Thursday, September 14, 2017

End-of-Summer Low and Slow

Hangtown Creek
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s early Tuesday after Labor Day, Main Street
wakes. A young man with bookbag pauses
to consider watercolors in a gallery window.
I’m headed for the creek which never
ceases its flow for any holiday. End-of-summer,
low and slow, moving down riffles of regret.
I’m stuck behind chainlink fence,
can’t climb down to where an ancient willow’s
rooted in wet. This creek runs wild
in winter—debris’s still caught in a crotch
of limbs higher than my head. Here,
just off Main, Nature has made free art,
weaving tree branch with wire fence, wood-
grain so worked by wind, current, time,
I couldn’t name the tree. And here’s one dark
wing-feather trampled dull with dirt.
14 1/2 inches, its length less notable than
its flown-away grace of crow. 

 Water's Edge


I can’t find it on my map. They say it existed
way out here in the foothills, near where
the dirt track ended, the way folks lived out here,
forever from town by winding road. A crow,
they say, kept post office—mail so dear,
such a long haul by dusty horse-path from town.
Ages before the internet, humans scattered
on ridgetops over forks of a river out of sight—
tricky to ford by daylight, mystic if you
over-nighted there. Call of owl and coyote
in place of sirens; silence but for the constant
pulse and breath of river, its whisper flowing
free without regard for names on maps,
singing to the soul that lived there.

 Country Road

    1st Tuesday of September

I meant to meditate the quiet day
alive with oak shade, maybe song of thrush,
a rural calm of afternoon, its hush
of wester breeze. Traffic’s a world astray.

Crash! Flashing lights down at our right-of-way.
Head-on, a sudden symphony of wail—
what happened? Stopped the road to drown our swale
in crazy-show of blue and red display

pulsing questions to sirens’ welladay.
Energies converged. Alarms, over-heards—
there was no space left for my hands or words.
The big doors closed and then they pulled away.

Our daily sun that rises blinding, loud,
this morning’s golden muted by a cloud.

 One Apple

          Malus pumila

Apple—plump and juicy with myth
and metaphor, many shades of veracity.
He offers her an apple from the tree,
apple whose Latin name so easily turns
on its stem to evil in a falling breeze.
Tough hide resists her bite, unlike sin.
Skin so deeply red it shines a cobalt
glow in certain light. Tart-sweet its lore,
its promise, physic against doctors.
Crown of leaves turning autumn glory
soon to fall and the tree-itself revealed—
intricate network of branches and twigs—
and its last fruit, withered, will fall
to become some little girl’s apple-doll.



I bring you a crabapple fallen off our tree—
hard, yellow splotched, not much bigger than
a golf ball. At last light yesterday, I watched
our long-legged dog leaping for low branches,
leaping for apples among golding leaves.
This lone survivor must have fallen in the night.
A small temptation. Trek is no Eve, and this
is neither Paradise-garden nor Apple Hill.
I think of bears scavenging pioneer orchards
with their great fall hungers—
a bear-print pressed into mud at the forest
preserve, just beyond Farm Trail fences.
Our apples are not so tempting,
nor Trek so hungry.

 In the Forest


Past the arboretum, garden of pines with
scientific names on metal tags—
if my dog weren’t moving so fast. She leads
the way past greenhouses sprouting acorns
of species of oak; warehouses of trees,
last equipment shed, off pavement; dirt track,
outlet to native woods, trees unbound.
We’re on trail of a friend waiting,
somewhere above serious canyon, to be
found. Training, reminder that people get lost
on this mountain. Raven crosses
our path, flying low. Sunny day but chill.
Clouds gathering. September.
Remember storm that almost blew our tent
away, blew the adjectives out of my
mouth as we stowed gear haphazard, headed
down hill for home. Raven’s hunched
himself quiet in conifers; he’s genetically
engineered to survive a storm. My dog rushes
toward discovery. Make our find, down
the hill before dreadful weather.

 Fence Tomatoes

Today’s LittleNip:


vine grows at edge of parking lot.
Shall I yield to temptation, pick
the highest, reddest fruit? Is it
forbidden, will I die? I take
a while, savoring the tang.

—Taylor Graham


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poems and photos!

Tonight there are two open mics in our area: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm, and Winters Out Loud in Winters, 7pm. 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.

Sacramento poet and editor Laverne Frith has another recent review published at
New York Journal of Books: Nicole Sealey's Ordinary Beast:


 Celebrate poetry, and the last swim of the summer!
(Anonymous Photo)

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.