—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
Up the highway, through hills
rehabbed from wildfires we remember
all too well, through dynasties
of Ponderosa Pine and Incense Cedar;
horizons of sunrise and sunset
too far to sight on; a ridge of misplaced
hunters, of backpackers surprised
by summer snow; canyon of the boy
who tried to carve a river. We
play serious hide-and-seek with our
dogs, then peel off boots and socks,
soak our feet in some nameless creek
on the map whose scale we’ll
never fathom. A breeze might piccolo
through willow like the voice
of a friend we couldn’t save; it sounds
like the river whispering to stars
in a language not human, however
it tempts us to understand. And that
great shadow passing across
the afternoon, above us—is it the Bald
Eagle who nests by the lake?
Or that other, forest-brown garbed,
a king unrecognized yet not
in exile among us strangers in this
mountain kingdom, the Golden?
MIDSUMMER NIGHT PASSAGES
When a full moon rises out of solstice
almost anything can happen.
I tried to cleanse house and mind
of remnants but the vacuum gave up
and still the old dog grumbled.
Will he last
till equinox? He’s lost
his equanimity, his balance,
he’s at the cusp of gone.
Give up on the house, it’s a cage,
Let the wild turkey quill guide me.
The dogs lead the way,
up the hill. Full moon rising from its
cage of branches
behind the eastern hill, that wilderness
of oak beyond so many fences.
As I climb
it rises to a perfect
Already the dogs are flying.
PASSING IN THE BLIND
Replenish water bottle. Buckle my dog
in harness, clip-in the long line. Scent article:
“Check Mary! Track Mary!” and we’re off.
Trail through dense manzanita not far
from the Environmental Center, where city-
kids come to learn about Nature.
A child could get lost here.
Not Mary. She knows these woods,
to lead my dog a merry chase.
Uphill, we break out into clearing—porthole
on an ocean of trees to the south horizon.
And here’s a bunch of little blind girls
feeling their way…. Not blind, blindfolded.
“Around and around,” Teacher says, “in circles
till you don’t know where you came from.”
My dog threads his way through.
By scent he knows, not one is Mary.
The blindfold girls are giddy.
“Now reach out and touch something.
What is it? Can you tell without seeing?”
One girl strokes the mahogany-slick
trunk of a manzanita, its bark peeling in crisp
curls. She giggles, “It’s the apple-bush
with the pretty pink bells!” Teacher releases
her again to sight.
My dog casts among milling children,
he’s unraveling Mary’s outbound scent.
What can I do but follow
on blind trust, believing what I can’t see?
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
(Carl says he read D.R. Wagner’s “Awakening” on Medusa's Kitchen last Saturday as a metaphor for old television commercials; Carl’s words are in italics:)
I had to walk over to the TV to adjust focus
Broadcast from major metropolitan areas
Too good to be true adverstising
Information presented as facts, but impossible to confirm or deny
Black and white television
The same ad, over and over again
The broadcast studio raises the volume
It is just a commercial
Razor blade saturation advertising
Would someone please add color, make screens bigger, and invent the remote?
Is this how we shall
The eternal question
Keep ‘em comin’
AND THE PASSAGES BENEATH
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
Old Doc Terry and his
Large family lived In a house
Just off Main Street,
Middle of town, convenient for
Back door visits from patients
Who would rather not have
Their medical needs be known.
House was said
To have been designed by
A Frank Lloyd Wright apprentice
Doing a little moonlighting.
Long and low,
It certainly looked
like a Prairie School
Sort of place.
Was friends with most of Doc’s
Kids. Even Doc and his wife
Tolerated still another precocious,
Teen about the house.
I’d explored the place fairly
Thoroughly over time—everything
Except the basement. But
Are special places: where you
Put things never to be
Seen again; your last best
Shelter when the tornado
Came whistling down.
You had to ask to go there.
And finally my wheedling
Got to old Doc Terry, and got
Me a tour. “I tell you, Kevin,
There’s not much down here.”
“But I’ve heard stories.” “Yeah,
Sure.” “Tunnels! Secret rooms!
Passages.” “Gonna be disappointed,
Kev.” “What’s that then?” “Old
Coal bin. Switched to gas long
Time ago.” “Over there?” I swung
The flashlight towards a promising-
Looking dark declivity. “Ironing
Room. See the board there?”
So disappointed not to see
An ancient catafalque, I had
To agree. “And that passage way?”
“Just a laundry room. No mystery.”
“And over there? That’s a passage
Somewhere, sure.” “Deeper, yeah,
Because it’s the old pantry.”
“And that thing on the shelf. Are
Those fingers in there?” Old
Doc Terry examined it carefully.
“It’s an old dill pickle jar.”
A pickle jar.
Another hot week in NorCal poetry begins today at 6pm in Placerville with a Poetry in Motion read-around, then continues at 7:30pm at Sac. Poetry Center with a reading by Himalayan Poet/Translator Yuyutsu Sharma plus our own Arturo Mantecón and open mic. On Tuesday, Yuyutsu Sharma will read with Allegra Silberstein at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Davis (7:30pm), also with open mic. Thursday is Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Café in Sacramento, this week with Eva West reading Evan Myquest, plus Lee Foust and open mic (8pm). Yuyutsu Sharma reads again on Thursday, this time with Dr. Andy Jones and Allegra Silberstein at Avid Reader at the Tower, 7pm. Then he will read again at SPC’s “Asian Diaspora” on Saturday at 2pm, this time with Jassi Bassi, Rhony Bhopla, Meera Klein, and Heera Kulkarni. Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box at the right) for info about this and other upcoming readings in our area—and note that other readings may be added at the last minute.
But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents.
—William Carlos Williams
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