Thursday, July 17, 2008

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