August 25–31, 2008: Taylor Graham and Rick Belden

week of August 25-31, 2008

Taylor Graham and Rick Belden

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Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

Taylor Graham (Somerset, CA) is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada Her poems have appeared in /The Iowa Review/, /The New York Quarterly/, /Poetry International/, and elsewhere, and she’s included in the anthology /California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present/ (Santa Clara University, 2004) Her book /The Downstairs Dance Floor/ (Texas Review Press, 2006) was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize Her latest is /Among Neighbors/ (Rattlesnake Press, 2007).

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by Taylor Graham nd may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

When Lupine Trail Goes on Trial

Item: A scant 12 feet of asphalt,
too strait to let the comers pass
the goers, in contention now
for right-of-way.

Item: Said R/W enshrined in grant deed,
microfiche number-stamped
in government drawers
23 miles away at the County seat.

Not admissible as evidence:
the seasons before gates and fences,
before asphalt argument and
lawyers with their city-speak,

when the old black-oak stretched out
its roots, luxuriantly encroaching ease-
ment, drifing its leaves onto decomposing
granite, waving its green hands

at anyone passing by.


These days, we mark our mountain borders
with strung wire: woven mesh and barb A path that used to be for every man
is guarded by a neighbor with a shotgun.

Where once we picked a way through thickets
of cedar to a creek with its secrets
of columbine and tiger-lily, we come now
to a sign, NO TRESPASS.

In the lowlands, outskirts of the city,
cultivated fields are giving up to condos
hedged and paved, with dead-bolt locks,
electronically surveilled.

Who walks free now? We scan the few
barren spaces unsuitable for building,
and prize their weedy fringes
as a treasure, and wonder

if Earth will shrug us off
like so many stinging insects, blood-
suckers, with our barbs,
our bulldozers, our bullets.


In these days of boundary disputes
over rights-of-way, of fencing off
and gating out, who can rely
on the stars? As if celestial angles

so many light years away
could decide who rightfully owns
this spur of rocky outcrop
overlooking how many thousands

of estimated board-feet of timber
and a river dashing its cubic feet
per second of late-spring runoff
as fast as it can, away to sea,

and millions of us, restless,
thirsty, surging from state to
state, never content with where
we are Call it human tectonics,

our Richter scale of unhappiness I have no sextant to show me
the altitude of stars,
only my compass that points

by declination toward a vast
unmapped, unmarketable magnet,
this yet-undeveloped land
under my feet.

The Stare

How should it care, that razor-
eye of hawk? Heaven’s
lungs pump hot, a-tremble
with June light

that just now joins the heart-
drum rolling from an alabaster
feathered breast His race
stares down light:

volcanic, steel Death
of gopher, flicker, crow
in a naked era of cinder and
talon This is how

we meet his eye,
the land of rock on which
we live, learning
to love its fierce luminaries.

Rick Belden

Bio (auto)

Rick Belden is the author of Iron Man Family Outing: Poems About Transition Into A More Conscious Manhood He lives in Austin, TX His web site is located at

The following work is Copyright © 2008, and owned by Rick Belden and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

god at eleven

god is an overdue library book
an empty sardine can
an angry santa claus.

god is a school bus full of strangers
a sixty on the test
a dad who’s always pissed
a mom with scar tissue.

god is a prison guard with rheumatic fever
a flying squirrel in a cage
a deformed colt in a field
a member of the john birch society.

god still lives with his parents
he fights with his brother over pigs
drives a milk truck on saturday to make ends meet
makes me wear an athletic supporter
watches hee-haw and listens to country music
on the radio.

god has a workshop in the basement
he picks the dump and smokes white owls
takes his teeth out when he eats
makes me cry in front of the whole class
stands in our driveway and tells my dad
he’s no good.

god wants to punish me for something I didn’t do.

red monk

depth of feeling
intensity of feeling
explosion of feeling
absence of feeling.

the chocolate tiger waits for the red monk
to finish his rounds + come clean
hides in the bushes + spies on him
like a hungry god
like an empty house
waiting to swallow him up.

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