Thursday, July 11, 2019

After the Fireworks

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA

           —headline in the Washington Post

The grand Sierra Dome—daddy-longlegs—is gone. On lacy silk-work across my window, there’s only the pretender—smaller spider of a lower tier. I’d been expecting battle, a mating dance; ruler against an upstart challenger; elder consuming younger or vice versa; one spider digesting, the other nothing but un-torso’d legs splayed like ribs of an umbrella. I search for spider-remains. My breath stirs silk-weave. The young victor approaches slowly, each leg finding foothold; an aerial dancer, like my disaster dog feeling for a piece of rebar with one paw, three paws balanced on splintered rubble-scraps—she’s focused on a thread of scent, her living quarry. 

mid-air focused on
what’s still breathing—leg by leg
spider moves closer


Your mother would have whispered Undesirable
if I showed up, fresh from walking the outskirts,
examining whatever my dog sniffed along the way.
If I opened my iPad to the photo I took, your
little boy would wrinkle his nose and say Icky.
But a poet likes to be specific. I call it Scat—
and ask him if he knows whether it was left
by Fox, Coyote, or some other beast who simply
occupies its life, not switching styles and
habits with the current trends. I wouldn’t blame
you for turning me away. But if you open
the door, be prepared for who and what walks in.


That year we’d signed up to march
in the hometown parade—we in volunteer
field uniforms; our dogs clipped on leash, leading
the way bold, alert and proud in their red-and-white
rescue vests. But we’d just come off the search
for a city-boy, a child of “abnormal development”
lost in mountain meadow. Had he wandered
into the Devils Keglerland of granite boulders, hot-
spot for broken bones? a place you’d scan
through binoculars and say “no way.” Helicopters
overhead, jeep patrols, ground-pounders.
With our dogs we cut for scent and sign, checked
clues that led nowhere. A runaway? Massive
two-week search, suspended with no trace
of the boy. Fourth of July. We’d signed up
in advance. What to do but march? like soldiers
off the battlefield 200 years ago, not knowing
how things would work out in the end.


Wrack and cackle
from what used to be the hen-yard.
A crack in sky promising storm.
Deeper. Grunt-effort of clouds heavy-bellied
with rain.
More distant, higher
with lift of mountains to the east. Louder,
I wait to catch the winds’ whirl,
wizardry of heavens. The darkness, loneliness—
lovely-fearful thunder
simultaneous with electric
Right here!
home—crater’s edge,
creation of the next world.


They didn’t get here by whim
but on foot, shadows moving under star-
light (not those 50 stars flapping No
raised on a pole against them).
Should they hide if they hear a vehicle?
They carry what they can—a daughter
too young to walk; maybe
enough water to get them across a saline
desert, hot sand to cauterize their soles.
They have no vouchers, no passports,
only their reasons. The trip
unravels at the border. Can they hear
the marching bands, the cheering,
the speeches exhorting “let Freedom ring”?


Sun-bleached weedy field
mowed down close to sun-burned earth—
but look! Overnight
flames sparking in the dawn’s cool—
Flanders poppies vivid red.

Today’s LittleNip:
        a Flamenca

Oaks over-lean the road.
I take their blessing, leave
their shade. May their grace
buoy me, my exhaled breath
stir their slow-summer leaves.

—Taylor Graham


Our thanks this morning to Taylor Graham for her vivid poetry and pictures! Some of her photos are from the El Dorado County Historical Museum at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds. And for more about the Flamenca poetry form, see

If you're wondering where the hyphens should be in daddy longlegs, look it up. It's every-which-way, sometimes even in the same article!... One of those "take-your-pick" moments in life.

Wellspring Women Writers meets today at Wellspring Women’s Center in Sacramento, 11:30am. And tonight in Old Sacramento, The Moore Brothers present their Spoken Word Collaboration, 8:30-10pm. 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 and wishing Art Luna (barista, restaurateur and proprietor of Luna's Cafe and Juice Bar in Sacramento, home of the long-running Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe) a happy birthday! Many thanks for putting up with us crazy poets all these years, Art. You da best!

 Big Daddy
—Anonymous Photo
For more about "Daddy Long-Legs Facts and Fiction", 

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.