On the dry side of Tubbs Valley
an old hedgerow frames a patch
of wicked soil. A line of trees
with a western view points
to a foundation just below
the remains of Gravel Spring.
Pointers and a frame, last witness
to a plow breathing hard air,
a clanking windmill sifting yellow dust,
leather boots resting tough
under a white stone, and small flowers
blooming beneath the sage.
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
On the dry side of Tubbs Valley
Monday, January 29, 2007
a feeding flock
is on the deck
tea must wait
in dark of night
finds its place
its river song
on distant cousins
Saturday, January 27, 2007
Said Bobby Lowth to Sammy Johnson,
"What's in this Booke ye works so long on?"
"It's full of the Words t'were crowding my head,
Tis a dictionarie," Sammy said,
"Once and for all we shall know
howe to Spell and what they mean
words like smell and benzadrine
we all shall know and write Alike,
conformity is in my sight."
"Sounds goode," said Bob, "I lyke your game
for rules of Grammar I'll do the same."
And thus was sent, in black and white
with rules, exceptions and wrongs to write,
a living language to its grave –
well, maybe not dead, but Comatose
it's not the same but mighty close.
Still yet we've got a Tool that checks
for fatal linguistic dreadful wrecks;
albeit these rules we use to see
if writing is: common, good or disgraceful
came a hundred Years before baseball.
"Tis hard to imagine how future blokes
will use my booke," said Bobby Lowth,
"teachers will use it, no doubt,
long after my Body gives out."
Sammy replied, "you're right my friend,
though "book" doesn't have an "e" on the end
look here, it's listed right after boodle.
Learn to Spell you marblehead."
"Suck a metaphor," Bobby said.
Thursday, January 25, 2007
On a cold spring day, under gathering clouds
a Willow Ptarmigan struts across
thinning snow fields below the Dempster
Highway, below the Tombstone.
Melt water flows down
ice channels to the Klondike,
erodes river ice until blocks
thunk against a bridge piling,
a block plows into riverside brush,
shuddering blocks rearrange boulders,
a Klondike block sumo-thumps
Yukon blocks, and the Yukon
breaks up on a cold spring day.
Wednesday, January 24, 2007
A winter mizzle invades my village,
becomes the backdrop to my tragic drama,
my black comedy. Sitting in a noodle shop
I read my book of ancient poems
trying to look inconspicuous,
trying to find someone with more dirt
on their shoes, another hermit
to share my troubles and torment.
I follow peach blossoms to a valley,
the clouds move aside revealing a snow
covered mountain, a temple bell rings
across the river and orioles twitter
in rafters, we ride down the road
on war horses to banish barbarians
from the western plain, pass snowy nights
watching the moon travel the River of Stars.
My noodle bowl is empty so I put
the ancient poems in a plastic bag,
and suffer the winter invader.
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Voices I hear around my hut
are noise to my thinker, noise
to my center. The bookshelf complains,
the liars bench grumbles and whines,
neighbors shout in drivel
that pains my temper.
Under the River of Stars I discern
a river of peach blossoms,
songs cross a thousand mountains
to lighten my river of suffering.
I think of moonlight covering
the path to a mountain retreat.
I hear a distant temple bell
echo through a ravine.
The river of noise around my hut
flows to the ocean and doesn’t return.
Monday, January 22, 2007
left or right
then hurried calm
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Phil’s the serpent that’s always dark above
and light below, even when he rolls
upside down or stands on his head,
which he does for the neighbor children.
Phil’s dual tone illustrates the dual nature
of things like mosquitoes, snow, and breakers
pounding a rock packed with barnacles and mussels.
Philosopher Phil’s new task is show
the enclosed cycle of the universe, he puts
his tail in his mouth, recalling mother’s advice,
but he knew where it had been.
Phil biting his own tail forms
a circle, a symbol of creation out of destruction,
of limited confines, them and us.
Phil detects a curious taste, a dark noise,
his stomach’s unsettled, vexing nausea,
he gags and spits out his tail, and returns
to a wiggle line, a symbol of evolution,
the web of life, the nature of swans, the tide
sneaking up a mudflat at twilight
toward a feeding flock of plover and dunlin.
Phil reflects on his condition and notes
that he is dark above, light below,
and gray in the middle.
Friday, January 19, 2007
(Art Slessinger was a biologist at the US Forest Service Experiment Station, Olustee, Florida)
Northern Florida in nineteen forty-nine,
Slessinger’s medicine is a glass of wine
to control a murmuring heart.
