Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An act of kindness

Let's say you are the widow's middle child
still in Heide braids when you first hear 
goose steps in your town.
Let’s say fresh out of school the Luftwaffe 
offers you a good job, they mention travel. 
Let's say you ride in the back of the Mercedes-Benz
Transformable Torpedo, behind your boss
and his driver when the gates open
and transparent beings pour through the camp 
like rushing water, drenched as if they had risen
from the ocean floor.
Let's say sleep comes and goes that night and 
the next morning you place your breakfast
on the window sill and turn your back 
and when you look again the plate is gone 
and you feel relief that a ghost has eaten 
and you are not arrested, your 
giving hand not cut off. 
Let’s say the next day you repeat this act
of kindness and later when all is over, 
in the dark of night you grieve because
you did not do more. 
And let’s say what was not done 
becomes the story in your life
and your life is a protracted mourning 
for it, for what was not done. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014


Yes that's what life is like, isn't it?
Like sailing alone in a little boat, 
in fits and starts on a landless planet 
relying on luck and karma for aid,
sometimes our mind and mouth 
yanked open by (or in cheerful ignorance 
of) the killer tendencies all around,
sometimes sitting stilly under squalls 
with feet kicking the waves, 
lavishing our attention on beauty 
or on perils but soon time again to stand up--
the sails must be adjusted
to these ever-changing winds--and
sometimes we are delirious with 
all that physical effort 
(having to make our own wind so often,
so many lightening quick adjustments)
and sometimes lovely birds land on the hull, 
nervous and a bit shriveled, like us, 
singing under the same shower of stars 
because for them too this voyage 
sometimes seems unbearable, this hunger
for consolation their only constant. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Letter to my body

Body, body, my beloved
from the moment, from that very instant one
invisible fish out-swam a hundred million 
others into that beautiful moon in the mother 
sea and in a dazzling burst made you, 
these coveted days of sleep and wakefulness
are being counted precisely in a secret clock 
and from the moment I knew it was I 
in the cradle I tried to crawl away from the clock, 
I have cried and begged for a world without time,
but you dear body are a ticking time bomb, 
because of you I will not sleep for a hundred years, 
I will not be restored by the kiss of a handsome prince.
You are moving me on a conveyor belt back
into that miracle of nothing-something. 
There is nothing because you are made from it,
you are the puppet of time-space-magic
but so are the stars, so is all matter--
time will ooze from all of it and then 
who knows? Another world remade
from your teeth and hair?
Every single atom rekindled?
Into other miracles I commend you, 
my body, myself.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


I couldn’t take my eyes off her face
in the bed, that silent pre-death repose.
She looks more floral than human, 
her face white as the chill before the bloom,
the skin folding scion-like around her skull, 
protecting the still living root below.
Beside her in a hard chair I watch for hours, 
day after day, my own self now shrinking 
from my dread, from my shock that this force 
(my mother was a lion) can be so undone--
the same dazed astonishment when I saw the scaffold
of a great doomed whale belly up on the sand
of Santa Cruz--a skyscraper of white bones, 
picked clean by who knows what and yet 
still mighty in grace and history.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Look, here shines the leaf
dropped from its mother’s arms
into the soft living muck to dry 
in gorgeous shades of death
--corn and saffron, ochre and brass--
and at my touch the crisp veins flake
into a mist of umber snow 
and I watch her demise with longing, 
seeking a bit of solace in it, 
seeking to make peace with it
before the night erases all trace of it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Bright red

The light deep inside flashes red and you
begin to stop.
You want to keep going but the light is bright 
and your body obeys and begins
to wind down and life begins to let go 
of its foothold in you, 
(it was tenuous anyway)
and there you are, ailing and fatigued
but aware of what’s happening to you-- 
(if only you didn’t have to watch) 
the spiral outward into your final ordeal--
out into that stark bloodless desert, 
into that unwanted escape from self, 
from your pleasing intimacy with matter, 
out into that shower of sparkling eyes, 

into that bleakly beautiful blackness.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


