Saturday, December 20, 2008

the christening (sunning?)

the sun from far
shines on this child
warm approval
from center space
approving of everything
its golden light can reach
in all directions
shining on and on

what I noticed in the garden

brown, unpretentious
dirt just laying there to be stepped on
(or built on, or covered over with asphalt)
has magically lifted itself into green heights
of cantaloupe, collard, catalpa, corn
(without taking noticeable decrease)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

red epaulettes

a cloud of red-winged blackbirds tipped
onto new planted trees and fresh-laid sod
loads up the telephone wires, fills in the cyclone fences
drive through the fumes of music

Friday, October 3, 2008

Marineworld butterfly exhibit

we walked through the tent
the child held out her hand

she cried she wanted the butterflies to love her
but they settled in the hair of other girls

not violence, violets

so I asked for a little life
buttercups, forget-me-nots
yellow primroses, button mushrooms

and they want murals from me!
strong colors, reds and blacks

Saturday, September 20, 2008

headwaters remark

the waters have come together here
to rush out of the hill
a beginning stream

afternoon at the seashore

a cliff where the fog ends

the waves rise up to view the land
flop to the sand

bird with a red beak, driving through the breakers
at the edge of a continent

from the bluff, the gull
para-gliding on long, floppy wings

river rocks frozen, arrested stone rivers
the falling banks liberate

it is not expressly forbidden
to carry pebbles from the beach
so she kneels in the sand, washed pebbles and shells
and fills both pockets to bulging
with individually chosen shining
shapes, colors and patterns

when she puts them in her pockets, she takes them to heart

Monday, September 8, 2008

In September, Personal Disaster

I know them.
I know each one like a cell in my body.
Which bone is it that betrayed them?

One died giving birth to orders
sound of the bull-horn
“Go back to your deaths”
another died, hesitating on the steps

If I wait all night by the bridge
then will you come into my arms?

One who had been given mother’s good bread
so she would have a long life;

One, lying in wait for justification
still desperate to prove

Died hoarding, waiting
for the bad times to return
that never came

The end of pain, finished with experience
“I had been waiting for this to end so I could live”

Day by day, the poem changes
after-images--falling bodies
my son’s voice crying “owie” over a small hurt

My dreams are easy on me
Kitchens where the cooks have created
World trade center buildings in yellow pudding
yellow pudding airplanes diving for the ground
Hurry on down. Step up to see them.

The sun comes up, the weather continues
I drop the coffee pot in the kitchen
I am not as flexible in my exercises
Mourning and building muscle?
Every one of us defeated in our bodies?
(Twin, towering legs of a man who has been toppled?)
(Smoking chimneys of the liner “economy” going down?)
Practically forgotten
in the heat and smoke
of desperate moments
the columns of rising
souls from the rubble
a smoke, a steam,
a crackling
rustling of paper
pen on parchment—

a page has been turned

Note: Spend as much time as possible naked
proof to yourself: you still have a body

Note: Flowers (and people) inhabit their bodies
only for a short time
we may speak to them then

After a great cruelty, echoes
An immediate response is mounted
by the empty air
which turns the other cheek

by the set of our teeth
the veins in our temples
we will reply

“Blast the hell out of somebody”
Eugene says, terrorist, is that you?

Memorial services
invoking our battle-god
we are united in irrationality
Rumsfeld with a little flag
(size of a matchbook
that could ignite…)

There’s no such thing as vindication
vindication has no meaning

Revenge is sweet? who said that?
revenge is monstrous, teeth on edge
eyes staring, fixed on damage
head nodding, counting out explosions

Can we ski down the hill on a broken leg?
does the foot attack the knee?
Pretty soon the gangrene sets in
and fever attacks the whole body

We’d be better off to bombard the people with dreams
wish-fulfillment from the sky
great avalanches of goat cheese, or whatever
the hell they’ve been dreaming of…

finally every one of us was forced to watch
the children eating explosions
with their breakfast cereals
Kellogg pop-tarts and explosions

alive and not alive
the airplane outside the windows
and then the buildings
accept the planes

the sadness of skyscrapers
before the collapse
and the sadness after
We run it again

from a falling body, you can turn your head—no suspense
I walk through rivulets
of rain falling from the eves
the cat shakes herself on the stairs

the children: “we saw people jumping from tall buildings”
All of us a part of something greater
leaping in air, ahead of the flames?

watch the skyscrapers’ falling
ripple across the bodies of the old in the rest home
as if we were indeed one organism

Fred says: Atlas, holding up the earth
also turns and runs around the sun

the 13th
We salute the flag as if it was someone
It hurts to see at half-staff, blowing

The old man, hunched over the steering wheel
in his cap with an extra-long bill
slows his pickup, turns his head sideways
to spit out the window

In the whole country
there cannot be any cheering

something cried in the night and was eaten
even the dogs refused to bark

wet footprints from the shower through the bedroom
plateful of coins, rattling down the stairs

rifle shots all day, reports of acorns
a robin’s attempt at song, broken off by protestations

my mouth committed sabotage against my body—
I ate till I was full, then ate again

Trying to remember what was lost and how we lost it
Rearranging inner worlds to include calamity


only the unreasonable is allowed to be reasonable at this time

in our mind’s nightly reorganization, reality decomposes
we could wake up to any landscape and believe it
but a deed remains done
and someone who is gone remains gone

From a falling body
you can turn your head in boredom—
No suspense
Jabberings—a multiplicity of voices
“the toilets of America will be overflowing with excrement”
“though in our mourning, we are eating well, ha ha”
Emotion requiring an emotional response?
“everyone pulling together in one direction--
surely this will be the saving of our nation”
“cannot assimilate the WTC collapse
until we turn it into entertainment”

from the drawer front I try to wipe
a smudge of sun

helping the mite
lost in the vastness of the bathroom
a life so tiny
surely it is also honored

ok to flush it down the sink
as long as you don’t see it

anthrax, even smaller

I don’t even want to know
how they live in Afghanistan

In the light of the breaking and the burning
next to the mounds and mountains of gray ashes
the faces of our neighbors
take on a new significance and radiance

tv today
Escaped from the collapse
she has just discovered we are mortal--
inconsolable, hysterical,
she wants someone to take that away

