Monday, December 07, 2015

Dream Catchers & 2-Dog Nights

—Photo (and cross-stitch embroidery) 
by Carol Louis Moon, Sacramento

—Carol Louise Moon, Sacramento

The cross-stitched puzzle picture 

was fun to stitch.  I had picked up

the pattern in a cross-stitching

magazine with photo on the

opposite page.

Each puzzle square depicted a

concise Christmas scene in the

form of a single motif.  Santa's

ruddy face was there and

the classic Christmas tree, as well,

a painted rocking horse.  All 16 puzzle

pieces were in place, but one.

One bottom-row puzzle piece

about to be inserted into its place

was the Christ-child in a manger,

hay and all.

Because counted cross-stitch work,

with its tiny colored squares, some-

times makes a rather vague-looking

motif—I had mistaken the Christ-

child for a baked potato, assuming

that it was what was missing from

the total holiday montage.

I can do without a baked potato,

after all.  But without Christ, there

is no Christ-mas.  Thus, with the

final puzzle piece inserted, my

holiday was then complete.

—Photo by Embroidery by 
Carol Louis Moon

—Tom Goff, Carmichael, CA

How little we suspect the world’s events
determine our own small events—just then,
terrorists and victims freshly slain, forever prone
in the Bataclan, only then do I turn, with at best
a sleepwalker’s insensate groping knowledge
of the Why-I-Do-This, to pick up Victor Hugo’s
Ninety-Three. That rapid suspenseful study
in carnage, French Revolution devolving into
actual civil war, utter anarchy. Incisive pen-portraits
of the one dauntless leader several times repeated,
from the Marquis de Lantenac to Danton, Marat,
Robespierre, each of them the same mixture,
part Valjean, part Javert, only the proportions
differing; Jedi inseparable from Sith, Nazi
from Maqui, in each of these intrepids,
all sensitive, all honorable, all ruthless,
men of the Terror devoted as any of today’s
hooded ones to the earth-scorching:
the Then and the Now Terrors merging for
the reader in Absolutes.


—Tom Goff

Church concert, full orchestra, choir: I despair
of seeing you here, but have to perform somehow.
You materialize!  I assemble you, your hair
a shimmer, face-framing dark, amid this crowd.
Now I must perfectly trumpet out my part
for you alone, red skirt, soft stockings red
with one sweet effect, unplanned by wily heart
or art, your holy-in-holly tones—unbled

as I now bleed whole notes into a horn,
wanting Joseph Jongkind’s Alleluia,
its ravishing Ravelian scroll of dawn,
to unspool crescendo-butter all the way to you
warm at your scarlet-shod feet, our liquid trumpets
dripping of milk-fed gold, unscrupulous crumpets.

Applause for our pain; a handslap surge uprears.
I seek just two meeting palms—you’ve disappeared
—back down that darkly merry congested funnel
of throng rom-coms would render soft cloud-tunnel?


—Tom Goff

Despair and fatigue, a recipe for more
fatigue and despair. I looked, and you were there,
my smiler, in this room. I looked again: no more
of you than your back of head, soft plumes of hair,
vanishing with someone down-corridor.
Oh, cried Bax the composer, there’s more technique
as we grow old. But is there one rapture more,
or indeed anything, to express, unique;
sheer Oversoul to be sought for past mere words,
mere notes? How many times must you and I
commune on a page that emits one mute white sigh,
though your pure face exhilarates like birds?
Today: treed goldfinches singing, sunlit through
their skins to their hearts. I could grasp them. I want you.

 —Photo by Embroidery by 
Carol Louis Moon

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

When did all the butterflies

become snowflakes crazy in frost-

wind? What once was whirlpool, under the falls

of creek, is frozen in swirls. Raven calls

winter like a judgment: “what cost

last summer? swelter-lies.


Heavens of no-more blue, sun’s alibis

where wild grape’s garlands are all tossed

like intricate ice shawls

over rock. July’s halls

of green in shades of the vines, lost.

The song of the wind is December skies.



—Taylor Graham

New, clean sheets. The same old

forest-green comforter. And in between,

wool blanket—it’s December, I switch

from lightweight plaid to serious,

Hudson’s Bay eight-pelt, its heft has held

us through decades of winters, Alaska

to Sierra. We appreciate this cozy cocoon

in the darkling season, you and I—

and of course Loki, who snuggles our

feet all night. And now, Trek has just

learned to high-jump onto the bed.

It’s dogs who keep us warm.  


—Taylor Graham

     for William Wells Brown, once a slave

I was young, full of the seeds in my hands
as I ran from my master north through the states
of winter, my mouth full of dreams, scattering
seeds as birds do, freeing the unborn
from its dry husk, giving it birth in flight.
My mouth full of dreams common to all men—
I had to speak, to be free to live as I’ve
always lived in spirit. Freedom, our everyday
common, yet most uncommon, dream.


—Taylor Graham

You go out after dark, before her bedtime.
You promised her the vault of heaven.
What stone columns hold the sky’s vault up?
You should have studied more than numbers.
Above your heads, stars gather with the planets.
Crane your neck—Jupiter straight up, splendid
as a headlight. Your daughter peers into bright-
spangled blackness. “Look, a swirl of lightning-
bugs that never blink!” Stars dying, still on fire
to your eyes, stars unborn. Their names exotic
as princesses in a fairybook. Each star a spark
of common dream stinging you awake. Adjust
your eyes for dark, its blinding brightness. 

 A Silent Night (gouache on rice paper)
—Jinshan Peasant Painting by Cao Xiuwen

—Clair J. Baker, Pinole, CA

I spot your still, prone shape,
small but immense.
From this great height
you seem to have died.
Then your wings flutter.
Now you are a live man
or a shaggy angel. Up here

at my church on the hill, men
have cut down sun-blocking
Monterey pines, for roof solar.
Stumps bleed fresh sap—
trees wanting to live.
But now too late.

My thoughts go blank & sad
missing that canopy in the sky.
Mister Way-Down-There,
when will you stop falling,
when, please, will you fly?


Today’s LittleNip:

—Claire J. Baker

Our Indian friend
makes "Dream Catchers."
A hole centered in web
lets nightmares
slip through,
stagger in darkness,
tumble into a black hole—
gone forever.

These unique webs
are perfect for saving
"keeper dreams."
Sally tells us: each
finished dream catcher
is more genuine,
more true to life, when

left with a flaw.


Our thanks to today’s fine contributors, and a reminder that the latest issue of
The American River Review will be launched at Sac. Poetry Center tonight, 7:30pm. Note also that convergence, another local journal (this one online) is now available at

For more about the bragi poetry form, see

For more about Jinshan Peasant Painting, see



 Great Cold
—Painting by Cao Xiuwen