Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Empty Bowl of Morning

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


It’s a frigid November morning.
No basketball game, not even some kids
shooting hoops. A crow tumbles on air
as if yearning to be pure wings.
Growl of autumn chainsaw
assails from every direction, and muffled
grind of Hwy 50—no official
Interstate, but it’s headed for both coasts.
Someone’s been digging in the garden
thinking spring. Everyone’s going
somewhere else, building, tearing down.
This morning’s an empty bowl.
What shall we make of it?


He’s a pendulum on an orange rope
high above Green Valley Road—
fifty feet above ground
or more—
an orange pendulum swinging
thin air between
upper trunk of a great Valley Oak
and a lesser limb.
A pendulum with a saw
for trimming,
clearing the line. Now
he rappels lower on the tree
as traffic—cars, pickups,
18-wheeler—passes beneath him.
Will he bring
the whole tree down,
this bravo man? A risky job,
safer than wildfire.


Leashes of webbing and leather;
       long-lines braided or woven, frayed
by dogs pulling me over rocks, curbs,
broken branches in the woods.

Collars—all sizes, puppy to old-dog. Purple
for Piper; Cody’s was green, but it’s with her
in the grave, token that we’re still together.

Bumpers for tugging; dumbbells
for teaching retrieve. Whistles and clickers
(a praise-voice is better).

Flat combs and curry combs, brushes imbued
with the scent of four decades of dogs.

Weather-proof pad for field-notes
I won’t read again, they’re all in my mind—
search-missions now history,

like the old dogs long gone who still
find me in dream, running joyous without
bother of collar or leash;
                dogs who will never stay
put in a drawer.


Another safety power outage? Back to the past: in a desk drawer, notes from a blackout years ago—a real blackout, Nature dumped a couple feet of snow on our ridgetop. Snowbound without power or phone, 20 miles from town. Enforced solitude, everything silenced underfoot. How young we were, back then. No pump for the well, no water, no toilet—a cold dash through knee-deep snow before bedtime. Gas oven—pilot won’t light without power. No phone? no one to bother us. No computer? call it a holiday. Time to read, write poems by snow-dim light through the north window. Ski out the ridge, dogs scout the way. After 6 days, a hoarse whistle… refrigerator hum; TV news—the world went about its business without us. Time for a shower.

blank white solitude,
every tree bowing to snow—
but not forever


End of day, my quiet time.
In all the house no TV, radio, computer.
No kitchen light reminding of things undone.
Only, from down the hall, a soft steady glow
of solar-stored sun—my Luci lamp—
with its promise of another dawn.
Through the bedroom window,
a single bright spot across the canyon—
home-security light prying through trees.
And now, the reflective moon,
barely-waxing Beaver Moon gnawing
at the dark, pooling a meditative luster
over the deck outside my window,
lighting me to sleep.

 Can You See Him?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

into my rag-mop—
small frogs find the wettest spot
in this dry landscape.
Mid-November, when might they
make it rain again for frogs?

 Diligent Poets Reading During the Blackout


Greetings from the Western Slope this morning, and thank-you to Taylor Graham for news of the foothills (power all week!) and her local goings-on. Love those frogs! And thanks to TG today for Medusa-mention on Check it out for what's going on in Western Slope poetry!

Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets today at 11:30am at the Wellspring Women’s Center on 4th Ave. in Sacramento. Then tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar on 16th St. in Sacramento features Leonard Geminara plus open mic, 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.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of flight ~

 “A crow tumbles on air as if yearning to be pure wings.”
—Taylor Graham
—Anonymous Drawing

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.