What We Could Do by Taylor Graham

Coyote_at_Sonora_Desert_Museum_Tucson_Arizona

An old coyote hunts the field released
to daylight by the death of trees –
tall pines that edged the pond, victims
of bark beetle. We couldn’t save the trees,
but reconstructed the old village
in image of where tribes would meet
by woods and meadow, cedar-bark tepees
and lean-to, a circle for sitting, dancing,
drumming. Hear the beat in your pulse,
your footstep, or is that the wind?
The people lived until they passed.
There was a burning to release spirit,
a long cry. No burial a bear can plunder,
as miners plundered rock till it bled.
Once you touched a broken stone
still standing, and it fell away in your
hand. A chasm or a healing.
Grizzly is gone from the land, Raven
stays to tell the stories. An old Coyote
hunts the margins we’ve left him,
a leaf fallen between pages
of history and myth, unwritten spaces
for releasing the question,
the lament, a poem, a story in song.

 

 

Taylor Graham has been a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler for
many years, and served as El Dorado County’s inaugural poet laureate
(2016-2018). Married to a forester/wildlife biologist (Hatch, retired
now), she helped with his bird conservation projects and was a
volunteer wilderness ranger, with her search dog, for two summers on
the Mokelumne. She lives with Hatch, dog Loki and cat Latches on five
acres on the outskirts of Rescue. She’s included in the anthologies
Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold
Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University/Heyday Books). Her latest
book is Windows of Time and Place: poems of El Dorado (Cold River
Press, 2019).

 

Original photograph by Btcgeek.

Three Poems by Barbara Eknoian

554px-Family_photo_album_-_ornate_frontispiece_(8012042874)

Baptism

My powerful father lay in a coma
I remembered when he said,
“I was never baptized.”
I thought then,
someday, when you’re an old man,
somehow, we’ll get you baptized.

I rushed home and called
my Bible prayer leader
asking tearfully,
“I can baptize my father,
can’t I ?”

I put some water in a small bottle,
and placed it in my purse.
At his bedside, I opened the vial,
wet my fingers, and made
The sign of the cross
on his bald head.

I said, “I baptize you
in the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit.”

I was afraid he’d open his eyes
and say, “What the hell are you doing?”
Just to be certain the baptism took,
I did it a second time.

First published in Chiron Review.

Sunday

Up at five, I dress and drive to my son’s house.
He packs, while I sweep tile floors,
rake up kids’ tiny toys then vacuum rugs.

He fills boxes of odds and ends: food from the pantry,
lotions and medicine from chests,
a bicycle helmet and exercise weights from his office.

We put his dogs, Nickie and Miko into the back seat.
Raised outside, they’re not used to being corralled in a car.
My daughter holds on to them so they don’t jump up front.

My son is hiding regret that he’s losing his home.
We need to help and be here for him.
Today is Sunday, this is church.

First published in Chiron Review.

Going Home

I used to see her stooping down,
planting rows of lettuce,
resting sometimes on the stone bench
next to the goat pen.
Or, in her cellar kitchen,
the Italian radio station playing
while she busily stirred a large pot
of tomato sauce, or kneaded
huge mounds of dough to bake bread.

I never heard Grandma laugh out loud.
Her eyes were sad, soft and brown.
Her birthday, a secret, never celebrated
after she crossed the Atlantic
and her baby girl Mary died at Ellis Island.

I never knew much about Grandma.
She didn’t speak my language,
and I wondered why she looked so sad.
When she passed away,
Aunt Mary told me Grandma
once rode horses bareback in Calabria,
and had accompanied her father
to weddings where she played the mandolin.

Now, I think of her riding down a country road,
her long hair flying in the wind,
a mandolin strapped to her back,
and I hear her laughing
as she turns around and smiles back to all of us.

 

 

Barbara Eknoian is a poet and novelist. She is a long-time member of Donna Hilbert’s poetry workshop in Long Beach where she’s happy to practice her craft. Her poetry books and novels are available at Amazon. She lives in La Mirada, CA with son, daughter, three grandsons, and three dogs (which she never picked out). She’s always reminded that she has never lost her Jersey accent.

#Mountains: Women Are Mountains Scattered by Wren Tuatha

dc3zzyf-c6b1ae72-1c07-402e-a553-daec2b137ae2

Red pill/green pocket/squire, asks then takes anyway,
can you see me or the planet from a crag in Arkansas?
Gynic peaks pull the moon in you by a string.

What do you orbit? How do you know when to alight if land
and women are mountains scattered, grounded but shifting
unfinished? You and Mohammed, playing pipes at mountains.

Two peaks, one in Africa, the other Appalachia, pour
water that makes the moonbow, marrying light and vapor.
Only two places on Earth does the moon lay this lyric.

Mountains in Nepal listen to gunfire. In Kentucky they
lay down for clean coal, rebranded. Lung forests in Sierras
truck downhill. Peaks in Switzerland take the breath away,

rare oxygen. Do you see me on the planet from Alps, Everest
or Kilimanjaro? Rice terraces and the perfect elevation
for quinoa. Who are you feeding? Who comes to the table?

