Sunday, September 21, 2008

FIRST DAY OF FALL EQUINOX (take 2)


FIRST DAY OF FALL EQUINOX (take 2)

A cow lows for her calf
or companionship
in the lost folds of tawny hills.

In the tawny coastal hills
a cow calls for an errant calf
or companionship in the lost folds.

A fox coughs, deer hesitate, flick an ear,
dry grass rattles the throat of the wind
a tinder song of the Fall Equinox
a lone crow patrols the deep sky.


EQUINOX, WALKER CREEK RANCH (take 3)

In the tawny coastal hills
a cow bawls for her errant calf
or for or companionship in the lost folds.

A fox coughs, deer hesitate, test the air.
Dry grass rattles the wind's throat,
a tinder song of the Fall Equinox.

A lone crow patrols and scolds the deep sky.
A poem escapes the bowl of the valley
takes flight and nestles in the crevices of the mind.

Invitation to a fleeting poem within the mind
pulls me between worlds, both corporeal and transparent.
I learn anew, vulnerability is our only real strength.

How, then, to make peace with this valley
where I was nearly killed a decade ago?
Susan tells me it's OK to not be ready
to return to that place of resurrection.

In dreams we are reminded of who we are
and we remain standing in the grace
of what we may become.
What god would have us be so?
What am I now?


Walker Creek, CA

INDIGESTION


Someone said the mission of a poet
is to feed you something we may not agree with.
Someone said but don't do anything
to jeopardize your mental health and well being.

Still, we contend with the unspeakable art of war
I am left with the image of the pure wrath of a shamal—
a sandstorm hummocking over the barracks
beneath the angry red eye of the desert sun
as if the fist of God descended from a clear sky.

A blond Iraqi wind howls in babble-tongues.
A soldier laments: you can't shoot yourself in the head twice
as the air charged with the neon flames of St Elmo's Fire,
fluoresced from his gun like a halo.

What's the difference between a poet and a prophet?
What makes us different than a bird or the clay red dirt?
We confront, we inspire writing used as a weapon.

I ate something that didn't agree with the talk of old age
but words are rebirthed in the midwifery of the mind.
In dreams we are reminded of who we are
and who remains standing in their sleep.
We are sleepwalking towards the precipice.

In grace we become sand angels.
is this what God would have us be
in this godforsaken desert?
We are not seeking the voice of God
within the sandstorm of madness.

Hacking apart a nation is brutal work.
The damned in the White House is illegally blind
to suffering and the writing on the wall.
We should all be lobbing a maelstrom of shoes
at that old warmonger.

On the eve of the Primaries, I realized
I have been depressed for seven years.
We no longer celebrate time by the New Year
but by elegies to Septembers and elevenses.

But there is hope coming in November.
The name of hope is Barak not barrack,
not this Shock and Awe war for oil
and the wind's name is Obama,
a bit of every bloodstream,
he is everyman's hope.


Walker Creek, CA

OLD TATANKA

Boots cough, scuff the floor
poets rising from the couch
with false starts, we seek balance

We grunt, the couch gives
shoves us back onto our feet
old age, less forgiving

My back reminds me
we were all young together
pinched nerves, burning fire

A young redwood grove
planted too far from the creek
not enough thirsty tinder
for a fire's first meal

Birch log bench rocks me
dry grasses scribble the wind
to welcome the Fall



TRANSEXUAL SANDMAKERS (Parrotfish)


                a poem written in two voices

If you dive down deep under the sea
you'll hear our hunger as our beaks scrape
and grate like shovels against concrete.

Like a shovel against concrete
I excavate the reef and the coral
becomes both meal and sand.

At daybreak we glide in gangs
you can follow our plumed trail
excrement of coral and dust cloud.

Our feeding transforms the reef
into fine tropical sands so coveted by tourists.

At night we undergo our solitary existence,
secreting rooms of private refuge.
We sleep in inked cocoons of mucous dreams
protected from nocturnal danger of the hunter.
The stars shelter us, the sun guides us.

And if we live long enough
we may change from female to male
and back again—to keep the balance.

