Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Truck to Paradise

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

    for Sparky

Blade’s edge that was a life—
hens’ eggs stolen never hatched
and all the while ground squirrels birth & thrive.

I wouldn’t take a knife
though profit’s from barnyard snatched.
An old lightning-man humming like a hive

loaded our hens in his truck
to paradise: geese, horse,
donkey all saved from slaughter, to survive

at ease. What bountied luck
for our hens to run their course
with greens for breakfast, our six hens alive.


The power’s out, nothing works anymore.
So here I sit in transformer-shot dark
that blazed you off on your ultimate arc.

Gray squirrel or bird? flying never-a-more
since you lit on the wire, lit like a spark.
The power’s out. Nothing works anymore,
so here I sit in transformer-shot dark

as daylight dazzles through window and door—
our house on its hill like a shipwrecked ark,
electric line as a great question mark.
The power’s out, nothing works anymore.
It blazed you off on your ultimate arc.


They’re on the move this hot mid-morning.
A man walking head-down against July sun,
hugging the shoulder of speedway traffic
(hectic country two-lane); backpack loaded
heavy, presumably with everything he owns.
Where did he come from? homeless camps,
each a no-see-don’t-tell zone. And that older
man I noticed, not a look of hope about him
as he drooped his burden toward the hilly
edge of town. Solitary both of them,
as if capsuled in the air they breathe, alone.


The doctor said walk and I do—
up the healing hill behind the center,
the old footpath almost overgrown

but here’s a fresh wide travel-way
through summer-dead grass
under a tall pine snag (a critter-inn)

and here’s a stash of artifacts:
screwdriver driven into earth, wrench,
sun-glasses, crossword puzzle.

The path leads up to treeline.
I glimpse a current camp in shadow—
the homeless always with us,

though they’re shifted place to place.
I skirt the camp. And
suddenly a winter wonderland, July—

yarrow bloom, each perfect snowflake.


He says he used to pop baggies of bear-
poop into his work truck—didn’t
explain, but it wasn’t for lunch. Says
apple craps are special, and bear-
processed berries resemble random, shiny
blue-black gems of poo. Says, if you
put those fresh baggies behind the seat
of your truck and let ‘em mellow,
no one will ever ask to ride in your truck.
Says he really misses bear work. 


How could I call it simple? segmented
organic form with tail and pincers
that materialized on my kitchen floor

as I swished my rag-mop in an easy swath
like weed-eating, but wetter.

One summer, it was tiny frogs swimming
out of my mop bucket when I
dunked it, half-dry from hanging on the deck.

This time, an insect I couldn’t call by name.
Surrender to experience, it told me,
all life needs water in a drought.
The bug being (to me) nameless and
without credentials or endangered status,

I carried out to the chickens,
where the quickest hen solved it
in one peck.


Some folks call it God’s country—
above valley fog, with views of crystal
mountains just up the road.
The old gold-rush craziness settled down
to ranches, farmland, vineyards, groves.
They used to drive cattle from our foothills
upcountry to cow camp meadows.
Scattered towns, but no real cities, no
factories—OK, there’s the Pizza Factory
up on Broadway, Fudge Factory Farm
on Apple Hill; and out in Pleasant Valley,
a low building with no apparent sign
out-front to say they make custom western
belt buckles. It’s not quite paradise,
you won’t find Pegasus grazing
on buttercups in front of the courthouse.
But I’ve stopped to watch Percherons
in a Diamond Springs pasture,
sun glinting off black haunches;
quiet, at peace. They must be pretty
close to God’s country.


Today’s LittleNip:

There is not a particle of life which does not bear poetry within it.

—Gustave Flaubert


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for today’s fine poetry and pix (bear poop!). She reminds us that the name of her El Dorado Poetry page on Facebook has been changed to “Western Slope El Dorado”. It still uses the same URL, however: The name was changed so that the new El Dorado County Poet Laureate, Suzanne Roberts, could use the name, El Dorado Poetry, if she chooses.

Head down to the Central Library on I Street in Sacramento today at noon for Third Thursdays at the Central Library poetry read-around. Bring poems, preferably not your own, about Independence; see for info. Then tonight, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe, also in Sacramento, will have featured readers and open mic, starting at 8pm.

Also tonight, this just in: Evan White and Naomi Williams (plus open mic) will be featured at Poetry in Davis at the John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis, 8pm. Host: Andy Jones.

Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.

A note, too, that Saturday, July 21, is the deadline for the 2018 Voices of Lincoln Poetry Contest. See


 —Anonymous Photo
Celebrate the poetry that takes us back to the earth…

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