October 17-23, 2005: Taylor Graham and Karen Suriano

week of October 17-23, 2005

Taylor Graham and Karen Suriano

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Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

I train my dogs for search-and-rescue and also help my husband (a retired wildlife biologist) with his field projects My poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, and elsewhere, and I’m included in the anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004) My manuscript, The Downstairs Dance Floor, is winner of this year’s Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize from Texas Review Press.

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

This Ark

The neighbors’ dogs bark-wag, furry
wet smell against my hand at the lock For another week, they’re mine Their masters on vacation, the cats
stay out of sight A caged rabbit
kicks shavings as far as bunny-feet can The chickens go on scratching scratch A cote of doves coos not eternal love
but ever-falling rain on the roof The bristled sow’s content to rummage
plastic sacking The goats blaaah
for human conversation The sheep
don’t miss their mistress, but only
alfalfa hay And then the horses The Arab colt flings his crested head,
trumpeting his name He drums a heel
against his stall, demanding tribute
of sweet-cob He outweighs me, hoof
to fingernail And still the rain
falls on this foothill ark, where we
drift together, ever farther from shore

Into Fall

I roll my sleeping bag out on the deck
under the rising full Harvest Moon Old dog and I, we might be two campers
at the edge of primeval forest
All week, as the September sun ticked
toward equinox, I helped him up and down
the stairs, trying to keep him
from hurling off headfirst, awkward

as a puppy It’s almost midnight, turning
to autumn The old dog won’t go any farther
into fall A slight breeze mimics
his haphazard breathing
Green camper in these ghosts of woods;
nothing I’ve learned about the metaphysics
of science gives me courage What sound
does a dog-soul make in passing?

The Gate at the Bottom of the Road

I’m downstairs in the February dark,
grinding coffee black as the world outside Before dawn, I’ll be on the road, head-
light-torching the neighbors’ unlit windows
wildly as I pass Those neighbors
who put up the gate The tricky gate
that may open to my number-code
and let me out; or stubbornly may not
At the corner, my headlights catch
a buck and doe, two fawns bedded down,
abruptly on their feet and gone, downslope
into forest that’s yet to know a road
or gate Too quick to let me slip
into their free watchfulness beyond
our tricky safeties, triggers, fences,
deer who still can flee.


The sun’s last salute
before the cool of dark A blessing
And then, the air is sparks, no, shards
of rock, infinitesimal multitudes
that fill the crusted frying-pan
and the creases of our hands
We squint against such squander
of weather Behind, our footsteps
are swept, heaped and drifted, ribbed,
wiped clean Unreadable
The emblem of this journey
is a grain of sand raised to some
incalculable power.

Karen Suriano


Karen Suriano lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughters, inspired by their beauty, intelligence and bawdy sense of humor.  A poet disguised as a legal assistant in downtown Portland, she watches out her work window as skyscrapers reach higher for the sky, shouldering out the view of mountains and pine.

The following work is Copyright © 2005, and owned by Karen Suriano and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

you are

you are
smoked cologne sifting through lace
an electric stormthrilled breeze
sunday coffee and oven born buns
brandy spreading to the toes
to me

i love
round childcheeks soft
warm dewlaps and dogbreath sighing hopeful on the knee
bodywarm bedclothes
your hands between my knees
you so

i hold
down feather rapt
silk mantled hips
honey on the tongue
shudderings deep
you so

i touch
mouth on skin
fingertip dances
butter slick hands
consuming convergence
you so

i press
cat wound legs
thunder through the ribs
petals between the pages
flowers in the bed
you so

i dream
locked mirrored doors
nightshrouded tanglewood
october skies fractured
leaded fragments falling
you so

i miss
jaggedteeth windowglass
winter frosting the sash
broken hollowspined trees
esurient growlings
you so

your silence
concrete stubbed toes
caught zippered skin
sandcracked teeth
cold shrivellings
is so

The Burn

the mark of her unexpected touch
fell beneath the skinline
sliced between his ribs
and lit upon a vast darkness
a nothingness painstakingly ignored
convincingly denied

he did not hear her words
but nodded mute agreement just the same
waiving her away without daring to look
hoping how he caught his breath escaped her

she moved away as any other day
unmindful of his suffering
of her pyrotechnic power over him
unaware such careless collisions of her fingertips against him
meant anything more than the delivery of mail, messages and coffee
or that they caused anything remotely in the third degree

she never even smelled the smoke
as she dreamed of setting such fires
in other men
and went about her drudgery
an accidental arsonist
igniting the embers
of his smouldering heart

Feed Me

years behind us
miles between
too many for my arms to reach across and draw you in
for my lips to wrap around you
my teeth to sink

but still i hunger
for any part of you that you can spare
feed me what you can
if only letters
i’ll sink my eyes into your words then
and feast upon your thoughts

you can serve them up
rare and bleeding
still beating
salt them
toss them
with rubbed sage and roses
steep them in smoky wine
lay them hot on a bed of tropic divine
deep orange mango
dark rich rum
or country fry them crisp
drown them in gravy
mash them into sweet potato pie

whatever the menu
i’ll pick your brain
and lick the plate

just keep them coming
each word each sentence
each stirring of your heart
your loins
your random daydreams
i want to eat them
drink them
consume every last byte
i want them
need them
hunger for them all

i’ll nibble to appease
this insatiable greed
swallow whole chapters of your life in a single gulp
pick my teeth with sweet reminisce
swirl and savor the distillate memories
mellowed by should-haves tannins and time

and dessert
what shall we have for dessert?
cheesy cakes
from freezer box to plate
of silly forgotten escapades

or perhaps finely laced delicacies
the intricate whispered intimacies
of soft and subtle tiramisu
ladyfingers to break
and chew
slowly smiling swallowing

or a fantasy of crushed raspberry ice
sliding over wine-warm lips
parched throats
cold exciting sweet
every last drop for me to eat

we have so many days to feast and wile
to taste and sample
we can have it all
each succulent morsel
every savory crumb
let from the table fall none
lest we dive to the floor to catch it
and make obvious gluttons of ourselves

whet my appetite
tease me
tempt me
one forkful at a time if you must torture me
you know i’ll always come
for more

my hunger cannot
will not
be slaked
so keep the courses coming my chef
my recourse
for carnal discourse
culinary intercourse
and in due course
i’ll cover the check

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