Apr/May 2009 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Taylor Graham

20 Acres

That foggy curtain across
the canyon—is it rain or wishing,
after so long drought?
In the field, last summer's star-
thistle glints tarnished-silver, brittle.
It pricks the fingers, sheep
won't eat it. Don't tell me nothing
threatens the flock. The old ewe's
in tatters, last summer's wool
rag-tag catching on every stalk.
We could make mill-harvest of these
leavings, if there were such
a market. End of day, end of line.
You take me by the shoulder,
point through leafless oaks.
That blaze of sunset under clouds
as if it were a promise. Curtain
lifting. As if this were the first act
opening. It's thunder-weather,
a drenching hoedown
end-of-the-rainbow show
till dark.


Imitation of Virtue

As threatened, dinner's motif was the color
brown. Brisket of beef, sad reminder of a lowing
life keeled down without swan song,
blood through muscle, hearth-braised till
stoically tough; a sauce to soak mashed potatoes.

The honored guest kept his wisdom
like a disembodied head behind curtains,
muted sepia of a late-grieved uncle's portrait.
Three blown lilies to recall first
passion: three blossoms with brittle lips.

Ancestral penance is the heaviest.
Virtue comes easy to a flesh
already flayed. Oh when
will Mother allow us one brief
brazing evening of carnelian and jade?


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