Poems

 Also see prose poems.

CA Rain Prayer

New Verse News, Feb. 16, 2014 http://newversenews.blogspot.com

We listen with such longing

its little liquid voice

metallic tap on heater vent

click against cement, hiss on leaves

 Our thirsty memories stretching  

far back to parched times in caves

sand and dry wadis, long treks

to miracle holes gushing springs

 Enough of this listlessness

dehydration’s wilting lassitude

withering fruit and vines

the farmer’s boot on powdered ground

 May the sky anoint the land with rain again

let’s hear it pounding shingles

gutter runnels gushing

the splash and gurgle of surfeit

 Dance or pray or seed the clouds

catch cumulous in a net and twist, bring

back birds in puddles, boats on brimming lakes

canals bearing gifts to penstocks south

 Let’s smell the earth drinking

the air electric with recharged ions

let’s catch rainwater in a goblet, lift it

like the finest wine and swallow

Re-Divining Water

________________________________________

Los Angeles Times Op-Ed page, Aug. 31, 2014

Maps show it, a spreading stain across the state deepest red, the color of arterial blood: Extreme Drought. But who’s looking? Motorists on I-5 where almond leaves thin to yellow? In Merced and Kern, trees lie sacrificed,

naked roots clawing dry sky. But hey, that’s somewhere else. Not here. Not Riverside where sprinklers fling out water like parade candy. Not Oroville either, sitting easier below its dry dam. White herons stalk rice fields south of town,

poking long bills into luscious goo: First Rights.That district skims Delta water off the top and who cares about a few trees anyway? As long as alfalfa fields stay emerald against gold hills, making hay for cattle.

We need our burgers. And still the aqueducts ferry water to feed the penstocks of Tehachapi--devil siphons slurping northern water to slake a greedy southern thirst, fill pools and green up sand where only cactus grows.

Green Heels Gone

Sweet little cloth-covered pumps

                  in emerald silk about size four

       stored in a cedar chest for 50 years or more

preserved for their charm

                 (sinuous straps with a platform sole)

        A tiny woman spinning

 

into some long gone night

                 such special shoes, vanity afoot

        my mother’s, small woman

of modest desires—but the shoes

                told a different story—

        party girl, lover of the dance

 

the quick step and twirl, a hot hand

                at the waist, slippery nylons

        and a garter belt, fox-trotting and

jitterbugging, dance hall men, the night

                as long as it needed to be

        those high-stepping shoes

 

 saved and saved through moves

               growing children and dawning

       troubles, tucked into a trunk until

the errant daughter left them out

           so careless. The long, sweet story

       of the steps they made eaten by the dog

 

Nacimiento Road

In the valley of the Nacimiento

which means birth

the land lies waiting


unplanted, trackless

but for a twist of road

and rusted weave

of tumbled fence


its voice the slip of wind

through yellow grass

pad of puma and coyote

crack of tooth on bone


where stony knoll

slumps to hollow, earth

panting with heat

and the smell of settled dust


a split rail fence and sign:

Land for Sale

 

 

Fall

_____________________

A few purple figs

wine-dark

knobby thumbs

 

jab bare sky

the tree

undecided

 

drops leaves

as the seasons

collide


Last Crow

___________________

Askew, Spring/Summer 2010

Last 

 crow 

  of the 

   evening,

     flying dark 

      as a bat, the 

        wrong direction, 

          over the house, not

            with the flock (long

             passed), errant ebony 

              splinter cutting sky, we’re 

                tired of your ungainly caw, 

                 shouting over mockingbirds 

               and sparrow songs. Black

             jumpered, audacious 

           eyed, safe in coal

         dust numbers—

        find your own

      nation, a tree

     full of your 

    tarry selves

   and make

  it far 

 from

here 

 

 

 

 

Adrian at Ten Months

Because I Told You So, Anthology on Parenthood, Aortic Books, 2011
 
For more than an hour

you’ve slept on my chest

lips making the underwater

sounds of baby seals

soft infant belly pushing me

 

I sink into the green couch

and become a curved bowl to hold

your warm weight

we keep time, minutes 

measured breath to breath

 

Over the roof wild geese call

you stir, lift an arm, reaching--

the tug of wind and wing

a ribbon spooling down

blue satin like a strip of the sky--

geese on the move

pulling the season forward

unwinding our time together

 

Bones They Lie

The Write Room, Jan. 2011

 

The car is left beside a forest road

he hikes into the shaded green

finds a place to lie in sun-stroked grass

a thousand slivered rays of light

the universe unkindling in his eyes

he dies

 

Spends his first black night

first turn of a planet

no longer known

the cell phone left behind unheard

his body in communion now

with animals and plants

 

He marks the seasons

in the woods: winter

curled fingers commingled

with the withered grass

rain and spring

weeds and flowers in love

with the gift of him

 

Summer; summers

Bleaching heat, his shell peeled

to bone, the chain he wore

around his neck spilled to spine 

he lies

his eyes—no eyes—

fixed on sky

   

Never lost, longed for 

by those who waited

steps retraced, questions

and receipts, hope

and hope beyond

 

Found another season

by a hiker off the trail

(so full of peace, he said) 

gathered from his glade

scooped from anchored earth

 

The ones who missed

him, who had loved the sky

repeated in his eyes, his music

and sweet ways, go there

sit where he lay, speak to him

as if he still listened

and plant a tree in his sun

 

In memory of Skye Campbell, Jan. 21, 1974--March, 2005