Wednesday, October 05, 2016

What Wisteria Knows

Okei Doll
—Poems by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

The Debate’s on TV, pre-empting
our monthly read-around at the Senior Center.
The Center doesn’t care, it’s after-hours.
The swipe-key in my poetry-pack unlocks
the door. I’ll turn on lights, spread out books
of words – some of them unpolitic.
Could the Debate change already made-up
minds? Could a poem change our rutted hearts?
The debate’s important. You stay home,
hanging on each pointed question
and its lingering answers. You’ll tell me
about it later. I’ll unlock the Center door and
turn on lights. Whoever shows up,
we’ll trade poems. If it’s just me, I’ll speak
to empty walls and fill the spaces in-between.
They’ve been waiting all month for poetry.
Listen to metaphor debate with plain-
spoken evening. Inhale the words back again,
changed by their journey through air.
I’ll look differently at morning.

 Bridal Window Light


Dark before nightfall, thunderclouds
packing in over the ridges, dry lightning across
the canyon. Woods ready to catch spark.
Gold rush towns keep burning in legend
while these hills burn almost every fall. Why
visit this ghost town? To find the stash of strike-
it-rich miners who buried their treasure—
so the story goes—and never found it again?
Or traces of that cabin where the Chinese
were herded inside, incinerated for their luck
at prospecting? Volcanic caldron. Dead
now. Rustling of October’s brittle oak leaves
with their ghosts. If we could turn the key
against time, open that door—too late.
It’s the burning-season when our golden state
flames a witch’s kitchen. Time to get out
of this history.

 Lake Trail


A crow invasion: one crow, seven, more crows
arrive—numerous, a mass as sun rises over corn.
Crows worrisome in our corn rows. One crow =
one corn ear. Crows in excess, never scarce
as crows increase. In Crow: mine, ours. Raucous
ravenous. Senior crows receive news via air-
waves across our acres. Crow acumen’s ever
aware. Crows are wise, sense more sun or rain.
We reason: are crows a cancer? or a maze? Our
mission: scare crows. Scarecrows wave arms,
crows caw. We scream, we roar: no more crows!
Now a new morn rises, cries names: Crow,
Crow—no crow….? We mourn crows.

 Butcher Block


Where’s a trail up the creek that plunges
down whitewater, snowmelt colts and fillies
too young to know about falls? Churns of eddies
where they’re caught for awhile before the next
plunge. We pick our way around boulders,
over granite skulls. It seems a litter of bones—
hikers who climbed without thinking of the fall,
too late discovering a fear of heights. The man
we’re looking for, afraid to find. What is there
but space between sky and bedrock, hardly
a place to hold a hand. Look deeper under
the heights, in the quiet dark of pools below
this swirl of water, whirling of snow-horses
as they plunge their way down.



Imagination is a car to carry us away
at light-speed, wheels and gears, the workings
of desire which lives when we’re in motion.
You sat down to draw
your dream in colored pencils.
It stalled, the lead broke,
you couldn’t explain in lines of scribble
without words. You threw it in the trash-
bin. It ran you over worse
than love, if art is love unrequited.
I walked out swinging
arms in rhythm with feet, singing words
that meant nothing but sounded
just right with the wind.



Wisteria hangs its blossoms
where she stayed to wash herself in grief.
The man stayed too—not
that it was difficult to walk, but only
because of his word. A word binds
forever beyond the breath of who spoke it.
This is what wisteria knows, why
it hangs its beautiful heads forever
lavender with distance.



Memory of mist over ocean, the ancestral land. Mulberry and tea may be transplanted, but will they grow? Gray sky lowers the horizon, thin line of light that draws forever west toward what was home. From the meadow, wild geese travel with the seasons, gone to flight. Sky withholds its blessing. Will the first rain ever come? On the bald hilltop, one old oak stands skeleton. Can the heart root itself?

leafless oak blossoms
with wings—on each twig a bird
in autumn chorus


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for this morning’s delicious fare! Photos are of Wakamatsu Tea and Silk Colony Farm in Placerville, where Taylor Graham and Katy Brown will be holding a poetry workshop this Sunday, 1-3pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.


Today’s LittleNip:

Writer’s Block: When your imaginary friends refuse to talk to you.




 Celebrate poetry!

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