Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reality Poetry

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


Every week, those summers, I’d drive
up Iron Mountain to wilderness patrol. Years
before internet and cell-phone. My dog
loved running unleashed, out of reach.
Frankly, so did I.
Where would we go today? My dog
leading the way, a stretch up-trail, maybe
cross-country; lacy phlox at edge of boulder;
long views of that steep bare ridge
where pioneers pushed
and cursed creaky wagons to over-
haul the great Sierra.
Our path rising through lodgepole,
earth still weeping a winter’s snowpack—
patches of duff-studded ice
that stays in sheltered places.
A lake so tiny it seems to gather
the whole sky’s blue.
No radio contact, no phone.
Out of touch except
with my dog, the earth and heavens. 

a panel discussion

Get up really early, before dawn—
best time for writing, before the first
cup of coffee, before the editor wakes up—
you know, the one who lives in your
brain. Editor, critic… they have
their time, their place.
The critic wonders at your use of
“horse poop.” Consider Kumin’s poem
about worming her horse
in the Summer of the Watergate Hearings.
She writes “droppings” and counts
worms exiting her horse; on TV
she watches worms fall out
of the government. Reality poetry. 


Behind the library, what a ruckus! The backdoor’s open as if library personnel might march out to enforce library silence. But look, they’ve gathered to watch kids dipping wands in a bucket then running back and forth in clouds of bubbles. The head librarian warned us about this: Get Messy and Blow Things Up, a summer fun event that’s noisy. We’d come on serious business: books. I was holding mine in my hand.

bubbles everywhere—
one lands on my book which bursts
wide open with joy 

“Words can not be owned.” —Katy Brown

It made me wonder if stolen words
aren’t the sweetest, plucked from a neighbor’s
bough before they plummet to earth of their own
gravity. There must be an anecdote,
a fable to illustrate: words destined to be
consumed syllable by syllable like the seed
a waxwing digests after eating the apple,
preening in the shelter of leaves;
sun casting feather-sheen in all directions. 

a statue outside Twelve Bridges Library

Arriving, I was too preoccupied to notice,
among shrubs and lilies blooming
outside the library, the stone gray man rising
out of soil. Walking back out, my load lightened,
I saw him: hungry eyes under hawk brow,
book in left hand, right index finger punctuating
a word. His monkish aspect, Renaissance-
revenant, timeless; a torso bursting
through the stone frame of his fashioning.
Who made him, planted him ungraved here?
What is the word under his finger?
What, in the world of knowing and not-yet-
known, might he show me? His image
follows me home. 

for Rob

A hike to where you can see
the whole continent. Follow the leader:
she’s mannequin-thin, windbreaker
over shoulders like a midnight cape.
Trail skirts a dry creek, one small
pool: a phoenix birdbath among rocks.
The group’s strung out of sight.
Where’s the leader? You worry, then
whistle; hear a faint answer; follow
it up the poetic heights. There
she is. “I hate old poet-men,” she says.
“Too much imagination.” But you
can turn adventure into a poem anyway.

Today’s LittleNip:
—Taylor Graham

Breakdown miles from home.
By luck, shop has the right part.
A 2-hour wait.
Take a walk with dog out back
and find blackberries, just ripe.


Our thanks to Taylor Graham for the big bubbles and for her poems about our recent Seed of the Week, “Where Shall We Go?” Her poem, “Out of Range”, is from her new book,
Windows of Time and Place from Cold River Press (

Head down to Luna’s in Sacramento tonight for Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe and Juice Bar, with featured readers plus open mic beginning at 8pm. Free, but please partake of Art Luna’s fine food and libations. 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.

I mis-spoke last Monday, saying that the SPC River City Food Bank Fundraiser was on this coming Sunday. But actually it's part of the SPC Reading Series this coming Monday. There will be no SPC event this Sunday. Mea culpa!

—Medusa, celebrating poetry—and blackberries!


“. . . blackberries, just ripe.”
—Anonymous Photo

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.