To mate we become male, we become aggressive
Our colors brighten like a macaw's.
We undergo a colorshift from placid green
to electric magenta and neon blue.
And when our passion is spent
we fade to turquoise and mauve.

I am both male, and female again.
The tide pulls my cloud of young eggs to the open sea.
My young fry ride on the tide's back to the far reef.

If we should meet again, my young and me,
they will find their mother has become their father.


Iolande and Maureen
Walker Creek, CA

ALLIGATOR SNAPPING TURTLE



I spend most days underwater, swimming blind,
my carapace furred with a thick coat of algae.
I covet the murkiness of shallows and lazy rivers.

Once I was used by Man to find their drowned
the river's dead, hidden in the depths and reedy shoals.
Once they tied me to ropes, let me swim free,
until the river gave up her cargo, then they pulled me back
from my just desserts of pale flesh the color of the moon.

Every animal—living or dead—is my prey.
Sometimes I lay wait in a pond or on land,
Sometimes I lay in wait for a morsel:
a frog, a fish, a hand.
My neck is longer than the length of a man's arm,
my curved tooth or beak, strong enough
to snap off the hand that holds the rope.

My status is such that on a golf course in Cape Cod
golfers abandon their balls to me at the 18th hole.
They wake me from my slumber, 
then pay homage to my age
but they skirt my scuted keels and beak most carefully
for the golf balls remind me of my clutch of eggs
so secretly buried in the sand to winter over.

The sex of my young is determined by temperature.
But the temperature is rising 
and snapper soup is still on the menu.
Mine is a solitary existence: 
a half century in this muddy cove
and not another of my kind have I seen.

My jaw is agape, I yawn, I taste the afternoon air,
waiting for the prey to come to me. I hiss.
I wriggle my vermiform, like a red worm at the ready.
It works like a charm on the smaller creatures
but the golfers just won't bite, they call me a dinosaur.
Perhaps if I open my mouth wider, 
they will come closer.

Soon, the worms will dine on them
for my age is recorded in centuries.
My kill, another's kill, or the long dead,
it makes no difference to me, 
for, in the end, I must eat.

My armor is too tight, I overrun my boundaries,
Soon, I will be 400 pounds of carapace and shell,
my head and limbs exposed to the elements on the 19th hole.
Soon, the night will come and I will hunt again.


Walker Creek, CA

AUTUMN EQUINOX

AUTUMN EQUINOX
for Maureen Reilly, my mother, AKA Kellé Green
September 21, 1932 — October 23, 1994

Come home to die, she did, like a stray cat.
We didn't listen, we didn't believe
for she'd cried "wolf" so many times.
We never knew what was real.
Nor did she, as she howled in concrete canyons
traversing the City like a gypsy in her ragged clothes,
pawn silver and turquoise half-hidden by a wild red mane.

She knew Market Street doorways,
she who could walk the Tenderloin unafraid,
she was a white angel among the downtrodden,
the homeless and the indigent. She brought them
clean needles and clothes. Fresh cardboard.
And if they needed warm food she pawned her jewelry.
Come Welfare Monday, her hands were again heavy with silver.

She, who had so many homes: transient
hotel rooms, holding tanks, state mental wards,
at one time or another, every place was home.
But she came home, at last, she came home to us
to the gentle folds of the western hills, to where the heart is.

This woman who we called Mother,
she came home to die and even then we didn't believe
her heart was too big for this world. We didn't believe her.
We never said goodbye and then it was too late.
The floor leapt up to cradle her silent heart.

Mama come back, it's your birthday
I'll hide the needles, the pills, the pills,
pretend I didn't see the blackened half-spoon.
Come back, be my Mommy, just for a day.
It's your birthday, the Autumn equinox.
As they traipse along the pavements gray
the fallen leaves are whispering your name.
Come dance. Come and dance with the wind.


Walker Creek, CA

Saturday, September 20, 2008

SPIRIT OF DEMOCRACY

Spirit majesty,
the idea, equal and entitled
shines through the letters
as the impact of segregation
to make the intellect adjust
will impact the country's honor.


Walker Creek, CA