July 11-17, 2016: Poetry from Taylor Graham and Mike Finley

​Taylor Graham and Mike Finley

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​Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler living outside Placerville, CA with a husband, three German Shepherds, and four Rhode Island Reds. She’s just been selected as inaugural poet laureate of El Dorado County. Her poems appear in California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present, The Iowa Review, Medusa’s Kitchen, New York Quarterly, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Her latest collection is Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).

The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by ​Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Shadow Theory, Spring

Redbrown rocks have heaped/heaved themselves
over eons, a blocky maze, an anklebreaker.
The black pup sits watching TV, the universe
in terms of π. Don’t lead those pups pied-pipering
over the rocks, they’re too young to anchor
their shadows.
I knew a dog named Pi whose feats
were circumscribed by nothing, the constant π.
Let’s go. Pups follow, ships on a geologic ocean
tiding slower than the mind of man. A crux of this
fractured world, the conviction of Can’t. –
Of course you can.
They’re safe as any babe
on this side of an abyss. Brave hearts adventuring
the universe.
Balanced on boulders, waggling
ears to tail, sailing arcs over rock-heap laughing
with every puppy-tooth. My lie, the π of truth.


Up Marshall Grade I’m behind an old rig
plastered with bumper stickers, the most legible,
Protected by 2nd Amendment Security.
Voice of the Divide. We’re headed up-country.
Is it safe to pass? Meanwhile, my security
is asleep in the back of my truck. Soon
he’ll be trotting – more likely loping, that’s his
style – leading me into the unknown of
middle-school on a Saturday, looking for the
neighbor girl. She’s hiding
for him to find. I lighten at the way he brightens
when he’s getting close to his target.
He loves this game of search and rescue, not
destroy. He loves it better than dinner
(kibble on the deck), pursuing an ancient
instinct to follow, to find, to lick his quarry
in the face, his joy.






Mike Finley

Bio (auto)

Mike Finley is a Pushcart Winner (not a nominee). He has published many books of poems, and poetry videos. He has collaborated on projects with master bread bake Danny Klecko. He lives in St. Paul.

The following work is Copyright © 2016, and owned by Mike Finley and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Am Goya

With less than a day’s notice, the KGB gave Siberian poet Andrej Vosnesenski
a visa to fly to Minnesota. There was no time to promote the event.

A handful of writers and scholars and a few Soviet emigrés cluster
in the front rows of the roped off Northrop Auditorium,
a mere 50 people dotting the 5,000 seats while, standing like a speck
upon the giant stage, the poet groans and lifts his fist
like a guillotine blade, poised to come down hard.

He reads his famous poem about Goya, the Spanish painter
of the post-Napoleonic years, regarded by many
as the last of the old masters and the first of the moderns,
assailing power for its crushing offenses.

An English actor translates Voznesenski, but no one listens to that blow-dried fop.

All eyes are on the pumping hand, all ears attuned to Vosnesenski’s
condemnation of tyrants.
No one understands, and yet everyone understands.
And as he moves into action, one word thunders through the auditorium – GOYA!

GOYA reanimates the frozen corpses of the field.
GOYA daubs you with the blood of your victims.
The dashed, the dead, the unblinking eyes.
GOYA accosts you with your gruesome crimes.
GOYA wields the hammer that cracks the rock.
GOYA swings the scythe that mows down grain.

Even when all the words against you are shredded …
Even when the books have made a roaring fire …
The lies that murdered millions come back on you
GOYA is implacable in the face of every rifle
GOYA sees who you are … GOYA stabs and stabs with his truth …
GOYA announces that the day is over.
The whited dead cry out for justice You mighty leaders have not prevailed
You are vanquished by your deeds Your generations are sown with lime.
You have not won, you are dead and just don’t know.

Afterward the reading breaks up and the poets and professors drive
through the snow and ice to Chester Anderson’s to boast and jostle and drink .
Voznesenski alone at the end of the couch with a shy puzzled frown on his face.
Several beers later, I take to the bathroom,
where Chester’s golden retriever lies on a pink poof rug.
I step over the dog to pee. Behind me, Voznesenski creeps into the room
and kneels by the dog on the pink poof rug,
a foot from the stream splashing against the porcelain lip.
He scratches the dogs ears and smiles seraphically.
His two eyes closed, his face held out, the dew alighting
like communion from the dead Christ on his face,
as if finally,


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