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Taylor Graham: Greatest Hits by Taylor Graham

Taylor Graham: Greatest Hits 1973-2001

"...Pudding House brings you hits from some of the hottest poets across the contemporary American literary landscape....The poets in this series write about their lives as poets....[and] have been asked to write about the lives of their poems as well....the Greatest Hits series provides their top 12 numbers from a broad range of venues and publishing histories."

 

GRANDMA DAWSON’S GIRLS

Of the hottest she chose
the hottest: chiles
that made her Texas Ranger
blanch, come up for air, “Oh yes!
That’s almost
hot enough.”

He’d kiss her on the mouth,
his lips burned through. Seeds
from that same chile
chosen above all others
down generations of a hot
west Texas garden:

that heart-shaped pepper hung
till it was red as Texas blood.
Just waved across the pot
it drew such piquancy to a stew
so you could hardly eat it,
so you fell in love
with hot.

Down generations
the Dawson girls
could hardly find young men
that weren’t too mild
to marry.

 

IN HER SLEEP

The old dog plays bass.

We used to call it chasing rabbits,
but she’s grown
way past that. Past puppyhood,
she learned a chase
would tangle her in thornbush
with the rabbit safe on the other side
in a field we scolded her
for running.
She grew reliable, then flimsy
in the hind end, companion
we could count on
not to mess the family room
or knock vases off the ledge.
A length of linoleum by the stove,
flat on her side, her horizontal
dog-dom.

But now the radio plays jazz.
     The old dog
goes chasing rhythms,
catching at tones in her sleep
that slither past us into tangles
of sound. She catches them clear
and clean. The old hind
legs carry her, the near-blind eyes
roll back white, she keeps
the bass alive. Flat asleep
on the floor, she’s running
like we never let her run,
into fields we never saw.

 

UNPACKING MOTHER’S THINGS

Her wedding picture’s with the recipes
for meatloaf. Months before Mother died
she saved this lock, but kept unmatching keys.

This purse holds rings and tokens. Like a tease,
a box within a box, tucked safe inside,
her wedding picture’s with the recipes.

She loved to cook. Now, here’s a bunch of peas,
some lentils and a sprig of parsley, dried.
She saved this lock, but kept unmatching keys

all sorted by some system based on threes,
perhaps, or color. Logic is defied:
her wedding picture’s with the recipes

and here’s a broken comb and two dead bees,
a postcard of a mule with boy astride.
She saved this lock, but kept unmatching keys

while autumn headed for its first hard freeze
and she put mind and memory aside.
Her wedding picture’s with the recipes
she saved and locked, and kept unmatching keys.

 

 

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