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 –


2poemart_questionHow do you write poetry? my mother asks
so innocently, a true and curious question

and I don’t know how to tell her

that a door opens in the heart in a thousand
and three different ways

and something steps out — a platelet, presumably, the heart’s specialty —

and strikes up a conversation
with whatever random thing looks friendly
or sympathetic:

an LED lightbulb against an amber sky

the sound made by the feet
of an unknown creature in the ivy

one leg of the chair I am sitting in

and I tell a pen and it tells a paper and you read it
and wonder.

Okay Mom, you too, bye.



Here, this nest of my being, home
today gives hairline fractures
in a noncommittal mirror —
a scrub jay in tidy morning suit
deceived by a lump of compost,
a single red salvia blossom
haloed in mid-morning sun —
dissatisfaction edging every gift
of imminent arrival, every parceled
named and pasted endeavor
slated for tomorrow —
as if Monday were an excuse
for soul-fog, for turning the eyes
and wasting time, time after precious time
adrift in that listless mirror

On a Daily Basis


The thought of it is what one believes,
the nail that has found a 2×4:
its voice, and a place to stay.

You can hang your coat on that.
Your hat, your panties, even
an oversized black plush bathrobe
whose sleeves are always tumbling down around wrists,
sodden with stripes of honey and orange juice.
The dishcloths from Ikea are thin and sickly,
though their performance in-sink
is perfectly serviceable.

Still there’s the thought of it, or at least
— the thought of the thought of it
or the memory of the voice that spoke the thought of it in the mind
— or the residue of the memory of the thought of it,
and the synaptual path that one might take
to get there again,
which is what one believes.
Which is the great difficulty
of hope.


Today I met the universe
at a wobbly table I never finished painting
with tea growing tepid and a pile of tissues
catering to a small inflammation that vacations
in the squashy recesses of the body
and also bewitches the weight of my arms

having nothing better to do, I test it
like a four-year-old
stretching one hand and then the other
out into the room, feeling
for molecules
as I palm the atmosphere in arcs
with added gravity, the press of hydrogen atoms
like a first-time visit, unwell but marveling

the certain magic of a head-cold
to revert one’s years,
a small and petulant human who can suddenly
feel space against her drifting fingers, who thus pressing
gently with eyes shut encounters
a thin wrinkle, a ruffled slender thickness in the air,
a place of curve, suspended flight, a seamless
congregation of universe’s fragments that greets her
willingly –
and is shocked to find that previously
she would have passed it hardly recognizing
even its family name: