Monday, December 21, 2015

Peacocks and Maneki Neko

—Photo by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

—Taylor Graham

A peacock drags his royal tail
behind him, between storms,
pacing the city wall
above a tide of streets, their rushing
cars and shoppers and dogs….

An ageless figure sits bundled
by the road miles out of town,
between storms,
waiting as cars rush by headed
for town or headed away, home….

A week before Christmas
not everything’s for sale. On foot
and on wheels
I look through windows, wandering
among stories, and wonder.


—Taylor Graham

What to get the kid for Christmas,
who spends 9 to 5 in a fluorescent cubicle?
He talks of adventure; outfitting
for all the possibilities, the wild unknown.

Here’s a pup tent for the single camper;
a sleeping mat with memory foam;
moccasin slippers; a hurricane lantern
for stormy weather. I can almost

smell perfume of boots, vibram & leather.
Takes me back to our old outings—
imaginations wild, preparations inexact.
That’s how it got to be adventure.

Two Maneki Neko (beckoning cats) bringing us good luck
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Taylor Graham

Half the strip-mall’s for lease or boarded up.
We’re walking store-fronts in the dim, Loki and
I, before shops open. You might think
we’re window-shopping. We halt under holly
painted on plate-glass; Loki sits at heel.
Now, circling a post, she keeps pace, learning
ins-&-outs of Figure-8. Dog obedience.
Making use of time, waiting for you. She flicks
curious eyes across the road, where a girl
dressed all in black sits on the curb, eyes down-
cast. Who can tell when pensive droops
to despond? But here comes the bus, she steps
aboard. Farther down the row, a rack
of Gold Panners. An ageless man sits against
the wall, arm around his guitar. There
will be music. And for my dog, the reward
of free walking, joy beyond obedience.
Red-rose petals fallen from a bush to brighten
Monday-almost-Christmas. Loki goes
sniffing from spot to spot, a dog’s window-
shopping. This waiting time, we’re free to look
and see it’s dawning on the edge of town.


—Taylor Graham

If ever there was a day for this, it’s Christmas
Eve in the morning. People rushing last-minute

everything. I’m shopping with my dog in harness.
Her list is short: find Fred. Among the scents

of all these people, Loki’s got Fred’s—his left-
behind bandanna. In winter-solstice chill

she hurries past Grocery Outlet—a glance
in the door—scent sucked inside by the natural

breathing-in of buildings. She checks a man’s
pantleg in passing—not Fred; keeps going.

In all this crowd she’ll find her man. My shopping
list is longer: crisp air cracking as sun breaks

through; Raven calling down hoarse December
cheer; twinkling blue lights in a window.

Around the back—damp piles of cardboard,
flyaway plastic bags, fallen oak leaves. A young

muffled couple, smiling, with a bag of Dollar
Store treasure; I watch them disappear as home-

less do. Loki tugs on the line, reminding: it’s
Christmas, we’re shopping for a poem and a find.

Maneki Neko
—Anonymous Photo

—Taylor Graham

You take your pitbull
to local high schools, to de-stress
the students during finals.
Sophie the pitbull is a comfort-dog,
color of milk chocolate,
a mug of chocolate milk. She’s
warm and satiny of coat.
She wears a collar embroidered
with holly and bells, and
a pitbull smile. She might be
a small Buddha of serenity
in a frantic world. How
can these holidays, these young
people be so frazzled?
In a season of long naps by the fire,
of light in darkness,
saviors come in many guises.


—Taylor Graham
In our local pizza joint, in the wood-grain
veneer of our table, there’s an eye. It looks
toward the far corner by the restroom alcove

where sits the flashing-light machine that
vends cheap junk nobody buys, drawing
attention to itself, drowning every other

illumination in the room; like urban light-
pollution drowning the stars. But that eye
in my table insists I look again. And there,

dim against machine-glare—is it the
Buddha? Just sitting there looking at us.
He needs no pizza nor flashing lights.

He dwarfs the machine that doesn’t exist
anymore. Its carnival lights like chimney-
sparks rise and disappear in December sky.

Let’s go out in the cold and see the stars. 

 Maneki Neko at the Goto Kujima Temple in Japan
—Anonymous Photo

Today’s LittleNip:

—Kevin Jones, Elk Grove, CA

Margo E was the richest
And the blondest drum
Majorette Kewanee, Illinois
Had ever seen.  So when
Block & Kuhl’s asked her
To nap in their window
One Saturday afternoon,
Demonstrating their new line
Of bedding, it attracted such
Crowds the city policeman
Had to be called out
To maintain order.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's fine chefs in the Kitchen!

Who says black cats bring bad luck??
For more about Maneki Neko, including all their
various poses and props, see