Remember the Spring of 2019

Winter grew darker, lingered longer, watered our slumbering spot of earth.

Come February, she refused her pattern of recent years –
did not suddenly give up all her sweaters for a steady sun
and a single burst of daffodils –

– no, they stepped out together
winter with summer
a dance we call spring

Again and again on the autopilot drive home I am astounded into pulling over,
this shoulder and that becoming familiar as I stare spring-struck over valleys

where stormsun carves out sky, chisels phosphorescent swaths of wintergrass light
burning velvet beneath the oaks and bays, who shed their winter textures in the umbra
wrought by cumulous and nimbostratus, their rain tresses caught up in opalescent combs,
the negative space of their lace and satin poured with the silver shine of distant sun, translated, split
by lances of lucent silence

the late light of day now concentrated, escapes its armor
a several spotlight
picking out of the fitful bits of groundfog this fragment, that remnant

now named white flames against a ground of ocean grey
now illuminated dragons lifting talons in slow motion out of dark ranges of fir
and hovering over earth’s most golden greens

whole nations of clouds run together, holes of brightest cobalt
still opening and closing in the east as shadows deepen, darken down the slopes’ turned faces
brushing dark fingers over the valley’s edges without tenderness
or pause


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Hominids in a Carmelite Chapel

It is the silences that amuse me most

that are never silent
despite day’s last golden light in circles high on the chapel’s walls
despite the bee that has come here to die, to writhe out of life on the sixth, seventh, eighth “laudite domine” on ‘70s linoleum in a patch of gold fallen so far from heaven and that distant alluring window, past a pair of hairy knees and a silenced fan to her death floor

No, there is hardly even a lull in the creak of wood pressed against newly by a plump shoulder blade, the sniffle, head-scratch, hard exhale, butt shift, foot down, hairsbreadth chair scrape, guitar thump, step down, lean back, cough –

and at last a shift in the breeze
that makes the stifling chapel creak all up and down
her arches and door jambs

A collection of plain people, plainly attempting silence and guiltily failing with fifty plain unspeaking sounds, all normalcy and awkwardness mixed with gratitude and candlelight

unsilent silence, we cease speaking to admit
that it is so difficult to listen
when everybody has ceased speaking

and that the jumble of life we have brought here is unstoppable
the lofty words we have assigned ourselves this service
all synonymous
with life and body,
the noises of living
the chattering unstill heartbeat breaths of fifty hominids
in a Carmelite chapel.


Having this moment ascended
the rungs of the dish rack, focusing
intently on disintentment
and the moderate cleanliness
of a white travel mug, one can
assume a carpet-colored cloak
of serenity, on a sofa, in the exhale of a box fan
and costly,
seven tabs in the browser window
and a timer counting down in its head, silently
so I needn’t attend the hours –
though they attend me.

Having this moment repeated
the same seven repetitions of replete redundancy
— how
— because
— but
— if
— should
— want
— okay

I carry on.

Having this moment danced
on the head of this moment, I don
wings for washing dishes, the turn
of the doorknob
under a soapy rag, two-ply toilet paper
and the wind in a leftover laundry –

Having this moment
been bitten
by time,
ratsnest temerity of the minute, that notorious anklebiter —
a small tooth-marked bit of heart
removed for ingestion
by history, the necessity of eating
found even in the clock,
the call of a ticking,
the crawl of a tocking,
time articulating, animated
by my blood.


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.