I imagine he used it too
for other complaints and conditions.
Today’s conspicuous diseases and commercial
complaints are embattled by a plastic pharmacy’s
synthetic drugs with profitable
names, unnatural cures contrived
to replace Slessinger’s Medicine.
As treatment for workplace despair,
tonic for barbed-wire heart,
remedy for moonlight longing,
patent potions are no match
for Slessinger’s Medicine.
On a winter footpath my tender joints
remind me of hikes with a heavy pack,
jumping off a sandstone cliff, picking
apples and planting trees. Reminders
that call for Slessinger’s Medicine.
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Spring winds have cleared the marsh
of icy wrappings, scented buds
dangle thoughts of fragrant blossoms,
petite flaunts bob and bounce, parade
jade-white cheeks and azure lips
like girls in a mall, trolling.
The spectators answer to genetic triggers,
twist and weave distorted schemes,
pay little attention as best they can.
Monday, January 15, 2007
the orange juice label
on new snow
winter rain leaves
bird count doubles
in a cottonwood
one eye opens
in low orbit
in a wine glass
Saturday, January 13, 2007
A cloud-swirl slithers in from the ocean,
low clouds ripple the evergreens,
throw a mist down the street,
constrict the moon.
I walk past the crows in Jefferson Park,
my face depressed against the drizzle,
I’m fixed on my inner chatter,
listening to the reasoning, the bickering.
A little bicker leaks out,
freed speech that escapes to the street,
hides in the bushes, strikes out
at nervous people in the park,
envenoms their thinkers.
The nervous thinkers watch me
like field mice watch a weasel.
I step into a coffee shop
and write notes until
everything's tied down,
there’s no loose cargo,
until the chatter stops.
Back on the misted street
I’m alone with my notes,
the rippling trees,
and the drizzle moon.
Friday, January 12, 2007
(who live in the great Southwest
desert where global warming is old news,
sunscreen is foundation makeup,
humidity is a mythical concept,
cactus is evidence of ground water,
they say it’s heat, but it’s ‘dry’ heat,
the coyote chased the jackrabbit
and they were both walking)
(who lives in the great Northwest
coast where mold is ground cover,
three days without rain is drought,
there are twenty-six words for fog,
they say it’s rain, but it’s ‘dry’ rain,
clear blue sky is hard to imagine,
when the rain gets warm
it must be summer)
The sun was out this morning
for a couple of hours,
it really made a difference.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
I'm a first-responder when the morning sun
breaks through the window or the evening sun
sets and darkness invades. My name is called
when the mailman is late, mold's on the cheese,
we have no bananas, the truck has no gas,
a glass broke, there's no snow, or it's raining.
The weight's on my name when a bill is due,
a mouse is sighted, a light bulb is out,
the pizza delivery needs a tip,
bible thumpers are at the door, there's water
under the sink, the trash smells,
there's a letter from the IRS,
or there's a what's-that-noise outside.
My name is overused, it's a cliché,
and that's why I live alone in a cabin,
the window looks over a neglected garden,
that's why I walk a mudflat
where the tide doesn't know my face,
and a troubled plover doesn't call
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
the wandering sun
decorate the beach
night clouds build
a snow drift
winter rain taps
sweeps the sky
in the window
a new web
receives the dawn
the ocean wears
Friday, January 05, 2007
A guy with large hat and delicate boots
rides an elephant to White Cloud Peak,
jade and bronze tinkle and jingle,
banners and tassels float on spring wind.
The hat speaks fragrant words
to crows flying on red clouds,
fog drips from ancient trees,
the elephant did not come back.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
In a room smelling of delusion and spice,
behind silken curtains a tasseled shawl
with quick eyes, and a need for quick cash,
said, owing to few and small desires
my future will be prosperous and content,
my palm-lines told her so.
In my cottage smelling of fish and curry,
behind white whiskers set long
are face-lines etched by wind and sun,
prosperous and content furrows set hard.
In autumn wine I consider these story-lines,
and a tasseled shawl with quick eyes.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
A strutting grouse she was
puffing chestnut plumes,
drumming and thumping
Her innermost thoughts she kept
on the outside,
an enticing bag of snakes
flashing teeth, crackling indignation.
Walking the evening she was not
on a roadside
dressed for lingering,
lingering to package temptation.
On gilded stage she was not
with minstrels and clowns
overplaying for comic effect
to a cowboy with whip and spurs.
Talking to me she was
and a cascade of rocks and broken metal
surged down my arms
and ripped out her voice.