Monday, August 24, 2015

The Taste of Painted Dreams

—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—Loch Henson, Diamond Springs, CA

First step: find your expired passport.
In order to make a getaway, you’re
going to need a way to get back into
your home country.

Second step: suspect a destination,
perhaps a short list of a few.

Third step: wrangle up your documents
and make an appointment for your
new passport.

Fourth step: shower and make pretty.
You’re going to need a new photo.
(And what color IS your hair anyway?)

Fifth step: save up every penny you can
scrounge or scavenge.

                (Wait, was step two first?)

At some point, you’re going to slip
yourself a file in a cake and get out
from behind door number one: normalcy.


—Loch Henson

Is it a relief or do you
get anxious when you
realize that you are
far from home?

What feels far to me
may not even begin to
seem like a day’s journey
to you.  My passport
hasn’t seen the amount of
exercise that yours has recently.

Trips to ethnic restaurants serve
as my big adventures right now
(and some trips are more adventurous
than others!).

It’s not the exterior landscapes
that I roam.   Learning the mind
from the inside, peering into
hidden corners…these journeys
uncover stained glass mosaics of
thought and feeling, monuments
from times passed, and other
features not often suitably captured
by the post-card of a poem.

 Trek and Ripples
—Photo by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

soul missing
cream color
likes to cuddle
sorry no photo
won't bite
please call

we found soul
inhaling roses
in the park
no leash
meet at park pond
2 p.m.
not seeking reward

Your neighbors.


—Claire J. Baker

I lie in a lakeside meadow,
slowly turn the aquamarine,
cold, heavy in my hand.

Yet under Shelley's clouds
a poet wrote
" when grass breaks

has it not added to the meadow."
Grief relaxes in shade
of an ancient oak.

I yield to memories of
my part played in mother's
bright dark life.

Her stone, warm, lighter
on my finger, mirrors
lavender lupine, stems of grass.

(Anybody know what kind of flower this is?)
—Photo by Taylor Graham

slain scholar of antiquities at Palmyra
—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

The old magnificent man who tended the gods,
the columns and antiquities of Palmyra,
killed brutally by vandals who desire an
afterlife tacky with blood. What are the odds
you ignorant black-robed young, my dark hearts, mistake
your assumed arrogance for purity?
Toppling the works and lives of centuries,
putting the torch to all you so much as dislike,
the minglement of many god-beliefs,
engagements of life—but do you not see it? Look
deeper into the mirror’s silver leaf,
stones of your exploded stone. Gods enter again.
Who else put delusions buzzing in your young brains?

For you, old gentle Lion of Al-lāt,
nestling the limestone gazelle entrusted to you,
reflect on the words of a young poet, and quite true:
she wrote how the last of twilight is a dawn
obliterating, not yielding to, the night,
leaving silver remembrance long since light
seemed abandoned forever black upon the lawn.
So the gods for whose service you at last
fell forever, know how the lovely long stain
silvers forever over the good one slain.


—Tom Goff

Perspective, in a poem by Robert Graves,
is only a set of tricks played on our eyes:
we know all tables really turn vees; the wise
highways aim narrower, they recede in shaves

like curls of cheese grated far off over hills.
Does what we remember taper differently?
I lost sight of you under our shared table.
Where’d your legs go, did they get littler? How free

you’d rather they ran dwindling the hall convergence.
You’re a steel ball Shoot-the-Moon twin rods make flow    
or roll—to a score? To a vanishing point? Just once,
I high-fived you; your small hand flinched an ounce

—a flick of romantic startle?—one gust and oh.
What touch was it that shrank you down the hallways?
You see your fine points as pinpricks. I read emergence.
Be an opening fan. Fan open the Infinite Always.

 Cosumnes River
—Photo by Taylor Graham

The wolf family in the woods of Shasta County
   may not be lonely for long
   According to the California Wolf Center,
   wolves seem to be returning to California
   even after nearly a century of being hunted to extinction
   Wolves appear to be wandering in from Oregon and surrounding states
   who also should be thanked for saving the wolf
   While the lion has been revered by Western civilization
   the wolf is like the symbol of God to the Native American
   Americans tried to wipe out the wolves, much like the indigenous peoples,
   because they wanted to ranch cattle on the plains instead of having wolves
   Those “fairy tales” of the “Big Bad Wolf” were wrong
   when it was bad peoples' tyrants who wanted to see the wolf gone

 —Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

 Wire and Grass
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

You never know what’s on the other side of a

steep hill or a sharp curve. —driver’s manual

You sit beside the road wondering

what’s just out of sight. Imagination scatters

like birds from the bushes

never to trust what just sits. Wings!

