January 15-21, 2018: Poetry from Joan E. Bauer and Taylor Graham

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Joan E. Bauer and Taylor Graham

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Joan E. Bauer

Bio (auto)

Joan E. Bauer is the author of The Almost Sound of Drowning (Main Street Rag, 2008). With Judith Robinson and Sankar Roy, she co-edited the award-winning international anthology, Only the Sea Keeps: Poetry of the Tsunami (Bayeux Arts and Rupa & Co, 2005). In 2007, she won the Earle Birney Poetry Prize from Prism International. Joan was born in Long Beach, CA, attended UCLA and UC Berkeley, and for some years worked as an English teacher and educational counselor. She now divides her time between Venice, CA where she attends Beyond Baroque poetry workshops, and Pittsburgh, PA, where she co-hosts and curates the Hemingway’s Summer Poetry Series in the back room of Hemingway’s Cafe. For more on Pittsburgh’s thriving poetry scene, listen in to our audio archive: www.hemingwayspoetryseries.blogspot.com

The following work is Copyright © 2018, and owned by Joan E. Bauer. and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

I Pretend My Mother Is Not Dead 

but is bartering at a West LA farmer’s market,
her battered shopping cart bulging with her own
purple figs, rock-hard guavas, juicy persimmons.
Perhaps she’ll trade them for brown eggs
or shiny eggplant. Or chocolate she’ll store in the freezer
because out of sight is out of mind.
My mother is buried at Holy Cross with the Catholic
movie stars. She never met anyone famous unless
you count Colonel John Stapp, the rocket-sled man.
Mother liked my poems, so long as I said nothing bad
about NASA or Charles Lindbergh or my father.
But I can’t forget the double martinis my father needed
to have lunch—with me—at Nixon’s favorite Mexican
restaurant, El Adobe. Dad’s wife would share how
sorry she felt for the little people. She was related
to an early California governor. Maybe that’s what
gave her airs. She’d been Dad’s secretary.
She loved him & would bring him, without question,
the vodka/orange juice from the stainless Frigidaire.
I’d drive home repeating a kind of mantra.
You are not your parents. You are —
The fire in ’91 spared all the family photos.
That winter, I wiped away every smudge to see
my parents smiling & foolish & young again.

– Previously published in U.S. 1 Worksheets

Taylor Graham

Bio (auto)

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler hallway between Placerville and Rescue, CA, and serves as El Dorado County’s first poet laureate (2016-2018). She’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest book is Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016). 

The following work is Copyright © 2018, and owned by Taylor Graham and may not be distributed or reprinted in any form whatsoever without written permission from the author.

Just Taking a Walk

He steps out under the Dipper, turns
his back to Polaris and aims toward Jupiter.

Just taking a walk, he told his wife.
Open path between oaks, short of the boulder-

clogged backside of hill – his leach field
where grass grows lush and giving underfoot.

No moon, it’s dark but for neighbors’ window-
squares of light, tiny on the opposite ridge.

Intermittent stream of headlights on the road
that winds along creek beneath this hill,

far from city light-pollution that dims
the Milky Way. Five fenced acres, and his

dogs are marking territory; leg-lifting, bitch-
squatting, leaving their scent on the scat of wild

creatures. It’s black enough under oaks.
He finds his spot overlooking road, its spurts

of headlights disappearing. In his natural
shadow, dweller of this ground, he

stops and marks it. A pouring out, a greeting
to green earth. No witness but stars.

Old Man of the Mountain

It manifests as now-and-then memory lapse –
what was the name of the horse he rode
on range patrol, mid-Sierra, so many years ago?

The legs that could out-hike the youngest
guys are weakening, he loses balance
now, and clasps two long sticks to steady

himself for walking. He claims he has
no salable skills anymore. But when he made
his way down Main Street, headed for

the hardware store – long grizzled beard
and levis with years of trail dirt ground in,
somebody called out, “There he is! Man

of the Mountain, in the flesh!” and they led
him up the bell-tower steps, high-Sierra icon
if there ever was one. He kind of grinned

like a kid embarrassed to accept his award
in the John Muir Look-Alike Contest.
Then he two-poled himself to the hardware

store; and back home to throw sticks
for his dog, happy as a kid in his unsteady
memories of ranging the backcountry.

But aren’t all our memories sliding, so
we need these public spectacles to recall
a few. It’s what keeps this town alive.

Meditation on Hangtown

A preliminary scan of Main Street,
first Monday morning of the month. 7:20 –
it’s chilly, shops still closed. My dog
leads the way, quaffing leftover scents
on the air, scouring light posts and fireplugs
with his detective nose. Residues
of passing pleasures, crimes long cold.
A museum, his nose.
We hold our history dear in this old
Gold Rush town. Over my head
as if mortally stuck there forever, George
the cowboy-dummy swings
from his retrofitted 1853 saloon that now
sells ice cream instead of beer.
No joke. Its new owners preserve local
history without the buzz, the fizz, the foam.
I wonder which antique store might
keep a locket of some girl’s
long gone golden hair, or at least her
tortoise-shell comb.





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