Photo courtesy of Hatch Graham
Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in
El Dorado County, where she's a member of Red Fox and Tuesday at
Two poetry workshops. She also helps her husband, Hatch (a
retired wildlife biologist), with his field projects. In
addition to Rattlesnake Review and Medusa's Kitchen, her poems
have appeared in America, The Iowa Review, The New York
Quarterly, Poet Lore, 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. Email her at
check out her website,
Taylor Graham Poems
These poems are from Living
With Myth, published by Rattlesnake Press in 2004:
I stand with my back against an oak —
actually two oaks that have wound
their trunks together as if they’d been
slow-dancing, her head on his shoulder,
her golden leaves disheveled in light.
That’s what comes of slow-dancing,
my mother might have said, as if she
knew. As if she’d once heard music
sweet as Orpheus when she was young.
As if she’d ever been as young as these
two oaks that grew into one tree rooted
like any other oak in the woods, but
their good grain so curved and spiraled,
they’re useless for lumber, the way
they just stand here, dancing.
Athena Considers Dawn
I never said your cat died —
no matter what you might infer
from the owl’s call,
a bird which some old poet
likened to me.
I simply piped four interrupted
chords in the dark, such sounds
a sleeper might wake to,
and think owl
and wonder at his life.
Does this make me responsible
for everything that wings
do? I’m tired
of your dreams
By chance your cat fit
neatly taloned, black
into midnight with her moon-
I heard an owl’s cry,
but it sounded so very human
as it fed on loss.
That’s not what dawn
Here are two poems from Taylor Graham’s
second rattlechap, Among Neighbors, released in November
Between a mossy outcrop
and a bedrock mortar,
I watch a neighbor’s wood-smoke rise
toward the contrail
of a transcontinental flight.
Two overwintered bluebirds
peck berries from the mistletoe of a dying oak
whose roots dig into frost-heave,
decomposing granite re-composing
tree and shadow.
Atop a boulder, a squirrel has eaten
half a mushroom-cap and left the rest.
Coyote scat is full of manzanita berries
and fur, fragments of bone: what’s
left of gray squirrel.
I imagine I could hear the earth turn
its worms through soil, or maybe
that’s blood running rabbit-trails
in my ears, or else
news on the breeze
from ridges up-east and over.
I stand listening, till it’s time
to go back home.
Can I find a space there
to hold this quiet?
A pomp-and-circumstantial hesitation-
glide across the cinder-
block foundation we were digging
right-angle linear into hillside;
moving without seeming
in sequent curves, until
without a royal glance behind,
In its place, nails and framing, sub-
floor, roof and plumbing.
Now we live among robins, juncos,
But the red and yellow tanager
and the evening grosbeak
are less common;
and the pileated woodpecker
with its imperial crimson crest
has moved on
to the kingdom
for all the seeds we scatter
like beggars for birds—
for all we wish the skinny shiver
and tricolor robes,
for all we wish