two brushes with death
in two weeks
and my mind rewinds, racing
to two passages of birth
the hardest tasks ever undertaken.
beneath my vision
pure becomings of life
emergences of first breath
nothing ever more personal, close,
than my children.
when enough is out
that you find out
that I couldn’t tell you
out of fear of no response
that I am inside out
14 Jan 10
heavy with mist clouds
hills heave in their slumber
the heart of buried streams
shifts in the labored sleep
carpets of moss and worm casts
insulate the dragons
here my head lies
eyes open to the aurora
eliding to the heavens
revising the tock of time
the tick of time
the clock of immortality
one eye opened first for me
and the vision sense blinded
all the others from then on
and the vision overwhelmed even
the scarring umbilicus cut
eye wide open e’er for me
to see the change in ages
the greening to the wrinkling
to watch the dragon reign and rust
and wither to a trace
summer’s sunburn peeling
winter’s fog concealing
life lived well revealing
23 May 2015
In the back acre where I live
there is a woods of its own design.
A place where deer sleep
and coyotes howl to steal my dreams.
Ruth came to my woods
and spent hours there,
gathering vines and brambles.
She almost filled her car.
All of this acre is art–
Art for Ruth, art for me.
In its unkempt and surly status,
it holds possibility.
I can never know all that lives there,
that partakes of its nourishment
or of its protection.
But I can always go there
even if in my imagination, miles away,
to explore wild possibility,
to curl up in a moss hammock,
to taste morning mist,
to smell fungus and loam,
to dream myself alive.
Start with a thought–
an old line that created the universe,
and one point to let you in,
and a loftier thought to catapult you forward,
and a library to explore
how far thought has come
(the alpha before you,
the omega before time).
And now you close
the line where some lives lived
without forever, within their time:
one scribe copying manuscripts
two typists dreaming of the moon
three limnists imitating the first division
a dozen authors dying in the dust of broken memories.
And don’t forget to fill the inkwell
worn of sorry words
and don’t forget the sealing wax
impressed with guile
and the tumble of pen nibs
whose truth was never known
and the stained old blotter
which has soaked up all the secrets
since thought began in time.
Be the keeper of the flame of thought
which itself is nought
but the soul of the first line.
(23 May 15, at Kim Stafford workshop, Sitka Center, Otis, OR)
One shoulder on right (or none?)
—large trucks ride partway on shoulder to let people pass
Trucks are large now – not unfamiliar!
New housing, apartments, condos, in the countryside
New power transmission line
Mediterranean. Same blue!
Sheep in contour rows, eating
Straw in roll bales
Red clay tile roofs – orange-red pink, salmon
—laundry hanging off the porches
Red poppies waving in the green grass
Still the foolish driver
—slitting the Lacanian gap
—between the bus and truck ahead
Following distance sometimes painfully pinched
How many crops have these fields yielded?
Beards of windrowed cypress
Building roads, drilling, orange construction-tape temporary fences
Solar power here and there
Pipelines bridged over creeks
Standard of living in country is way up! Are they commuters?
Driver on phone while driving…
Tabacchi. Too much for me at the airport, but could have been worse.
When the campanile
—competes with the appartementi
—and small planes.
he brings me a glass of water —
a wine glass of water — even though
I have some of the mineral water
left which I had ordered with dinner.
he says, with a foreign firmness, and a toothful smile,
“after ice cream, water. Is good.”
I look at the water — it seems to
warp the weave of the table runner
into an op art design — I think
of the warning that it is not advisable
to drink the tap water.
I think: should I drink it? Do I
have an obligation to accept and
ingest this gift? Will it make me sick?
Is he trying to laugh at me?
All the worlds of men around me
tonight are sinister. On the street,
they get into the front seats of cars
and the women cluster in the back seat.
I can do nothing against a lack of
love — I cannot wish it, warn it,
bestow it, gift it, demand it, cry
out for it.
The water is tepid, not chilled, and I
am even more afraid. The fears born
and resurrected and arisen today are
condensed into the silver gold mirror
of still water reflecting all my historicity.