Saturday, May 23, 2009

news from the other world, visited nightly

what a night
kitten in the water
the wallet, the blood test, the game abandoned in the middle
an avatar of the children—
from those parts of them that lie unused--
and in the morning, like handles
the words

Friday, May 22, 2009

holding the pose

by a thought-quake

Thursday, May 21, 2009

view from the hotel

swaying towards us
headlights in air
our windows part the stream

hoards of metal
arriving birds
reach for the ground with rubber claws

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

walking toward the darkness

at 75 she asked herself
while looking at her breasts
aren't you tired of having these?
cataract surgery? no thanks
my eyes fading to the details
as they should
after the old man died
his wife still gardened for years
"I'll just mess around a little longer
then I'm coming too"

Thursday, May 14, 2009

acting as if--
aiming for the door right beside heaven...

Monday, May 11, 2009

inner smiles all day because of what a dream whispered

the beloved departed---
sometimes they’re still available to us in our dreams
for long rides down the interstate, for instance
in a bakery truck...
tired of her illness
she stepped into the glass-walled garden
plucked a leaf, and ate the healing herb
the children chorused
they wanted me to be their teacher, but
a big man sat down beside me
and muscled me out of my dream

Sunday, May 10, 2009


the hesitant child gained fluency
by not correcting herself

(even the awkward are able to achieve
a level of competence over time)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

after the break

Once the devil goes home
and God withdraws His face into the clouds
and you are left with yourself, alone,
whom do you trust?

Not yourself.
Hug tight the bottle, pills rattling as you walk

morning city

A fast morning walk
adds swing to the day

The people are mostly in their houses,
(their cars, their businesses, their schools)
Out here it’s just me and the birds
a few stray gardeners
or old walkers
we greet like friends

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I imagine the rain eating
clattering utensils against the eaves
forking at the slopes above roads

scaping off with a butterknife
a thin film from naked mountain tops
a few more pebbles spooned away
from the mountain's slow life

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the back 40

cows, ducks, rabbits, hens
our edible friends
come running to meet us

war room--no damage

For birds it is a hands-off world
Whatever they’ve been discussing
with shrieks and cries, ramage
in the roomy juniper at the edge of the parking lot
the world will come to no harm from it

(birds use their hands to fly)
(in the hands-on air)

Monday, February 16, 2009

glimpsed on the way to somewhere important

the quail, jangling its little bell
runs into the manzanita bushes
rolled up like mossy boulders
against the leggy pines

Sunday, February 15, 2009

by the stream

scrub jays arriving on startling blue wings
answer each other's questions with questions

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


shall I peek out fearfully
from a corner of myself
or dare to be the force
behind my eyes?

Monday, February 9, 2009

alternate view

I see a small dark Jesus
slightly myopic
the load of love bending
his forehead down
shaggy beard, long black coat
briefcase, roomy, to accommodate
everything he owns

hurrying up to people in the bleachers
bending close,
whispering, "Remember--
the children--
they still know the way!"

when he leaves, much sighing before
the murmuring begins, "Yes, but
what He really meant
must have been
entirely something else..."

Monday, January 26, 2009

he sang a dream song, not with his mouth only

today the Spanish kids are playing
with the Korean children’s puppies

pedestrians on the sidewalk smile and greet
as after an earthquake

“I cried, brother, I cried
that such a thing can happen in my lifetime”

Saturday, January 24, 2009

more rain

what an anger the river
has gathered into itself
and now rushes to the sea--
the grinding of banks
gnashing of boulders
and in troubled recesses
silent accumulations of gold

Friday, January 23, 2009

light side

earthshine you're standing in
earthshine you are
when the sun comes bounding in
to warm you

at once poetic, scientific
and mathematical
it reflects off our foreheads
at predictable angles

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

state rock

spilling out of hillsides

having been accustomed
to supporting water
by the oceanweight

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I'm ready at last

to apply for citizenship here, now

Monday, January 19, 2009


pouring rain
our superior intellect
fat, wet squirrel
at home in his fur in the tree

Sunday, January 18, 2009

preparing dinner in a glass pot

through transparent crustal plates
we can see the inner workings of the planet
roiling rock, blue darting flames
plutons rising and descending like parachutes

Saturday, January 17, 2009

sugar pines
stretch forth their arms
welcoming, though with bare regard--
they like to have their seniority recognized

Saturday, January 3, 2009


we came to praise
so our voices, herded together
could plead your reality down

to walk here among us
in justice and wisdom
we're somehow not able
to conjure up for ourselves

all the sadness banished
the yearning quenched
your light to wander among us
in sudden new landscapes
of joy and acceptance
and unending wonders
that our eyes, cured of darkness
would now be able to see

(for the children)

very soon
probably today
someone will want you to be
smarter, quicker, straighter, taller
hairier, prettier, stickier, smaller
stumpier, less willowy
bony-er, less pillowy
smilier, curlier, burlier, meaner
pricklier, sillier, lighter, cleaner
(did I forget anything?)
well, do what you must
but what the world really needs
is for you to be more...more...
what was your name again?
yes. you. more you.

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