Wednesday, June 03, 2015

The Wild Unknown

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville


Tree-pose, right leg rooted, left bow-cocked.
Balance. Hands arrow-prayered
pointing up. Focus on a point of light slipped
through the blinds. Breathe. Release.

Sunflower. Arms raised, seeds of praise,
of wonder. Focus on a spider walking inverted
across the ceiling. Bend. Breathe.

At last, corpse-pose. Deep breath, lights out.
Focus on that one invisible point of bright.



he wants a drum. Not one wrapped in silver
paper, ribbons tied so tight he’ll never
make them smooth again. Can’t make the Happy
Birthday paper new again either, any more
than he could unwrinkle past time. If he wants
a drum he’ll have to make it himself
from an old tin can rusting among rocks
on the wild side of the hill, left by whoever
lived here before he was born. A can too rusty
to tell what it held. He wants to make music,
even if no one wishes to hear him learning
to play the wild percussion of life. They just
want him to blow out candles and pass the cake.



Along the creek, monkey flower and blackberry
in bloom. Green flecked with white, yellow,
every shade of violet, a rusted wagon wheel.
Glimpsed through leaves, even sky blossoms
blue. Slopes cling to periwinkle, poison oak
rooted in soil rooted in bedrock. A tell
of Nature’s history. Old dog leads a journey-
way searching for the bridge, a crossing. Breeze
sweeps our footprints, weaves in our prayers.  


The meadow’s a riot of puppy dashing after
butterflies; she and her sister, tongues lolling in
the shade of oaks. Sparse grass at the edges,
dry soil. Headache for a rancher under a full
Arid Moon. Gusts of parched air. But
these pups have their second wind, they’ll
play beyond human patience. Find my keys,
drive back home, where my old dog charts
the scent of puppies alive clinging to my arms
and ankles, legs, my hands to loose and hold.



These are the weeds beloved of sheep.
“Weed” is a human construct.
Lacking our language, sheep know better.
It’s our single shot that leaves them dead. Or,
no reason at all, just dead.
This lowly plant with silent clock-hands
we bag as noxious.
It could take me out in an instant, wham!
But see how vibrant, green.
I put it in salad. Maybe I survive
by not believing the label.
Gone six weeks, my cat will walk
in the door with adventures taller than
a black cat in boots.
How he survived hawk, coyote, owl.
I’ll listen, leave the door open.
Weeds advance.
I can see the Strawberry Moon, and Night
with a wisp of wind wound into her hair.



Coyote—that weird wild lonesome cry that haunts the night
and just keeps wailing in the mind, to echo out of sight.

They slip like spirits out of roadside weeds, a gaze
that disappears if I look twice—a springtime valley haze,

a lamb gone missing. I love coyotes as I hate the kill—
in dawning dim, a mother ewe is bleating, bleating still.

Her lamb is gone. I search down rocks along the creek,
hoping I won’t find, in that wild corner, what I seek.

What are fences to coyotes? They clear them in a bound.
That’s where I found the lamb they brought to ground.

In spring, so many hungry pups in a coyote’s den—
coyote mother’s on the hunt to fill them up again.

In spring, by bright or dark of moon, while we’re asleep,
Coyote comes. We wake and lose our count of sheep.

Still I go searching, after all the lambs are grown,
for what, I couldn’t tell you. Coyote? the wild unknown.


Three hundred pounds of ram, but he was advertised as mellow.
Loaded in our little car, Bam!Bam! on floorboards—what a fella!

He stomped his ram-staccato       all the long drive home.
Three pretty ewes on our acres, he had no need to roam.

Poker-eyes in an iron skull struck flint when he was peeved.
Don’t turn your back on a ram, or up-side you’ll be heaved.

Then old Tygh-bo caught a cold, yellow mucus from his nose.
We bought a veterinary dose to cure him, syringe thick as a hose.

Tygh-bo’d seen that before. They say sheep don’t learn,
but he just whipped his butt around—     eyes in a slow burn.

You jabbed the silver needle in. Don’t think Tygh-bo’d stand
for that! He whirled—while you just stood, syringe in hand—

Bad luck, the needle stuck, in his butt. Snazzy silver stud.
You grabbed for it, he whirled away, body-pierced for good.

So Tygh-bo wears that needle-stub, no way you dare remove it.
He’s cool, he’s groovy, hip—butt-stud in his rump to prove it.



Weather likes to be inclement. Sullen.
Lightning arrows down to strike
the highest point, your home on its advantageous
hilltop. You’ve done the drill, examined
the odds. The medical—no remedy; in the end,
life loses. Weigh that against
the ecstatic squeals leaping inside this whelping-
pen, a mother-dog telling you the glory
of her eight newborns.
You’ve been here. Not this garage, not this
dark-eyed smiling Shepherd bitch
you’ve never seen before.
It’s like film reeling itself back on the spool
for a second chance. Maybe this time
the pups won’t die before equinox.
They’ll live to find paths through the woods,
romp in mountain meadows; chase storm clouds
to test the winds, the weather.
Search for angels. Just listen to them
mewling for their mother. Watch them grow.
At last, take one home for your own.
Your remedy, life.


Today's LittleNip:


Remedy for a loggy morning,
paint yourself as a shattered mirror in shades
of mallard wing, dynamic,
begging for a lily in the armpit, grass-
hopper in the mouth. Make your
self up as you go.


Many thanks to Taylor Graham for today's poems and pix, including her cowgirl poems (well, sheepgirl) celebrating the Highway 50 Wagon Train which is headed toward Placerville from Lake Tahoe. This annual trek will be stopping in Camino on Saturday night, where they will be holding a BBQ with western music, an open mic, and cowboy poetry from well-known cowboy poet Jim King; on Saturday they will finish up the trip by heading down to Placerville. 

And don't forget—we're celebrating Medusa's Kitchen's tenth birthday this week by our Seed of the Week: Birthdays. Send poems and pix about birthdays to and I'll send you a copy of the new issue of WTF! Free!

By the way—if you haven't gotten a copy of this WTF and you're a contributor, let me know and I'll mail you one. Others may be had for $2 by clicking on WTF in the links at the top of this post, or might still be a few at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sac.