Thursday, December 12, 2019

Good Oak

—Poems and Photos by Taylor Graham, Placerville, CA


I stoked the woodstove before bedtime;
woke up before dawn. Black. Even my solar
lamp had died overnight. Whole house dark,
no glow from the woodstove. But not quite
cold. I turned on a kitchen light, started coffee
perking, heard you stirring down the hall.
You appeared, the woodstove flared to life
all by itself. Embers, warmth of so
many years—good oak, our life together.

for Kuskokwim Jalapeña TD & Kuskokwim Peter Piper Pepper

Peter Piper Pepper you pronounced her, apodo to perpetuate her predecessor Pepper (Jalapeña Pepper to be precise). Tongue twister partners, they teased and tested your tries mastering dogs overly motivated not simply to please but to perform the toughest tasks; to guide, guard, and guarantee your presence with the proper canine command. You pretended to be boss though they were—bucking wind, burrowing into snow, busting through bushes to locate the lost.

You, lost without them—
are they waiting in a world
beyond to find you?


Glisten of goldfinch and bull-thistle’s crown,
green mouths of moss after rain, and the call
of red-shoulder hawk hunger screaming down,
and valley oaks tarnished, steadfast through fall.

Oh, but the stars!
abrupt, cold-twitchy overhead
punching stickles of light
in black sky

so close, the ground seems to prickle with sparks
as if creation’s fire still makes earth bright
with chances, with loving every passing
glisten of goldfinch and bull-thistle’s crown.


Billions of birds have vanished from North American skies over the past five decades.
New York Post

The birds are disappearing: fact,
hallucination, rumor, or
an absence as if sky had cracked—

a fissure in the forest floor
or some magic teleport… all
hallucination, rumor? Or

was that soft farewell call
at evening just the mourning dove?
Is, by magic teleport, all

the morning birdsong you so love
now dwindling into distance, gone?
At evening, just the mourning dove

singing of an uncertain dawn.
Your annual bird-counts, what of them?
now dwindling into distance, gone—

loved and lost like a mythic gem.
The birds are disappearing. Fact,
your annual bird-counts. What of them?
An absence as if sky had cracked.   


Wild geese peck at scraps
in supermarket parking lot—
where are their lawns, pond?

Today’s LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

Under gray rain clouds
sun finds a few last oak leaves
still hanging on—gold.


—Medusa, with thanks to Taylor Graham for her photos and poetry—including her tongue-twister which uses alliteration so skillfully!

Tonight in Sacramento at 8pm, Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe and Juice Bar features a book release by Stacy Gee, plus lots of open mic. That’s at 1414 16th St., Sac. 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.

—Medusa, celebrating the poetry of the season!

 —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.