Another rosy-fingered dawn,
THOSE OLD BOOTS
Cheapest boots I could find for running trails—
boots that tried to keep up with my dog
who ran bootless at a flying trot—
boots with miles worn into synthetic soles,
boot uppers not leather, not waterproof—
those boots started coming apart at the toes
and the boot cushioning gave up.
Those boots I kept wearing anyway,
boots that let dirt in between socks and sole
like walking barefoot, not in boots at all.
Those boots are slowly becoming earth,
more earth than a manmade boot could be.
Boots still feel comfortable as feet to me.
An old house keeps its secrets and its quirks.
A crack, a fray, corrosion, unseen glitch
garage to pantry: black-scat, crumbs and flecks—
a crack between existences that works
to let a hunger through, a creature itch.
So, life of mouse with ours now intersects.
You set the bait, wait for the fatal snap.
It’s sprung. No rodent; clearly there’s a hitch.
See, messing with another life’s complex.
The critter’s made a launch-pad of your trap.
Behind the strip-mall—empty storefronts dark—
between the back-door locks and tattered hedge,
I’ve seen the ear-torn matted-fur cortege.
Are these once-house cats who embark
beneath surveillance light? their shadows stark
on cautious pads across the narrow ledge,
their feral-feline wits the only pledge
of safety. From behind fences, dogs bark.
Survivors of the street coyote, car,
and hawk, of hunger and well-meaning traps,
they skulk and lurk and carry on. They prowl
the darks with second sight. And here they are
still hungry, making rounds of cracks and gaps,
of what man leaves. As soundless as the owl.
A MONDAY WALK DOWN MAIN STREET
In a storefront window, limited edition
print of how our town used to be, suspended
in time like doctor’s shingle above the corner
door. Window glass plays tricks, bleaching
out the ink tones with this morning’s platinum
light reflected and a stain of blue—November
sky and, look, ponderosa pines on the ridge-
horizon mirrored, at my back; were there
taller pines when this print was made—cut down
to build this town? Time’s juxtaposed in glass
so it feels a sort of warning to not ignore
what’s pressed into our time machine—
how this canyon eroding between its ridges
used to be, what our horizons might become.
ON THE STAIR
You’re fingering the strings and frets. It’s time,
a late fall daylight’s slanting thru paned glass
onto creaky floor. The audience begins its climb,
as ghosts from stairs to hall in silence pass—
a late fall daylight’s slanting thru paned glass.
The Gold-Rush corridors have seen such days,
as ghosts from stairs to hall in silence pass
out of abandoned tunnels, once a maze—
the gold rush. Corridors have seen such days
of boom and bust. In time, shafts come unshored.
Out of abandoned tunnels—once a maze—
lifts a bass-line of music. Phantom chord
of boom and bust in time. Shafts come unshored
by unseen hands. Some nights, with no applause,
lifts a bass-line of music, phantom chord
between the living and the dead, a pause
by unseen hands—some nights with no applause.
Onto creaky floor the audience begins its climb
between the living and the dead. A pause.
You’re fingering the strings and frets. It’s time.
POETRY ON FINCH ST.
Episcopal bell ringing as I knocked—
summoned to tea and worship-words,
mortification of the phrase, revising.
Why did you leave the neighborhood—
skunk, the crow, the cost of noise?
I don’t drive that street anymore.
Two old sneakers dangled from a line.
Many thanks to Taylor Graham, who notes that her El Dorado County Poet Laureate duties have her very busy for the first half of December: featured at Good Earth Movement in Placerville this Friday (holiday poems); Christmas Bazaar at Georgetown Library on Saturday; talking/reading to Rotary Club Dec. 7; Cameron Park Library Dec. 15—plus the usual schedule of El Dorado County read-arounds and poetry readings. For more about El Dorado County poetry events, go to www.facebook.com/ElDoradoCountyPoetry/.
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