Jan/Feb 2004 Poetry Special Feature

Two Word Poems

by Taylor Graham



Late afternoons he sits on his deck
overlooking canyons and ridges of live oak
and manzanita. His daughter finds him
thumbing the passport that slipped him
onto night trains and across so many borders.
Maybe, she says, he still hears train whistles
echoing down corridors of foreign languages.

Such memories are sacred, she whispers.
How far he's traveled to come back safe;
what dangers, what sights he's seen.

There is one memory he never speaks of:
the cry that echoes down the alley of his spine
and makes him foreign on his own five acres.
A mountain lion that stalked him one cool evening,
not two hundred yards from home. That cat
keeps him prisoner now, overlooking canyons
and ridges farther than a body can fear.


Bedtime Stories

A lion's always in the echo
of a drum, however distant
and muffled by the turning
page of some old fairytale.

Of a drum, however distant,
we can hear the faintest beat,
a page of some old fairytale
repeated endlessly at bedtime.

We can hear the faintest beat,
rain against the window
repeated endlessly at bedtime
while we bundle safe inside.

Rain against the window
forever veils a sacred night
while we bundle safe inside
our passport out of storm.

Forever veils a sacred night
unruffled by human sleep,
our passport out of storm.
Each breath and heartbeat

(unruffled by human sleep)
a lion, always, in the echo
and muffled by the turning
of each breath and heartbeat.


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