Monday, May 30, 2016

Listening With The Brown Bear

Wren's Nest
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Ramshackle heap of twigs
with bits of moss, dirt, doghair.
She’s settled on new soil,
nest-box on a deck-post outside
the window. There she is
landing on the roof, another twig
in her bill, hopping this way & that,
maneuvering twig into entrance-
hole that’s practically blocked
already by a jumble
of twigs—and then pop!
she disappears inside
to make her rubble-heap just
perfect. Pop!
out she flies again. More twigs.
What predator could
find her dainty mottled eggs?
She doesn’t like me peeking in.
From a nearby oak
her song comes loud and bubbling.
She sings “get out of here,
you can’t come in!”

 Wren's Welcome
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

He faded as if vanishing into the brittling
of late summer leaves about to fall
to the making of new soil; his slightest foot-
fall raising dust to settle on tailings
outside the mine’s mouth—
adit, they call that aperture, the ones
who know names for all the ways under-
ground. Drift, raise, and shaft, stope
and winze…
In a wince, a daylight vision,
I saw him beyond the breath and footsteps
of countless humans caught as if
in photo-stop. The ones who worked
their way farther and farther underground,
and came back out, or not. As if
they could never quite escape the draw
of gold. And this ghost-figure—
no breath but the mineshaft’s cool
emptiness of rough-hewn walls,
the secrets in deep stone. 

Gold Mine Entrance
Gold Bug Park, Placerville
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

Morning sun is cloaked in cloud.
Sky music’s dissonanced
by two stout men in black with a weight
of dead stars: Have I seen
anything suspicious? A flash of blue
through the brush. The birds
under interrogation have vanished
with their songs.
I’ve been questioning the hill
for its gold—its story. Above what once
was hospital for the indigent,
a drift into innards of ridge. The dead
are buried under spokes
of rusting iron, periwinkle twining green
in drought. The mine’s cordoned-
off, loose crystal scattered
like transient litter. The politics
of homelessness is beyond be. This hill
has been forever, all
directions disappearing in coyote-
bush and manzanita. I point the stars
west the way the sun goes.

 Mine Entrance
Gold Bug Park, Placerville
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

My puppy’s vanished in the garden
hunting bugs. He’s nosing
into thickets of overwintered mint
we never got around to weeding,
and the first blossoms on blackberry
vine. He’s herding gnats.
Moths and butterflies.
Enchanted by bees, their music
like stringed instruments gone crazy,
he’s taunted by anything
that flies, that rises on the bridges
of breeze. He marks
no distinction in species or
class, they all lift him
from a dog’s-life. Later, inside
the sliding glass door of home, he’s
prince of wings in his dreams.

Gold Panning Demonstration
Gold Bug Park, Placerville
—Photo by Taylor Graham

Right in the midst of May in Sacramento, where fruit season is peaches, nectarines, apricots and cherries
     I found apples at a booth at the Carmichael farmer’s market held on Sundays
     I wasn’t told what variety are these greenish-yellow apples sold in $3 plastic bags—
     But I was assured they were grown locally and not imported from Chili like those in supermarkets 
     Also being organic and therefore not coated with poisonous pesticides or shellack—
     I wouldn’t have to scrub them off, not have to peel them
     Nevertheless naturally grown apples, even out of season, are “nature’s toothbrush”  
     The apples emitted a sweet aroma that made me taste them right after purchasing
     They were more tart in flavor than sweet like the varieties that come to ripeness in the Fall season
     But they were apples good enough take to work—
     Apples that don't get smashed and bleed onto paper things like peaches tend to do in a knapsack

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

  Nut Tree Carousel 
Vacaville, CA
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Was the Sixties,
And we heard it
On the radio: “I am
A duck.  I cannot wear
White Levi’s. You
Are probably a person,
And you can.”  Quack.
Ken Nordine set me
Up for both my apparel
Model and voice-
Over model for
Almost a decade.

