Thursday, June 07, 2018

Gone to Sky

Wakamatsu Green Lagoon
—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Walk the one-way cobbled roughshod lane
and here’s what you’ll find: dead-end adits dug
into the uphill bank, remnants of old mining;
on the downhill side, locked back doors of Main
Street commerce; narrow brick canyons
buildings. An old-time harrow sits outside
a metal door. And of course, Tree of Heaven—
this alley’s a reservoir of that weed
with the beautiful name, invasive species.
It thrives on parched cutbanks, in poorest soil.
It traveled far across an ocean to naturalize
here. It’s reserved itself a seat here behind
and above the likes of Main. It’s a survivor.
Nobody waters it, but in summer it’s
the lushest, loveliest green.


Stand long enough at the edge, you’re drawn
into uncurling of lacy dusty-lavender
with just a spot of golden poppy, flower-pool
midst of drying grasses to the lavender distance
and quiet buzz of natural machinery weaving
blossom to blossom, soft fiddling of bumble-
bees—a humming cloud drawing you
inside the flower.


Through a window the moon’s one night
past full, fine time for Bat to be on hunt, sensing
his way through this human house—cozy
place to hang through the dreaming hours. Now,
while humans sleep, Bat explores the house
beyond its tiny doorways of dusk and dawn.
But why, at 3:17 by the clock, is that lady awake
walking—lady who, with no personal
acquaintance, calls him bat of her belfry?
Merely a human figure of speech.
What does she know of Bat?
She moves slowly, tapping her way against
walls in the dark. Bat would lead her—
but she’s afraid, running now, bumping into
things, imagining bat-fingers in her hair.
Bat could teach her much if only she’d stop.
Doesn’t she know, Bat is creature and spirit too,
mouse-like, dark-winged, her brother.


medium for magic: word-lifter and -delver,
you might err into the Deep Blue Lead’s Eden,
utterest sanctum
with some vista, too, at-depth:
how some rocks upheave, others, igneous,
burn and bury.
You think the mind can tap a nugget,
pay the wagon, pay your way
with poetry, with magic.


He tells you he still owns that land. Not legally
of course, he signed it away. Half a hundred
signatures, it seemed; practically wore his finger
to a stub. But the land is still his, by experience
of every sense—scent of skunk in gray-dawn
chill; blisters from pick-axe and hammer; taste
of manzanita berries; first glint of sunrise over
a notch of the east ridge; knowing the Pileated
from every other woodpecker by its solemn
drum through oak and pine woods. The land
is his by living and love, his in memory.
He’s no thief. Let the new owners come to
own it as he did, as he still does.


Someone stole the silver from the sanctuary.
It happened in the night, doors broken
to that place wrapped wordless but hedged
in green that whispers secrets. Night theft left
no trace. Sacred silver, its silent history.
St. Francis safe in his alcove behind glass,
hands full of birds, serene mouth unspeaking.
This morning dawned to a new saint,
blinding-white, a dove clasped to his breast.
A mystery how he came here,
who placed him on the street-side wall.
Did the thief have regrets? A sympathetic
stranger? Coincidence? How we hang
on what’s lost. What’s taken and what’s
given—miracle, metaphor, magic
as birdsong not to be caught in words.

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Check the bird-box. Empty—
three bluebird babies gone. Nothing
but two tiny blue eggs that never
hatched, on rumpled old dead grass
that had been a nest. Who stole
the nestlings? Check
the calendar. No thief, just
time. Instinct, the itch of wings.
Bluebirds gone to sky.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine photos of Wakamatsu Farm, her poetry about thievery (our recent Seed of the Week), and a taste of the new SOW: Summer. Send your poems, photos & artwork about Summer (or any other) subject to Hey!—Don’t be a stranger in the Kitchen! The snakes of Medusa are always hungry.

Drive over the Causeway tonight to hear Bay Area Poet Sue Meserve read at Poetry in Davis at the Jahn Natsoulas Gallery on First St. in Davis. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about this and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Sacramento writer Kate Asche is offering two all-day Saturday workshops at Sac. Poetry Center this summer for writers in all genres and all levels. The first, “Writing’s Country: Place and Our Writing Practice”, will be July 21, and the second, “The Tin House
Writer’s Notebook II: A Writing and Revising Workshop for All Genres”, will be Aug. 4. Info/reg ($95/$115) at

Three more far-away workshops coming up include the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference July 29-Aug. 3 (, the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference Aug. 2-4 (, and the Writing by Writers Workshop at Tomales Bay Oct. 17-21 (

To learn more about how The Black Child Legacy Campaign is using poetry to call for an end to community violence, go to and scroll down to “Black Child Legacy Campaign Premieres Poetic Service Announcements”.



 Celebrate Poetry!

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