You're ready to start writing,
but the wolves are howling in the frozen forest
and the frost is sneaking up
on the furniture around you.
Someone left an ink well, a pen
and paper months ago, and now you can say
History put them there for you to write with.
How long can an individual sustain
an inner story? For it's always going on,
a kind of addiction, forbidden by the state,
dragging you by train beyond the Ural Mountains.
Once again you choose to make that journey
into language tired from misuse,
in need of rediscovery--so much like a noisy
boxcar of a train, so much like the dead landscape outside.
Let something else cut the story short
and shut the window that lets cold air in--
the cold you ignored, delicately watching,
aware of new growth.
from Beyond Modesto
Eight Awards to Nature and One Admonition
1) Hottest dancer in the troop:
2) Smoothest movement; effortless control and energy:
3) Most rugged, solid frame; true grit:
4) Totally spiritual, out-of-body experience:
5) Highest, most awe-inspiring, climactic peak:
6) Deepest shades of meaning; life-sustaining breath:
7) Sky-expansive, undulating, fertile, minimalist show:
8) Longest-running, uninterrupted, spectacular performance:
9) Most demanding, fickle, and ungrateful audience:
Humanity. from Beyond Modesto
Thinking Toward Retirement
The "tire" part
is pretty obvious:
the there-and-back-again route
running those suckers smooth
until retreads simply
ain't possible no more.
"Re" meant again!
And it still means that, too.
I forget what "ment" meant.
At some point
it's a matter
of not mattering
anymore. first published in The Moorpark Review (Spring 2004).
Sine Quo Non
Without ample loam: no root growth, or rather
Ghost-white roots clinging to rocks in vain.
Without enough water: no maintenance of loam,
No chemistry through which roots can nurse.
Without any culture: nothing born, nothing
Green, never the fragrance of flowering plants.
Think how soon a poem ends: it doesn't find
Whatever it needs along the way to becoming
. . . an hydrangea tree.
first published in The Moorpark Review (Spring, '04)
"Corporations Have Arms; Buildings Have Wings"
with apologies to Bob Rubinyi
We join hands, our arms
around the waist of the other guy.
We preen each feather
while rain rolls off the roof in back,
beyond a breezeway.
Muscling in on the market,
we expect a profit from bodies
built (transparently?) to last.
Stand clear of the doors
flung wide open in haste--
we're counting on ocean air
to hold the line on electric bills.
Whether solid or liquid,
we can survive Death
and certain taxes.
Don't expect too much;
we depreciate in fire and storm;
our watch word has always been "Flight!"
13 February 2003
So rare! A night and day of heavy rain in L.A., leaving
Glassy pools, trapped by the tree roots, intruding into
The previously buckled sidewalks, the freshly punctured
Potholes in the asphalt streets. Every soaked square of soil
Bursts with a new fragrance; every long, loose gray cloud
Suggests light showers behind the storm in fresh ocean air.
A record was set on Mt. Wilson: over seven inches of rain
In the middle of February, Lincoln's birthday, followed
By another thirteenth, but it's a Thursday, two weeks gone
By since Friday, January 31st--worse than a thirteenth
For being dyslexic! My mother and I were miraculously
Saved on Pacific Coast Highway from accidental death when,
Anti-lock brakeless, our car slid headlong into on-coming
Traffic. That moment now looms large though I somehow
Knew our slim chance came in easing to a rear-facing stop
On the far seaside shoulder. Thirteen days later I remain
Amazed at every car speeding on regardless and uninjured.
But this day, the true source of miracles: a grateful ground--
Los Angeles crowned a new British isle, wafted by guardian
Pacific Gulf Streams!
What an oxymoron! Not unlike Auden,
I sit in a corner Starbuck's at Robertson and Santa Monica,
A new nexus of conspicuous consumption, temporarily
A gorgeous garden, a delightfully damaged concrete desert,
Still breathing quite easy under "orange alert," while many
Of the convincingly frightened rush out to purchase duct tape
And clear plastic, a new war on Iraq impending more each day.
from Beyond Modesto