Not women. When restless we erupt, rebranding, renewing.
We sway slow on our plates. My skin has regrown after lavas.
Sit down. Your babbling is corrosive, a tune in smoke while women

chisel, turn spokes. Narcissus drowning and other irrelevant kings.
No matter your heights, a king convinced of his wings and his view
brought us to this ledge.

 

First published in Thistle and Brilliant, Finishing Line Press. 

 

 

Califragile founding editor Wren Tuatha’s poetry has appeared in The Cafe Review, Canary, Peacock Journal, Coachella Review, Baltimore Review, Pirene’s Fountain, Loch Raven Review, Clover, Lavender Review and others. She’s pursuing her MFA at Goddard College.  Her chapbooks, Thistle and Brilliant and the forthcoming Skeptical Goats, are from Finishing Line Press. Wren and her partner, author/activist C.T. Butler, herd rescue goats in the Camp Fire burn zone of California.

#Mountains: The Mammogram Technician Asked if I Wanted to Take a Look by Andrea Potos

750px-Woman_receives_mammogram

Profile of a motherland–
sloping hill and veins bold
with blood ore,
rivers of light criss-
crossing and coursing
from view, I prayed
my eyes were true–
I saw no errant stone.

 

Previously published in Arrows of Light, Iris Press.

 

Andrea Potos is the author of eight poetry collections, including the forthcoming A Stone to Carry Home (Salmon Poetry), Arrows of Light (Iris Press), An Ink Like Early Twilight (Salmon Poetry), We Lit the Lamps Ourselves (Salmon Poetry) and Yaya’s Cloth (Iris Press). The latter three books received Outstanding Achievement Awards in Poetry from the Wisconsin Library Association. Her poems can be found widely in print and online. She received the William Stafford Prize in Poetry from Rosebud Magazine, and the Hearst Poetry Prize from the North American Review.

 

Original photograph by Rhonda Baer, courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. 

#Mountains: The Path by Stella Pierides

dd

At the top of the stairway snaking up the hill, a white-washed chapel and an olive tree. Blinding sunlight. Some way to go yet. The stony stairs are narrow, a couple of hands-width before the cliff falls steeply into the sea.

Slow down, there’s no hurry. Take a deep breath. Feel the rough warmth of the rock. The wind beating against it raises the fragrance of sage, of thyme and marjoram to the skies, erases the silence.

marble wings—
in the distance
windmill ruins

Feel the salt on your lips, the urgent wind tussling your hair.
This history book under your arm, so well-thumbed, leave it here, against that rock, someone coming after you might linger, take a look.

pillars of salt—
propping her foot
on a stone

And the pebble from Amorgos you kept in your pocket all those years, add it to the cairn over there, where the path widens. Let it go. The trail is moments like this, following the light, teetering on the edge of your desires, of your sorrows.
That bench at the top, see it now, under the olive tree? This is your goal. You can rest there. Wise, gentle Persephone will hold your hand.

embalming my tongue
I rest in the shadow
of the silver-leaved olive

 

 

Stella Pierides is a poet and writer born in Athens, Greece, now living in Neusaess, Germany and London, UK. She is the author of three poetry books: Of This World (Red Moon Press, 2017) and In the Garden of Absence (Fruit Dove Press, 2012), both of which received a Haiku Society of America merit award; Feeding the Doves (Fruit Dove Press, 2013). Her work has also appeared in numerous print and online journals and anthologies. Currently she manages the Per Diem: Daily Haiku feature for the Haiku Foundation.

 

Painting by Jenn Zed.

Tamalpais by Nicole Michaels

Tamalpais-derangedtaco

I am keeping your secrets
as if I wrote the legend,

crashed the planes,
abandoned the cars,

set the plaque
for Sitting Bull.

Your peeling manzanitas
are safe with me,

your rock,
your fire roads.

I have nothing to offer
except myself as I was,

gilded like a trout
downstream of your sleeping figure,

bronzed below your witch-guarded peak.

 

1280px-MT._TAMALPAIS_STATE_PARK,_MARIN_COUNTY,_CA

 

Nicole Michaels is a Marin County, CA native who makes her home in frontier Wyoming. She is a working poet with a degree in English from Stanford University where she studied under the late Diane Middlebrook and chose an emphasis in feminist studies. She spent some time in the American South as a journalist for small papers.

 

Top photograph by Brent Peters/Derangedtoco; Bottom photograph by Jerrye and Roy Klotz. 

Grandfather’s Simple Request by Trish Saunders

koolau mountains debrajean pixabay

My ohana, I must leave you soon.
Bury me with koa leaves and shells,
place pikake flowers around my neck,
red dirt between my toes.

Once, I wanted to rest beneath the Pali cliffs
where I could hear the ocean
and receive its calm.

I live in the desert now, a place no less beautiful
but far from the temple grasses
of our ancestors.

Do not grieve for me.
Watch for my lantern in the night sky
guiding boats into the harbor.

 

 

Trish Saunders writes poems from Seattle and Honolulu (and, in her imagination, from the shores of Crater Lake, Oregon). She’s been widely published in print and digital poetry journals; some favorites are Right Hand Pointing, Blast Furnace Press, Eunoia, Califragile.

 

Photograph of Koolau Mountains by Debra Jean.