On Fire

Bury me amongst the trees

Where redwoods overlook the sea

From atop a crossed mountain

Where my body will quicken

From flesh into sand.

Underneath the needle-bed

Blanket, the fibers of my hair weave

A way through the wind-filled leaves.

Heat my voice with borrowed sun

Which once kissed my cheeks

Where freckles reached to meet.

You now hear my broken chords

Faintly in the the distance unmoored

Tasting the salted shore. Safely clean

I lay down on a million fine grains of sand

Not feeling myself again I repeat

To no one: I am an empty vessel.

I’ll still wake every morning

Habitually, my hands still sleep

Parting the fitted sheets aways,

Long gone I still reach after you.

I am the water, then the dew

Maturing into a pinguid mist.

The palms clap and sway to

Conduct the band at noon

To play a song of our bequest.

The hour’s imminent.

Time to ride a wicked dream on

A silk weaved carpet twisted

With last night’s ghostly breath.

Come take inventory of my remains

Should the tree mark me no more.

The lumber that’s become of me

Taken over by the shore. I am a house

Now – shelter for a family to whom you

Lost me once again. My soul holds up

The walls now, my legs hammered

Into floorboards, arms encircle

Each bedroom where the dormers rest.

My fingers lace together to build

A painted white front porch,

That’s my hips now a swing

Hung there, under the eaves.

Look up to see my head holds high

A roof; my back’s now the front door

My eyes frame All the windows, my heart beats

In the kitchen. My birds left the

Forest knowing where my mouth now sings

And the woodpecker that lived inside my trunk

Hollowed out my attic in the spring.

Let me stand strong and steady

For at least a hundred years.

By then, long gone, you built your own

And our lives live on, unworldly yet eternally.

Looking down at the rubble of what’s

Left of my body in the demolition heap.

What at all might grow from me who once

You buried underneath a tree?

Let me now burn someone’s hands

Someone lit afire from my plight.

It’s cold outside where I once stood

In the trees and dark of night

And I’ll burn vast and luminous

My spirit gives newborn light.

Pet Rich Ore

(Dedicated to chemotherapy)

Steal the scent of aftermath,

Of rivers, ponds, waterfalls, of

Mangled limp leaves, blown

Around. Fog, water’s mystical state

Lifted the ground up by noon

Do the arithmetic:

What’s left outside after a storm?

Rain leaves its distinct message:

More precisely, less understood

Oily ascension from the earth

Reaches to encounter rising

Mountain roads. Projecting

On a green screen we stop

Acting, instead slowly, slippery,

and wet, waiving goodbye to my

Now-relinquished memory.

Mirrors from lighthouses beam

A spot where the words hide.

Vast oceans of gray crevices

Foggy and neglected, recollect

Years before, a pear-green sky

Ripened and began blowing.

Curtains beckoning with arms

Waving to the operatives

Waiting for instructions.

No signs yet.

Finally the storm bursts

Through a bedroom door

Met by an unkept little dog

One that came with her name.

“Petrichor.” The memory

Satisfied finally, for

Here’s the word for the oily scent,

Rising up with a heave to hear

Earth’s sigh of relief

When water rises after it falls

And worms rejoice in its muddled

Grounds. Mud made puddling

Mid afternoon humid

A swampy mystery

Finally rests in its ground.


Eventide

Riding passenger side snapping right,
I’m down in front stealing long exposures.
From the back seat our youth sits
Mocking us with instant polaroids.
Destroyed pictures of minutes and memory
Precious and precarious slip a stone
At once here and at once gone.
Right under the driver breaks hard and higher
Up another mile, silently stealing all we pass.
As if it meant nothing, had no value.
Yet we never stop to salute the flowers –
All wilds and yellows and purples.
The foothills’ shoulders grow peonies
Upon sunshine golden with military ranks.