(a reminder--on the corner—
the gravel truck, brakeless on the hill
air horn blaring, taking out two cars
bucking buses, the snapped-off telephone pole
its sizzle and its lightning
death and silence afterward,
running home wounded in the same way)

In the airplane, looking
down through a hole in the clouds
I thought of The Tailor in Heaven
throwing God’s footstool
down at the miscreants
I think of that again

“Come Up Here See This”
the accents that compel
sometimes the sky opens
and there before you--
your heart’s desire or a disaster

Saturday, September 6, 2008

once through the anthology, slowly

waiting through verbiage
flourishes, displays
disagreements, confessions, complexities
obscure references
and then, there's yours
your name called by a line


jolt in the ear, leap in the heart

the air stands still, the earth slowly rocking
not even so much as a wind blows a tree

stops short of cracking, short of splinters
for a time

Friday, September 5, 2008


I hate that when it happens
The wall rattling and shouting
For no discernible reason

Just my luck to be in the shower
When the final earthquake comes

Monday, September 1, 2008

yellow diamonds--dedicated to recent immigrants, legal or otherwise

to walk in midday heat
any old umbrella will do
the sun drips off the tips
drenching the shoes in sun


glaciers roused themselves and left their beds
left the cirques and hanging valleys
abandoned peaks and left them sharpened, gray
and prone to chipping

Sunday, August 31, 2008

arriving at Shari's restaurant

before getting out of the car
I looked into the mirror
and there I was
intermittent music, laughter,
many voices in animated conversation
in a different language, Mandarin I believe
one word carries over the fences, clearly

fitting in

she did not want to be the only one to obey the law
so she crossed against the light with the others

never say I can't make things rhyme

for the houseplant, a life
with never a breeze
never an insect to land on its leaves
dead air between the couch and chair,
his moods and her despair

lifts leaves each night though not in prayer

Saturday, August 30, 2008

hot days, no fog discovery

just because you can’t see them
doesn’t mean they’re not there

Cassiopea beside the Redwood
sitting faintly in her chair

the dipper scooping city lights
in its giant square

(faulty compass notwithstanding
it’s finally clear where North is)

by the estuary

a bell rings and the road rises
centerline pointing at the clouds

one bridge lifts away cleanly
and the next has already stopped the cars
for “Paycheck” which pulls
a wake of corrugated waves

I would not choose a ship so tall
as to intrude on bridges
but a dinghy like that one
bearded man, hand on noisy outboard
taking his Irish Setter for a water ride


the people said it is enough
it is more than enough
and went back
to their smaller houses

the trees went back
to their old roots

Friday, August 29, 2008

outside cat?

I'll bet (said the cat)
I can sneak in more often
than she can put me out...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

another one, faster

there goes your self-same car
you just
passed yourself

on the interstate

truck and trailer of hay going north
meets truck and trailer of hay going south
is there no way to coordinate this?

re: fires

California, in summer blonde
fair hair of sun-bleached hills

When living in a straw barn
be careful with the lantern...

tiniest birds–answering bits of intent

The same flock through here, daily

tumbling through bushes
over and under, same size as the leaves

One bush tit separates, detours to the window
tries to grab the fly on the inside of the pane

Saturday, August 2, 2008

anniversary story

stick with me, he said
I’m worth it
and wouldn’t you know it? He was

Sundial Bridge in Redding

who dared write this green glass crossing
ribbed timepiece, musical instrument
strings tuned for plucking
this too white sail
alarmingly high fin
and not a word of it can be changed later?
for a city with a box score
of too many box stores
a foot-bridge, too outspoken
over the river with a too-white sail
alarmingly high fin
(which is, as you say,
when people are hungry, a waste)
how can I explain to you
the soaring of my love

Friday, July 18, 2008

more words about the Calatrava bridge in Redding

There is no reason to cross the river but for the bridge

I want to emphasize
how much the bridge cares about you, personally
The bridge has eyes for no one but you

Even now I am yearning for the bridge

(“the capacity of things to be close to us”)
mother comes in a package, small, neat & odorless

she is still in charge of perfection
I can’t even see that well

gardening at this age

plants, at least, stay where you put them
the only thing I can still dominate

words are impossible, slippery, mistaken
reverse themselves to their opposite meaning

(presented playfully, they
become ominous, take on a sinister tone)

I never have to apologize for my peas

Thursday, July 17, 2008

hikers by in a group
of coughs, laughs, tramp of boots

mark the trail on the other side of the lake
colors passing between gray rocks

(I am waiting on the bench
for a royal purple jacket, a dog, sunset red
and the leap of heart)

sunbrowned and hatted

even when everyone comes here
it’s still you alone in the wilderness
carrying your weight in sun and wind burn
up against gravity, down over rock and root
you against thirst, hunger, weariness
the interminable daily needs and toiletries

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

turning in for the night
after driving all day
the motel is just a giant stationary camper
which periodically gives a silent lurch

sit on the bench by the open door
cool wind playing in the leaves
cracked lips, sunburned face

same crackling fires overhead
stars, none missing

same sickle, upright over the trees
you know the mountains
I don’t have to tell you

no cell phone reception,
even from the highest overlook
parades of granite crowns

stacks of weathered granite, pitted, cracked
inclines of scuffed white granite
lichen blackened granite
sparkle of broken granite

pine needles crunchy underfoot
and now the wind, like a waterfall
in the ponderosa pine with the plated orange trunk
then, all the ponderosa pines

along the asphalt trail,
memorial plaques mounted on a rusting pipe
here the emigrants passed by
here the Indians had to be destroyed
silence of the white dam holding back the sky

