week of October 16-22, 2006
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Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and also helps her husband (a retired wildlife biologist) with his field projects 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 newest book, The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press, 2006), is winner of the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize.
The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
The End of Tiger Lily Ridge
The road gets ruttier, beyond
the KEEP OUT signs on barbwire strands
around a field gone to fox-tail
and thistle The dark limbs of oak trees
overarch the track Deer-brush
floats in white lilac bloom Poison-oak lush as Eden before the fall Manzanita like a red-barked warrior
with huge thighs.
From here, I can look out
By next spring this place
will be parceled out and gated, lost
to me But this late afternoon,
this last day of April (how late
and last our life
each moment is), it’s mine.
How We Missed the Lunar Eclipse
They called it a “Blood Moon”
on the news, to coincide with
Halloween and the mess
in Palestine That got us going
on politics, a never-ending
round of singing to the choir.
It’s a question of us frontal-
lobists casting our big black shadow
over everything, you said.
So what, exactly, is this
lunar eclipse? I asked Our Earth
gets in the way, you said,
between Sun and Moon Our own
damn fault for dark.
I asked if the heavenly event
was upon us yet You went out to stare
at a sky as black as news No Moon
at all tonight, you declared.
But some time later, that uncanny
light returned from the shadow
we threw over its eclipse.
upholstered onto every pillow,
and pineapples (spiny skins
that promise sweetness)
and prints of smiling monkeys,
soft piped music
from another time and place.
You come again, a hushed visitor
the rose and bougainvillea courtyard
through a wide-open door
to find him waiting
where you’ll sit together
for an hour, speaking of voyages
and homecomings with this
hunched white lover you once knew
so well; speak to him
of walking out that open door Tahiti.
So, two weeks before Christmas,
the Police lady with keys-pager-radio-
gun at her belt says they’re
towing Miriam’s car away It doesn’t have tags, it isn’t smogged,
it overheats It sits out
on the curb So she rides her bike
to the bus stop, to transfer
across town to the hotel where she
cleans rooms for people who can afford
to spend a night She can’t Her room
runs out on New Year’s Eve because
the old man she cared for,
almost five years now, just died His lawyer is turning her out
at the end of the month Generous
to let her stay for Christmas But the City Police have towed away
her car, with half her possessions
in the trunk She’ll have to pay
the tow-truck ($120 she can’t afford)
plus 3 days impoundment @ $31
a day, because it’s 2 p.m on Saturday
and the office is closed
for the weekend, and Monday as well,
because they’re open on the third
Saturday of the month as a courtesy,
for customer/citizen convenience Miriam can’t afford
a phone, she doesn’t qualify
as customer or citizen
in this land of keys and pagers
Hispanic Male Adult
My dog nuzzles under the rich
dark hair overhanging his face, wags
her tail low and slow, sad
greeting for the newly dead.
He’s not the one we’re looking for,
the kid last seen playing
by the irrigation ditch; a toddler
with shade at noon
and water free from the tap.
We didn’t want this stranger
in dusty work-clothes ripped at the knee
from stumbling over rocks; palms
raw from easing the fall.
When did he cross the border to this
promised land? So many desert miles
hiding from sun, guiding by stars
we seldom look up to see How far
can a man walk without water?
He’s not the one we’re looking for,
but I praise my dog,
who doesn’t care for her reward She only loves to find the living
Joan Pond lives in New Milford, Connecticut She is the author of the book A Rose Garden
The following work is Copyright © 2006, and owned by Joan Pond and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.
a bucket of pigmented grey and blue.
Peridotted hedges, hyrdangea
seated with your back to the sun,
the glare obstructing your view
I’ll always remember the place
where my Mom was failing in speech
unable to reach an audible pitch
At 2 AM I made some vegetable soup
and we sat outside
to watch the Perseids,
by a lambent moon.