Thursday, December 14, 2017

Snapping Santa

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


In the hardware window, Santa’s flying
his red biplane—the old reindeer delivery
upgraded for this impatient century.
But my iPad sees it differently, lens catching
light reflected off plate-glass. Santa’s face
disappears in a line of ponderosa and incense-
cedar backlit by early morning,
sun just peeking over the ridge behind my back.
Living green replaces Santa-red as his
plane vanishes in opposite storefront—is that
the old Empire Theater across the street?
In like manner, farther down Main,
my iPad snapped another Santa, transposing
above his head the Bank sign reflected
in reverse. Technology mooshing centuries
together. Times past and this new
Christmastide upon us, a tiny red biplane
aimed for horizon behind my back.


Below the summit
on bare-rock scree about
to slide,
in summer I found a mandala
in a flower.
So whitely delicate
its trinity of petals, each with a dark-
red eye. I lost myself
in its design.
A lily with corm so deeply
rooted, it’s one with mountain.
It blooms a summer day
like dream, then
scatters into wind over the summit
where clouds
blossom darkening
their faces. Gathering storm.
By tomorrow
waking, the flower is gone.


Big red engines—lights and sirens—
down Green Valley, below our lonely hill.

The news this morning is electrified:
wildfires rampaging the state;

exasperating, malingering talk
of catastrophe and who’s to blame.

I waited patiently for the only news
to make me happy:

50 horses evacuated from a ranch
on the fire’s trail—their thousand acres

burned, but the horses safe.
No world-salvation but it made my day.


It must have been the young dog who stole
it off the table—red-streaked apple ripe
for eating. Suddenly
young and old dog are sparring in the living
room. Grumble-growling “Mine!”
Fleshy globe on the carpet with one cheek
bitten off like the moon at waning.
Neither dog
wants to eat the apple, but
simply to possess. This isn’t Eden, just
fruit and seed of a world of trouble.


In muted December woods it hides, mute.
Weathered board enclosing space.
Outhouse on stilts? No, it sits on a platform
held up by three living trees, six feet
above creek that in all its floods hasn’t carried
the shack away. Hunter’s blind with a
porch? A child’s tree house, so far from any
family? Someone rearranged the woods
by putting it there, and now the woods
are taking it back, washing it gray. A strand
of twisted gray wire keeps it from traffic
speeding past. In years, I never saw it,
till an errant slant of winter light struck old
planed wood-grain and it glittered. A summons.


Those men at the sawmill, turning blameless
trees into wood to build someone’s distant
empire—did they look across the river at sun
gleaming the opposite hill, and wonder?
On holiday—it was Christmas—they climbed
that hill, a mountain, really, and discovered
the top was crowned with monoliths.
Boys on vacation, and strong, they rolled great
boulders down the slope because they could—
a game they invented and then gave up.
The world at their feet, the far-off glowing
snowy crest of Sierra, its distant light. Someone
began a hymn, a prayer right there
on top of the mountain. It was Christmas,
after all. The rest joined in. And then
they climbed back down, re-crossed the river,
resumed their lives; remembered
how the mountain held them in winter sun.

Today’s LittleNip

—Taylor Graham

If the malls of cheer on credit
go berserk, I wander out
into the clean and Bleak Midwinter.

If it’s Home for the Holidays
I wonder about those sleeping
in their dark dens of cold.

In the rush to celebrations,
I listen for those distant Silver Bells
from a sky so cold it glistens.


Thanks to Taylor Graham for her poems and photos about Red, our recent Seed of the Week! And don’t forget that Winters Out Loud Poetry Open Mic takes place tonight at Berryessa Gap Wine Tasting on Main St. in Winters, 7-8:30pm, and Barbara West (plus open mic) is featured in Davis tonight, 7pm, at the Davis Shambhala Meditation Center. 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.

And this just in: tomorrow night at 7:30pm, The Other Voice in Davis, which was originally cancelled (due to health issues of D.R. Wagner), is on again, this time with Angela James and Laura Rosenthal (plus open mic). That’s at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Davis, 27074 Patwin Dr., Davis. Host: James Lee Jobe.


 The Apple of Contention
—Anonymous Photo
(Celebrate the poetry of contention!)

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.