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

dreaming past the alarm

a sea of glass statues
where the getting out of bed should be
she stops to examine them--
late to work again

Saturday, July 12, 2008

it's a gravel road

on the way to the lake
within sight of the cold blue water
bushes pale under the load of dust
tree roots grasp the waning embankments

Friday, July 11, 2008

windy today

the wind arriving from far
on the way to a destination that
varies from moment to moment
wants nothing from us
I have opened the doors and windows
for it to blow through the house

Thursday, July 10, 2008

visit to Georgetown

when the light lets go
of the high places
the clouds turn golden faces to the sun
under the low bridge
the river rushes away from me
but I'm in no hurry at all
and stay till the world fades to grey
I walk back in the black
with a turquoise sky to guide me
in puddles by the road

breakfast at McDonalds

everyone just pretends
the food is real
finish your fries, dear
or it's no mcmuffin for you


against gravity
the fight is up
a grove of douglas firs, up
birds up, jubilantly
up, the mountains launch your eyes

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

near Dunsmuir

soft hills lounging
against starched peaks
forests stuffed with trees
faint birds live here, and bears in fur
and glimmering fish in choppy lakes
and the lonely osprey in is nest
atop the tallest tree

Monday, July 7, 2008

sugar pine

there are no greater honors
than to stand on the rim of the day
arms stretched out to the air
hands dripping cones

Saturday, July 5, 2008


a photograph is barely a reminder
the sun does not touch your face
you and the river are not breathing
the same air
and you’ll never know
what the photographer left out

whether she stepped in from silence
and miles of valley or the sound
of a leaf blower from the million dollar
house up on the hill

wood smoke, incense of a cedar?
or smell of sewage, rotten apples
fishermen stabbing the river with their poles


(flows from a topknot
a cloud, the connecting ice, a dam
flows from a pipeline, broken egg, a womb)

not just another one of your clean, unencumbered designs
but upwellings, backwashes, crinkles, folds
intricacies and lusters
saltation and exultation

all shine and dread at times, shifting greens
today the Sacramento is open, carefree, with a sound
of children scuffing through the autumn leaves


--just a way for the water to get down
forest-green, mint and white
the river, patterned runner

a coming together
waters poured into waters

intertwining flows
it’s a braided river-rope

a roar in place,
freight train shrieking by out of tune

American dipper beneath the railroad bridges
chubby, blinking a white eye


--cottonwoods by the river
always a hint of darkness to the leaves
as if keeping tragedy in view
through sunlight and eclipse
nothing carried to excess or ecstasy
a periodic cotton elation


listen carefully, he said
a rhythm has to beat somewhere in the music
but the water

overflows the pool and falls
divided, overflows the stone
clearly in small arcs
falls white in foam

one continuous exhalation


--hearing things
Though alone, I hear
my husband’s voice
say my name by the waterfall
and look to where my son is safe
down among the cliffs and rocks

“between insane and wise
there is no double yellow line?”


where white curtains empty themselves
on the rocks in a white splash shadow

a dipper’s hunched on white legs
whistle tuned
for strident battle with the water


cream with pink edges
the failing porcelain
of a rose

opulent dahlias
staked in strict rows

wood smoke
rotting apples and
incense from a cedar

heavy as iron, the river
sliding its hardware beneath the bridge
dark conveyor belt, ferrying
the cottonwoods’ leaves
big, yellow, generous hearts


--spring transport
to the McCloud river, early
sinking over the boot tops into snow--

dark Cadillac of the water, opulent
black rose over the falls


always the smell of sewage by the river
the Sacramento flows over its stones
like a yellow bottle

the alder
trailing a hand in the water

sitting in its shade
feel the tributaries of air

seen through the foliage
an entering creek--
falling water, relentlessly down

the cliff--
stone down to the road

an apple, red-cheeked on one side
bobs and whirls, leisurely at first
sudden acceleration through
the eddies, a fast ride away


the Sacramento in dips and standing waves
following a watercourse

the river constantly leaves itself behind at the banks
gets lost in the white stones


--High flows
Gray-green, business efficient
Trucking the rainstorm back to sea

Around the curves they bend as one
Tossing white horns--the waves


inexperienced in rivers
and noticing the white streamers
I used to think the water was flowing in the other

charging up, I suppose,
the staircase of rolled river stones
up through Dunsmuir alongside the track
past the loop, hissing up
between the bookcases
of the green-gray cliffs
through the turbine
back behind the dam
Lake Siskiyou overflowing
into the mountains


all the preparation: nurturing, upbringing, schooling
and then I didn’t become anything

painstaking placement
on a journey without destination

(study for the other world?)
(long preparation for fading away?)

burned to a white ash, my hair
my skin sizzles when you touch it (and then so cold)
my life, lately, has been a returning

back to first things
which are also last things—

sunlight on the steps
(stabs of joy in the belly)

backwards river

It’s been a long preparation for the return

Thursday, June 26, 2008

no dog poems
to me dogs (and children)
are tragic figures


the gold grows thinner
wears off the finger
the finger shrinks or expands

it is good to wear several rings
over a lifetime

that we found each other, spoke our vow
is not why we’re together now
no mourning doves in Dunsmuir
Steller’s jays waving their black steeples
I cast my mind back, walk through the house
open the drawers, hunt through the cupboards
upstairs, down, look out through the windows
the mountain, still there
I’ve already lost too many homes
I’m keeping this one

(I don’t miss the black widow spiders)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fire Summer 2002