A painter would pause this late afternoon 
on Alameda beach, glimpsing paradise, 
would be seized by insight and pull out 
the brushes and palette
and begin to work quickly 
because look how the clouds 
are fattening up, gulping the light 
right out of the sky, 
existing only in tones and lines 
but still there is a kind of diamond dazzle, 
at times unblended in how it falls 
on the buckwheat, the sticky monkey flowers. 
A painter would have to dab short 
quick strokes to show how this quickening 
breeze wraps around 
my shoulders, makes my hair fly up 
with the kites and the water skiers’ parachutes. 
I too sense a big moment, though my mind is blank,
fit only for hushed gazing 
yet I feel a sumptuous intimacy 
with gulls and wind and bay and buckwheat 
that is quite solitary, 

indeed can only be noticed

Monday, August 11, 2014


This room feels crowded 
even though there are just two of us.
His head on the pillow, mine in my hands.
I stand by his bed 
as if he were learning to lie in it, 
as if I were his teacher, the one
who walks alongside the bike 
the child is learning to ride.
All our feelings mull around us 
like munching cows, 
sometimes touching as they wait 
to be milked 
but the hours pass and nothing is spoken, 
everything abided.

Deep down

Deep down in the stem itself, 
in my body’s engine 

where energy becomes breath, pulse, 
where pores are forced to sweat 
and salt to move through me--

there, down there,

lies my terror. 

In the zenith of that day to come 
my eyes will close half way

and Ill be alone again 

as in that jiffy before my creation.

I'll be tossed into a cold
of no stars, 


as I fly, 

a wavering glow, 

my pieces 

bright points of light
that come and then go

like glitter from a lake 

and deep down 

I know 

no ghost 

will step out 

from that beautiful 


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stooping down

My face over his face, looking at him carefully, 
inspecting iris to iris, nose to nose, 
sniffing, counting seconds between breaths,
seeing a man’s body return to newborn form, 
legs more like arms, pink, hairless. 
Think how firmly these feet once held him
upright, thick as granite, inflexible.
Despite the tremors, the many naps, 
the many days and nights of murmurings, 
he is still handsome in that smart haircut, 
the ancient Yaqui bones contain the blight
and he really doesn't complain too much. 
He is a man who likes to act like a man. 
I stoop down to blow the heat off his face 
and in the house somewhere I hear Out of Africa 
on the radio, his favorite soundtrack, and my whole 
being feels decades drift away like clouds 
over the sharp edge of ancient white plains, 
the stark flatness of our fate, 
wide and bright to the end.

The journey

In the place where the temperature falls
when I step out of the sun
into the dark cyan
shade of the forrest,
when I listen to my shoes crunch flotsam, 
the panting of my lab, the squeaks of flying beings 
high in the crowns,
where trees old and young 
lay across the stream, 
the young ones dying on the backs of their elders
and stumps mourn in gowns of lime green moss
and all around lay fallen leaves in yellow,
burnt umber and brick, and changing colors still,
where even in that state of doom, beauty 
does not abandon them.
This is where I take my grief, 
which is the price of love,
and where in mercy I rest
and let go of fear 
and love the world.

If only

If only God Almighty were not so
What gruesome death that crucifixtion
of any son, of any blood and body 
and why must every soul be offered up?
If only God did not need hell on earth--
if only that everlasting hell could be enough
to satisfy His revenge.
If only He did not demand redemption
for all of humankind, the innocent beside
the evil, but most especially 
by horrific immolation.
If only God could be content.
Withdraw demands for victimhood,
for our extreme obedience.
If only He truly loved as father, mother, friend,
we would not be so afflicted by pestilence, war and famine,
and countless other terrors
by the Him who wants to be exalted
daily for all this misery.
The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life.

If only.  If only God would come to this.


Then, one day it is completely gone, 
all the love,
the heart feels empty again, 
beating barely just for one, 
just for itself alone, 
after all the love 
finally leached,
the heart dries and hardens
--the peach eaten, 
the pit spit out.

It's wrong

We watch it together, the way the sickness robs
his body’s surface, slackens and liquifies 
just as each year the fresh autumn pumpkins
extirpate in summer heat and sink
into grassland.
We have discussed it, we have seen the signs
of the deranging force and we have joked 
about how its witchy extortion hovers in no 
hurry for us, only drifting our way 
with starts and stops, and, we thought its 
descent would always be lethargic, 
we thought we had ample time 
and then late afternoon I was turning on TV
and glanced his way and there it was, kneeling 
by the bed, reaching for him, extorting him 
from the room. But he resists, holds on tightly
to his air, his thinning matter and I watch 
from the chair rocking all night, the extorting 
force crawling around my feet, climbing into 
the bed purring beside him who sweats in sleep 
and I rock and pray to Him I don’t see or know: 
Please do not deploy your power in this way. 
And my faith takes another blow.