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