Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What I hear

In the quickening twilight that gilds the lake 
water, the trail curves along the shore, 
my old lab toddling in my shade, 
I sleepwalking for a time and then
consciousness snaps its fingers 
and the plainsong of crickets thrums 
against my ear bone,  
against each blade of mustard grass, 
each dark bending Manzanita.
An ancient music made with teeth 
on wings opening and closing 
like sails, the same preening concert 
that pierced the ears of
old tyrannosaurs
as they bedded down 
for the night.  

As if...

A morning walk on the shoulders 
of Lake Chabot toward the creek,
the young redwoods and the old oaks 
and the tall tender pines 
as if for the first time 
and as if for the first time
I circle the large trunks, 
roots tangled like boas,
stare at them and they stare back 
as if mutual understanding could 
be possible by looking and waiting. 
On this warm morning, I wear sandals. 
On cooler days my lace-ups get their turn. 
My old dog greets both with wild shaking 
of her bushy tail and in the woods she sniffs 
as if never before, as if never again.
There is the scent of freshly washed bark 
and the fragrance of something brand new 
as if these trees had been pulled up by their
crowns through the muck and moss
in the deep of night.  Oh, but what is 
that strange sound beyond the creek?
A creature, yes, honking in pain.
I look to my breath, to the scent of oak,  
to the flavor of pine, to the sweet perfume
of life which I may never understand, must love
without armor, without holding back
as if never before and never again.

Friday, September 19, 2014

A hole

Death is what I hate 
to think about 
but always do--
my beloved self 
sprinkled to
the bottom 
of a shaft--
moonless pit
of everlasting 
my flesh no longer 
flesh but chimney 
A hole with no decor 
or time, devoid 
of all accord, 
of wonder,
where nothing will 
or can be done, 
where everyone 
with everyone

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I have decided he can’t help it. The sickness brings it. 

The prickliness corrals inside the mouth, along the rows 
of teeth--a bitter saliva he must spit out.  
It is his voice, his mouth, yes but misery makes 
a good impersonator.  It stalks, it thins, it frays,
it twists the soul from muscle and bone. 
It moves without heart through its long dogged 
digging in the bowels, both claws soaked with
what flows there, until the nerves, until
the soul itself pulls away from that entire 
sagging beast. 
All this to add a bit more time to life. 

And all the while the evil sickness waits. 

You can hear it swallow with anticipation.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Mornings I like to wander among 
a lovely jam of sturdy trees--
oak and redwood, Eucalyptus, others, 
so many forms--anything goes
here at Lake Chabot--the ground’s paved 
with dead leaves, browned from hunger and thirst.
I and my old dog step on their skins 
curled and crisp as fried bacon cooled, 
their juice leached, 
piles of them in mass graves, 
some in single plots, 
all of them bitten and freckled, 
all freely giving back the life they won
returning it to the forrest as if loaned to them, 
the life never asked for, with no memory of it.
For them there’s simply a season to shine 
in bright sun and for the rest of time
to wither in deep shade, 
without sap and membrane, 
gone forever without a trace or complaint.
This comes to mind as I step across 
this gorgeous graveyard. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Asking for help

When he's gone I will stare at the left side of our bed
for days, weeks, maybe longer, and his absence 
will astonish me each time I open his closet door 
and see the orphaned shoes shined and lined
with a two-way stretcher and I will admire once 
again his tidy ways
when he's gone I will forget his grumblings 
and inward leanings, 
the pelican legs slathered and festooned to the bed, 
the anxiety and tears as mettle and firmness 
flow out of him.
I will forget these scraps of the man, 
the lips that curl in fury, 
all will be forgotten 
and in their place there will be silence and air, 
swollen and still. There will be strangeness.
When he’s gone I will only remember the laughter 
and pillow fights, his 40th birthday, his cummerbund flashing. 
All things I have trouble remembering now during 
this long endurance, this slow annihilation, 
these long days of our misfortune.
But when he’s gone, I will be asking for help--the coming
desolation can’t be lived alone.  
When he is gone, I will think of his confiding eyes,
they were my heart's oasis.

Friday, September 5, 2014

It's illogical

A machine keeps him alive now that his kidneys
will not and he endures it all without a mother 
(she would have nursed him like no
other) but he has me and he has the machine, 
both second best but we keep him going,
all by the force which has a way of pushing 
life through the odds, the cracks, just look 
at the flowers shooting up from the patio fissures 
(I tell him that on his bad days), 
just look at those blind bats that catch a meal 
in the pitch of night deep in the distance,
how they follow the echo, or the mushroom 
that explodes overnight in the junkyard. 
How life abides, goes on by the grace of that
generous force, how it stages its comebacks, 
how it abandons reason and just drags on 
stubbornly, flying in the teeth of it all.
While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, 
day and night, shall not cease.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The movie

There is a pointlessness to it: walking 
past your old bedroom each morning
--I don’t want to make too much of it,
the young are designed to fly the nest--
but every morning the sun lifts over 
the hill outside your window and casts 
the shade into a silver screen of sorts 
and so I lean against your door 
to catch the flick--a trailer really, 
content to play in this room only-- 
of everyday moments, nothing too dramatic, 
jumbled days all, but what a movie.
It always knocks my socks off.