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Taylor Graham





Throwing It Back

Love is a barbed hook at the end
of a silver ribbon. He never liked
fish, no matter how you fixed it.
And yet you keep on dreaming

fish like a symbol of redemption.
No religion involved, he didnt
believe in Jesus any more than
halibut. The grilling flame

of Western Civilization gives
off its own charged heat: love
as alchemical process, a charred
thing rising forever out of itself,

changed and feathered. Hook
and talon, arrow and thorn. Gone-
wrong love is the beholding eye
at fault, the hand that twitches

at the instant it should grasp.
His new wife prepares fish the way
he always liked it. Not your fault,
its just a case of the target

not noticing the dart; the bait
that sinks like a stone of dreams;
that lies there, a dead fish
to resurface as symbol, glinting

with silver scales. The barb
as aftertaste of kiss.




Backing Up Adventure

In this computer game
Im brave. My hero takes on any
monster, knowing
with a mouse-click,
Ill be back to yesterday
when Id just conquered the whole
red army --

with heavy casualties, to be sure,
but still
marching forward
tatterdemalion, we few
scarred survivors,
another 10,000 experience points
raising me to the next

heroic level. I wish
life were like that.
Id click [LOAD SAVED GAME]
and youd walk in
the door just like you did
yesterday.
And with computer-

generated hindsight, Id
smile and be your hero
and forget the game.





©2004 by Taylor Graham


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada. Her poems appear in Grand Street, The Iowa Review, The New York Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her work is included in the new anthology, California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University, 2004).

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