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