Thursday, March 4, 2021

Waiting for miracles

It will take a miracle, 

the nurse


of Sue.  

And the day 

gives more 

to mourn. 

Mel's text dings: 

Off life support.

His miracle 

did not come.  

Jan got final radiation.

Her voice 

without weight:

It will take 

a miracle

The arc of life leans 


the ground.  

All alleys flow 

to nothing.  

The wind 


carry us.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Thinking under a full moon in Death Valley

This moon--

I cannot stare long 

     into that white bulb 

    lighting the low desert,  my

    fear of dying 

                      before I'm ready 

and my other fear--

                      I may never be ready--

     all this extravagant beauty 

     standing in the way.  

In this old basement

    of North America--

    this dried out sphere 

   of flat but rocky plain, 

   of ruffled mountains 

   of pyramid dunes,

                 on cracked ground where 

once blue seas gleamed 

                for centuries.  

This sand confirms it all,

      red mountains divulge 

      what broke them

to all who speak

                  their language.  

Here I see what will become of me 

       but cannot turn away. 

This black vault, 

     this white flash above,

    all the nebulas beyond--tell 

                    that nothing survives the night

                    that I do not think these things 


Friday, February 19, 2021

A small church

A crow roosting on the dock flaps 

both wings as my bike rolls 

     by the water's edge  

I take this as a blessing. 

From high on this coiled trail,  

I see a man step into the lake 

     and part the water

      as if he held a sword of light 


not a fishing pole. 

In the thickets, bats cry their syllables 

and phrases and so with awe 

      I stop my wheels 


to better hear the choir sing. 

And as the sun ebbs, 

the whole lake glitters 

      as if a million tiny candles flicker,

     as if saints and angels swim 

among the fish.

Again I stop and strain my neck 

toward this small church 


      the one named Lake Chabot.  

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Valentine kisses for the grandson I raise

So here we go again. 

Valentine's Day. 

    My old love long blazed

to ash--now not even 


In my palm what he left me --

    heart blown in heavy glass.

I see my face in its candy 

    apple shine

which I use to trace its shape 

    on paper--a Valentine 

for my teen boy 

     who makes it clear 

he does not care about such things, 

     least of all from Grandma now that

what matters to his heart is how 

     he styles his hair for today's

Tick Tok masquerade.

But what good is life without love?

    Even unrequited?

So I fill the pouch with chocolates, 

    each wrapped in blood red foil 

shaped as teats but called a kiss.  

Tonight  I set the gift where in the morning 

    he will eat his toast.  

All night they wait for this flashy boy--

dozen unwanted kisses. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

New chances on a sunny morning

Here's another chance to feel at ease.

      Maybe hear a compliment about 

an unexpected aspect of your anxious self. 

Another chance to forgive them all, 

     to accept something--finally.  

Begin with a Swiss cheese and spinach omelet topped with salsa.

     Already feeling health and gentle power. 

And then the chance to plant bare feet 

     on the sand where herons lift

their humongous wings as you meet their land

     and you all glow with immortal soul.

Another chance to dream you are not a clump 

     of matter formed from flotsam in exploding stars.

A chance to ride a bike on a new trail, flat and blooming,

     all yours, another chance to stop

by the wide lake, lean your sore back on a rock 

     and write two good lines, 

 about silvery fish and purple berries--consolation 

   for all that fails to last. 

Another chance to be at ease on Earth, 

     to think of not one thing

that must be changed.  

Friday, February 12, 2021

A workshop leader advises writers to go where the energy is

 For me, the energy springs from loss, death,

      both actual and metaphorical, 

as when children step up in life--

     yes, into puberty. 

A transmorphism that takes them away. 

     A kidnapping.  

Suddenly on an ordinary day

     on a walk home from school, 

all the love they spilled over you

     slips away like notes

from a hole in their pocket.

The way that child looks at you 

     one evening over dinner 

is a look you have not seen before. 

     You can't be sure you saw what you saw. 

The way that child speaks to you 

     is not the same tone, 

not like any previous tone.  

And for a long time, their sweet faces 

     appear in your dreams 

on milk cartons.  

They are never found. 

The new voice, the new gaze sweep 

     into every moment going forth.

Quietly, a night snow,

     a coolness in the dark.  

All day I stroll with the dog in the redwoods.  

     It is glorious.  

No thoughts of whom I raised from birth,

     who now shaves his face, 

whom I pampered and praised--perhaps too much 

     because, well,  he was just so beautiful,  

so tender in all God's ways, 

     and  exiled into my life. 

But when I return to the house,      

     it greets me again--

that face-slapping loss.  

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

After my friend entered hospice

We were up all night, 

the nurse says. 

She is  asleep now.

Come back tomorrow.

Why wake at all, my friend?.

Why face this gruesome 

dying another day?

All your horses now sold. 

The house and husband gone

Every organelle betrays you.


When my man understands Spring 

will not light his brown eyes again

and the ants have carried off

every trace of his last ham sandwich,

he looks from our breakfast table 

past the bowl of oatmeal into

the pod of pills.  

Shoulder to shoulder we fix 

our eyes on those ripened ovules.  

I can think of no reason for him 

to down them except to keep

with me another day.  

I would not do it for him 

as we once agreed and now 

he will not do it for me.  

The air feels stale and hushed. 

Alone we two now on this moon. 

One of us now untethered. 

When they carry him out, one says:

there appears to have been 

no struggle. 

I tell her nurse I'll return tomorrow

but I do not. I walk on the shore

and meet a mess of driftwood,

one bleached skeleton raises two 

crooked arms as if it wants 

to hold me. 

I come here because they cannot

be the fleshy one in this dream.

Because it is a gift I am offered.   

I want to receive it.