Thursday, January 02, 2020

Above It All

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


On her perch—gate-post above our pasture—
head swiveling the compass points
to focus, she listens; sharp-hooked beak,
ember-red eyes spark. Sudden lift-off,
high-speed maneuvering through tangles
of oak and pine in pursuit of prey.
A few fast, powerful wing-beats and
she’s out of sight. What does she think
of the buzz and grind of machinery
making havoc of her woodland? I imagine
her scold—zhitt-zhitt-zhitt rapid-fire
commentary on men with trucks, chain-
saws and chippers. Isn’t this her private
hunting ground, her livelihood, her world? 


In vulgar speech a worm,
tunneller of earth, but see how it
twists on the glint of his hook, this
fisherman drifting with the lake’s
whims. He’s left behind
the machinations of time-clock
and appointments; those voices
filter off in distance darkening.
With each cast, his line
writes ripple-script on water-
parchment, amber now in twilight
smoldering to charcoal. Soon
even that will be unreadable.
Then come the fireflies, and then
higher still the stars.

(prev. pub. in The Pacific Review, 2008)


Hiyo-Silver-away to high ground.
Local rancher on his horse
(Cowboy on white stallion?)
discovers mail-driver stranded,
flood-water above wheels.
Fearsome rainstorm torrents
in the rangeland river valley,
but holiday mail must go through
in the rangeland river valley.
Fearsome rainstorm torrents—
flood-water above wheels
discovers mail-driver stranded.
Cowboy on white stallion
(local rancher on his horse)
Hiyo-Silver-away to high ground. 

(a haiku sonnet)

When the lights go out,
TV’s mute, the phone shuts up—
no ads no spam. Hush!

Step soft and silent
through the house, feel its contours
all around by touch.

Dog and cat will show
the world is more than eyesight—
each sense is vision.

Whatever did you
need to do today? Write your
bright hopes on paper.

Enjoy the quiet.
Your calendar’s dead. 


Don’t vultures go south for the winter, guiding by sun not star-compass— or is global warming shifting their range? On this bleak winter day, buzzards gather above our bare field wreathed in leafless oak and stumps of pine stiff as tin soldiers. Climate change in our droughty land: the crews cut any tree that could spark a powerline. It’s December—recipe for sitting by the woodstove, listening to carol medleys. But the outdoor news is sky scrubbed by wind seething a kettle of buzzards on cleanup patrol,

dark wings spiraling
through gray clouds that might mean rain—
our best Christmas gift 

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

gone in a haze
of lights and noise and cheer.

Now it’s time
for us to climb
above it all—no fear,

sky is still
atop the hill
all blue and free and clear. 


A big thank-you to Taylor Graham for her fine poetry today as we slither into 2020! About her work, she writes:
I'm sending a Trizad, “Chimneysweep Day”, (a new form for me, I think, thanks to Joyce [Odam’s Tuesday post in the Kitchen] and Medusa!) and a Palindrome, “Rescue on the News”. For more about the haiku sonnet, see

I misspoke on Monday when I said there were no poetry events this week. Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar meets tonight at 8pm, with lots of open mic, on 16th St. in Sacramento. And this Sunday, Observing Winter at Wakamatsu Farm, a workshop facilitated by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown, will meet at the farm from 1-3pm. 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.

Placerville poets have a weekly workshop called “Tuesday at Two”, which meets at, well, Tuesday and Two, and this week the Placerville poets' Facebook page (Western Slope El Dorado: says:
“As Placerville’s City Council considers a mural proposed for the Highway 50 underpass at Mosquito Road, our Tuesday at Two poetry workshop addressed the topic of “public art”—its role, and examples ranging in time and place from prehistoric France, ancient Greece, modern-day Moscow and Malin, OR, to our local main streets and public institutions. We’ll post poems here. If you’d like to join the conversation, send us a poem at with subject Public Art. Include your name and where you live and, if possible, a photo of the art that inspired you. If your poem is selected, we’ll post it here along with a photo.” This invitation is for poets everywhere, not just those in El Dorado County.

—Medusa, and, as Taylor Graham says, “Now it’s time/for us to climb/above it all—no fear…”

(Don’t forget our Seed of the Week: Regifting!)

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.