Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Wilson Hill Road (photos)

 Wilson Hill Road, West Marin, facing north.

An abandoned loveseat dumped by the side of the road. Artist's light. You know I had to stop. There were pineapples carved on the oak headboard—a sign of welcome and hospitality. And the oak is a door to the Otherworld. I loved the incongruous red No Trespassing sign swinging from the fence. So, I sat there the entire afternoon just because I could, and got a fierce sunburn for my troubles. The April sun on Irish skin definitely takes prisoners. Hardly any traffic for a Sunday afternoon. Odd. Most people who passed by were preoccupied and didn't notice me sitting there drawing. Who was Wilson? Was this his hill? A lone cyclist rang his tinny bell and yelled Hi. That was it. I was so tired from the dread virus, I thought I'd never make it back to Sonoma County. That's the border on the horizon. Earlier, I had trolled Nicasio Reservoir for wildflowers because my caretaking job was cancelled. I spent my energy chasing flower photos, so I was grateful for the somewhat self-enforced respite. Sadly, my camera's failing. It can no longer focus despite the Leica lens. My eye is wounded. But I was also procrastinating. I needed one more pastel for the upcoming art show. As usual, the dreadline rendered me helpless. See, I was feeling sorry for myself, for a love gone so wrong, there's no mending it. I was punishing myself again, debating whether or not to stop to sniff the wildflowers, or flee the scene. And then I found a red stop sign embedded in the grass. What would you do? Synchronicity in action. That's what was needed. Follow random instructions from the world.

Thursday, April 18, 2019



It's been such a long and lonely winter
my leg hairs are high-fiving each other
and waving like royalty with every step I take.
There's enough static electricity between them
to create a galaxy of sparks when I walk,
reminding me that we are sloppy batteries,
each leg, a polar opposite.
I get rug-burns getting out of bed.
The decision, to shave or not to shave
however, is put off to another day.


Tuesday, April 16, 2019



Lemon curd on madeleines,
that's what's for dinner.
I can't taste anything else.
Oh, hell, forget about Proust's cookies.
Notre Dame is burning, and so am I.
So, it's lemon curd straight from the jar
with my granny's silver salt spoon
minted during La Belle Époque.
You got a problem with that?




OK, so I'll finally admit it is a cold
that finally declared itself in all its snotty splendor
after a day of chasing wildflower photos
in high winds where the air was so laden with pollen
the distant coastal hills were lost in a dream haze
like an alkali curtain had descended upon them.

The first time in over a decade a ritual is broken,
no more travels to the desert in springtime.
My partner dumped me at an unmarked trailhead.
So I learned to find my way and make do
with the local landscape, sneezing all the while,
remembering the trips to the Mojave Desert
where vast floral carpets of goldfields,
poppies, and purplemat stretched farther
than the eye could see.

I release my anger, I release him back
to the darkness that is his alone to bear.
He keeps calling me but I will not take him forth
into a future where the wildflowers
steal small pieces of the sun to dress the hills
in such gilded array that I am sick with joy.


Saturday, April 13, 2019



As I searched for information
on the internet, whether or not
my old MacBook would run the latest tax software,
I never in a million years dreamed
I'd be plugging a laptop in-
to the wall socket of my old classroom.
My call to attention was that snap of electricity
surging as metal made contact with the grid.
I was too busy eating library paste,
peering out of the cloakroom for Miss Lenz
to imagine futures where man
would walk on the moon,
or that we'd all be joined at the hip
via social media.



TEMPORARY ANGELS                       —For Linda Gregg

At Open Mike, I stood in my old 2nd grade classroom
& pointed to the room where Linda Gregg would've been,
in the other wing of the school with the big kids.
Before I read her poem, to commemorate her death,
The Weight, about a string of horses from Forest Farm Camp.

I told the story of how the Gregg's dude horses
were wintered over for the season in Tamal canyon—
after the summer campers had gone back to the city,
and how the horses crossed a liminal boundary
of barbed wire, seeking more clement pastures,
to the top of our hill, and how we
eagerly raced up the steep slope to greet them.
They whickered, lonely for the company of young girls.
We were their kin, leggy, skittish, happy to see them.
We breathed in their horsy odor as they carefully whuffed,
hoping to find sugar, carrots, or an apple in deep pockets.
They grew bored, sleepy eyed, and lop-eared. Sighed.

