September 24-October 1, 2000: Taylor Graham and Juan Antonio Alzamora


week of September 24-October 1, 2000

Taylor Graham and Juan Antonio Alzamora

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Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

I’m a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler living in Somerset, CA, in the Sierra Nevada My poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Chattahoochee Review, Folio, The Iowa Review, Poetry International, Yankee and elsewhere My latest collection is AN HOUR IN THE COUGAR’S GRACE (Pudding Hill, 2000)
Also check out Taylor’s earlier book NEXT EXIT.

The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

Economies of Cat

“There’s no economic advantage We go into space
because it’s in our genes to explore “
~ Prof Howard McCurdy

Well of course, people don’t own cats
for the economic advantage Think
of how a feline hunts the dark corners
of imagination; then shoots for treetops
invisible with birds She gives
no prospect of increase, no return
on your investment in tuna
On chilly days she keeps to cushions
in the nooked sun, doing nothing At night, she’s a peevish purr
against your chest, absorbing your body-
heat as she ratchets up her own,
till you can’t help but open windows,

and she’ll be sailing for the elm-tree
branches and beyond, her newest orbit,
for no good reason on earth.

Indian Valley, Fire Alert

Yes, we’ll be going there, with only one
road in and one road out Fires and back-
fires are blowing up the landscape all around You can smell smoke hanging on the sky,
smoke pinned out blue to dry Dry heat
sucks our sweat, it’s seeding thunder-
heads with lightning Sparks
Here in the foothills, house-holders
are mapping their escape routes Commuters
puzzle what to cram in trucks and vans
(computer hard-drives, baby photos &Mac246;
what of this much lived-up life to choose?)
We’re going to a place that hasn’t burned
yet, a long green valley edged by willow Small birds flit the fringes, a hawk soars
hunger-dance A rutty track, the only
way to get there We’ll camp under smoky
galaxies Yes, we know, we could die
there (or somewhere, sometime else).

Blue Ribbons at the Fair

Her crooknecks shove their skins
a little more into the sun, wishing
to be golden Her beans and peppers,
cucumbers will persist in the tribal
memory of pickle brine
Overhead, robins and jays test
their wings for ripeness One bird
swoops and lifts Rabbits and deer
weigh hunger against the booby-
traps of gardeners
After the paring knife, her secret
recipe for curing, beyond the pressure
cooker on the fire, which will go
finally slipping into her crystal
labeled jars?

She’s planted so many seeds,
she counts the rows So very many
seeds, and yet so few learn perfectly
to grow, without a scar to die.

West of the Divide

Caught up in a stream of eastern
landscape–floral green and pleated forest
washed at night, hung out to dry,
then steaming up a yellow morning mist–

it seemed the states changed only names But now we’ve climbed to where
the sun sails dark and lighter kites
by interstices, stops each frame

to name it, while the wind floats blue
and purple-black balloons bunched
till it thunders, water crams and
churns, gouges out foundations Gneiss

and limestone houses, schist: chimneys,
chambers of the mountains’ bones,
the fossil earth like stones that boys
throw, making play against a stream

that’s growling under wind and water,
time and stone and running all away.

Ornithology 101

Suppose you open the locked gate past the cattle-guard
and climb a rough sandy road through manzanita,
willow and aspen, a burned-out stand of Jeffries
to an unnamed pass, by the map 7000 ft Suppose you drop
to a valley ringed in lodgepole pine, a deep-cut creek
through meadow with its yellowing willow edges, and set
your nets to gather juncos, orange-crowned warblers,
a spotted towhee, riparian birds of a mountain meadow Caught, each hangs in its bag to wait its turn for banding,
skulling, all the measurements of primaries and retrices The bird lies in your palm to accept the aluminum ankle-
band; lies staring at grass or sky or the plaid wall
of your flannel jacket while you spread each wing to check
for fade and wear; insert a ruler between tailfeathers;
plunge the bird upside down in a tube for weighing;
record each datum At last you hold the bird belly-down
in your hand, and let it fly It does, an inmate
who’s done time, and lost his compass for a natural world It flaps to the nearest lodgepole You turn to the next
bird in a bag But suppose

you notice a clatter of birds unnaturally high in pines Juncos, nuthatches in a jitter In the midst, a pygmy owl
devouring its prey: fox sparrow with a bright
aluminum band Through binoculars you watch a pair
of Clark’s crows chase the owl away, still clutching
its silver catch By noon you’re packing up your nets
and heading back for the long descent, considering
the information you gained today.

Juan Antonio Alzamora

Bio (auto)

I have had breakfast, often inside the pockets of Pennsylvania and, less often, in the else of some other brown-pleated place But, there will be no bitterness in saying that, so the robins out of hollows should give cause to sing
The following work is Copyright © 2000, and owned by Juan Antonio Alzamora and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsover without written permission from the author.

De Gloria Mundi

Should I say
That passion
Provoked me
To burrow
My own sacrilegious,
Leaking car
From a stoplight
To each tallow-skinned
Pedestrian walk
In mere Manhattan, just
To see you, you, you?

My mistake again Yet, better that
The car survives,
Even back
To Allentown,
Though home
Still is
A tow away.



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