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Tuesday, August 31, 2010


High Sierra valley,
thin, cool air carrying
bird sounds, hints of juniper.
I look down into
sun and shadow,
down this glacial scar,
earth’s wound, an old cut
healed, changing slowly—
brave pines, scrubby and low,
growing up through splits
in rock, reaching up for
sunlight, rooting
down for water—
getting by on not much at all.
Not much, but enough.

Friday, August 20, 2010

At Bruce's Beach


Enough time in the strong surf
stirring sand and smooth stones
to polish off some of my
rough spots—
the push and pull of the water,
tireless, constant, much stronger
than me, than all of us here,
clinging to the edge of a continent.
Then, time to look far out,
over rippling water,
quiet in the distance,
and let its calm fill me.


The ocean pushing back—
I don’t want you, then
reaching at my feet,
pulling me back in.


I see vapor in the air,
the foam in the waves,
alive with moon energy,
and the slower, deeper
swells beyond the shore--
one element, many forms,
and I think--
I’m in you, you’re in me,
flowing, rising, moving with you,
with me.


West, five hours out,
against the wind, but
above the thunderheads—
Now it’s begun,
chasing a lingering sun.
Clouds below,
in my head, too—
thick with time tricks and
a fitful traveler’s sleep.

Leaving Home

There is dust on the floor,
grapes and cheese that won’t last
in the fridge,
a pile of mail on the table—
each piece asking for something, surely—
morning sun coming through
windows that need cleaning,
three cats, sated, indifferent,
unfinished laundry.
Hands full, door closing behind me—
not later, past the sunset into tomorrow,
but now, I miss my home the most,
in this moment after I’ve left.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guitar God

In the afternoon light
he strode along the grassy ridge
above idling buses poised to
take us home.
Long hair, white clothes
and a miniature guitar that
only made him look bigger
like a god--
an amplifier strapped to his belt
shot sound out to us mortals
a siren song
a rallying cry
and girls I'd often dreamed of
let out a collective gasp
raining down along with his notes
on the seeds of a plan
I'd just sown.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Soul Work


In the old neighborhood,
my home town, I'm driving
and thinking of houses
I painted years ago.
Paint surely peeled and scraped
or at least hidden--
how many layers over the years?
How many brushes and hands?
Your work will be undone.

Not the soul, no--
it doesn't go that way.
Layer over layer, clarifying
like lenses sharpening vision.

Down, through heart-depths,
something opens up,
letting through the light.

If I peer back through them
when the light is just so,
what will leap into focus?

Painting houses, renewal--
a ritual practice, an ablution
or communion, a re-creation
but not the act,
which is pure looking,
when the time is right.


Like a delicate
songbird, soul vision in my
nervous, steady hand.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Welcoming a Guest

Let me welcome this guest,
dressed in the grays of grief.
Let me open the door, smile,
share a drink:
tea or something harder
and wait for the words,
the conversation to unfold
in the diffuse light
through the windows on
this hazy summer day.
Let me show that hospitality
that my mother taught me.
Let him in--
at least I'm not alone.
Anyone can be a teacher.
Let me look into his old face
and search, wait for the light
to slip from his eyes
as it surely must.
Maybe he can explain
my unsettled stomach,
the tangled sheets in which
I find myself,
why my eyes well up
at certain sounds--
tell me where the taste in
my food has gone,
what is grabbing at me
as I try to rise.
Come in, weary traveler.
Come in.

A Letter to My Students

I don’t say it enough, but I care about you. Each of you. That’s why I’m here. It’s too much work to do it for the money, so there must be ...