Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Tending the gutters

Days pass without a hint
of him.
All casual thoughts
beavered away.

But now the wind wants
to clone my windows
and his face eroded
splashes into shallows
left by rain.

I didn't clean the gutters.

He recalls how pure were his gutters
by August.

Now I'm in charge
but the tools to subdue the wild
and comprehend the workings of
the world

stand in the shed without a boss,
stalwart as a redwood above the fog.

The steady ways of him reconsidered
as I climb the ladder.

Monday, September 16, 2019

No shortcut

All morning the work demands
and I comply.

Note cards written, signed and stamped.
the cat's cry and needs all met.

Every bit of dirty laundry washed and dried.
every memory of him pushed aside.

I've more important tasks than mourning;
living flowers in my yard need corning


who'll cook for kids if I'm forlorn?
But there's no shortcut to forgetting.

It takes time and time and time until
we're riven, it takes all the time we're given.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Thoughts about eternity when I see the bee

A bee's wing rubs the hot tub's edge,

an autumn leaf her burial rug

she looks to be napping

but upon inspection,

it's clear she's freshly drowned.

Her legs folded awkwardly

like a crumpled ballerina.

The plump bee needs no more air to drive her.

Trillions of her kind have supped the planet's flowers.

She matters no more nor less than any other bee

or any other flower or any other planet

or than me.

We are equal in our brief hunt for sweet.

In untold sunsets, we'll return together,

this bee and me, our shrouds of matter,

specks and sparks spinning in the furnace.

Our common destiny to drift from star to star

without a single memory.

Full moon over Lake Chabot

Watch the moon step

down the hills

on swollen knuckles

then watch it roll

into the black and silent lake.

Now watch my heart

bewitched forget

the countless insults of the day

now watch the moon

lead this dark away.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

What I love about youth

It all starts with many days,
long and gradual

lulling and liquid

loose days that lay about,

taking up space
without encumbrance
lying full moon nights

sewn together into boughs,
a giant wood of days
vast and lush.

Days begetting days.

That's what I love about youth.

Friday, September 6, 2019

When I pass the old cemetery on Hesperian

It's when I pass the graveyard where old
headstones wilt in the thistle wreaths

and fog bends to sob over
the whole sad and lonely mess.

It's when I park the car and point
my camera to the ravens turned to me.

That's when my dearest dead, one
by one raise a beautiful head.

The beautiful head each one had.
Rife and perfect.

And I begin to fret, who'll remember
their beauty when I'm gone?

When the headstones fall to pieces and
the night of nights hide every trace?

And the black birds on the limb carry on
with no thought of the lovely faces hidden here.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Little gods

Flowers catch our eye
not with equal fervor of the bee

or bird whose longevity
is here entwined,

but watch how blossoms
excite our souls

with affirmations
of vitality.

Watch how we approach heads bowed
before the little gods,

happy and exalted, losing
our ability to speak.

We grasp kinship.
We too are waves, bundled

sinews turned to the sun not
knowing for how long or why.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Strange land

Coming home from high lakes
shores where we waded motionless

in the breeze from volcanoes, bubbling
mud, a boiling lake

where I loved life so much I
worried every hour of losing it

I wander here to the land of
man-made things

moss from still ponds
twigs still stuck on my shoe

here where throngs frenzied with goals
clog the streets, their constant motion

drugging the air

where every place I go
too many got there first

where I sleep pinched with fever
though the moon shines here

big and white


Thursday, July 11, 2019


Our cancer patient plans big trips now.
Africa. Europe, Puerto Rico.
Not knowing how much time is left,
she will fill her glass to its
tipping point.

She will keep moving,
open her weary eyes wider,
stick out her parched tongue more often
 (though the taste buds are toast).

Her finger tips seek every sensation.
Nostrils flared, she tips her head
to hear this earth like never before,

to make it stream through her wool sweater,
her bald head, to force every remaining hair
on her body to tingle.

She carries her new life
as a baby chick in her swollen hands,
never taking her eyes off it.

She will pour breath down her blistered throat,
gulping it whole
the way a boa swallows the fawn.

Remission is only
intermission, she explains.

The night before

Tonight a bitter, bitter, bitter smell
of old olive trees shading my ground.

Bitter the scent of last week's chow mein
strangles every room.

Bitter, bitter, bitter the wind chime
wheezing beyond the door.

Bitter bitter seems all
outside and in.

All flesh, all down, all spider skein.
All of it sour, hard to swallow.

This bitter night before the morning
when I learn she's cured.

Bitter acid pools the food, the sleep tonight.
This bitter body shaking

Like a bitter bloated flatfish dying
at the bottom of the pail.

Only days ago, fresh

These berries, only
days ago plucked,
now sprout
a polar fur.

chemistry finds another
nest to lay its egg.

Life invades from every
opportunity of light, of
drop, of death.
Thirsty and temporary.

