Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Davy Crockett & Stone Soup

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


A day without rain.
Under a spindle-tree, five puppies
on a patch of weeds.
The old woman said they’d grown
inside the dark of her garage
until this afternoon she brought them out
under sky.
She was sitting on a child’s seat—
a woman on a green plastic mushroom,
you might say a toad’s stool.
One tiny pup, curled
around the stool’s base, looked up at me
like a forest imp, born
to create himself a world with
only his eyes, nose, his
tongue lapping air and light.
This morning I feared the world
was shrinking for our young. But they
grow out of the dark and learn
to dance around plastic
mushrooms and pretend forest
from a single tree.

 It's alive! (Cowboy)

          Rain through the windows endlessly
                              —D.R. Wagner

You walked in tired as a new year
and stood between window and mirror
not meaning, for once, anything permanent.
The lion roaring outside was not earth
but storm rushing down a dry creek bed. Sheen
on hair from rain, eye a puddle of blue
repeating sky between clouds—this life of
repetition, opening windows to weather
as if the heart needed to look out.
You just got up from lying on the floor,
feeling earth through the boards as dogs lie
earthwise—come in from roaming
the dark before light. Silent. A portrait speaks
in signs and symbols. Wrinkles between
mercury and glass. Memory-lines
of the swing of limbs tethered by tendons,
joints creaking like the playground
chains you’d pump at recess, feet aimed
for sky. Tomorrow
you’ll cook down the turkey carcass
till bones rise clean and vaulted. Even this
part of the picture.


The child with sore throat might wake, enter
the kitchen, find Father holding a knife—
a large bread knife. He asks, how do you feel

this morning? The knife is at the center
of his grip as if with dire portent rife.
The child’s sore throat wakes, she enters

a dawning of light, sun a burn-center
through glass shatter. Hands of the Mother-wife
buttering bread. He asks, how do you feel?

Thoughts of her hens, once-clucking dissenters
headless and gutted in the sink. No fife
the child’s sore throat wakes; drums enter

her, pounding her pulse like the inventor
of terror. The quick solution to life,
a sharpened blade. He asks, how do you feel?

All misunderstanding. No tormentor
but kitchen helper with a bread knife.
Still, the child with sore throat has entered
the world of knives knowing how it must feel.

 Unstill Life


The horned owl flew off with our new-
born lamb, small stuff. Nothing
hungrier than an owl, look at its eyes
blinking off in daylight.
One morning your neighbor
found that horned owl beak-tearing into
his goose too heavy for an owl
to carry away. Owl grounded by its
hunger, talon-locked to a dead burden.
But why the coyotes
that killed our lamb and left her
uneaten in dry rocky creek-
bed so far from blue water, not even
a trickster’s stone soup?

 Creek, Jan. 24, with Trek and Loki


After school, in spring of a vacant lot,
we tended a paint pony grazing in the midst
of small-town USA, taste of sourgrass
to kids who didn’t gather greens for supper
but only words; Davy Crockett riding
west the way the sun went;
then a big black mare hoofprinting dry
arroyos while school taught more words,
Pony Express over the mountains into history,
the study we learned to mount instead
of horses. Hoofbeats diminishing; arroyo
now a highway; unfenced vacant lots distant
as legend, bygones, childhood.



Distant lights flicker and ignite. Reflect.
What’s reflection if not the lights of mind
that still can’t penetrate black-lights of earth—
lights we hang to draw insects to their doom.
At lights-out, listen for the frenzied buzz….
its longing lights the mind of God? Reflect.
Or were you speaking then of fairies’ lights
or maybe fireflies, those lights that lead
us in blind circles of vanishing lights?
Will-o-wisp lights hover over marshy
ground, luring astray the lightstruck traveler.
Tiger’s a fearsome lightshow to amaze
while day-lights dim to dark and stars suffuse
the sky with other lights—magic or muse.


Today’s LittleNip:

Write it. Just write it. Write it on receipts in the car while you wait for your kid to finish their piano lessons, scribble on napkins at lunch with friends. Type on crappy typewriters or borrow computers if you have to. Fill notebooks with ink. Write inside your head while you’re in traffic and when you’re sitting in the doctor’s office. Write the truth, write lies. Write the perfect spouse. Write your dreams. Write your nightmares. Write while you cry about what you’re writing, write while you laugh out loud at your own words. Write until your fingers hurt, then keep writing more. Don’t ever stop writing. Don’t ever give up on your story, no matter what “they” say. Don’t ever let anybody take away your voice. You have something to say, your soul has a story to tell. Write it. There is never any reason to be afraid. Just write it and then put it out there for the world. Shove it up a flag pole and see who salutes it. Somebody will say it’s crap. So what? Somebody else will love it. And that’s what writing’s about. Love. Love of the art, love of the story, and love for and from the people who really understand your work. Nobody else matters. Love yourself. Love your work. Be brave. Just write.

—Melodie Ramone


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and pix! She writes, “I went kind of crazy with poems, bits of Jane Blue and Rhony Bhopla along with DR [Wagner] of course, and I tried Carol Louise {Moon]'s Assumption form, all mixed in with a PAD or three….” Dave Boles of Cold River Press is taking pre-orders for Taylor’s new book, Uplift, at


 Cover to Taylor Graham's new book
from Cold River Press