January 12-18, 2015: Taylor Graham and Ron Kolm

Taylor Graham and Ron Kolm

Send us your poetry for POET OF THE WEEK consideration. Click here for submission guidelines.

Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler living outside Placerville, CA ("on the outskirts of Rescue"). She’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library, 2012) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her latest book is What the Wind Says (Lummox Press, 2013), poems about living and working with her canine search partners over the past 40 years.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


A stuffed robber hangs from that façade
on Main Street, the building
cordoned off as safety hazard, held up
by mortise-and-tenon history.

This morning my dog leads
me under the dangling boots – dummy
accoutered now with hardhat and carpenter’s
claw hammer, symbol of rehabilitation.
It hangs without fleshly odor.
My dog passes, oblivious.

Dogs have their principles.
Mine distinguishes the neighbor girl, hiding
behind a classroom, from the scarecrow
who guards her school garden.
My dog knows, only the child is human –

not like what he showed me
in a forest clearing, stuck in logging-
berm dust; five stick crosses in a row,
wooden bodies with stiff lashed arms, dirty
towels bound about their heads:

father, mother, child-sized dolls
of our native lumber, lined up for target-
practice, pelleted with slugs. They
still held the scent of booted shooters
who planted them there footless:

something out of place
in those cedar woods. Not human.
My dog moved on.


Ron Kolm

Bio (auto)

Ron Kolm is a contributing editor of Sensitive Skin magazine and the editor of the Evergreen Review. He is the author of The Plastic Factory (Autonomedia), Divine Comedy (Fly By Night Press) and Suburban Ambush (Autonomedia). He’s had work published in Live Mag!, Gathering of the Tribes, the Poetry Super Highway, Urban Graffiti, Mungbeing and the Outlaw Bible of American Poetry. Ron has worked in many of the signature independent bookstores of New York City. Kolm’s papers were purchased by the New York University library, where they’ve been catalogued in the Fales Collection as part of the Downtown Writers Group.

The following work is Copyright © 2015, and owned by Ron Kolm and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


We got off an R train
At Lexington Avenue
And went down the steps
To catch an express
To South Street Seaport
To hear some music.
Kids were breakdancing
On the 4, poorly,
So we bailed to a local
At Grand Central
And got on the last car.

There was a girl
Sitting to our right
Dressed all in black:
Black boots, black mini,
Black top, her hair
In a knot.
She was nodding out
And by the time
We got to 14th Street
Her head was almost
Touching the floor.

As the train stopped
A guy sitting
Across from her
Tapped her shoulder.
She looked up, startled,
Then staggered out
To the platform.
We had to switch
Back to an express
So we left the train too.

While we were waiting
I turned to you and said,
“Man, she was fucked up.
You threw up your arms
And almost started to cry;
A strange response, I thought,
But the people around us
Threw up their arms
At exactly the same time
Like a Broadway chorus line.

I could hear an express
Slam on its brakes
As it entered the station
Behind me and figured
That something on that train
Was freaking everyone out.
I spun around and looked
Through the windows
For someone holding
A knife or a gun.

“My God!” you cried,
“The train hit someone!”
And now I thought I knew
Exactly what had happened:
The girl must have fallen
Onto the tracks
When I’d turned
To talk to you.
I ran over to where some kids
Were looking down
Between two cars
As if they were fishing
In a tiny creek
But I couldn’t see anything.

I walked up to the front car
And tapped on the window
Which the engineer lowered.
“Hey, dude,” I said. “It wasn’t
Your fault. She was a junkie.
I saw her on the local.”
He nodded, grim-faced.

Cops finally came
And cleared the platform.
“It was that person
We saw on the train.
I should have done something.”
“No,” you said. “It was a man
In a gray shirt. I saw him
Curled up on the tracks
Just as the train hit him.”



Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: