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Under the Shuttle, Awake by Taylor Graham

Under the Shuttle, Awake

“This latest collection of Graham’s work leads us through the eerie moonlit world and the shadows that linger at the edges in broad daylight. These are poems that turn an image on a dime and hunt you long after you’ve set the book aside.” (2005)
~ Kristy Bowen, editor of Wicked Alice

“Graham is an accomplished poet who pulls no punches. Her poetry becomes an exercise of the homespun voice, which seduces the reader with passionate, deeply-felt lyrical imaginings of life’s daily chores.”
~ B.L. Kennedy



The anger comes out through the fingers,
these threads forced through fabric,
the needle’s prick.

And yet, she wouldn’t have dreamed the colors.
Crimson, black, a fire guttering; storm cell
building up to thunderhead.
And that’s only the first quilted square.

The next one, heavy gray wool,
complexion of a man who chokes
on T-bone cooked just right.

This square commemorates
the empty bed: a patch of flowered
flannel sheet, roses nestled in forget-
me-nots, with her stitching
X’ed across each petal.

The labors of a year, that’s how long
it took to work hurt
into the measured squares
and master the colors’ clash.
Stay long enough,
she’ll narrate every square.

For border, her wedding gown
in pieces, egg-shell lace on satin.
Pale gray wool, November-weight,
for the backing. She admits

the quilt is just too heavy
to be a comfort on the bed.



How many light-years till a star’s shine
reaches us in our earthly darkness?
All the men-in-black have made their living
by our blindness.

And yet, catch a falling
if you can. They say God pledges
constancy in stars

above mountains, stars beyond the murk
of city lights.

You came here with constellations
on your mind. But in the thick night sky
you only see how mortals
have stepped in mud
to watch it harden around the print
of each flat sole.

Somebody points higher. Heavenly
bodies. In the northeast
Marilyn dazzles down: a trinity of stars
suggests her smile; seven others,
her mythic fly-away skirt.
The next constellation over,
isn’t that DiMaggio?

Every little star we see
is dead, but in our hearts
we don’t believe it.



you map the backside of the moon
using blips just broken off from dreams,
and hints and winks from the sly tipped face
at its palest quarter.

You knew a lady once who moon-mapped
for a living; who played with lunar-probes
and manned space-flight photos, rocket-science
far beyond the means of a shift-insomniac;

and when that lady finished with the moon,
she bought herself a Harley
and whizzed around the Beltway with a black
pet buzzard unfurled on her shoulders,
wings wide to the wind.

What can an hourly mortal do
with just the mind’s imagination?
When you finish with the moon’s backside,
you’ll slip out a window

in search of the huge white bird who tips
and glides by night, wings extended
wide as dreams.



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