It was so easy, leaning on them, savoring their warmth
as they canted their hips and bent massive heads down
to tear at pale winter grasses. We scratched their necks,
leaned farther still, draped over their backs
as they drifted around the crest of the hill.
We slipped our slender legs over, and were astride.
They were all action, dancing in the wind
and we were flying. Wingless angels.
Temporary goddesses, no longer fettered to the earth.
Little did we know it was as close to heaven
as we'd ever get.

Later that night, the sheriff came knocking,
inquiring about the theft of those horses.
We trembled and of course we denied everything,
our thighs still rimed with telltale horsehair and sweat.
I used to have nightmares riding those horses to safety,
not knowing which side of the divide they belonged on.
Horses on the horizon still takes my breath away.
And now Linda is traversing the last long valley,
all the dead horses bugling in the distance.


Monday, April 1, 2019

Near miss

Near Miss

I think I might have just sidestepped fate. A near miss. Or at least a head-on collision. I was getting ready to pull into my usual pullout by the lake for a cellular signal to pick up my email (no reception in Nicasio), but a semi truck was coming the other way, so I pulled off the road to the shoulder to wait for it to pass— just as a pickup was passing it with a vengeance.

Normally I would’ve just turned in front of the semi, and thought nothing of it. I had plenty of time to make the left turn but I was in no hurry. Besides, I was admiring the stray wisps of morning fog curling catlike through the hills—dreamily composing a camera angle in my head.

The pickup spotted me too late, slammed on its brakes, skidding into my lane just where I had been, but by then, I was safely off the road. I just sat on the shoulder, stunned—and popped the clutch. My poor car juggered to a stop, and turned its head as if to look back at me questioningly, like my old horse. Really?

The air is laden with black smoke, the acrid odor of burnt tires and hydraulic fluid. The black skid marks indelibly annealed to the road. Melted tire tracks where I had just been. It all happened so quickly, there would’ve been no time to second-guess, or even avert an accident. It was a fluke. Or Karma. Certainly cars were involved. Some cosmic April Fools joke?

Earlier, I was dwelling on the precariousness of life, and the importance of living each day as if it were the last. Fully, in the moment, as it were—feeling that mortal coil. Having outlived both my parents.

Meanwhile, the pelicans and grebes carry on with the business of trolling for breakfast, breaking concentric fish circles on the glassine lake, making solemn vees on the surface of the lake as they bear down on their quarry. As if a V for victory. A cormorant skims the surface of the lake, stitching the mirrored surface with its wings. Gathers in the view. In the cattails, a pair of monstrous pale bass break the surface, lip and taste the air, splay their tails, entwined in that oldest dance of the world.


It’s time for Robert Lee Brewer's Poem a Day! 2019

A poem a day writing prompts. Visit Robert Lee Brewer's blog for more prompts and example poems. I'm posting the prompts here so I'll have them all in one place as I don't always have internet.

Day 1 For today’s prompt, write a morning poem. Maybe you’re a morning person, maybe not. Your poem can be about a morning. Or it can be set during the morning. And those who’ve done this before probably already know that I have no problem with you interpreting this as a “mourning poem.”

Day 2 Two for Tuesday! Pick one prompt or use both—your choice!
Write a worst case poem. What’s the worst that could happen?
Write a best case poem. Take the worst and reverse it!

Day 3 Write an animal poem. The poem could be about an animal. Or it could just mention an animal in passing. Or include an animal in your title and fail to mention the animal once in your poem. Your poem, your rules.

Day 4 Pick a painter, make him or her the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible painters include Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, or Pablo Picasso. Of course, you don’t have to go with the big names. You can use more obscure painters or more contemporary ones.

