
as a poet's shadow
turns in the high tide
drowning a remembrance
as rainbows in the waters
rise by the sea's headstones
choosing to revere
the silver thoughts
from our angel's occupation.


—Caschwa, Sacramento

My father was a good man
Raised three sons
Married over half a century
To our mom, till he died

But he never spoke
Of a certain part of
His past, a part that hurt him
Camera film overexposed on war

World War II
Seabees, semaphore
Don’t remind me

He showed disfavor for any product
“Imported from France”
As if it was lava from a volcano
That would destroy all it touched

He took us to Navy ports
Gave us ship tours
We had mess down below
Wore sailor hats

He became a ham radio operator
Form over substance
A one-key computer
22 words a minute

The garage was his ham shack
Filled with paraphernalia
License plates from decades past
Bearing his call letters

He has been silent key now for 23 years
The war stories he never told
Are still somewhere lost at sea
Don’t remind me


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Under a clouded sky no birds sang ceremonies
of weather, though it was morning of the eve
of speaking in tongues. No wind riffled
drying grasses for the time of harvesting
first fruits. Drum-beat of heart against bone.
A sigh as if a breath were passing, gone
on unfamiliar wings; a break in clouds let
loose the eye of day, and a childless
mother howled for the angel rising away.


—Medusa, with hearty thanks to today's cooks in the Kitchen!

Musicians Candace Renee Perkins (left), 
Jack Niedermann (background), Kit Chell (right) 
and Eve King Lehman (not pictured) 
Hard Knock Skin: a Jazz Poetry Epic at Sac. Poetry Center
Friday, May 22
—Photo by Michelle Kunert