Thursday, November 07, 2019


—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Wind is up this morning—a dry north wind—
red-flag warning for our foothills.

Wind’s up, with fear of fire in the canyons.
He’s walking with the wind to hear its song,

his dog inhaling news from anywhere it’s been.
Wind spirit-whispers to the forest—a chill

haunted with ghosts; smoke like fear
the wild wind carries, what it sweeps away.

This morning, wind is up and he’s walking,
gathering its scattered images and words.

Wind’s singing its ancient harvest song
and he’s up, listening, walking along. 


October by lantern light
makes a mirror of anything shiny,
so a forked stick of kindling by the hearth
turns into unicorn, a spatula becomes
a shield. There’s a rational explanation
for everything when the power’s off.
But “creepy” is the adjective for a black
furred face protruding from haunted
upper cupboard (glassware), a black
form lurking slowly downward—
that sudden leap and landing
on kitchen counter—
the Black Cat’s descent. 


The reading was canceled—library closed,
another safety power outage.
We gathered anyway, at a picnic table
on library lawn. Poet friends and a visiting
laureate from Utah. We shared poems
that led us down paths almost forgotten,
late sun igniting October leaves then
disappearing in a saffron haze at our horizon.
We turned our lanterns on, illuminating
words. A flashlight bobbed from parking lot
to book-drop slot and back again.
Headlights, then gone. In last day’s light
a skein of geese passed over, honking.
Laughing at our darkness, or beckoning us
to use our wings. 


After breakfast I head for our slash-piles—winter storm-fall oaks. Now it’s autumn, wildfire season, months of woodstove ahead. Traffic sporadic on the two-lane; two low-slung cars speed down a curve, road-racing louder than Crow calls across the canyon. A pond dreams of rain, of joining the rush of creek in winter flood. Morning is bright fall sun bursting through tree canopy. Steady stream of cars, college students headed for class, worried they’ll be late, eager to meet their future. Everything wants to go somewhere. I’m pulling apart dead branches, puzzle-pieces the oaks make as they reach for sky; and the grab of roots for soil—wrenched free when the great tree fell. On our steep little hill, it’s quiet above the grind of cement truck on blacktop; breeze writing its old history:

oak leaves brittle-green
on the bough, brown underfoot
crumbling into hill. 


What of the iron
markers? no names, just numbers
on a hill behind
the indigent hospital.
Rusty iron—once
wagon-wheel rims and spokes, parts
of a skeleton
of motion disassembled
then driven to earth
among grasses gone
from green to brittle to dead.
Periwinkle binds edges. 


I’ve got the farm to myself this crisp
fall morning, oak leaves more tarnished
than brilliant till sun bursts through.
Sun says, forget mortgages and lessors,
the land is here. A breeze says,
crumple contracts in one fist, grab
walking stick in the other. Take the path
that runs between cattail lagoon
and blackberry bramble—wizened,
bound for enchanted winter sleep.
Creek’s no more than a trickle after rain.
No swarming hum of bugs; swallows
have gone south. But the path pulls me
deeper into day. I print my steps
in a sentence of dust. 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

The end
of gardens—dead,
you’d say. But there she is,
old hands full of blush to ripen
sweet red.


Here we are on a Thursday morning already, and grateful to Taylor Graham for her fine poems and photos about our power-off troubles up here on the Western Slope of the Sierra. Power’s on, now; keep your toes crossed for us.

Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets tonight at 8pm, with featured readers and open mic on 16th St. in Sacramento. Also at 8pm, Poetry in Davis presents Alan Williamson, Jeanne Foster and open mic at John Natsoulas Gallery on 1st St. in Davis. 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.

—Medusa, listening to the poetry of the spirit-whispers


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