Tuesday, January 15, 1980

MOMENTS STRETCHED LIKE SPUN GLASS


MOMENTS STRETCHED LIKE SPUN GLASS

i want you to feel those moments
between waking and sleeping
when your hands mold mountains from my breasts
like the soft milky clay of china
when your teeth graze the transluscent flesh
of my thighs, my shoulders, my neck as you inhale my flesh
our mouths lose their way in dark forests
yours protecting mine from the darkness of sleep
i want your hands to cradle my hips like a bowl of ripe persimmons
glistening in winter sunlight, becoming sunlight

i want to feel your life bloom against the lining
of our bellies like the desert after the first spring rain
i want to wrap myself in a ceremonial feathered cloak
hear the cry of hawks echo from the snowy peaks of the Andes
and sink my teeth, like some wild animal from the steaming jungle
into your hand until it bleeds the color of my rage

i want your death to brush my cheek
like a cat rubbing against the leg of Captain Ahab
petit mort resting on your eyelashes
like fine ash cinders blurring our vision
or breath condensing on the mirror
your tongue curls snail-like
tracing patterns of seashells in my ear,
it trails along the ridge of my spine
it cleaves the bilateral symmetry of my back
and the front of my body, connecting my mouths
our pulses beating in unison, roaring in our ears
like rivers during spring flood
along such symmetry to the moist path
a sinewy rainforest of pollen, musk, honey
in our nostrils, in our mouths, as we flow to the sea,
our tongues, dolphins at play
bathing us in darkness and in light
this day, a moment stretched like spun glass
between waking and sleeping

but as you feed me this nectar of our bodies
it profanes the air we breathe for you withhold your heart
relenquishing our clear hold upon this day

1/15/1980

Pac's Field

Just past Pac's Field, where Russian wolfhounds test the boundaries of their domain, with the grace of deer, or rippling wind—is an island. No, it's more of a peninsula, where two watery divisions intersect. Nestled between the confluence of two creeks, is the remains of an old deer camp, abandoned a half-century ago, yet a presence is still held in the shadows of bay leaves cloaking the ground and filtering the sunlight.

Watchful leaves guard this place with cool breath, even in summer, when outside, the field grasses and crickets hiss and snap like embers from distant fires. From dry arroyos, comes a small chorus of creeks rippling on a thirsty earth. Leaves guard this place, elliptic sylvan tongues suckling and whispering imprinted in the language of trees; I can't tell if what I hear is the sound of water, or leaves.

Remains of a stone hearth, a rusted coffee can with a baling wire handle, rusted bed springs, a crushed hip flask. Someone called this place home. A rotting food-keeper—each night, generations of hopeful raccoons still probe the shelves with dark hands. Genetic memory is like that; persistent and unremarkable.

Chin-high in the crotch of an oak, a stiff leather strop hangs from a rusted nail, a straight-edge razor, fused shut, and an old shaving mirror—silver back peeling like orange fungus. A thinly veiled message of watery glass, reflects and separates the eye from what's real, as if to keep us from seeing through a jigsaw of red-ochre earth, and the secret history of trees, to the blue ache of summer sky. Nose buried in the sweeping wealth of Califia's tawny grasslands, my horse samples each mouthful as if it were her last.

Though wise in the way of fences, my horse still keeps a practiced eye on the relentless wolfhounds testing the fence. The age-old dance of hunter and prey, ever-present. In the pool, sunning turtles, sport red-stripes on their heads—as if someone took a razor to them. Red, only true color in a landscape awash with the brightness of summer.

More than a mile away from the nearest memory of railway lines, this hobo camp slumbers on an island in time. Steel tracks pulled up during the war years, another addendum to history. Fifty years, a half-life since this place was abandoned, yet a presence is still felt in the leaves, and I can't tell if what I hear is the sound of trees, or the sound of water.

1/15/1980
rev. 2007, 2014

TO STANDARD OIL AND OPEC

TO STANDARD OIL AND OPEC

Rusted ’49 chassis
buried in the grass—
its pelvic shape
like the discolored bones
of dinosaurs.

