Thursday, April 19, 2018

Not Even the Bear

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


breeze through the meadow
silent birdbone whistle sings—
drums calling the steps

lightfoot the creekside
willow all yellow pollen’d 
dancing with a bee

grasses sway and nod
but nothing casts a shadow
not even the bear

wild cherry dances
around tepee replicas
recalling old songs

ancestral voices
dancing to the drum


After all the questions: What kind
of intelligence is a poem? and answers:
Outside of logic. Sensory, so the body
responds, we stand up to go,

blink at August sun outside.
A raven calls from somewhere close.
Cathedral pine and cedar
vaulting on every side—a turn of image.

I don’t know raven language
but this bird is talking
to us, maybe offering impromptu
verse in Corvid.

You just have to guess
at translation, when the great black song-
bird utters one last word, rises
and puts our flights of fancy to shame.


Yellow on an overcast spring morning
on a cutbank of tarnished silver-green stone
blazing yellow
how many nameless flower species
all yellow
the same ringing tone of yellow
daisy with drooping petal tips
and central pompon
and is this a daisy with petals reaching
for sun? all yellow
and one bunch of poppies just opening
and these three-petal puffy little buttons
you call hens and chicks and
yes they’re yellow
all yellow
and one dandelion in midst of cutbank rock
shouting out of dull gray greenstone
shouting out to a cloudy gray morning
lost in the joy of Yellow!


Rush of dogs released to Spring—
flush of turkey fantail spread for flight—

from unmown grasses high into blue oak
overhanging our drive. There

he stays—dogs shut back in the house.
Does he dare come down again?

Must I call the firemen
to rescue wild turkey out of a tree?

In his own good time he
returns to earth when no one’s looking.


One in the morning,
awake in my mummy bag. My knee
aches from the hike, from years
of granite steps; from carrying a load.

Silent breeze through lodgepole,
shiver of aspen. Lake-water laps its shore.

In the aspen’s house, I felt angels—
the kind who guard our prints in dust,
measuring our miles. My load no lighter
but for breeze quivering aspen.

Stars cold as granite-lode
struck with light. One in the morning.
Silent voices of dead friends
like lake water lapping the shore,

not kind but wordless
with sudden joy.


Forward and back the dowser crosses,
re-crosses our grassy hilltop—from boulder-
heap of brown-gray rocks to gravel drive;
marching his bent coat-hangers like a researcher
scanning a slide for the telltale virus.
Our backed-up toilets. Where is the septic
tank under all this green? Is a divining
rod really to believe? Above it all, Scrub Jay
shrieks with laughter, then takes off
dipping in flight like a blue banner of spring
in sky joy. 


The old walnut tree rises
from green of this spring’s leaves.
Green against scaly gray trunk.
He trumpets. He’s rooted here but rises
on the power of his thighs. Grafted
so long ago, the upper torso
dead above its stump. What did
Rilke say? This is a snag
for nesting birds.

The old dragon guards
his treasure, earth secret among
stone. Nested fledglings
sing their songs and fly away.
Listen, rumblings of his throat—
he trumpets. Those green
leaves springing from his limbs,
can’t you see they’re wings,
flames of change?


Today’s LittleNip:

A flash of lightning:
Into the gloom
Goes the heron's cry.

—Matsuo Bashō


Thanks to Taylor Graham today for her joyful poems and photos, celebrating Joy and Yellow and Spring in general!

There’s another workshop coming up in our area, this one from writer Steve Almond this coming Monday at Sac. Poetry Center, 6-9pm, after his reading from 5-6pm. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this $95 opportunity.

Today’s poetry readings in our area begin at noon, with Third Thursdays at the Central Library on I St. in Sacramento. This evening will be the Los Escritores’ Spanish Poetry Reading at Sac. Poetry Center in Sacramento, 7pm. Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm tonight, features Stan Padilla and Juan Manuel Carrillo plus open mic. And in Davis, also at 8pm, Dana Koster and Stella Beratlis will read (plus open mic) at John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st Street. 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.



Celebrate Poetry!

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