Day 5 Write a stolen poem. And no, don’t steal anyone’s poem! But you can write about doing such a thing. Or stealing hearts, stealing time, stealing minds. Or steeling your mind (remember: I don’t care if you play on my original prompt). Steal away into a comfortable place to write and break some lines today.

Day 6 Take the phrase “After (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “After Dinner,” “After You,” “After Hours,” and/or “After I Finish Writing This Poem.”

Day 7 Write a jealous poem. Maybe you’re jealous. Or maybe someone else is jealous of you–or someone else. Whether envious of another or suspicious of a partner, dive deep into this emotion today.

Day 8 Write a lucky number poem. Some people have lucky numbers, some don’t. Wherever you fall on the lucky number spectrum, you can still write a poem about the phenomenon of lucky numbers and/or luck in general.

Day 9 Two for Tuesday of the month! Pick one prompt or use both—your choice!
Write a love poem. All you need is love.
Write an anti-love poem. Or not. There are many forms of love: romantic love, friend and family love, love of being alive, etc.

Day 10 Write a lone poem. Perhaps the poem is about a solitary wanderer or person who just prefers to go it alone. Or a lone winner, lone wolf, or some other solo individual. Or alternatively, I’ll accept poems that are about loans or that are about being alone.

Day 11 Write a dedication poem. This is a poem dedicated to a person, an animal, or an organization. Or hey, objects work too–like a poem to a rock or paper bag. Put the dedication in the title or in a line under the title (“for Mother” or “to the heart-shaped rock between the creek and the tulips”).

Day 12 Take the phrase “The Art of (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “The Art of Writing,” “The Art of Painting,” “The Art of Showing Up to Parties Fashionably Late,” and/or “The Art of Being Awesome.”

Day 13 Write a view poem. Wherever you’re at, you have a view: maybe of a river or sunset. Maybe of a cubicle or a copy machine. Even the blind have a view of darkness, nothingness, or some other -ness. And that’s just being literal, because everyone has views on sports, politics, poetry, etc.

Day 14 Pick a state (or province, territory, etc.), make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. A few possibilities include New York, California, Ontario, Bavaria, and Champagne. Feel free to bend this in any direction you wish.

Day 15 Write a prediction poem. Make a prediction. Write about another person’s correct or incorrect prediction. Or, you know, be unpredictable.

Day 16  Two for Tuesday of the month! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice!
Write a catch poem. Catch a cold, a ball, a fish, or someone’s eye.
Write a release poem. Release your anger, a ball, a fish, or someone’s head (from a head lock while wrestling, of course).

Day 17 Write a reason poem. If this prompt seems unreasonable, just remember all the reasons you write poetry or enjoy cooking, dancing, singing, etc. Or provide a reasoned argument for your lack of reason. Only you know your reasons.

Day 18 Take the phrase “Little (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then write your poem. Possible titles include: “Little Guy,” “Little Richard,” “Little Mermaid,” “Little Italy,” and “Little Words That Pack a Big Punch.”

Day 19 Write a license poem. There are many different licenses available to people. Fishing license, driver’s license, license to plate, license to kill, and marriage license. Poem doesn’t have to be about the license, but it could mention a license, happen at a licensing office, or well, use your poetic license.

Day 20  Write a dark poem. Cave poems, poems at night, and no electricity poems–these are all appropriate for today’s prompt. Of course, dark has several other connotations as well. An underdog is often known as a dark horse, a villain may have a dark heart, and Batman is known as the Dark Knight. Heck, when I was little, I thought Darth Vader was Dark Vader.

Day 21 Write a sketch poem. My initial thought is to write a poem that’s like a sketch of a moment or an object. But you can play around with sketchy people or situations. Or just sketch something else together.

Day 22  Write a correspondence poem. Maybe write a poem that would fit on a postcard or in a letter. Or write a poem about correspondence school. Or jump into newer forms of correspondence like e-mail or text messaging. Of course, not all correspondence is connected to communicating; sometimes one thing corresponds to another by being similar.

Day 23 Two for Tuesday of the month! Pick one prompt or use both…your choice! Write a free poem. Write a not free poem. Remember: These are just matches meant to spark your creativity; you are free to poem wherever you wish.