How jagged time?
We spend ours climbing again as
Eventide approaches us.
Stealing the light
Squinting and teasing Every photographer’s eye.
The lens escapes the fight as fists fly
Above us rung the first punch
Headliners: the over-real versus the unbelievable.
Then we drop down tearing around
The Summit dragging the day with us.
With us flat then right over on the side.
Buckshot sprays whitetail from
Underneath the wheels,
My skin and bones chill fast underneath
Blankets just a quarter mile thin –
Count the microclimates in a 14 mile exposure.
My imagined assignment, anyway.

Inertia now driving our ascension
Finally dousing my focus.
Yet I am pacified by
Deep coastal royal blue velvet,
And by the courtly cape
Of dense silver fog.
Trees, reach in and take my attention
Lost in the sky and yet at home.
Away with the little brick foxes
Already started by the drooling hounds,
Running in distant golden broken lines
Shrinking to a pointed index
Finger of bent redwood lumber.
Penciled between the knotted trees
Escaping our eyes
They write letters to us
To one another, to anyone.
I imagine the trees alone love themselves.
Writing in dead languages those
Modern towers of Babylon
Without oral tradition
No monks or followers to take dictation
The mighty ones tie rings around
Paper and papyrus of their own making.
They, like me, can write their own stories.

Distant deamons dance to the music of the eventide,
Whose eardrums thump and pop from slight descents.
Mercies clear the stares and the macabre glances.
And up ahead the night hides just around
The voluptuous Earth’s curves.
Yet she shakes off the road upon her hip
Langushing and lounging
Laughing at all the forsaken highways.

You snap me awake.
My hypnotic state undone
By our quick duel and I, only me –
I roll one window down
With enough sense to know
The party orange of evening presents
A moment for exposure
Showing the night undone
By the simplest flash
As we find a space and stall the motor,
King and queen of the hills
Announced by snare drums and trumpets.
Goodbye, twisted bruised skin of eventide.
Eventide, goodbye.

Follow the Queen

My room unlatched
Releasing shirts, slacks
To hungry closets for
New black suits.
Drawers devoid, empty,
Open for guides and
Maps. A single dirty window
Opens to a brick wall.
My memory of the word
“Defenestration” fell out.
My mouth shares the doubt
Of an incomplete education.
Underneath paper thin sheets
Uncover my form asleep dreaming,
Murmuring bird breeds.
I fly into the diaspora.
Street artisans took to the
Deep sea once, yet to which land?

I hold the receiver and
Wish for a revolver.
Legal language defense
Foreign escapes
Hold up in court.
Unknown room numbers
In a delicious series of
Chambers marked 12, 31
Maybe 2004.
Remembering a stone cold six story
Buddha in a wide open gin palace.
Cigars and molten cherries
Jubilee. Bananas foster
Charles Foster Kane,
His full name from nothing.
Mother’s greasy brunch pumpkin
Markets and street tchotchkes.
Snow globes from America where
Going down South the snow
Attracts curious tourists.
Temporary neighbors
Angry without rose beds,
Lawnmowers without preteens.
I learned the names of
Chateaux. Bordeaux, Chablis
Pure sunshine Chardonnay.
Tastevin and Caskets
Down in the catacombs
The same town underground.

Rise up and run off
Spilling me like syrup
On pancake embankments.
A cooing stewed pigeon
On an expired warranty the
Black dial telephones,
Hissing tube televisions.
Anonymous but you only
Would send such indifferent
Cheap bouquets of sprayed
Carnations and baby’s breath.
Such sorry little pimples
Those flowers, like calling
Cards for bill collectors.
Or foreign exchanges between
Currencies for emergencies.
Ladies wearing smart suits
Tahitian pearl chokers
Rhinestone bangle bracelets
Bengal tiger-print hot pants.
A real mistress
Ends in a whisper
Her knowledge sits stuck
In the back of a cab.
Like all irrelevant souvenirs.
Bees swarm from the 300 year oak
Guarding the fire department.
Emptying from the hive
Growling as one great
Carpet to cover the daylight yellow
Moist and musky bungalow.
Shotgun shacks, powder kegs open
Their queen, a patron saint
Leaves her scent, thinning the
Hive of the dullards,
The abused and the confused.
One last time, dressed
For success the top opening
For California mornings air.
I sneak out the back and press on,
Press on emerging into traffic.