“there are many things that I did wrong
I know that now
but reality should share the blame
it too has changed”

my mother and I
throw open the doors of the house
still hot from the previous
day’s sun manufacture

to the cooler morning air
reeking of campfires
from forests burning all over Oregon
smoke swings the chime

gap and a shadow where the mountain
formerly rose,
the grays of the air arranged
in order of distance flat against the ridges

our peaches are going to taste of smoke this year
we are trying to get used to it

and the truth for which
we have been preparing the children
is even now preparing to shift

Monday, June 23, 2008

river rocks

for months I bring home the same stones
moss-green packages, wrapped in white string

serpentinite sunk in ocean shadow

smile a black smile for me

unfinished, unpolished, but posted anyway

If you ignore the signs
part the red switches
force the grey branches of the willow
with your weight
take the short leap over running water
to a bank of stones

and stay there long enough
looking down, inside the sounds
of water which change reality
the hunched stones may open up to you
bloom like flowers
among the sunning spiders

in pinks, greens, midnight blues
yellow, orange into rust
subdued fires in
kidney shapes, lozenges
triangles, balls

kitchen flooring, patterned stone
alive with crystals or
moss-green packages tied with string
midnight black
with star sprinkles, embedded crystal

may even find one remarkable enough to add
to the display of heart shaped stones
placed by students beside the teacher’s door

walking past

bad timing, lack of experience
beside the river, in the road
wind ruffling clean luxurious fur
too bad about the shining almond eyes

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Whatever I said
Don’t hold me to it
It’s a village goat I sent packing

She packs hers, mud and water into forms
For desert fortification

Friday, June 20, 2008

self discipline

for you, no leeway, no evasions
you will go there, giving no sign
though the heat rises into your eyes
and the heart taps out
a rapid fear

Reading the news each morning

Many heroes in the fight
Belief against belief
The hospitals stand by with facts

(and the ground is opened up in grief
for those ostensibly persuaded)


akin to flying
small, maneuverable craft
tires hardly touching the new, black pavement
fresh white lines
oh hillside of dark green columns
railroad bridges down in the canyon
3 red trucks in a row, pulling identical trailers
patches of limestone to stabilize the hills
oh rosy earth
serpentinite glistening in the road cuts
clouds boiling up over Mt. Shasta
oh wild thumb of granite
panel truck, VanKam leading the way
through the curves

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

the prayer plant nightly
flaps green wings--
never gets off the ground

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Animal mentions

The cats accrue to us when the neighbors move away.
silent leapings, little m sounds
tidy head-butts and rubs
dish out the cat food in the laundry room, satisfied crunches
(mud flowers on the washing machine)
cats reward you with their well-being
The raccoon children have been in the cat food again
And they peer from basement corners with their shining headlight eyesBrief glimpses of black masks
Robber babies
snow falling
in every window throughout the house
the cat comfortable on a chair,
one eye open, watching me as I get dressed
pulling on one piece of clothing at a time
each with its own territory of skin to warm or conceal--
none a complete winter fur
I don’t know about animals--same fur every day…
--evidence of black widows
spiderwebs clicking as the strands are broken
the black cat emerges with its face neatly wrapped
end of September still dark at six
Orion high, sack of bright
corn stretched long from his belt
I let out the hen
to stand on two stocky legs
sullen under the bushes all day
will not come out to beg for corn and cheese
her egg factory shut down
the hen is unemployed
and everywhere, red-orange peels
rocking in a cold autumn breeze
-- Chicken tonight, just arrived
I rescued her on the other side of the fence
swinging by her feet on the way to the cooking pot
Lose a chicken in an ethnic neighborhood
and it's finders, eaters
I am owned by no one, said the hen, but my appetite
And my genes which require me to lay an egg every day
Quick when's the last time you felt grateful for a carton of eggs
Labor of hens
-- wake-up
whisker to whisker
a two-step on my chest--the cat
in some personal ecstasy
your cat has an ecstasy you never dreamed
such ecstasy in a cat
markings on the white cat
as if a gray hand has her backside
it's the hour of cats blinking in driveways
waiting for night to tamp down
the striped moths are out
tongues unrolled, stiff as hummingbird beaks
to be inserted into flowers
kittens waiting by the Bouncing Bet
for the nightly batting-feast
-- catty comments
For cats it is the magic kingdom
meow and a can of food appears
a light snaps on, feet follow you downstairs
a door opens
That wasn't what was wanted
Could you be a little more specific in your meows?
Fred says automatic hair distributor
refuses to watch TV or look
at herself in the mirrorshe knows it's nothing she can use
Heizkoerper--body exuding heat
close to somnolence at all times
20 hour naps with sheathed weapons
escapes through doorways, does not walk
in fresh snow--
dainty indents sowed like flowers
foreigner's foot, pink-padded
fur enshrined
God gave woman cat
so woman would not have to be alone
The scrub jay by the garden gate
knows a bird when he sees one
lets the chicken walk right up to him
though all she's got left from molting
is one tail feather, behind
the chicken, red decorations on her face
her feet always dirty, from where she's been scratching
all hens are redheads
leaps through the air
warm, purring fur-ball into my arms
silky and filled out with winter fur
her paw and its thorn sticking out
on the keyboard leaving
a trail of 7's
start of the morning
in your robe, pork chop in hand
luring a recalcitrant hen
not so crazy
as to talk to chickensthe hen and I,
engaging in duets
omnivorous and ravenous
the hen, when laying
Schnabelschweinchen (beak-pig)
distinguished from animals
by scheduling ourselves more tightly
(animals take themselves more lightly)
I answered the cat that blinked her round eyes at me
Crimped ear was her answer
the cat comes in from the snow
and balances on my knee with her cold buttons
she followed me to the corner
and sat down, ears erect
black and white statue under the oak trees
until I walked out of sight
Cat on the fence, bird caught on her thorn by a wing
Malevolent little spirit
Anger lives in her
What it takes to bring a fast bird down
I imagine one small cat could eventually
Fill a whole house with hair
the cat admires back
eyes half closed with love
asleep on your warm bedplunge your hands into her round rug
enunciates clearly at night
ow-whoa into every lonely room
flashing her green mirrors
the woman fat, the old man limping
between them their bright-coated dog
with his hesitation and adoration
sensitive ears flicking up, flicking back
the difference between us and the animals?
we are able to speak hypothetically
from a position occupied but not
believed in
neighborhood dog
peculiar high
bark of protest, wounded pride
when your dog calls, why do you not answer?
pity taints the springest morning
an only hen
top of the pecking order
expects me to fight for my position
It must be something good for you
administered with motherly intonations
a painful peck.
makes do with the company she has
alternately squats, pecks, and begs for cheese
the god of hens dictates closely
does not allow one to choose
heaven or hell
the hen, in flight on the ground,
steers through the gate with the rudder of her tail
My black cat travels, in part
Hair stuck to the Scotch tape
I used to mend a payment envelope
To Allstate in Dallas
That’s also how my tongue cells,
My saliva gets around
To the various corporations
That personal touch, soon to become obsolete
Bill Pay online
Dogs are young
And don’t know any better than to give in
Chickens--Observing their customs
Committee of three
If you can persuade two of them
The other automatically follows
Flatten the grass with extended toes
more of a sail that a tail
--Free flying chickens
Flying is the araucana’s joy
She cajoles the others
To fly onto the fence, chase jays
Who come for the sunflowers
We tied seed-side up
Right after I wrote this
I was forced to clip their wings
The cat
The way she’s laying on the chair
Four legs together
Like a bouquet
Crackling purrsI hold her while she spit-cleans
Her face
A little food to sustain the cat
And a lot of opening and closing of doors
observing chicks—the expressions
on faces that come to a point
_____ says
Innocent lives that can be had for a buck
Chickens stretch their necks to peck
Spider-silk wrapped packages
The way the young chickens, gathering their skirts
Come running out of the greenhouse every morning
Leaping at each other with a challenge
Into the air, chest to chest, with raised beaks
And then resume pecking at a common clump of grass
You’d think that
That much aggression
We might be allowed
The cat’s asleep, at peace
Having found her food bowl
She has discharged her duty to the nation
she liked to hook my robe with her claws
and lean back against my arm like a child,
exposing a neck of white plush
wiped herself down pre-nap on my desk
so she could go to sleep in the blue
plastic basket on the bills
fellow light, so briefly shining
removed the gaze from her eyes
took the verve
and left us with this stiffness
this stillness
erect ears, body still clad
in perfect
we laid her in the ground
I have been reexamining
my attitude towards the ground
(coverlet for seeds and civilizations)


