Monday, April 25, 2016

Dragons Trampled My iPad...

Leticia Hernandez reading at Avid Reader Sunday, April 17
—Today’s Photos are by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Which kind of owl was calling
before dawn, as I opened the door
to let the dog back in?
Soft, a flutter of sound out of dark like
wind caught in the leafing of trees
and grasses forever spring-greening
out of winter, night—roots and tubers,
the dead still nurturing in death.
Screech owl?
Call of life that draws us back
into the world of soil and mulching,
seeding. Which owl?
calling names out of the midst
of messy life, spring-mud weighting
boots and fingers.


—Taylor Graham

Those boots bore me summer-long searching
up Iron Mountain and down North-South
Road, I stopped at turn-outs and logging decks,
let my dog out of the car to check old fire pits,
hiked the dust of rutted skid trails. No sign
of you. I didn’t find you at Stonebreaker
Creek where foxglove and columbine nod
their secrets of green in the shade of running
water. You weren’t among the boulders
at Capps Crossing, or the trail to Blue Gouge
Mine. Not a trace of you at Henrys Diggins
or down Dogtown Creek. My dog showed me
stubbed-out cigarette butts and rusting cans.
Above Fleming Meadow, I felt a shiver
of breeze like ghost-breath in September, as if
you might have passed here. My boots never
asked where we were going. They just put
one foot in front of the other as my dog and I
checked off blanks of stillness on the map.

 Paul Aponte reading at Avid Reader Sunday, April 17

—Taylor Graham

The place is haunted, of course, and cold.
Deep underground, almost beyond recollection
of daylight. They used to keep ice here,
drayed down from mountain lakes and stored
in caverns and tunnels, a maze of winter.
Sparse light ensconced at intervals
along the passageways. They say,
after the advent of refrigerators, only poets
came here, gathering in a cavern carved
out of bedrock, to work the dark by miner’s
headlamp; to listen for voices from
even deeper. A few of those poets remember
still. The place is haunted by words
that fly out at night, hunting the living world,
sparking fireflies if not stars.


—Taylor Graham

Girded with dawnlight
in this small corner of the world, and dubbed
with the flat stroke of a pen, we set out
errant on separate paths following the same star.

I prowed through knee-high grasses
in need of cutting. Verbiage!
Hazards along the way. Rocks under thistle.
Dragons trampled my iPad, its face

imploding in fractured stars, light
that flakes in my hand. Time rolls in waves
of our great Earth tiding, crazy
with green distances. Beg or borrow a line-

trimmer. Countless stars shine
by their dying light, our journeys aim
toward a single bright point.
We leave our wakes for our wakings.

 Sandra Garcia Rivera reading at Avid Reader Sunday, April 17

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

It was that time
The end of an era
A candle gone cold
Time for retirement

Jumped on the Internet
Social Security System
Began an application
So far, so good

I easily knew most
Of what was asked
My date of hire
Date of marriage

But for the date
My health coverage
Became effective
I had to save the application

Warned that later
Might be too late
Be careful
Mighty, mighty careful

I ignored the warning
And looked up the information
On another website
Might now be too late

Then returned to my
Saved application
Typed the re-entry number
And completed it, finally!!

It was about 8:30 PM
In California
but in Social Security land
it was already 11:30 PM

Like being stuck with
Washington’s troops
Crossing the icy Delaware
Until 3:00 AM

But I made it across
Warm and dry
Now wait 5 business days
And check the status

JoAnn Anglin reading at Avid Reader Sunday, April 17


We found a
Car dealership
That waxed progressive
Featuring prototypes of

Virtual dream cars
Not yet in production
But with ideas that are
Certainly ready to roll:

The Angus
Steer this baby onto
the highway and no one
will dare cut you off

The Virus
Watch traffic just
Melt away, not
Wanting to get too close

The Elvis
Carries that
Unusual sway
That attracts fans

The Hummus
Centuries-old Arab invention
No one can own one
It belongs to the region

The Corpus
Has the finest
You could imagine

The Jesus
No Neutral, no idle
Universally adored
Will take you higher

The Amicus
Go ahead, pile in
There’s always
Room for more

The Ruckus
Enjoy bar brawls?
Just climb into this

The Escargot
For those who want to
Travel at a slower pace
And leave a trail of slime

 Ian Kappos reading at SPC Monday, Apr. 18

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Set a man up with a tuxedo
And you won’t
See him till two pm
Next day.  Or if the rental
Deadline is sooner.
Bloodstains optional.

Actually, you never
Really want to know.
Nobody ever gets
It right.  Remember
Your Senior Prom,
Your first wedding.
Yes.  Burn the photos

Dark suit, dark tie,
White shirt
Will get you anywhere
You need to go. Save
The Bond thing.
Again, you’ll
Never get it right.


Humphrey Borgart
In Casablanca,
Of course.
Almost got it.  But
There’s something
Still not right
About the lapels.
Don’t brood:
I’m here for that.


But originally
Riding clothes
To go out for the
Foxes?  Do you
Really want to go there?
Oscar Wilde explaining
It all as the “unspeakable
In pursuit of the
inedible.”  I thought not.

And the cummerbund.
Really.  No, no relation
Or mis-spelling of
The voice of Smaug.
It’s supposed to
Support the scabbard
For your saber.  Yes,
I thought so.  And keeping
The open pleats up?  To
Keep your opera tickets
Handy.  No one you
Know, no one I know,
No one we’ve ever
Heard of ever did that.


Last things, and I tell you
This from someone who has
Worn more tuxedos (Not
Always my fault) in more
Pastels than most art stores
Have palettes: they somehow
Want you in a tux?  Don’t.
Just don’t.  Hiring actors
Is much cheaper.  Besides,
They look better, and
Seem to enjoy it.


Good jacket, black t.  Nice
Jeans and Converse and
They won’t let you in?
Go home.  The people
Are more real there.

 Josh Fernandez reading at SPC Monday, April 18

Thank you to our contributors today, including El Dorado County’s first-ever Poet Laureate, Taylor Graham. And stay tuned for the final word on whether Carl Schwartz’s (Caschwa) retirement application made it through cyberspace.

National Poetry Month finishes up this week: on Monday we have Poetry in Motion in Placerville (6pm) and readers Stan Zumbiel, Albert Garcia and Troy Myers at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm. Nancy Aidé González reads on Thursday at Luna’s Cafe, 8pm. And Saturday is a big day, with Senior Readers Speak at GOS” Art Gallery Studio (2pm), and the all-day 2016 Sacramento Poetry Center Conference beginning at 9am.  Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box) at the right of this column for more info on all of these events and others coming up.

Here is the poster for the SPC Conference so you can see the details of what will be happening. Click on it once to enlarge it:

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Insurance and taxes—a tombstone
on the imagination, a darkening,
atrocity against sun of an April day—

shadows making paisley patterns
of honeysuckle vine lacing the oaks,
so many shades of green,

and one black and white tiger
swallowtail canoeing
down the breeze.



April is National Poetry Month!
Celebrate today by heading up to Placerville for 
Poetry in Motion, to UC Davis to hear 
Billy Collins and Aimee Mann, or to 
Sac. Poetry Center to hear 
Albert Garcia, Stan Zumbiel, and Troy Myers.