a stillness I follow, unspeaking
the car a gray shadow, hardly interrupts
the dark road furled
through rain-drift pines

silence-hollowed curve
empties into

rain folds

‘til trees step back
in deference
to bright sky –

road, shadow, I
into negative space
once workmen blasted back
from dark boulders

an entryway of emptiness

to Sly Creek dam, a sweep
of white cement
smooth shouldered

emerald edges of winter-held
reservoir, high in her rust banks
that serge the forest,

reflecting rain

all empty
of humans
and full

of being


Song to a Large Household Sponge

carry this burden so

troops departing
(without chutes)

and catching silver sunlight
in their blissful bodies,

which tend the parched dirt
in their descent

and make things grow

Bones displayed for tourists,
cabled to the ground, in cypress shadows


Over mystery
I have no power
no tools wherewith to tune
its turn, dry it, save it, alphabetize it
except for language, which saves me
every time, allotting letters
to sequence, according to ingrained patterns
in my brain, to translate it a name:

Now I know you, name you, place you
after “myrtle” and before “mythical” –

this jewel just moments before
known only by
the pattern of morning light through ivy
(which intends to rule the world) and shadow
on a bedsheet sunshade
hovering over greystone patio
and sigh of a sleepy sunsoaking canine
curled up on a polka-dot rug.

All these knowing things glow, all drift
in late spring breezes, all play the dance
that moves us on
through outer space –
around, around

running circles that mimic
but do not match the face of a clock,
whose numbers I have tried to assign
to time, which I have authorized to mathematize
all mystery, but which

escapes, departing the dictionary
with barely a flicker
as the bay leaves in the sudden absence
of a hummingbird.

Whale Bones

Bones displayed for tourists,
cabled to the ground,          in cypress shadows
beside the whaler’s hut museum –

a Fin, a Humpback, Grays –
weathered, smoke-white, rocky

but when I run my hand
around the rim of corridor
where marrow once lived
there comes small lightning
to soul,

sensation no stone gives –

life, the body held up
and moving, the architecture
now ossified
of creature, classifiable,
of this habitat,

Eight-foot ribs, vertebrae
as wide as me
and again and again a waist-high expanse
of scapula sings to my skin

while I fall behind practical Saturday morning companions,
while I fall sheepish but held
by rough cold silk electric

by mystery beneath my warm
migrating palm

A Medical Description of Increased Stress


peddle the air
hawk it, even
spend it hard, departing
each footfall as fast
as your heart will drive you,
odometer dropping numbers
faster than the clock
and you find yourself
where you started, or else nowhere,
selling air to the atmosphere

which laughs.

Point Arena

The sky, for three days empty, began to gather clouds from around the world ― a remarkable collection, and expertly lit. The sun was itself accentuated and concentrated by the contrast, and shot spectacular light on the world, wrapping around the gleaming white cylinder of the lighthouse, blooming again and again against dark ocean in the blown spray off cresting waves, and warming shining chins of seals as their round faces emerged from waves. Just south of the point, whales turned near the surface, waving dark arms. We watched them for a long time, while behind us more and more visitors climbed the sunwarmed lighthouse to pretend that they were Frensel lenses, turning green beauties, hailing sailors 21 miles out, past the corrugated edge of sea.



PoemArt_PatioSittingIt is troublesome, now,
to sit on the patio
unless consuming a beer after three hours
of yard work or pausing
after one has swept the flagstones for a small dinner party
or at very least bringing out (with some difficulty)
the Adirondack chair and reading a novel.

While I sat the world went on
and I took no part in its motion —
please don’t tell me that I was spinning
through space at the exact same rate as always
because what is true

is that I just sat there
feeling the strangeness of nothing
hold insistently against the urge to do anything, even to be bored

or write a poem.

As a Lake at Dawn

PoemArt_AsALakeNear the top of a hill spread with deep coastal green, the sun drips down the sides of a white stucco house with tidy brown trim whose peaks thrust whitely into a heavily draped gray sky, glowing the way angels are supposed to glow against the dark backdrop of our familiar earthliness, reflecting in its uplifted windows nothing but light and dark.

Below, on a narrow bench protected by rows of jewelry and surf shops from the hasty wind pulling in from the ocean, other visions walk on stage, bow politely, and depart. A proprietor of knick-knacks, holding the cheerful Bennie (who vies for the title of World’s Fluffiest Dog), calls to an acquaintance across the street before returning to his retail counter, where Bennie will cheerfully plop down on anything that is placed there (postcards, a Santa Cruz patch, your hand). A group of women and girls file into a curios shop, hands trailing the rail of the wheelchair ramp. The girls are beginning to tire. The mothers will soon mention supper. Above them, palm arms flail against a jostle of air.

Because of the light, because of the hour, because of goodbyes completed and pending, the hour is as still as a lake at dawn, deep, bright, and perfectly mirrored, despite the wind.


PoemBeenWhere have I ever been except in the meteor
of blue and silver water
from one dying leaf
to another?

The coffee cools so quickly,
days like these –
a long, sweet friendship
now interrupted by trip after trip
to the microwave, where Modern Technology
ruffles all the soul’s feathers
into upward movement, a return to heat
without any sense of revival,
an antidote
for time so rapidly lost

Sixty seconds left of this morning’s gift,
units carved with a sharpened pencil
into the walls of my brain, ticked off
as they pass, marked on a glowing screen –