16 year olds shooting
killing each other with guns
who have never known so much as a measle
memory bursts in like a revelation
fades like a dream
sometimes an old experience
rises in us like a moon
the enthroned brain (poor calculator)
cannot recognize, cannot remember
as if...
but no, can’t be

Monday, June 16, 2008

The world has come together here
It’s like the Olympics every day
Oh Oakland, suppose
we cheered for each other

Sunday, June 15, 2008

four young men of the latest style (bald, unshaven, sagging)
trash-talking, loud, on the street corner
one turns and waves, “sorry for the swearing”

sometimes the world
is already the way I want it to be

Friday, June 13, 2008

mountain comments

(Ecstasy Break)
When you hear
“Mountains are the old crumbling foundations
of a vast edifice, the sky,”
It’s me, mumbling, coming back down
The stair steps behind Castle Lake.
Rock columns marching slowly
to the edge, falling in
mountain—a being, slowly divesting itself (of being a mountain)
snow-bright Shasta
jumps off the jewelry into the eastern sky
can it fly
on its white wingspread?
held high above the evening
the mountain is the only thing that is rose
Volcanoes begin and hesitate
1000 years later they continue
-- it’s a volcano
the river gets hysterical sometimes
rolling its stones, snatching at banks
the mountain, never
smooth forehead, peaceful chin
under storm-hat or gauzy
cloud wiping at her stone nose--
a reference above the city
yet, when I chose
a crayon to draw her likeness
I chose red
-- after rain
retouched in white
the mountain lies steaming
white wingspread of her escarpments rise
into the end of every road
no more than a crack in the clouds
black tear in canvas
as envisioned by the dishwasher
in the coffee shop
Mt. Shasta bending and flexing
over the city
--(clouds heaped upon it)
smoothing out
spire and pinnacle
in the curve of a white dome
look up when you have the time
the eye, created by and for the earthly
finds an almost-compensation
-- Bumper sticker in Mt. Shasta City
almost transparent in the white
twin towers, when will they blow?
“Call 911, Make a Fireman Come”
attending the eruption
Berge in Steingewaender
-- View from Dunsmuir
look up from the city
over incense cedars
the stone woman
floating on her back
in sky-blue water
the clouds withdrawn, her face
is powdered white
innocent of plotting
a teardrop rolled
half-way down
turned to stone
-- The Cascades
fire under stone coffins
the shape of enormous snow-capped pyramids
Mt. Shasta’s jagged map
Rising from a rumpled bed of layered clouds and fog
pink and lavender in the setting sun
-- Hedge Creek
falling, uninterrupted plungingwater strings
across the resonating chamber of the cave
children on mute
swinging nonchalantly over
or reaching carefully with the feet
or hauled up by the arms over
broken columns of basalt
in bright colors dipping, leaping
hauling back to throw
holding up something small to show
between two fingers
lifting an elbow to the face
to fend off the camera’s flashing
(da kommt ganz schwarz)
in the umbrella of the sky
(handle in your hand)
tall rain-drapes
oh it is a tall white cloud-fall
wild weather over the Siskiyous--
the rain, snow and wind
are practicing upon
a knocked-over staircase
fallen into ruin
the hen, in flight on the ground,
steers through the gate with the rudder of her tail

