Thursday, May 23, 2019


—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


He claimed the ridge as his birthplace—
avowed he first came to earth there

between two forks of the river, out of sight
of traffic on a winding country road.

Pastureland across the way with poppies
and lupine more abundant than cars,

or shadow of a roadside cross;
he read about that in the paper,

but it seemed less real than the land
enduring another winter’s snowmelt

carrying itself away out of sight of cars
on the two-lane speeding

in important opposite directions.


On a phone line strung
across the pond rippled with
sky, Kingfisher bides
waiting for one flash of live
silver, the water’s secret.


Here’s a shadow-blind
between a daylight window
and a darkened room
and here’s a shadow entered
where there never was a way.


Her name was Lenore, she was dark as Poe.
Your job, to clean her zoo-cage.
You told us how she’d tear apart with beak
and talons the gifts you brought.
Then one day you were transferred
to the macaws. Someone else was charged
with Lenore. Today, as you passed
the raven cage, she pushed her great beak
through the wires, looking at you
questioningly with corvid eyes.
You rubbed her beak as she turned it side
to side, offering you the good spots;
eyes strangely soft and knowing. Was she
greeting, thanking, or saying goodbye?


I remember our own two alpha dogs,
Ali and Major—brothers we had to keep
apart. Separate rooms, separate canoes….
They would have fought each other
to the death. Then Ali, sick with fever, slept
in a wire crate by our bed. His brother
came quietly, lay down beside him, curled
gently against the wire crate and slept.


A friend told me not so much in words
as gestures—his waving hands, raking fingers—
paws of the old farm cat rising on haunches
against the old farm dog who endured
the batting claws drawing blood. Their dog-cat
sparring, play or warfare in the mind
of beasts? In time, the man loaded his old
farm dog for the last ride to the vet.
Stealthily the cat came, rising to tailgate,
batting its claws softly, softly.
What a wordless beast knows
about goodbyes.


Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Thunderheads building
over the crest of mountains—
so far from ocean
a great cloud-crab waves its claws,
dissolves in the sky’s tiding.


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for talking to us this morning about “frenemies” for our recent Seed of the Week, Enemies. Sometimes it’s just as hard to lose an enemy as it is to lose a friend, yes?

Don’t forget that our current Seed of the Week is Mysteries. Send your poems, photos & artwork about this (or any other) subject to No deadline on SOWs, though, and for a peek at our past ones, click on “Calliope’s Closet”, the link at the top of this column, for plenty of others to choose from.

A note that the visit to the Haiku collection in Sacramento which was scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled. Instead, you could go to the Josh McKinney poetry class at Sac. Poetry Center Friday evening at 6pm. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of relationships!

 —Anonymous Photo

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