Thursday, October 10, 2019

Autumn's Garden

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


In Autumn’s garden
summertime colors muted
and the dead unplucked.
But come along, walk quiet,
listen ~ stop ~ breathe-in lessons.

    from email with Patti Farrington

I email Patti:

A poets’ retreat on Ponder Ridge!
But I’m totally frazzled right now—trying to
bundle phone-TV-internet, dealing with invisible
entities in cyber-wifi space—no one seems to know
who does what, who to talk to, what the system is
or how to make it work. I'm wandering the waste-
land-of-technology, and it’s plum wrung
the poetry out of me.

Patti responds:

A tech spasm! A vortex of disassociation.
Birds don’t sing in a vortex, poems have no voice
I hope your synapses find their way back
to the land of the living.

Me again:

Forget the frazzle! I’ll be at your poets’ gathering,
imagining the full Ponder Moon over your
ridgetop... a poem,
the best remedy for tech spasm.


Scarecrow beckons from a garden already fading, tomato vines sagging with the last green globes. A touch of frost last night. Scarecrow doesn’t care. He grins. Did he just wave at those wild geese passing over, honking on their way south? Scarecrow likes it here. He’s stuffed full of trimmer leavings dry as summer gone—my long, hot labor. All that work with saw and loppers, woodpile’s flush with cordwood. Scarecrow says Relax. This morning’s cool and crisp with possibilities. Breeze is a sigh—take a deep breath, chill of winter.

scarecrow doesn’t care—
head full of forgetfulness,
kettle steaming tea


How can a little old Gold Rush town
have so much traffic? so little parking? No free
spots, even the Main Street garage is full.
Just one slot, in the Compact section—SUVs
over-lapped onto both sides. My little Honda
slips in between behemoths. I leave space
for the right-side driver to enter his Expedition,
and slide out my side. My business is brief;
back to my car. Left-side Armada’s driver
stands there, sarcastic, “Think you can get back
in your car?” “I got out, I can get in.” I do,
wondering about the definition of “compact.”
Out in natural daylight, I see: a rubberized
calling card under my wipers. Congratulations!
You are an inconsiderate SOB.

He must’ve ordered a good supply of those
cards, to have one handy-on-the-spot.
And, it takes one to know one.


September rain, and the hills are washed with green. Already I’m imagining miner’s lettuce—Indian lettuce—in a salad, as I walk out my door into the middle of green. Come spring, I’ll trust my instincts, let my feet dictate the way. I’ll be looking for heart-shaped leaves lavish underfoot, free as sun and shadow, crisply soft as air. Gathering handfuls takes no practice. This wild bounty isn’t bizarre or scary, and it wards off scurvy. Just add olive oil and a squirt of lemon, and miner’s lettuce perks up the colorless head I paid good money for at the supermarket.

green elf-umbrellas
with tiny white blossom-sprays—
there’s woodland magic

    a scrunched skeltonic

At the shelter     a kitty-welter helter-skelter—
This one here! a twitch of ear that shows no fear—
a black-cat bold with eyes pale gold. If truth
be told, I like cats black.     No taking back
when you hear that purr erupt from fur.  
He’ll cause a stir in our quiet house of dog
and mouse.    I’ll name him Latches
for the way he snatches with paw and catches
my hand—no scratches      but he’s got
claws,     and feline jaws give rodents pause.
He’s skeleton key, sure as can be,
to let things free.      Just wait and see.
He’ll find a way however he may      into
cupboard’s array of breakables. Gay    
as crazy-ball—a dare-it-all    climbing
wall at a vertical crawl…. Please don’t fall!

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Oak twigs for tinder,
kindling for a woodstove, split logs
for winter warming—
there on hillside beckoning
the random spark wild-flaming.


Thank you, Taylor Graham, for your autumn poems and photos, tinged with amber and red like the season—and mention of the random spark which we’re all dreading. Pray for fair (small!) winds and following seas… and that the power comes/stays on!

Today’s photos by Taylor Graham are from the Sutter's Mill School with its little habitat garden just off the main entrance drive. For more about skeletonic verse, go to

Today at noon, Wellspring Women’s Writing Group meets at Wellspring Women’s Center in Sacramento, facilitated by Sue Daly. And noon today is the deadline for the Jack Kerouac Contest in Davis. Tonight at 8pm, Jan Haag will read at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar, plus open mic, hosted by Geoffrey Neill. 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 red-and-amber poetry that is Fall ~

 Black cat troublemaker: “…skeleton key, sure as can be…”
—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.