August morning

the sun begins sensibly
warm blotches
on the sides of houses, then

the sun with its forces
swarming over the hill

Sunday, June 8, 2008


you have to be a little grabby, I said
when the pinata swung broken
and she stood there emptyhanded under the trees
aloof from the swirl of children
and I spoke well, considering I had just
declined the cake
(not realizing then,
there's always room for two or one
to stand, and only watch)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

too attached to a particular outcome?

two women silent
a sadness and an anger
amidst plunging hillsides
baking rocks

a rude word shivers between them
who had merely intended to be forceful
too much fruit, he said and cut
the apple tree back to a stump

two paintings

the waterfall—
bubbling laughter, sudden whistle

the marina--
& the boats insubstantial--
flotsam boats in a ragged curve
colors, barely held together
on unruly water
horizon tossed with mist

Monday, June 2, 2008

sitting on the bench

(how did her knee know
to give up so soon
her hair know
to turn out so white)

it’s a good thing someone loved her once
because now it was clearly
her turn to love

melancholy turning 90

she realizes the disaster
which she has been working all her life to prevent:
now on its way

what she is sure of

she was sure there is no God
until the child asked

then she was sure there was

Friday, May 30, 2008

We’re very impressionable
Throw us into the middle of a different movie /dream
And we’d believe that too

From one dream she
Fell, dreaming
Into another
believing all the while

Somnial roads (I did it myyyyy wayyyyy)

Square-cut niches, shelves in clay
Dusty window, cobwebbed, gray
In passages I traveled by myself at night
To get there my own underground way

(underground chambers now fallen in
or closed off by spiders
you can’t go that way again)

flat against the sky

hawk or buzzard, mistaken for eagle
until an osprey happens by
evenings the osprey go fishing over at the hatchery
uttering high-pitched eagle cries
at the cry
I looked first to the human
but it was impossible
it had to come from above
two osprey
turning wheels over the city

Thursday, May 29, 2008

fellow light, so briefly shining

removed the gaze from her eyes
took the verve
and left us with this stiffness
this stillness
erect ears, body still clad
in perfect

we laid her in the ground

I have been reexamining
my attitude towards the ground

crow and raven notes

the tips of their wings
a little curl

sunlight with its long train
is shining on a glistening wet surface
young crow on asphalt, begging
following another
swinging its black tuxedo from side to side
crows to juvenile, a too-persistent child
still demanding to be fed
you can’t stay here
it’s a pair bond, not a benevolent society
cries building to this black confrontation,
feather-flap through branches and down into the grass
they are harassing their parents, begging raucously with open beaks

edge of the parking lot, in the puddle
one parent continues to fulfill his duty, wading in the water, showing them
here’s food

again I find myself asking the question
though I already know the answer
suppose one of theirs
won’t learn

Wednesday, May 28, 2008


dissolves the light
from the stained-glass windows
the clash of battle subsides
from the bottom of the staircase
flee the echoes

real morning shines through
the tunnel of doorways
for the murderess
surprised to wake innocent
among mirror glass, ceramic
stainless steel

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

dreams, fears

alone in the house
while mother went dancing
night pushing black
against the midnight panes
fear looked in the window
with goat’s beard and long horns

stretch marks in the air--descending wires
a witch alighting in the trees
a force you cannot fight, or save yourself

cracks one day, shouts
deep in the leafy woods
sweating men and whipped horses
dragging tree trunks past the house
in heavy chains--gashed earth
the creek ran in mud

I dreamed my life was over
when giant logs turned, rolled over on the house

hauled not by horses, but enormous oxen
spike-horned, swaying in tandem

I followed them later, another dream
to revisit such a fear
but found them grazing in mellow sunshine
flowers dangling from their lips

sorting through some old dreams

I can tell the dogs have grown
since my daughter brought them here for me to tend

three tawny pups, the male lion-like with a short mane

In the long intervals between dream visits
I must have forgotten to feed them

Tired of waiting, they had gone to final sleep on the straw

I don’t want my daughter to find out!

Monday, May 26, 2008


I’ve been dreaming of an ideal world
where the winner wins
and the losers are honored
for giving what they had

Sunday, May 25, 2008

taking action

she shrugged as she watched her losses accumulate

everything that was left
she began to fasten down with words
novel: a story dreamed for us by a different sleeper

Swinging my arms

Walking the patchwork
of old concrete and new asphalt
over cracked geology
in the wilderness of houses
between the hills and the waters
I’m not lost

By now, the exhaust of the buses is nesting in my body
The wind from the sea blows both me and the weeds
busy taking back new native ground

Saturday, May 24, 2008

upon reflection

thanks be to the red dog who barked a warning
thanks to the hail of footfalls down the driveway
the man vaulting over the fence (flash of white hood and the red dog)
to the back fence, up and over
thanks to the policeman in blue who almost had him
breathing hard in the back yard
thanks be to the helicopter, circling
the sirens up and down the street

thanks to the warm bed, round pool of light
paper, the pen

Sunday, May 18, 2008


the plants won’t grow
in the yard, the earth
tamped down below the level
of the walkways,
half buried plastic toys
cries, curses
another puppy, tied
new consolation child
so much anger breaks a window
seeps into a neighbor’s house
An argument before the house
loud voices answering each other
belligerent with force and life
pull back in alarm and consternation
Mary, with her trust and lack of guile
disarms the fiercest mother
what distinguishes you from your neighbor--
you have electricity
something other than
shorts and t-shirts for the snow
you never scream at the children
get the fuck out of my room
“she’s not
minimalizing her life,
just poor”

relentless blue

Californians watching the weather channel--
Any hope of weather today?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

generation gap

in children stories, I could never
look the devils in the eye
but noted where they were
and turned two pages at once

my daughter keeps hers
on a shelf by her bed
so she can say
goodnight and good morning

