August 30-September 5, 2010: Taylor Graham and Peter Schwartz

Taylor Graham


Bio (auto)

I live on five acres outside Placerville, CA with a husband, two German Shepherds trained for search-and-rescue, two untrainable cats, and six sheep My poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Poetry International, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere, and I’m included in the anthology California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present My book The Downstairs Dance Floor) won the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize, and I’m a finalist in the Poets & Writers’ California Writers Exchange My latest book – Walking with Elihu: poems on Elihu Burritt, the Learned Blacksmith – is available on Amazon.

The following work is Copyright © 2010, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.


Point of Flame

I shall covet no higher human reward for any attainment I may
make in literature or science, than the satisfaction of having
stood in the lot of the laboring man

– Elihu Burritt, letter to Longfellow, Dec 1, 1840

Raking dead-fall leaves and pine needles,
hauling them to the safe circle cleared for burning,
I think of you, Elihu, hand-laborer by choice.

I strike the match, my slash-pile flares,
though not as hot as your forge Small branches
transform to energy, manzanita trimmings

speak in tongues of flame Smoke lifts on the blaze’s
own convection that makes the nearest oak-
boughs sway Die Hand mit Feuers Hilfe baut –

Schiller knew how human hand and fire join
to form metal into song His bronze bell rings rhyme
from a book I puzzled over, years ago

You knew, the hand that casts a bell
or shapes a shovel-head, or wields a hoe,
sets a body-rhythm for mind to turn to poem

or recall a long-forgotten line This learning
roots itself deeper than ivy into college walls
I lean on my rake, admire the flame

Guys Porridge Pot, Warwick Castle

Surely no man could be less than eight feet and a half high
who needed such a kettle for cooking for himself and family
– Elihu Burritt, Walks in the Black Country

See how that old woman thumps the sides
of the great pot as if to conjure up a stew – enough
to feed her husband and six children, plus the parson,
the postman, the entire town for a week

Here it sits in Warwick Castle’s Great Hall
as it has sat for centuries, brooding a misty haze
of myth in its depths Only a legendary
giant could match his hunger to this pot.

Oh yes, they claim this cauldron fed
the soldiers of the garrison – so many mouths
to keep a castle safe – and not a bite left over
for peasants beyond the castle walls.

Did no one starve in that mythic time?
Might a poor man hoist himself by his own
bootstraps, 8 ½ feet up a porridge pot?
After he paid his taxes, could he afford boots?





Peter Schwartz


Bio (auto)

Peter Schwartz’s poetry has been featured in The Collagist, The Columbia Review, Diagram, and Opium Magazine His latest collection ‘Old Men, Girls, and Monsters’ is now out with Achilles Press He’s an interviewer for the PRATE Interview Series, a regular contributor to The Nervous Breakdown, and the art editor for DOGZPLOT He lives in China, Maine

The following work is Copyright © 2010, and owned by Peter Schwartz and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.



marrow me

for erin fitzgerald

you’re the hardest poem I’ve ever written
probably because you have the softest heart I’ve ever seen
I had to get all the way into my marrow
before I could even think of writing this

you’re resisting, I can hear you
I’m actually kind of cold at times, Peter
no, being scientific about your love
is something I’m not sure anyone alive

even understands yet, yes, you make us all
look like dinosaurs stuck on the hard edge
of midnight when it comes to what we’ve been
calling humanity for the past 4000 years

so, if you’re from the future your secret’s safe
with me, I’ll keep it right by the soft pieces of
marrow you implanted in me shortly
after we first met7


Subscribe to our weekly Newsletter: