Sunday, February 28, 1982



she is carved from the single root of a gnarled oak
that grew in rocky soil before she was born
its strength is it weakness
there is no room for it to sprout new growth
through the dense heartwood
locked inside an age of trees
she will stay until they rot
fall, and become buried in the mud

whole forests have turned to stone
as silica meets silica
a recognition in the desert air
sand pummels her face, obliterating it,
polishing it smooth like her body
there are no longer any features
just the suggestion of a woman
it seems she sometimes screams out
but the sand has washed away her mouth
the sand scours her mind like an ocean
all that's left is a fine powder
she stays locked within her own memory

can she hear the leaves of summer rustle in the breeze?
she remembers the winter when the rains came
and the mantle of mud covered her like a lover
but that memory passed as spring dried the pliant mud
trapping her under its adobe layer
the grass grows over her shielding her from the sun
Its roots devour the mulch until there's nothing left
but the death of the grass is hers as well
the throbbing wind scatters the grass, the crumbs of earth
until she is again naked and waiting for the hunter

insects rest in her secret places
she is mother to all those who must crawl and hide
they, in turn, devour her
when the rains come she begins to rot
as the cancer spreads,
the whole life of the tree is threatened
there are many trees in the forest
but the forest is without roots
another winter will soon see the fall
and an age of trees will end

ca 1982? could be 1980.

Early draft of CREAMERY CREEK

Early draft of  CREAMERY CREEK

My uncle caught a pregnant salmon with a pitchfork, 
roe escaped through the gashes 
and floated downstream where the name of the creek changes, 
but the creek still remains the same. 
Creamery Creek, Papermill, Lagunitas, 
fed by the Arroyo, Carson, and Crystal Springs. 
Inkwell, Shafter’s, and China House.
I rode bareback, plunging through pools 
on the floating island of red fur against the deep green water. 
Silver salmon spawn in cowshit at White House Bend. 
This creek is an artery that cuts through the valley 
and follows the veins up my arms to the heart. 
I slip off the back of the horse, grab her tail 
and I’m towed toward the opposite shore.


Looking for old work to post in the blog, I was not expecting to find this, in a journal of poems I had transcribed for Napa Poetry Conference, that I had planned to work on, so dates were rarely added.

Sunday, February 14, 1982


—for Greg Nett

We swim home to where the curve of thigh
dips into the dark throat of love.
Tongues twist like sleek dolphins.
Syllables slip from our lips
and you spill like a sailor at flood tide.
Already I am missing you, dear stranger
set adrift on the surging sea
with your blue eyes already anchored
on a far distant shore.

added 10/16