Hip bones of automobiles
crawling back into the earth;
their slow death rattle
is heard in the rain.

1/15/1980

Saturday, January 5, 1980

SUNSHINE: THE POET AT 4

SUNSHINE

gather up all the sunshine in the room
& put it in a bowl
& put it outside on the deck
you can cut the sunshine in two
& have two bowls full
& you could take off the lid
& let the sunshine out any time you want
What if the bowl had a hole in it?
would it burn a hole in the floor?
If you took sunshine out in a bucket
could you cut it in half?
& give them sun?
then I'll hammer it back again
The moon never gets cut in half
it's the sun that's white
it's white, and it's little.

1/1980
Fort Bragg, Mendocino

 (a found poem of sorts: I was writing on Pat & Betty Wall's deck in Fort Bragg, and Micaela Carr's four-year-old son, Mateo, came over to tell me all about the sun. So I wrote it down. Sometimes you have to be ready to reassemble the parts.  It's written on 1/1/1980 but I'm not positive of the date. I remember it was a warm day, so the date surprises me.)

Wednesday, January 2, 1980

ITS HABITS AND ITS NEEDS


ITS HABITS AND ITS NEEDS

it's lean  and lithe    endowed with sharp claws   
                               it is day in these mountains
                                where they feared to tread 
                             they've been here some time
jaguar
red tiger
silver lion
mountain
devil                        it is day in these mountains
                                 where they feared to tread
                              they've been here some time
                               and now it is mostly known
puma           
cougar 
catamount
mountain 
lion                           endowed with sharp claws
                                  it's day in these mountains
                                  where they feared to tread
                                 and now it's mostly known

the big cat requires                      too much room
(and who has seen                      panther tracks?)
there seems to be no                  reasonable doubt
cat of the mountains                          is in trouble
it is almost day                      i n these mountains
now it's mostly known                     they've been
here some time.                     mountain screamer
& it appears            nature hasn't succeeded
it seems likely                        in these mountains
because it is day                     in these mountains
where it is known                       we fear to tread

 date? early work! It was a big deal to get the alignment with a typewriter

Tuesday, January 1, 1980

FAX SIMILE

FAX SIMILE

Hey word
don't be afraid.
Take a sad fax
and make it flutter.
Remember
to get it into your ink
and you'll think
you'll take it better.

no date
80-84ish

A DROWNING MAN (the stirring of something else)


A drowning man does not need to know
how to carry a staggering load
or that stars may go out
in a single gesture.

He does not need to know
the blue-red tint of his skin's
the color of angry twilight,
or that the foam spewing from his lipsó
the frenzied sea.

He does not need to know
my shadow that once had its sweet hours
in the grass is primordial in its loneliness.
That I wake myself up from sleep
to comprehend the idea of suicide
or that I began to write his poem
seven years before his own death
was predicted on a sunny beach in Chiapas;

his whole family bearing witness 
to the casual departure of life. Th
The men who failed to inspire him
carried his corpse to the waiting pick-up
like an inanimate sack of flesh and lard.

The wide disbelieving eyes
of his young daughters
as they watched their papá carted off
like so much meat from the butchers.

He does not need to know your eyes
repeat the wind's reckless secrets,
the sky fills up with jade beads,
and the stirring of something else—
another small life taken before it's begun.

1980                       7/10/1979?
rev. 88

 (This is from an earlier version so I posted it on the date when it was first written. Since I later witnessed a drowning man's death, the poem was changed to fit the events.)

BELOW THE ROCK

BELOW  THE  ROCK

The loam spreads itself
ankle-deep    bay laurel
roots follow  the  rock's
roots all the way  down
to water.      The barren
tree   stripped of leaves
is a sign       of the long
           drought.

1980
may be earlier
added 10/16

THE SHAPE OF THINGS


THE SHAPE OF THINGS                  

Moisture blesses this valley.  
Following winter's shearing weather,    
trees sprout new growth that conforms   
to the patterns of the wind that dictates    
the shape of things to come.
While waiting for the storm to pass, 
wandering clouds & sheep sculpt                
grassy edges on the mountain-sides.     