One of many
strange things
about this world.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Her birthday

Today was her birthday.
Her eyes dart around the table,
down to her menu, over to my menu,
resting briefly on my left hand,
noting perhaps my empty ring finger,
or the absence of nail polish,
or perhaps how much my hand
now looks like my mother's
as she often points out, then back
to her menu, and then over
to her man's face, on which only
an attractive nose and pleasant lips
are visible under the shiny cobalt blue
sun glasses and battered baseball cap.

When the menu absorbs her,
I stare at her disheveled hair
tied into a crown atop her head
and flash on the little girl she was,
the stunning beauty born into her
and for a jolt of sorrow pricks me,
seeing how it is fading so fast
in the street life she shares
with this nice man.

It seems nothing more will become of her.
This is her life, a life no one could envision
until she began living it.
I can see she doesn't mind it.
She has what she wants:
A man who cares, a mother who
buys her lunch and cigarettes,
and crystal meth.

The News at 6

All day every day the cries
invade my house,
so shrill they burst the glass
from souls of souls they come
from all directions
screamers sniped, gassed,
buried in their homes,
blown into walls, thrown
into holes, every day I hear
wailings--sick, hungry,
despised for some singularity,
some disparity at birth and then
the other mourners too
whose soldiers left.
What can we do
after the postcards to Congress,
after the marches,
the all-night benders?
Crying deep rivers soothe,
somehow a gray river of tears
holds one steady,
and so does chanting
and so does rocking,
and so does cursing,
though no one beyond the lamp post
will hear or give a damn
but we keep testing.



Don't trust them
none of them,
not one tiny bit.

All liars, clowns, thieves,
making believe, misleading.

Why, even when I leap in joy,
that fear pops up,
Ha! Another blunder, Fool!

Fear, joy--they don't last
and that's my point:

Weak or strong,
you always wonder,
will love grow or smolder?

Either way, the feeling flees
with all its thunder
and in its place, another.

What I never expected...

What I never expected
was to get this old this fast
(and feel so young so long)
and see myself so average!

Had I known how really
boilerplate I am
I would have hidden less
and done much more

to stand out.

Oh well, it's good to know
I'm not a freak at all.
That disabling fear, to be unlike,
is cured.

Now a quiet rises
higher every day
and swells my old
average heart,

To move in a world
I’m meant for but never
expected to be.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

I see the light

My noon nap halts with a burst
of Sun torching my eyelids.

Jesus      is    that   you?

I wish       If only       then life would    
go on
and on
singularity       to

But. Well. That was then, I was ten.

I wanted to save Him as much as He
wanted to save me,
maybe more.

Jesus never smiled, still I loved Him
and forgave Him all my doubts
that waited like forsaken Lovers
for a letter       that never comes.

Last week churches burst open,
children shredded into shrapnel.
Things like that exhaust.

But here I wake to the blast
of yellow light
from the only star
I can't deny.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Spiral notebook

Let's open our notebooks and review:

The heart is a muscle.
Muscles have filaments, they produce force
and motion

and in that marvelous force and motion
true things come unearthed
and facts can vanish;

each filament with its own amazing ability
can create or destroy,

flood with joy today
and rage tomorrow--

the possibilities are endless.

The heart's blind and deaf, only

knowing its pulses--ardor and qualm,

dismay, aplomb,

some of which are crimes

and some are cheered on.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Where the Divine waits

I have learned the Divine waits
in the squash growing in the ground,
in the Hawk's blank eye,
in the wild turkeys crossing Chabot Road,
in the deer nibbling acorn beside it,
in the pine cone that just fell,
and in the breeze drugged with lake
water, jasmine, and scat.

It waits inside the deep fog.
In backyard gardens.

Not in wheels and laptops,
not even in our houses,

Nor in he Bishop's ring or
any altar.

It shies away from the man-made,
preferring its own designs:
Spit and surf, deer grass
and the blinks of our eyes.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Erased by snow

To see the moon light up the mountain

of my breast, to feel the stars move

across my thigh, to read my fate in every single

sunset– to feel God in all that red and gold,

to hear seals bark below the pier, to walk

beneath the rim of passing cloud, to hear

the roar of waves at shore, to feel

the awe and sorrow mingle, to think of

winters come and gone, to think

of us alone together in the ground,

to feel that lazy decomposing, to sense

that we and all, then earth, erased

by snow,  to know the stellar streams will drink

the details we so love, to view it all

in twisted figures moving through my room, to know

this truth will not be buried, its roots will grow

more eyes, more ears that always know.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Cold skin

I don't want to think about it.
Stop this thinking
about the chill on my skin
after cold swells on this stinky
beach tonight.

I have touched cold skin four times.
There is nothing like it. Nothing
like the touch of windless death
against your warm finger.

A trick, you think.
Something flows below
that cold skin.
There's movement
and where there's movement,
there is      an engine.
And what is the soul,
if not an engine?