DEAD-END TRAILS By Taylor Graham


Morning sun’s cloaked in cloud.
Two men in black with a silver-weight
of stars on their shoulders:

Where do I live?
Around here.
Where’s my ID?
Seen anything suspicious?
Something blue through the brush –
tent or tarp, or plain blue sky.

I’d been interrogating the hill
for its gold – its story.

Its dead buried under spokes of iron
wheels rusting above an old hospital
for the indigent;

A cordoned-off mine-drift
into innards of ridge, loose crystal
scattered like homeless litter.

The politics of homelessness
is beyond me. This hill has been here
forever, free for walking.

Manzanita, coyote-bush wild-west bold,
all directions disappear in brush.
I point those dark stars west,
the way the sun through thicket goes.

By Taylor Graham


Taylor Graham is a volunteer search-and-rescue dog handler in the Sierra Nevada, and served as El Dorado County’s inaugural poet laureate (2016-2018). In addition to The Rising Phoenix Review, she’s included in the anthologies Villanelles (Everyman’s Library) and California Poetry: From the Gold Rush to the Present (Santa Clara University). Her latest book is Uplift (Cold River Press, 2016).

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