Monday, May 12, 2008

note to the halves

you don’t know what you want because
what you want doesn’t matter
life as an interpretation, as vision, as art
heroically carry
your life from a deep center

Saturday, May 10, 2008

the rewrite

born of woman so hard to take
better: springing intact from the forehead of a God
still better: a complete reversal: small loss to a man
of some insignificant part
rib, one of several


I answered the cat that blinked her round eyes at me
Crimped ear was her answer

Sunday, May 4, 2008


she liked to hook my robe with her claws
and lean back against my arm like a child,
exposing a neck of white plush

wiped herself down pre-nap on my desk
so she could go to sleep in the blue
plastic basket on the bills

Friday, May 2, 2008

an only hen
top of the pecking order
expects me to fight for my position

it must be something good for you
administered with motherly intonations
a painful peck

makes do with the company she has
alternately squats, pecks, and begs for cheese

the god of hens dictates closely
does not allow one to choose
heaven or hell

remembering when (I had some too)

not so crazy
as to talk to chickens
the hen and I,
engaging in duets

Flees the night into the racoon-less space

the scruffy outside cat has taken to dashing between our legs
welcomes me into bed, running her little motor

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

home sale dream

in her pastel living room, accented with fur
pick up any ornament,
squirrel, skunk or baby bear
and it is an animal, sitting still in its skin

stripes, tails, ears
among the houseplants, performing as d├ęcor
she is tired of them now

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Nye springs

listen carefully, he said
a rhythm has to beat somewhere in the music
but the water

overflows the pool and falls
divided overflows the stone
clearly in small arcs
falls white in foam


Sometimes, and at the same time, an alongside child
is born from the first child’s left-over attributes
(It is always sleepy)
You don’t have to feed it, nor enroll it in school—
It’s an extra-curricular child.

proposal (for an art project?)

Take a truck carrying pipes
and fit them with reeds
Drive the highways, fluting

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


drove home from the station after midnight, happening upon
a pickup, haphazardly parked on the hill
and two young men ecstatic over their discovery—
below them, on a siding, bright and hot on the back of the train
the Olympic flame

being pulled unannounced, unknown through towns
on a special car, constructed to carry fire
blazing just for them, their personal flame

Monday, April 7, 2008

saw some cedar waxwings yesterday which reminded me

cedar waxwings
on the invisible staircases
between the pyracanthas and the oaks

masked popping berries
in the pyracantha's flames

shrill cries from the oak trees
necks craning, cheering the robbery
till the fire is extinguished

wing-storming past the house
a hard knock on the pane--
this one will not fly again

Thursday, April 3, 2008

unlike the artist

nature never gets tiredpainting centers in her flowers
that’s not all she does, that’s not all
the details continue
to the microscope’s highest magnification

(nature presented each flower with an I
to paint its own center in)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

jornaleros at the corner

passing all that standing and looking
it’s late
shading of eyes, craning of necks
kicking of curbs
passing all that hoping


The man in the wheelchair looks
over at the woman with the crippled hands
"How can she stand to live like this?"

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

all hens are redheads

the scrub jay by the garden gate
knows a bird when he sees one
lets the chicken walk right up to him
though all she's got left from molting
is one tail feather, behind

the chicken, red decorations on her face
her feet always dirty, from where she's been scratching

yesterday's me

A previous self cannot be trusted.
Otherwise, why am I revising these words?

Monday, March 31, 2008

even in darkest woods

in the gloomy spaces
between tree trunks
flakes of light, hovering
here a slanting light shaft, broken
there a twig tip
triumphantly illuminated

to predict

carsick, wedged in among travel bags and crates
peering from underneath canvas flaps on the truck (illegal)
on the way to the harbor and the SS Seven Seas
but not unhappy to be leaving
next school year they were going to teach us English
and I was sure I wouldn’t be able to learn

Sunday, March 30, 2008

musical city

bring your flute, piano, organ, orchestra
play the pigeon notes
crowding the staff
of electrical wires over Fruitvale Avenue
to the motors, flapping tires, to the sirens
add your pigeon music

Saturday, March 29, 2008


a photograph is barely a reminder
the sun does not touch your face
you and the river are not breathingthe same air
and you’ll never know
what the photographer left out

whether she stepped in from silence
and miles of valley or the sound
of a leaf blower from the million dollar
house up on the hill

wood smoke, incense of a cedar?
or smell of sewage, rotten apples
fishermen stabbing the river with their poles

Friday, March 28, 2008

the way it works, dear

someone made him
get up and go to work
and now he rides
at the head of a long blast
the ladder of the tracks
up into the mountains
laid by others
who were made

Thursday, March 27, 2008

political comment

yellow ribbons plastered on the backs of our cars
didn’t help

In a fog

the sun, wherever it can penetrate
lights up the inside of the fog

drive past a glory in a scrap of fog
the Douglas firs diagonally striped
in alternating fog and light

another scrap of fog, another glory

one glory after another!

gray hill shrouded in forgotten sun

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

in case we should forget

guest comes into the house, unasked
rattles walls and windows
as a reminder
just beneath the even streets
lives Kobe’s brother, Katrina’s sister


Have you ever noticed
The mid-air of evening
Somehow abrasive, pink like a rash

Blue-smoky air gathers
Over the mountains

Hills and long ridges bleach out
Become indistinct, gray
Settle themselves into silence

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


a shiver, a shudder
a rent in the air

one thing about earthquakes
they’re never there when you need them

Monday, March 24, 2008

fowl news

I know a chicken when I hear one
someone in the city has laid an egg
young roosters practicing their crowing,
gradually becoming proficient
the after-Easter silence

Friday, March 14, 2008

the way these sharpening hills shed rocks, shed paths, shed roads

I used to know
had you asked me I would have predicted
Goodwill, Meaning Well

now, if there are clouds, I like to drive a long way under them
I see rain in the distance and drive forward not knowing

and when children ask me, whatever I answer is true and not true

what I own

The things of this life move through us
We pick them up, carry them for a while

Inanimate, eternal things
The iron in blood for instance
Belonging temporarily to a temporary being

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I guess they thought it would be too easy
On some they placed a greater weight
Spine in a curve, fist of anger, pierced heart

too intense, the yellow

plastic ruffle, formal frill
every year the daffodil

doesn’t he/she understand
here, in California
we’re more laid back?

