Monday, December 14, 2015

The Killing of Summer

—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

—Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

The world is broken. You watched
it explode on TV, fireworks
from backpack and vest. Now you sit
dazed, dizzy, numb as secret
codes and pharmaceutical side-effects
interweave hallucination,
pundit viewpoints—contradictions,
exceptions. You’re sick, gray.

Why not play unbroken bells
clean and complex as sky. Something
for deep imagination. Remember
white crocus springing
from earth, delicate and muscled
as a Degas dancer. I’ll walk the ridge
with my dogs till the world is
right again in mind recalling praise.


—Taylor Graham
Your best friends told you Santa Claus was dead,
your folks left all those gifts beneath the tree.
They’d never spend so foolishly, you said;
they gave you mittens wrapped up cleverly
in cast-off sprigs of elvish fancy-free
and ribbons bright from linings old of hat.
Would Santa Claus with all his gifts do that?


Pygmalion, you carved such lovely stones,
a sad arrangement of the human mind
on matter. You called granite mountain-bones
and searched in limestone for what’s left behind—
life immortalized in rock. Did you find
what you were looking for? A man might weep
to see his vision, caught, no longer leap.


—Taylor Graham

I mistook it for a yodel falling down stairs,
amazing sound of a puppy thwarted; diminishing
to a whimper. It’s not safe to rouse the old
dog, who lies lion-peaceful but possibly lethal
between where a puppy is and where
he longs to be. Old dog, the puppy’s hero.
Rising from the cellar of the old dog’s throat,
a grumble like the grinding of a starter
when he senses the upstart intruder, this puppy
who loves him as fear is love. How long
and gangly is puppyhood. How long-drawn-
out are an old dog’s dreamings.

 Pensive Cowboy

—Joan McNerney, Ravena, NY

Tangled…one ragged
leaf clings to the bough.

Stopping to see the
shape of a snowflake.

Winter storm warning…
headlights beam at noon.

Came home just in time
for the first dizzy dance
of December flurries.

More amazing than
redwood forests...
your ice blue eyes.

Simmering soup fills my
kitchen with aromas.

All day my windows
chatter like nervous teeth.

Crystals spin together in
joyful pirouette…a cool ballet.


—Joan McNerney

Slides under door jambs
pouring through windows
painting my room black.

This evening was spent
watching old movies.
Song and dance actors
looping through gay,
improbable plots.

All my plates are put away,
cups hanging on hooks.
The towel is still moist.

I blow out cinnamon candles
wafting the air with spice.
Listening now to heat
sputtering and dogs
barking at winds.

Winter pummels skeletal
trees as the moon’s big
yellow eye haunts shadows.

—Joan McNerney  

This December
during wide nights
hemmed by blackness,
I remember roses.
Pink yellow red violet
those satin blooms of June.

We must wait six months
before seeing blossoms,
touch their brightness
crush their scent
with fingertips.

Now there are only
ebony pools of winter’s
heavy ink of darkness.

Dipping into memory of
my lips touching petals
tantalizing sweet buds.
My body longs for softness.

I glimpse brilliant faces of
flowers right before me as I
burrow beneath frosty blankets.
Bracing against that long, cold
nocturnal of wind and shadow.


—Joan McNerney 
Blue your eyes
this edge of snow
in silent sky.
Brown eyes soft
tree bark patterns as
yellow flicks
sparkle in wintry sun.

And now it seems
your eyes are green
green as spruce
turning to grey eyes
glancing across as if
from a mountainside.

Your eyes two violets
hidden beneath frost.
Close your eyes
as sleepless stars
glide through night
in aerial ballet.

Black coal eyes
glowing on fire
red flames leaping
out of eyes burning
blue your eyes.

—Caschwa, Sacramento

Applied early by mail to
Renew my driver’s license
Checked the mail daily
As the expiration neared

Made a visit to DMV
They had never sent it
Had to get a temporary
Then I waited again…

Retirement is getting closer
I requested the CalPERS
Cost Information Packet
Eight months ago

It normally takes 45 days
I am high on their list
They are very busy
Still waiting…

August 5, Taurus got totaled
August 8, bought a new Focus
Leather seats might be sticky
So we ordered seat covers

ETA a couple weeks
Four months later just excuses
Made in Canada, not here yet
They will call me…

Boy, do I love fast food!


Today’s LittleNip:

—Veronica Porumbacu (1921-1977)

In the night there was murder in the street.
Summer was killed.
At the window you could hear the wind yelling
in the garden.

The trees stopped talking.
Blood drips from the ivy on the walls.
King Herod of the Autumn massacred hundreds
of leaves with his words.

(trans. from the Romanian by Willis Barnstone and Matei Calinescu)


—Medusa, thanking today’s fine contributors, and a note that SnakePal Ellaraine Lockie recommends
Songs of Eretz Poetry Review as a venue for your publications: see

For more about Jewish 20th-century poet Veronica Porumbacu, see 

 Spiky Grass