Hawks stand still against the inflamed 
wind roaring through the taller pines  
scorched by older fires.      
Fog softening the hillsides   
condenses around my face    
& rises like a storm under my coat    
until I am drenched inside and out.        
Under dark trees, lost souls of moths        
collect & flutter around my face        
as if I were the only pale flame  
flickering in the forest.  
                     
1/80  Forest Knolls   

REV 3/81 for (see below)
The Child in the Bell, CPITS Statewide Anthology, 1981-82
rev. 5/88   see original

The Aftermath of Choice


September crickets throb in unison
they instinctively know from birth how to sing
while you and I must learn it all
some learn it easily
some who don't, carry bitter scars
some are willing to try again
some never recover

we are the living
and we are the ones who kill by choice
we kills with our minds
as our bodies instinctively create life
we rob our bodies
and we suck the blood out of the living
they still die within us
we feel the loss of our empty arms
and our hooded eyes
it was done by choice.

no date, but it's typed on the Olivetti typewriter.
1979-80?

on the back, was the beginning of
MOMENTS STRETCHED LIKE SPUN GLASS
Jan. 15, 1980

JONQUILS IN WINTER

JONQUILS IN WINTER

the sound of moonlight rests
on the branches of pines
and hitches a ride
on the scent of jonquils in winter
moonlight on the tongue
like tasting the song
of nightingales
wresting shadows from darkness.

1/1/1980
could be 1979
Formerly called MOONLIGHT

SEVEN FOR WALLACE STEVENS

SEVEN FOR WALLACE STEVENS  
       —for Ranger Kenneth Patrick   August 5, 1973

I. Over high mountain passes
Clouds crawl over the forest.
The forest pierces into the flesh
Of their soft underbellies.

II. Deer hide in the mist-filled trees
Waiting for the storm to pass.

III. Underbellies of deer are white clouds
Brushing the tops of dry summer grasses
Growing along the mountain flanks.

 IV. In spring, snowflakes
Rests on the backs of fawns
And lasts until the chill of autumn
Thickens their coats.

V.   In winter, the sun dips into darkness.
The earth becomes barren.
The coats of the deer turn grey.

VI. Like a fawn, death itself Is moving slowly
Through the tall grass.

VII. The winter sun illumines
The red-tipped ears of deer
And fawns shake the snow
From their coats.

Limantour Spit, 1980
rev. 12.81?

1982 Ridge Review

Another ascii-filled poem saved from old school Appleworks. At least I had the sense to capitalize the lines so it was easy to restore. I forgot how much I like this poem.
I used to calligraph my poems. No typewriter.




morning begins as one of those clear winter days


morning begins as one of those clear winter days of surreal blue skies after rain and cloud storms. first grass is so green it can be seen with eyes closed, it bathes the lucid green air around it like a pond on a muted foggy day. seeds sprout in mud that has achieved the consistency of butter, in my hand are the seeds of alfalfa hay taken from the mane of my horse–her body was still warm but the stiffness had already set in. the night mist hangs suspended on grey globules dulling her red coat, clouding it over like her eyes. I open my hand and scatter alfalfa seeds about, a cloud empties its gentle rain upon my head, out of the surreal blue, a rainbow stops out from behind a cloud and tucks the seeds back into the mud.


no date
79, 80?
added 2/2017

Short Poems 1980

 JONQUILS IN WINTER

the sound of moonlight rests
on the branches of pines
and hitches a ride
on the scent of jonquils in winter
moonlight on the tongue
like tasting the song
of nightingales
wresting shadows from darkness

1/80


LOVE POEM
         after Suzuki

when love awakens
we  glimpse the infinite
but this love loosens the shell
diverts our desire and
loosens our grasp on the infinite.

1980


LOVE, ITSELF

Love itself
has no season, no time
to turn the rhythm of our souls.
As if by convection our breath
is  snatched away and suspended
from mist particles along
the pounding shore.

2/1980