(Her doctor was of the opinion
that she had brought her anxiety attacks
to the wrong state)


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

weight loss

for 19 dollars, she dreams
she buys a chocolate heart for herself
then wonders who to give it to
she cannot eat it

losing weight from lack of cookies

the body relinquishes its stores slowly
holds on to its pounds as long as it can
(sie krallen sich fest)

I could flap these clothes and fly
an audible thought runs through the forest

no one need clap for the wind
a great performer

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

briefly noted

certain birds I love
certain cries I cannot get enough

summer morning bird
with a wheezy little whistle

the tulip has twisted round in its vase
for a view out the window

rows of tulips with wide-open teacups
over the fences, ropes of roses

Sunday, March 9, 2008

ailanthus altissima

earliest spring, young tree of heaven
juvenile, gawky

harvest of breakage

drooping, dripping cream confection
in a swarm of bees

if not for its easy-going ways
some towns would have no trees at all


I'm smiling today. Recognition this morning for my little poems in the form of an Award (!) from farmlady, who tends a colorful, creative blog (photos, poems, thoughtful writing) at (definitely worth a long visit!). Thank you, farmlady. You made my day.

from the balcony

sinking down on us softly
the galactic light

someone estimated
2.6 million suns
and not enough to read by

Thursday, March 6, 2008

a walk in town

springtime the landscape
reveals its colors

my cheery good morning
met with silence
once, and again

first white iris
with stuck-out tongues

red-hot tulips
with center black hearts

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

almost missing spring

in the other world (side-by-side suns)
the flowers, quietly in their places
they are blooming for each other
I am going to repair that break

Friday, February 29, 2008

gardening words

sprouting cotyledons
then little leaves

every now and then
one blooms
into a small poem
I would revisit

front yard poems and backyard poems
meeting each other on the steps

snapshot of a volcano

a great quiet
a waiting held closer to the light
an upheaval's monument
in the company of clouds

the geese

working to repairthe fence from winter damage
alerted by their cries, we look up

high over the house
and below the clouds
long shimmering skeins of birds
sweeping Northlike a great wing

Saturday, February 23, 2008

travel day

why this great gathering
jubilant high circling
and abrupt departure
draining the area of vultures

where they are going
we can’t follow
meet and pass arriving clouds
soaring swiftly toward the north
along the bird highway

Friday, February 22, 2008

upon first reading the Denver Quarterly

the universe filtered
through the kaleidoscopic eyes of flies

a theoretical hog-calling contest
no one believing in hogs any more

this poetry could not be described as cozy

nothing adheres to these bones

they had warned me
poetry is not for everyone
I found myself hurrying, as past a graffitied wall

ah, poets, how can you write such things?
don't you fly at night in your dreams?

invective out of the way,
now let's reread and enjoy

after the storm

the interstate spreads its din
to the far walls of the canyon
but the river can't hear it
riding her high horse through town
foam flecks flying


life as a gift of consciousness
in the wash of matter we’re intimately related to
belong to, the earth the rock, the stars

only marginally differentiated we walk
half in, half out of stones

the words he used did not translate

his other personality came out when he
used the other language


splashes in a pool from a skipped stone
concentric rings around distinctions
united in the water

assigning syllables
words in air or on paper that blows
ink sounds, air vowels, hoots and consonants
feather light, heavy in our ears

Friday, February 15, 2008

train notes

the light brightens
contours of the land take shape
the mountains laid out with their heights and tables
then day leaps in with its particulars
the rusty cans, the abandoned cars
no one is going to pick them up
they have become part of the landscape
and there! four pronghorn

Thursday, February 14, 2008


moment of heightened consciousness--
sting of the unconscious mosquito

negative space

(Californians the brave and free to dump anywhere
any accessible place, bike trails, end of roads, beside the tracks
land of milk, honey, and dumped tires
mattresses, couch pillows, refrigerators, TV’s)

a passing house disgorged its contents in the woods
just a minor distraction
not even noticed by the enormous air

(we don’t have to clean up anything
nature will, when she gets around to it)

Monday, February 11, 2008

school lineup

through the chutes and gates
to a winning and a losing life

the same authorities that cut the grass
will remove the mounds of litter

paint over the graffiti
replace the broken fixtures
repair the mailboxes and signs

turning point

In my pointed hat and cape
I leap at the animals, the wolf
and the bear fall over backward
in stunned surprise
What fun! then someone
yells "Look out"

Monday, February 4, 2008

before the black painting

black is the direction the light is flowing
I'm standing in the wind of its arrows
the room revolves in its vortex, slowly


living in this snapshot of geologic time
we might ask, "how will it be with us
when the castle crags are worn down to stubs?"

and take our answer dancing
a thin bridge of words
stretched over eternity

look down from the overpass

unbounded by fences or freeways
following the ancestral trails, the deer
with rocking backs, the angled spoons of their ears

predatory traffic takes a few
does not eat them
their splendid bodies lying in the road

catch a neutrino underground

5 million high energy solar neutrinos pass through, probing
every square centimeter of our body every second,
a very fast snow of messages,invasion without forces,
encountering no resistance

our atoms stand aside, make room--
as if we were not intelligible to our probing sun--
empty space into which a dream expanded

suppose life is the education of matter

life-long learners?
learn something new every day?
full vessels
stuffed with knowledge
we are returned to the ground