RANCH-SCAPE WITH WILD TOM
A rumbling thunder-
gobble. Six rooster-less hens
huddle inside their wire fence
to watch the big black Tom parade
up the swale under oaks
leading his personal harem of hens—
four young feathered
turkey-ladies. It’s courtship time.
That thunderous gobble
was just prelude. He fans his tail
ever higher aloft, a dark sail
catching downdrafts of a freezing
February morning. He puffs
his torso, juts his beard.
His snood’s engorged with why-
not? fancies of spring.
Six Barred-Rock barnyard hens
watch in silent amazement.
GREEN FIELDS ON EITHER SIDE
The wild geese are flying in pairs now.
One morning, on a Greenstone curve,
two Canada Geese stood at the shoulder.
They say the wild goose mates for life.
That afternoon, same Greenstone curve,
one goose dead on centerline.
Does a widowed goose grieve as we do?
VIEW FROM INSIDE
We left our truck in a turnout curve, hiked
up through lodgepole and hemlock.
You checked the quad-sheet for survey bench-
marks, for some kind of scat distinctive
of the sub-alpine zone sprinkled on scree.
A heavyset juniper clung to mountain by its
roots; its crown wind-scaled; lightning-
scarred all the way down to stone;
the whole tree split, hollowed by a summit-
share of storms. Hanging on. Its core open,
I stepped inside, implanted myself in juniper;
looked out over a lake I thought I knew.
It seemed more seriously blue from this view-
point, as if my eyes gathered too much
sky—Earth spinning on the axis of this peak
rooted in tree. A thin-air dream, altitude
hallucination—lightning in the distant east,
the tree holding my breath like silence.
That roaring of the clock you hear
is just the wind. Lowlands are flooded, wild
geese graze in fields inches above the
water-table. On what’s left of gravel drive,
a chunk of landscape’s detached from its
earth—held together by roots of grass. Hillside
adobe, hard-baked by years of drought,
crumbles. Power’s knocked out. Travelers get
lost on the road. Who sends messages across
this dark? In canyons, on ridges, jutting out
of meadow, the stones are talking among
themselves. Stones outlive us, catching peen
and hammer-tap of acorns, the beating of pine
cones hurled by wind; catching the drift,
the vibration. A mystery but—we must learn
to read it—clear as peal of a bell,
they pass that message along miles
of granite that still holds what we know
of foundation together.
A HIGHER BREED OF WEED
—Caschwa, Sacramento, CA
Bright, yellow dandelions rest
As easily as free range chickens
No confining clay pots
Or other strangling thoughts
Vines along the back fence
Life imitating chain link
Total aggression, zero candor
Just swarms of oleander
Quack, quack, quack weed
Roots extending everywhere
Pull one up, it grows again
Left alone it will reach your chin
Stacks and piles of unpaid bills
Waiting as patiently as cocked guns
That’s OK, because Social Security
Not so much, because high level impurity
—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA
The school bully
Left me bruised
And in places
No one could see.
Spoke to my father.
"Kid, you already
Know how to turn
His nose to mush
With one jab.
But show some class here,
Some restraint, breeding.
Get a job in the
School office. Mess up
—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch, CA
The Chipmunks sang, "Oo, ee, oo, ah, ah."
—Robert Lee Haycock
Donna sits in her office with her skinny smoke from her skinny More in her skinny fingers but I have to be careful cadging L&M’s from Greta because it’s too easy to light the filter gack and when the phone rings Lucille fires up another Marlboro for the ashtray full of burning cowboy killers until she has a staple put in her ear that doesn’t work.
TABLE OF CONTENT
—Robert Lee Haycock
Once upon a moon
When the rain began
She touched my shoulder
With sleep in her hand
Many thanks to all of these fine contributors on this, another Monday morning! Our area week in poetry begins tonight at Sac. Poetry Center with the Women’s History Month Reading, 7:30pm, featuring local women poets reading from woman poets of the past, in addition to their own works.
Ride up the hill to El Dorado Hills on Tuesday for the Poetry Off-the-Shelves read-around at the El Dorado Hills Library, 5-7pm. The other Poetry Off-the-Shelves series, this one in Placerville, meets on Wednesday at El Dorado County Library’s main branch at 345 Fair Lane, 5-7pm.
Then on Saturday (3/11), 3-5pm, there will be a book release for Caledonia’s Daughters, an Afro-futuristic anthology of poetry and short short stories about interplanetary Black women in the future, written by Staajabu and ed. by Dr. V.S. Chochezi. That’s at GOS” Art Gallery Studio on Del Paso Blvd. in Sacramento.
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.
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back