Thursday, March 01, 2018

March Madness

Snow Trees, 2018
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Eerie wail from a harmonica.

At the Old West remembrance,
hoedown music and the blacksmith
stall. A little girl at the branding irons;
dreams of palomino ponies.

Eerie wail of wind through distances

folks traveled to get here, across
plain and mountain. At the museum,
daily stuff of household, field,
and mining claim; crosscut saw—

eerie wail of a working song—

cast-iron stove, tubs and troughs
and wooden dollies—4 a.m. laundry;
ploughs and harrows of living
back-when. Cast away, passed away.

Eerie wail from a harmonica.

 Frost on the Grass


I came to the meadow to be alone
with bark-houses, tepees of a tribe long gone.
Water flows under the plank bridge from
pond to bulrush pond before it commits
to be creek polishing rock on its way to deeper
canyon. Alone with moving water
and a crow overhead.
      A flash—sudden move. Young man
darting, pausing, head down, thumbing
his device. Shiny flat as a rearview mirror—
an iPhone. Was this a game, to find treasure
or knock off imaginary targets? He bent
over his phone like he’d dive in head-first;
disappear into virtual
                as he disappeared now
into sun and shadow of the woods.
        I don’t understand these games.
Maybe the crow can tell me. But I’m alone
and the meadow’s quiet again.

 Sun and Snow


Have you had this dream?
It starts with clear-cut of the world.

You become a keeper of the flags,
arcane silken commemoration

of what was green. Endangered.
Where did you conceal the secret code?

Better a memento than nothing—
a vanished landscape.

Those missing flags: from room
to room you plan your escape

to rescue a silken souvenir,
you climb a velveteen green chair

leaving muddy boot-prints
on the seat, bottom step of staircase,

into a maze of halls and arches
bridging one side to the next. No trees.

What happened to the logged and leveled
hills once lilac-green, your world?

Is everything a lie, forgetfulness and
failure? A puzzle to unravel— 

you wake guilty that it sounds so familiar.
Your job, to fix it if you just wake up. 



There must be a clock ticking
underneath the grasses and forbs—filaree
and mantia, chickweed and delicate shoots
that turn into summer stick-tights, velcro-

seeds, hitchhikers—many names for the same
blooming cling-to-your-socks-&-shoelaces
weed. Under all that twining and crowding
of roots, what else? The clock-tick of living
pulse. Rodents. Gophers and moles,
ground squirrels. My dog hears the clock
ticking Time running out for digging them up,
harvesting this week’s crop of constantly
replenishing population. My dog’s
a digging fiend. He’s frantic. Maybe
someday he’ll catch one.

 Night Trails


Over-evening snow stiffened
in night-frost. Carabiner that hitched

the gate is frozen shut. Locked in
as snow sublimates in morning, melts.

My dog’s met his first fall of snow,
stranger of the night slowly giving up

to green. Trek tracks the snow,
finds its trails of midnight visitors.

By now, snow’s a scrim of cold
fast disappearing. Only scent is left.


This time, snow didn’t break the trees.
A light snow, hardly any water in it,
this dry winter.
When I walked out next morning,
snow was already melting
to nothing.
It was sun that split an oak branch
from the tree, slicing through hardwood.
When I looked again,
the tree stood whole, determined,
rooted in silence of soil, its underground
secret of water.


All the times I walk the road from lagoon
to levee, then look across open water
to wetlands, I see the egret standing still
as a spike securing creek to lake.

I’ve never seen the heron slipping
through reeds and rushes. Always hidden
from view until he bursts from
a sentinel snag with deep rush of wings.

A reprimand:
Newcomer, sometime guest,
how could you know me?


Today’s LittleNip:

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

—Charles Dickens


Many thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s poems and pix! We only get snow maybe once a year here in the foothills, and she has captured some of this year's dusting.

Readings tonight: Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm, and Sac Girls Rock at Laughs Unlimited in Old Sac., 8:30pm, plus Andy Jones of Poetry in Davis announces a “wide open mic” poetry night tonight at the John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis, 8pm. .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.


 —Anonymous Painting
And the lion shall [have a martini with] the lamb…
Welcome to March! Did it come in like a lion in
your area, or like a lamb?
(Celebrate poetry!)

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
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