Thursday, June 20, 2019

Cycles of Green/Wishing at Wakamatsu

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA
—Bonus Section by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown


Herd-hero of harsh heather, droughty domain   
heat-driven, that rock-rimmed range restless
with famine-forage, fox foray, cougar and coyote.
Skull-casqued he guarded, agate-gazed gaunt
with watching, wither and waste. Just as age   
judges not gently, this waiting for weather,
for wet grasses greeting each grazer; worry-worm 
awaits what wanes. Stoic past stockyard he stands,
ruminates no rain rushing ruts, heavy wheels   
hunching uphill a dim dirge dulling his doom.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham


Through years of heat-drought
sheep cropped whatever green grew
and meditated
green with patient jaws, rumens
making soil fertile for rain.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham


Two flaming torches
on the withered field—Flanders
poppies, unplanted
they appear. Just see the white
moth flitting bloom to blossom.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham


Field of butterweed,
wild oats, vetch, golden poppy,
and sunburst thistle
all unmowed, keeping itself
to itself under blue sky.

 —Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


Under sun-strike shade
he writes my name in pen-stroke
two dark characters
I can’t read, mystery between
and graceful as a bird flown.

 —Photo by Taylor Graham


Hot drive home, front gate—
what’s that? young doe in noon-light
disappears in trees.
Gracefully awkwardly odd.
She must be a stranger here.

Out our back window
newborn speckled long-leg fawn—
just learning to stand.
As mother doe leaps away
I’m the sudden intruder.

From fence’s far side,
macro-ears are tuned on me.
Where is her baby?
Where is my place in all this?
I retreat inside our walls.

Between live-oak shade
and my garden, doe grazes
then lies down at ease.
Her fawn must be nearby, safe.
I must be the stranger here.

Our oak tree shadow
turns the most amazing ears
harking to our world,
our world spinning toward twilight.
Open every window wide.

  —Photo by Taylor Graham

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

the shorter the lines
the slower they leave the tongue

 —Photo by Taylor Graham


But wait! There’s more! In addition to her usual, mighty Thursday poetry and photos, Taylor Graham and Katy Brown have put together a portfolio of their poems and pix from the recent WakamatsuFest150 in Placerville—a bonus treat for those of us gathered around in today’s Kitchen! (See below.)

But before we get to that, let me remind you that today (Thursday) brings poetry events to our area, starting at noon today with the read-around Third Thursdays in the Sacramento Room of the Central Library (bring poems by someone other than yourself), then continuing with Sac. Poet Laureate Indigo Moor reading at Poetry in Davis at the John Natsoulas Gallery on First St. in Davis, 8pm, plus open mic. 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 poetry!


Wishing at Wakamatsu
by Taylor Graham and Katy Brown

The Wishing Tree
—Photo by Taylor Graham 

—Katy Brown

It’s the sound of all those
haiku wish-flags snapping and clapping
blown in the wind, that I’ll remember.

All of those beautiful words—
oak, blue, hills, frog, love
—all those words pollinating the wind.


That Blue Oak—radiating light—
even the undersides of massive branches
that should be in shadow—cast a glow.


In the afternoon a pair of vultures
circling and circling low over the golden hills,
their wings tipping, dipping—
as vultures will—tacking above the oaks.


Maybe it’s the haiku
so early in the morning
before coffee clears the haze
—I can’t sustain a thought,
can’t make the big connections:
Blue Oak, dusty road, ghosts,
samurai in gold country,
me—150 years later.


The Taki-kazi
swoosh slices brisk summer wind
—sound of sharp Sword Wind.

 Josh McKinney demonstrates Taki-kazi
—Photo by Katy Brown

—Taylor Graham

Under the grandmother blue oak
we watch green grass sublimate to leaf-
hoppers, to swifting air.
Heat-shimmer becomes egret lifting
off its wetland—snow-
white egret we haven’t seen since winter,
dissolving now in cloud
as we watch thunderheads build
over a distant summit.
We’re grounded here, feet in grass
summer-gold at edges, here in blue-oak
shade. We try to entice
festival-goers to sublimate
their thoughts into haiku
for hanging on a wishing-tree
for today’s fierce wind
to dissolve in flight farther than egret flies,
farther than flatlands or summit.
We tell them, their words are released
to the world. 

 Under the Grandmother Oak
—Photo by Katy Brown

Wildlife circles, observing
alien tents, smells, noises
—Wakamatsu comes awake
with mingling cultures.

Soon, ghosts return
whispering in the shadows,
shimmering in the moonlight,
remembering the breathing world.

—Katy Brown 

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham

softly three ladies
in kimono pass us by
on path of their thoughts

my straw hat
heeds the wind’s tales
of far-off

couple long married,
each writes a private haiku—
linked by one image

speak into the mic—
words taken to air instead,
poems in the wind

graveside ceremony
nothing to offer
in my hand a stone

manzanita walking stick
born of the earth

—Photo by Katy Brown 

—Taylor Graham

Delegated last-minute to attend the ceremony, I found canopied shade occupied by the living. No room for me. Skirted perimeter to shade of oaks behind the gravestone—rooted oaks dug-in to hilltop. My leather-bound toes dug in too. Cooling Delta breeze lifted up the skirts of slope. Dodging dark-suited photographers, I jockeyed a view. Skulked and snuck, hovered and moved on, a refugee intuiting the passion of speeches I couldn’t understand for language, wind and distance. What could I take back? 

 —Photo by Taylor Graham

It was the look on your face
—that jaw-dropping shock
as you looked over my shoulder

Something coming behind me
—over my shoulder
—something silent,

I turned to see

A soundless marching snake
of children
—sneakered feet silent in the dust
—an endless coil of moving bodies
—marching fast
as only children can
—fast, silent, snaking
horde of youngsters

Advancing up the road

The Zombie Apocalypse?
Migration?  Looking for food?
Coming for us?
Where to hide?

—Katy Brown

 Volunteer Poets Sue, Patty, Taylor at the Poetry Table
—Photo by Katy Brown 

—Katy Brown

Play with words, the marbles of language
—let them roll against one another.
Listen to the muttering leaves;
paint your face with primal mud;
sing with crickets in summer moonlight.

Take a pen with turquoise ink,
engrave your words in a leather notebook.
That judging voice you carry from childhood
—tell it to take a vacation—better yet,
lock it in the basement.

Write the words you sift from the wind,
the words a blue heron traces in the sky,
the bubbling syllables of a common frog.
Wakamatsu calls you in a thousand dialects,
dictates to you in the golden meadow.
Take notes.

 Three Explorers
—Photo by Katy Brown

Photos in this column can be enlarged by
clicking on them once, then clicking on the x
in the top right corner to come back to Medusa.