WALKING LINCOLN HIGHWAY
I’ve known it as Hwy 50, loneliest road
in America; road that for decades has taken me
most of the way home. But there
I was on Clarksville Day, when the old
ghost highway welcomes guests.
A crowd of the living walked hundred-year-
old concrete, crossed the little bridge
over a creek banked with pioneer rock-wall;
stepped aside for a team of Percherons.
A parade of classic cars tootle-whooped me
out of the way by the old Wells Fargo
ruins almost disappearing in thistle and tree-
of-heaven. When Hwy 50 got re-routed,
the march of commerce passed this way-stop
by. The town of Clarksville died.
What if I just kept walking this piece
of ghost-highway? Might I climb to where
the fenced buffalo once roamed? fly
right up Hwy 50 (no pedestrians allowed)
all the way back home.
My shepherd-dogs as if on pogo-
sticks raucous-outraged under the young
pepper tree. High up-treed, a white
cat in thin-precarious branches.
Down-tree, hanging from the lowest
branch, a nestbox. In the box,
a rough dry-grass nest, and in its cup,
a mass of gray feathers, one yellow-gape
bill wide-open-hungry. A nest
of blue-birds. How young the babies, how
many? Where the parents? Up there,
the cat. My dogs in extremis warp-spasm.
Unwanted gift of a neighbor’s cat.
Pitchfork, shovel, dirty fingers. He turns
soil as if to turn himself into fruit of the earth.
He composts, weeds and waters, marvels
at the slow-leaping growth of new shoots
leafing; watches them disappear to ground
squirrels, hornworms…. His blemished
kingdom. Returning home one day, he found
a pamphlet stuck under his door,
and the single just-that-day-ripe peach
vanished from his tree. But, back to Nature.
His bargain with the garden: He plants,
waters, and weeds; he harvests what is given.
The garden grants what weather
and the creature-hungers leave.
MORNING COMES AGAIN
Monday dark then dim, I drove
the ghost-pine road to town, to the Senior
Center for fitness class. Warm-up, stretch out
the same old pains. Get out of breath,
repeat this is good for me. Walk out
at end of class. Sun’s come up
over the east ridge.
Road still in shadow. But look ahead,
edge of pavement, just beyond—
one young ponderosa
holding aloft its candelabra:
new-growth candles flames of sun,
each candle lit as if by morning’s miracle.
CREEK WITH NO NAME ON THE MAP
You sparkled at the corner of my eye
as I turned onto the side-road. Time to spare
before my appointment. You beckoned
like evening breeze in summer.
You whispered rain in drought, “stay.”
A bridge is a gateway;
a child-worn path down your bank is the first
sentence in a wonder-story,
a private entrance to river, to sea.
How you eddy a downwash of everything
upstream into color-whirl blues
grays greens aqua with a swirl of silver.
How you dandle roots of a creekside
alder honed and polished, etched to a puzzle
holding earth, its secrets of stone;
you wash those roots, image of Medusa’s
hair. Lost in your tales
of mountain spring and canyon deeps,
I forgot my appointment. I’d
sing you an ode if I knew your name.
DANCING ACROSS DISTANCE
Halfway up the mountain
he stopped his car in the eastbound
lane. Far behind, below, the city
flickered and swelled. But way up here,
highway deserted, no sound
but tap-tap of a woodpecker out of sight.
He opened all the doors of his sedan,
let the radio’s achy-breaky
burst out happy as he took his partner
by the hand and they two-stepped
right there in the eastbound lane
headed up the mountain.
Sunlit crystal paperweight
just a piece of quartz
dug from the earth
its stone song
Many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and pix! Tonight, you have three choices of readings in our area: At 7pm, Speak Up at Avid Reader in Sacramento presents storytellers and poets on the theme of “I Quit”; at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe on 16th St. presents frank andrick and Aponte/Wolf Fox; and also at 8pm, hear the Kings and Queens of Poetry in Old Sacramento at Laughs Unlimited. 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.
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