The nag of small birds flittering, singing

the side that’s off your map. Here be dragons.

Beyond that hill, the next curve.

You’ve questioned travelers who came

through the mud, heat, rain with their tales

of the journey. Rivers and sloughs

of boats. Landscapes in storm.

A small island, a plate of artichokes.

The taste of painted dreams. How

could they tell you what’s on the other side

unless you go?

—Taylor Graham

1. Purchase

in the hardware store i found a blacktop tip

for a walking staff,

and a clip for my puppy just waking

from his garage of dream—

an itinerant poet arrested for rant

brandishing his caffeine noir as ravens
sin a wander-mug

as midnight’s fulcrum—

we travel toward wednesday

& my dog sleight-of-leap

runs away with her ball round as sunlight

& slimy w/ woof

2. Trek Weather

Thunder pucker inside our walls,

this wellspring wind-shear, a change

in atmospheric pressure, your

jeans & my left slipper

have traveled down the hall as i
of their own accord—

dishwash dancer, see how he twirls

with the margarine tub,

this new puppy inside our

walls—this midnight slumber siren,

it’s only his squeaky toy

his solitary comfort in the lonesome

of puppy-crate beside our

bed, at last he’s going to sleep

inside our walls.

3. Rigging Today

He sleeps quiet through the dark assembling stars from dream—stars like milk of first light. And when he wakes the morning is a white globe, a ball rolled against the wall between himself and horizon, and he must fetch it. And if it rolls under piles of yesterday he must sniff it out, and fetch it—his viaticum, provisions for his journey. We know him for the shining globe, a glow about his head and in his eyes. The glow is possibility, that sleeps in words of yes, that believes in voices and the open road, universe in his glove, the passing of this morning into this very day before the coming of another night with its dreams of voyaging to stars, their universal secrets.

—Taylor Graham

It was hot. But here we were on a sandbar
by the river beckoning with its pool
shallow enough for puppy-swim, and cool
in August. I tossed a stick. My pup—
who does laps in my mop-bucket—chose
wading with one paw still on shore.
He barely glanced as my stick made ripples.
I tossed a bigger stick, he quibbled.
I peeled off boots and socks, waded in
calling Trek! What if I wrenched my ankle
on river-rock? Would he dash in to save
me? He swam two strokes to prove he could,
then paddled back to land. I sat down
in water cool as upcountry treks
with other dogs—dead now, but brave
in memory, while Trek chased an orange
butterfly along the shoreline, making
ripples that almost reached me.

—Taylor Graham

My dog sniffs a tire-swing hanging

from an old oak tree—did the little girl launch

off from there? Up the road, into the brush.

Looking for elves, her mother says.

The mother’s frantic with grown-up worries.

How could she lose track of her child?

Shades lead children astray, light on water

of a pond, sun on leaves at the border of woods,

granite glitter at the edge of cliff. Maybe

the girl is looking for her mother 

who surely is lost. I wish I could remember— 

might I find myself where the elves hang out?



—Taylor Graham

Stones below the surface,

bones of the mountain and bones

of who walked here before.

This August morning sun’s angle

lowers as a month

pauses at the door. Dead grasses

stand embered behind

chainlink as if remembered

through gold mesh or dream. Silk

of spider on the screen.

Puppy chases flies across linoleum

as if summer’s wings

can’t rise above a kitchen floor.

My puppy digs

for stones below the surface,

sniffs for bones,

whoever walked this way

Our thanks to this tasty group of contributors for our morning fare in the Kitchen. Tom Goff writes,
I read this morning about the ISIS slaying of the antiquities scholar who was head curator at Palmyra. What a barbarous world, it seems to me, and how long we as a nation slept thinking it  otherwise...not that we are at all without guilt in what goes on.

But I turned from that news to a poem Edith Wharton wrote when only sixteen years old, to which my poem makes reference. Her "Impromptu" contains the lines:

I love the silver dawn of night
That melts the dark away;
The ecstasy of pallid light
That bathes the ended day...

Thanks, Tom!


Today’s LittleNip(s):

—Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

Turn your back or
Turn the other cheek

Turn a hair or
Turn up the heat

Turn back time or
Turn again

Turn to salt or
Turn to sin

       * * *

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

A voyage
Would do
Him some
Realized it’s
All the same



Trekker on the Wire
—Photo by Taylor Graham