Monday, November 14, 2016

Shine On, Supermoon

—Photo by Stacey Lee Morgan, Fair Oaks, CA

—Jane Blue, Sacramento, CA

(After Sylvia Plath’s “The Munich Mannequins”
“Perfection is terrible, it cannot have children.”)

As Sylvia Plath might say:
Captivity is absolute; it cannot be reversed.
Hard as windows, it boxes the heart.

Where rain forests hum like the blind
the skulls of bats, folded in false night
waiting for what? The electric day

the perfect sleep.
It stands for: the perfection of care.
All of us, in Seattle, a family.

So, in their silver beauty
the cobras hang today
in the night house of the Woodland Park Zoo

clothed and hooded in their lamé suits
diamonds on lorgnettes
insufferable, without thoughts.

The rain lets go its particles of light.
Ghosts pass by. In the stalls
arms poke in hay and spray elephants.

The ordinariness of the doors
the steel handles, the beige plastic veneers
and polyester bottoms hibernating in chilled élan.

Outside, the closed concession stands.
Winking and waiting.

 Water Secrets
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

Let’s walk the edge of creek, winding our way
along its reedy banks. This time of year the slant
of daylight only hints at stars reflected on dark
water’s secret pools. So chill, the sun bids us
consider our half-lives. How everything
dissolves at last in water. So far from ocean,
creek feels a change of tides, the moon
that comes closer each night, brightest to our
hearts; and then recedes so just the poem stays
reflecting light.


—Taylor Graham

Too late for the sunroom.
La matinée slipped away like
music faintly heard, a cat’s lullaby
before the slide into blackout.
Some things reliably consistent:
the workbench,
the smell of ammonia.
Get the chores done
then contemplate one random
act of kindness if it doesn’t cost too
much. If it’s beautiful as music
gone, sliding into whatever comes
or doesn’t.


—Taylor Graham

He lines them up at first-light—the old folks
of this town, the ones who still remember
the Depression, the Great War. “We’re going to
have fun now,” his steely voice. “Jump!
Reach for the ceiling!” Then “Up the hill, second
time backwards! Lift those knees!” Somebody
groans. “Oh I’m so sorry! you wanted
to do more. OK, four times, twice backwards.”
As soon as the old folks get good at something,
he ups the reps, the weight, the rules.
When they started here, some couldn’t get up
out of a chair. Now they trade stories
of brothers, neighbors, friends who can’t walk
to the mailbox anymore. The leader says
“I know you guys can do better. Let’s start now!
Four count—remember what we looked like,
the first time we tried that?” They
remember, and laugh. Best exercise of all.
He dares them beyond what they ever could
imagine. They’ll all be back tomorrow.

 Creek Leaves
—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

You should have kept going toward
the wetlands. Instead you hit curbs and entrances
without exits, everything asphalt and steel.
Endless, sullen gray. Gaudy colors
with a slick of grease to make it shiny. Lights
colliding like so many stars. Everyone
claiming the right of way, and wind made by
too-fast moving metal. A whirlpool—no,
a blender at full-speed, you wondered if it might
explode. Light and sound whirled into gray.
But nothing dims the black of crow,
his wingbeats, his horizon.


—Taylor Graham

Along the creek, cottonwood’s turning gold
where the freeway’s forgotten there are trees.
Here, new grass is pushing green through the old
dead stubble. A horse is grazing at her ease.
I came this way escaping out of town—
the hectic arrowed streets and angry horns—
a place I think a quiet soul might drown.
I’ll park my car and walk among some thorns.
Is berry bramble here with wizened fruit?
I’ve missed its sweetness and the purple stain
to prove that August pleasure can be mute
as waiting for a breeze or first fall rain.
I’ve parked my car and might forget it’s there
beyond a leaning fence, a placid mare.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA

Once upon a time
The world was one
Giant Carnival with
Hundreds of attractions

Each run by its own
Divinely appointed carnie
Who set all the rules
Slavery was legal and normal

Some of the carnies
Rigged the system
So that only their friends
Could win the game

Others charged a fortune
Just to get in line to play
And then deemed
Death to the losers

   *****     *****

People came to America
To escape the Carnival
Only to find themselves
Stuck with 13 attractions

Each run by its own
Divinely appointed carnie
Who set all the rules
Slavery was legal and normal

The carnies drew so much hate
People from the 13 attractions united to
Form a new democratic government
And chose a set of special rules

Replacing the rules of the carnies
To ensure that several important
Rights and privileges would
Belong to the people

One of those new rules
Provided for an armed militia
To protect the property rights
Of slave owners

*****     *****

Eventually certain governmental
Forces convinced enough people
To end the institution of slavery
So they modified their special rules

And freed the slaves
Without paying their owners
For taking away property
That had been legal and normal

The distrust in carnies
Was always there, and
Now it was extended to the
New democratic experiment

Will they take our guns away
Like they took our slaves away?
Can’t happen, too many safeguards
And it is proven that bumblebees can’t fly


Today’s LittleNip:

I think I nearly choked to death on an apple at work
   I coughed the piece out of my windpipe
   “Are you alright?” asked a guy chewing on a Hostess Ding Dong
   “Yeah, “ I said, “but if you had to call emergency services for me choking,
   at least it would be on an apple and not on a Ding Dong from the vending machine;
   that would be such a really dumb way to die—to choke on a Ding Dong!

—Michelle Kunert, Sacramento, CA

Wise words, Michelle! And thanks to our contributors today, celebrating kindness (the Seed of the Week) and the election (finally over!) and the perigree “supermoon” today (see Jane Blue noted, after reading Joyce Odam's Munich Mannequins poem on Medusa last Tuesday, that she, too has a Munich Mannequin poem, and thanks, Jane, for sending it.

Our week in poetry begins tonight with A Night of Novelists as Bill McCausland and Renée Thompson read from their recent novels at Sac. Poetry Center, 7:30pm. (See for lots of info.) On Thursday, in addition to Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe’s features and open mic, Alice Anderson and D.R. Wagner will read at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, 8pm. On Friday, Sac. Poet Laureate Jeff Knorr will ready with Troy Myers, plus open mic, at The Other Voice (Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis), 7:30pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

SPC Art Gallery Curator Bethanie Humphreys writes: You are cordially invited to enter up to three small artworks to the SPC fundraiser art show at the Sacramento Poetry Center Art Gallery, entitled Small Doors: A Small Works Invitational Art Show to Benefit Refugees, curated by Bethanie Humphreys and Susan Kelly-DeWitt. Sales are to benefit Opening Doors, a local non-profit organization that assists refugees, immigrants, human trafficking survivors, and underserved Sacramento area residents ( The artist may choose the percentage donated. Submissions are open to the public. Small Doors will run December 2, 2016 thru January 2, 2017, with a Second Saturday reception on December 10th. There is no entry fee. E-mail Bethanie at if you have any questions, or would like an entry form. Entry forms will also be available at SPC when work is dropped off on December 2.



—Anonymous photo from one who has been there...
 Celebrate poetry, and the perigree moon, and 
the peculiar piece of work that is Monday!

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