Thursday, March 28, 2019

Like the returning salmon

Like the returning salmon, I only feel at ease when I return to my natal watershed. The  moment I cross the rise over the Tomales Bay Watershed I know I am home. The farmlands rise up to greet me like an old friend. Without judgement, without frame, the convolutions of road, space and time take me back to a place when anything was possible, even love.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019



A photo of a small green bird, and a series of color swatches. A chic fashion statement of sorts. But nowhere on that bird is that particular color beige, for example. Call it bone, as in bone-dead, because sometimes defining colors or what the eye sees, does not precisely fit the rigid structure as defined by Pantone color charts—D8C8AD. It is the imprecise nature of the variabilities of colors that graces that wild canary’s flanks that gives it depth and it both delights and surprises the eye with endless possibility.




It evolved into something like this:
She loved purple, and so by default,
all purple pens laying about were hers.
No matter that they weren’t. The siren call.
She absconded with the lot. They were like candy.
No pen was safe from her covetous nature.
Relentless as the sea. To her way of thinking:
Possessiveness was nine-tenths of the law.
Or something like that. Or that’s how she rationalized it.
With purple pen in hand, she was always at the ready
for what may, or may not, come.
Better to ask permission after the fact, than not, she thought,
knowing that the answer was always stacked.
She was well armed and at the ready.
By default, she was his Girl Friday,
even though it was not in the job description.
In the process, he, who hoarded his pens
in every possible color, had to relinquish control
of the purple pens, it was payback time
for all the pens he had stolen from his sister, the writer.
Some pens were tinted with the garish mauveine of analine dye,
an accident involving the synthesis of quinine for malaria,
that forever changed the painter’s palette,
and all the colors addressing the modern world—
not to mention mosquitoes.
Other pens were infused with a touch of the poet’s
secret midnight ink with impossible names
such as aubergine, amethyst or tanzanite.
She never knew what those dark pens
would want to say, or would want to draw, next.
Not to mention the uncharted territories.
She held them up to her ear, and like seashells,
they whispered unintelligible secrets
that were more often than not—lost in translation
on the long and arduous journey
from ear to hand to paper, or prayer,
bypassing that relentless censor, the brain.
She gave them free rein. They whispered nonsensical terms,
like blood diamonds, or high mass, and other raiments of desire.
Ultimately it was about truth. Any truth would do.
Or perhaps it was a case of free reign, because
purple was the color of royalty, after all.
It was sort of like channeling those Roddy Doyle
Facebook dialogues. Nonsensical premises
with sensical endings drowning their sorrows over a pint.
You could almost see the premises flocking
just around the corners of the mind’s eye.
She couldn’t help herself, stealing those pens.
Because purple is the color of forgiveness.
after all.


Monday, March 25, 2019



Cat wants in and out at the same time
But she is stuck on the stoop of indecision.
Coming and going are one thing to her.
She doesn’t differentiate, however,
she is merely exorcising her rights—
like Schrödinger’s cat. Ah, the variables of physics.
She complains. Looks up at me as if it’s my fault.
We stand in the doorway, frozen in time. And wait.
Maybe we are the thought experiment in action.
This room, this door. This moment in time
caught in the crosshairs. Not the cat—
who is neither dead nor alive,
depending upon your perspective.
And yes, boxes may have been involved.
If I think of her in the box, then, she is dead.
If I don’t, then, she she is alive. Either. Or.
What’s so ironic is that she’s not even my cat.
We wait, contemplate the vagaries of air.
Measure the depths of sky.
And close the door.

rev. 3/25/19
Published in Spectrum 24 August 2020

Friday, March 22, 2019

Dear Deer (Deirdre) of the Sorrows (photo)

Dear deer of the Sorrows. Last night she recognized the sound of my car and then refused to move. Nearly a head-on collision. Nearly the end for her. Right in front of the church too. Where is that young buck Naoise when you need him?

Photo is from 2018. Deirdre the deer is a little hussy, has twins every year without fail. She pops down the roses as if they were cotton candy—much to the chagrin of my cousin Sinead. Doesn’t even savor them. (Her cheekiness finally got the best of her, later in the year, now she hobbles from a run-in with a car, her latest set of twins dutifully mincing along behind her.)

Feral Friday commute

My somewhat feral Friday morning routine—get up before the crack of dawn, watch the mist rising in Nicasio Valley, listen to the cows, like a cat I sneak out of the house before my cousin Dave gets home from working nights at United—he doesn’t know I’m crashing in Sean’s abandoned bedroom— it’s a race to beat the clock. At least I’m no longer on the couch, the house is coming apart at the seams— literally. Where I’ve been staying in Sebastopol is too far from my teaching job in Berkeley. I make tea in a flask, pack out all my things, pour myself into the car, after scraping off frost, navigate icy backroads, through Lucas Valley, pick up Wi-Fi at Big Rock, the only place I can get a signal on my iPad, check the mail and FB, wait for sunrise over San Pablo Bay (none today, only fog and rain), finish off my tea, then head down the hill to outsmart the madness of the freeway and the commute frenzy of the big cities across the bay. I do all this in order to teach kids poetry.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

SUMI-E haiku


In a small clay bowl,
black carbon ink dreams the final song
of trees into being.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Wild birds

Wild Birds

There were always unnamed rituals to be upheld. The sisters saved up their hair from the comb and each spring they’d place their old hair out on the bushes for the wild birds to build their nests. In this way they were connected to the air. The birds imprinted on their scent, and circled of them like a halo. Like Saint Brigid. Yes. In this way they were all connected.


Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Fat Tueday, Pancake Night

Yes, it’s Fat Tuesday! Pancake night, that’s what’s for dinner. My granny always made crêpes and stuffed them with cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, and lemon with zest. Erwan Bouchina’s son, Antoine’s lonely crêpe pan was put to good use. No buckwheat flour though. They’re quite filling with the stuffing. I can handle about two, and I’m done. Laissez les bons temps rouler! 

  • NOTE: THIS POST ALONG WITH 12 OTHER POSTS WAS ERRONEOUSLY REMOVED BY BLOGGER FOR VIOLATING COMMUNITY STANDARDS ON 5/14/21. It was reinstated as a draft the next day. I am still pissed off.

Atmospheric river

The atmospheric river is back. Rain rain rain rain. Hope the backroads will be open tomorrow. Localized flooding this afternoon—the Laguna is back, full force. Perfect Storm.

Friday, March 1, 2019


He said—I wanna be in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
She said—But honey, you gotta accessorize.
So he strapped on an electric blue guitar
and strutted down the street in style.