Thing is, even with
The best of times,
The most careful
Behavior, you
Come home with new
Grass stains,
New soil, on your
White Levi’s
Every night.

Gave it all up
After college (Don’t
We all?) for blue denim
From Goodwill,
But remembered:
So cool, such a summer
Thing.  White Levi’s.
Or so
We thought.

Years on, got a job
As a hospital orderly.
Light blue smock
On top, and,
Yes, White Levi’s
Below.  New stains,
New soil, every day.
Not much of it
Actual dirt.

  Nut Tree Carousel 
Vacaville, CA
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—David Wright, Sacramento

I picked up Bukowski at the Sacramento Greyhound Station, 7th & L, 1974.
He told me who he was when he saw my copy of
Mockingbird Wish Me Luck by my trip sheet on the front seat.

He had the address of a West Sac motel written on a match book cover from a
Los Angeles strip joint, The El Rancho.
We headed over the Capital Bridge to the West side.

I handed him my spiral notebook of poems and
he read a few on the way.

"Not bad kid, I've seen worse.  But quit trying so hard to write the poem, let the poem write you.  You've got some fire, don't let THEM teach that out of you."

And with that he left me.
I watched him knock on the motel room door,
Saw a woman open it and he walked on in.


—David Wright

After science severed the cord it was
Move on, move back, or ignore the
Mushroom cloud in the room.

By moving on it has been necessary to look back.
(And to strap ourselves to chairs watching smut for days straight on speed.)

By moving on, all our road maps ran to nowhere and we knew there was no way to
Look "up" anymore.
No safe harbor.

Just an endless wide-open universe and the same
Fundamental riddles.
(We were free.)

It's all the elephant in the room to you, isn't it?
No terror, but
No wonder!
You let the Sunday School lessons under your skin.
You think paying your cell phone bill brings you
Back to earth.
You can count your money but it's
Your days that are numbered.
You then offer up laughter,
A better card but...


—David Wright

Resist and hold out.
Hole up.
Knowing gravity,
Atrophy and the
Perpetual second hand always
Wins out.

Hammer on while you can, the blows
Echo across the canyon where the Brown Bear
Lifts his head to better hear the sweet sound of it,
Before going back to lapping water lakeside.

Vultures circle.
They make a game of the winds today,
Riding, spotting an almost dead meal below
Basting in the sun.

A hundred years of life or just
Moments of summer breeze
Rustling the leaves just so.

Still, we would like to
Gift-wrap the whole show, have it
Safe and warm in some sterile box.
When they can't, they invent Gods and
Kill those infidels.

Resist and hold out.
Hole up.

 Nut Tree Carousel 
Vacaville, CA
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

Many thanks to these poets and photographers for our fine selection of poets today!

Let me call your attention to a new photo album on Medusa’s Facebook page, this one of the Davis release party at Logos Books on May 26 of Pat Hickerson’s new posthumous poetry collection, Outcry: A Last Goodbye (Red Alice Books), photos taken by Katy Brown. Sac. Poetry Center will host another reading from Pat’s book tonight at 7:30pm.

Also this week: on Thursday, UCD’s Katie Peterson and her students will read at Poetry in Davis, John Natsoulas Gallery, 8pm, and of course Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento will also take place on Thursday at 8pm. Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box at the right) for info about these and other upcoming readings in our area.

Note also that the new issue of Convergence can now be viewed at

 Nut Tree Carousel 
Vacaville, CA
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

Today’s LittleNip:
—David Wright

The ocean breeze
has come again
She speaks to us
not as a friend
She has spoken long before our arrival
and will speak again
long after our departure
She will glance at those at the revival
and at the end
of the tedious torture she will whisper
And she will scream



 “Marigold”, cover photo by Ruben Briseno Reveles 
for the latest issue of the online journal, Convergence.
Celebrate poetry today by clicking on 
to read this new issue.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.