a poetry e-zine










Poems By Taylor Graham

Again tonight you’re not going to meet him
in Antequera, a city you haven’t visited
in forty years. Back then, you could pay
your ticket, settle into a window seat;
toss aside your woolen cloak – the one he
bargained for in the blind weaver’s shop –
and forget you ever dreamed in Spanish.
Recuérdate, he’d whisper, that old tale
of lovers who leapt together, out-tricking
the Moors of separation. Una eternidad,
as if a study-year abroad could last that
long. Just see what’s left of the Alcazaba.
He was no student of history. La vida,
he liked to say, as you walked between
stalls of oranges, green olives, eggs
you sucked raw from the shell, then
lifted a bota of cheap Spanish blanco,
squeezed till it fountained into your open
mouth. You had your travel-grant, you
did the Roman baths, Torre del Homenaje,
Iglesia San Francisco. You had your
return ticket home. Where is history
after you leave it behind? Again tonight
you won’t meet him in Antequera.


Like deep sea creatures,
I’ve evolved a phosphorescence
for living in the dark.

Outside this maze,
mortals talk of methane, anaerobic
swamp-gas of dead tunnels.

Half-man, half-bull, no hope
of being whole, why not
steal the secrets of bio-luminescence?

Sniffing my way
from turn to turn, preceded
by uncanny glow,

I’ve come to love the dark,
the cold strength of stone-muscle
that still holds, long

after the king’s men carved and
chipped, leaving scrapes and scratches,
their names scabbed over.

For ages, no one comes here
anymore. I stand at the cross
of four directions,

letting my light cloak me.
Ever deeper toward the center
no one else will hazard.


Between her sisters,
the young girl with a black-
swan neck –

slender stalk
to support the gaze of those
eyes and wide-open smile –

listens with the ear of song
that doesn’t need to be

All counterpoised
angles (wrists, elbow wings,
fingers laced in lap)

between her sisters
a black key
between the ivories,

a joy that never could be


After the lights go out in the orchestra
and the instruments go back
in their padded cases, and the peculiar
cold settles into sound-
boxes, spaces meant to amplify
the cries of plucked strings –

then you walk out into neon streets
and take city air into your lungs,
and try to remember the lilting
Italian name for moonlight,
or the misty opening chord
and why it moved you.


Shiny black to fit in the palm like a gem
of the hand, by chance some walker
let it drop

on a hillside where last summer
wildfire over-flashed, towering on thermals
anviling east above the summit;

at last cooled; smoke dissipated like
an after-whiff of passion
settled in ash

where now it lies
in a place never meant
for plastic.

With its memory of words,
how it fit between someone’s
cheek and ear, it calls

in rings and chirps as if
to call the ravens who scavenge
what’s left behind.

Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. Her poems have appeared in International Poetry Review, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, Poetry International, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere, and she's included in the anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004). Her book The Downstairs Dance Floor (Texas Review Press, 2006) was awarded the Robert Phillips Poetry Chapbook Prize. Her latest is Among Neighbors (Rattlesnake Press, 2007).

Copyright 2009  Chantarelle's Notebook