Thursday, August 7, 1986



We swam in the cenote,
liquid jade dripped from our lips,
slight salt tang, and tropical fish in the cistern.
A mouse was drawn to the dark chocolate,
could it be tamed? A kangaroo rat
ran over our bags, disturbing our dreams.
Only when we climbed the cliffs
did we find the petroglyphs.
Strange men with raised arms,
rams, and lightning. The sun swirling.

This morning, a raven in the oak tree
outside my window awakened me.
He had a lot to say. With a mixture of joy
and foreboding, I watched how the sun
glistened on his feathers, dark rainbows,
the comforting crock-crock sound
with a reverberation of death—
Those I have known. And the unknown.
Today I found out another friend died.
The eyes of the five kit raccoons
shone like embers as they observed me,
uneasily washing the cat kibble.
They were perplexed when the Frisky's Xes
melted in the water. Xes and Os. Tic-tac-toe.

I followed the tracks of a mountain lion
that circled us as we slept below Pyramid Peak.
The second confirmation in a year,
someone said. I don't know if I'm excited or scared.

I took John to the secret place above the garden
of my grandmothers house, that place I call home,
the resin odor of poison oak and fir greeted us
I showed him the place where a wounded cougar
once stalked my uncle until the report of a rifle
frightened it off.

I have nothing much to say really
just random notes, because it's been too long
since I've written a poem. Or written at all.
The salti-sweetness of milk distracted me,
like snow, or virgin's tears—lachrymosa,
and now I've gone and forgotten the true lines
I was going to write down when dawn broke.

added 2/17
slight revision

Friday, August 1, 1986


       Runners dressed in skins carried embers
       in moss-lined pouches to the next hearth.

        —Jane Walsh Reilly, 1893—1987

In the dark-paneled hall
of my grandmother's house,
mother-of-pearl light switchesó
the kind you push in & out,
resounded like sprung mouse traps
& light flooded the room.
The moment after one pushed in the switch,
wires inside the light bulb glowed red
like embers from earlier fires
to keep back the wolves and the night.

It was the woman's job
to keep the hearth fires lit.
To let it go out was to let death
come into the house,
my grandmother said.

Inside the heart of the light bulb,
between horn-like filaments,
beside the finely-coiled spring,
a smoldering spark from the first hearth
is locked inside because all atoms
are recycled except the ones we've split.

The white hair of my grandmother
as she bends to read
throws off its own aura of light.

1992 Green Fuse
        Apostrofe! (in Ukrainian)
1986-88 Falling to Sea Level
1987 Marin Poetry Review
1986 More Than Words, CPITS Anthology

An instant of reproof (corrupt text)

An instant of reproof 
shines in his eyes 
as he takes in all the angles 
which made me show him
that more was possible. 
Mass extinctions, 
a sequence, I said.
I'd try you with some ashes 
taking penetrated                xxxxx
by the labyrinth of sea bears.

August 1986