Harmonics

from the back cover:

In Harmonics, Taylor Graham maps the precarious. She reminds us: "A plate shifts under ocean, not intending much..." but "a wall falls down." Roads vanish in winter storms, friends disappear. Someone takes "a mis-step/on the South Fork Trail/ and it's forever." We're warned by a voice that knows from experience: "Don't step on broken branches,/you never know whose bones."

The poems' response to such a world is dire attentiveness---an essential listening so acute it registers when a spider's web "resonates like highrise steel/inside its concrete." Though pervaded with a sense of elegy, the poems also celebrate the redemptive moment: A cloud of butterflies "balanced on the tips of nameless, pale pink flowers." They usher us into the minds of Fox, Bear and Dog, from whom we learn: "A dog writes his own history/without monuments."

These are deceptively humble poems. Graham speaks to us casually, at times with quiet good humor; like a good neighbor chatting across the back fence. But Graham's crafting is deft, her sense of the line edgy, architectural and sure. These poems sing with the music of the inevitable.

~Susan Kelly-DeWitt

 

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Harmonics

Bear-Hunger

Unposted

Fox Names Me

End of Season

Harmonics

Bear-Hunger

Unposted

Fox Names Me

End of Season

 

Harmonics

Bear-Hunger

Unposted

Fox Names Me

End of Season

 

Harmonics

Bear-Hunger

Unposted

Fox Names Me

End of Season

 

Harmonics

Bear-Hunger

Unposted

Fox Names Me

End of Season

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HARMONICS

 

A spider's web resonates like highrise steel

inside its concrete. The web snaps as one man

steps under interlacing twigs of forest, not lost

but simply walking. A plate shifts under ocean

not intending much of anything, maybe

only stretching, and a wall falls down. Listen.

An old brown Navajo sings heaven and clay

as she weaves these colors into dust.

Creation's song is a trapped insect, imploding

stars or earthquake. We weave ourselves

into its pattern, right or wrong.

 

BEAR-HUNGER

 

I was sleeping when they came.

I slept in the savor of pot roast,

the woolish warmth of wood‑stove,

and the long night=s moon measuring

my dreams.

 

But in the morning

I found their prints

stitching the old orchard,

circling each tree. They lifted

bear‑bulk for the hanging apples,

the ones too poor to pick.

 

And so I reached, too,

and plucked just one,

and bit it to its seeds.

The flesh was sweet

but scant. It tasted

like hunger.

 

UNPOSTED

All your married friends love cheatin' -

songs. Unattached, you lean

to trespass. You've got this rough

brown dog who travels shotgun,

both county road and interstate, muzzle

wide out the right-side window, no matter

weather. Stop here! he says

in Dog, then ranges out through some-

body's unattended sag-fence field

gone crazy to anise, mustard blossoming

yellow among the faded Miller cans

and rabbit droppings. A good dog

leaves his own.

Once your tail-lights disappear

around the next curve west,

the only evidence will be this lush

forge of wild radish at a certain spot

he marked, thrusting flowers

delicately blue-white as moth

wings, a flight that's never

lighted on a question

of ownership.

 

 FOX NAMES ME

 

Under hot sky and the livestock trucks

headed for mountain pasture;

under the speeding convertibles

bound for Valley cities,

under the bridge

where swallows daub their nests

with creek‑mud and zap mosquitos

above thin water

 

on a dry‑grass slope

across from the tanglefoot‑garden

where a forgotten hand

sowed mock‑orange and yellow

monkey‑flower, and blue‑

birds weave a nest of honey‑

suckle bark---

 

here under a plain June sun

stands Fox

 

in sable fur with ruddy

prick ears, unstartled eyes

staring at me staring back

at Fox

 

unafraid as Eden

taking my human picture

naming me.

 

 

 

END OF SEASON

                     for Steve

 

Eight summers since you rode that load of timber

down a July so hot, the asphalt burned

like failed brakes.  At your neck, the weight

of forest that you loved to measure out

by footsteps, losing track of hours

when you weren't so needy after pay

that runs out at the end of logging season. 

 

It was trees you loved, and meadow

that springs back underfoot

hardly leaving a track.

You'd puzzle out a cougar pad

or follow cloven hooves,

just to see an August thicket

from a buck's eye. 

You liked to sniff the deadfall scent

that stays on south‑face slopes

when everybody else is counting days

till the flat‑broke end of season.

 

Of course they milled your logs---

the ones they could salvage---

measured out by board‑feet.

Your truck's a total.

The part of you they saved

lies in a well‑milled box.

That part can wait.

 

This morning I was hiking

above the last bad curve. 

I almost thought I saw

your footprint.