Monday, November 02, 2015

Writing Our Way Straight

Eleven Shadows
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Taylor Graham, Placerville
Through the oaks, a twinkle’s moving.
Phosphorescence glinting off pond-water,
ghostly wine. Shadows caught alive.
Are there souls out walking tonight among
the trees? The ancient oaks you call
medieval, bent and reaching up with bare
dead branches, widow-makers
that on a whim of wind might fall. Tonight
an old man becomes a child vanishing
into memory, but still in love with
shiver-danger. Bats weave their dark Z’s.
The owl’s in flight against the moon.
Can the cat, the mouse survive? Tonight,
spirits walk as we do. Through oaks
a flicker-light, alive.


—Taylor Graham

A bat sweeps out on hunt. Brief uproar of cats in shrubbery. Then, silence. Moon reflects on a broken window. My dog leads the way. Ground-floor boarded up. Unsigned, unmarked. Haltered grace of arches—an institution: school, hospital, oubliette? Masked façade of crumbling brick and plaster. Ghastly blank of interior unknown; or ghostly, not blank at all? What occasion do spirits celebrate? inmates at table masking wishes with please pass the butter…. My dog goes sniffing edges, begging me to open a door, tell her go find! A place to search, derelict, abandoned; memories caught in cobwebs, unwritten stories littering the floors.

moon is masked behind
a cloud—a shadow passes
inside a window


—Taylor Graham

If you were coming in the fall—this time
of slant and dimming light—you’d come masked
in wishes, Atlantis your next stop, traveling
bare-bones, adventure spun
on a spindle for your wander-staff.
You’d walk on water, the hope that holds
its islands hidden for the finding.   

—Nancy Haskett, Modesto, CA

In November,
Sierra Nevada forests
celebrate the end of fire season
with a conflagration of color;
burnt orange, blazing red,
incandescent yellow leaves
flare and flash,
an explosion of brilliance
against a backdrop of evergreens,
a showy performance
for an intimate audience
now that summer crowds have vanished.
The paved path through the meadow
leads to a bridge
over water that trickles
around exposed granite boulders,
no longer a deafening roar.
During this annual interlude
there is a stillness;
a quiet breeze
floats a kaleidoscope of bright leaves
that swirl, fall,
crunch beneath our feet,

turn to ashes.

—Caschwa, Sacramento

I recently saw the most beautiful
Gorgeous red sunset
Nestled behind some ugly
Overhead power lines

It brought to mind Eppie’s
Off Interstate 80 where
Across the street is a lot full of
Cranes, cherry pickers, etc.

That is what I would have
Needed to get the good angle
For that sunset photo
But I don’t have those connections

So I stayed on the ground
And my camera stayed in the house
While the sunset disappeared
Forever, just a memory

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole, CA

I am an ancient eight-year-old,
a toenail grown inward,
a toy train whirled off track.
Welts from family beatings
burn my back...
This morning, spring showers

drip down classroom windows
like stunned explorers.
The teacher reads aloud
from Robert Frost
to rhythms of rain. Then,
"Class, the shower stopped,
let's go outdoors
and write about clouds."

I stare at rounded white fluff,
will die among cathedrals of light.
At last I claim my own cloud,
watch as wind opens
blue flowers...A lifetime later
I still remember my first lines
toward becoming a poet:

"I love to watch the bluebells
growing in the sky."


—Claire J. Baker

We mortals encounter
a million ways to die—
we are not the sun,
not the moon.
Dear old God,

dear young angels,
may our Goodbyes
reflect memories of
pink and lavender roses
we held so briefly,

yet forever.


Three LittleNips by Charles Mariano, Sacramento:


i wake up
every morning
feeling my way
in the dark

then spend
most of the day
trying to write
my way

        * * *


every poem,
every story
has a soul,

when i write

it’s up to me
to find it

        * * *


in my obit,
please don’t put
my pictureWall
next to someone
or pretty

that would kill me