The groves spread thin at the top,
double-trunk oaks turn
to open grasses and scrub,
the trail draws the canyon’s upper arc
to the other side, and the road there
takes you, either way.
So still outside
the open window,
pale pink petals
in tangled green,
the sifting fall of sunlight
and in here, the page
rustling whispers to the pen.
The second seriously warm day
carries early sounds of hammer-strike,
the thin clack of framing perhaps, not heavy,
but rapid rhythms and stuttered breaks
of production, of satisfaction certain,
of work at play on the air.
After days of burdensome heat,
cloud cover dampens the weight
of today’s sun, makes promises
we hope it can keep.
A crow seconds helpful thoughts.
Morning’s air carries the motion.
What makes a song
is whatever the music
heard—the tinkle of glass,
Ginsberg said, says a poem
as lovely as love does—so listen
and be glad you have.
The Pacific floats random splotches
of white, rolls altered shades of grey,
holds slow breaking waves
and thinly strewn shadows,
all of this making way
as we make ours.
We dock in light rain, grey skies
over forest covered hills. A free shuttle
idles just across from public restrooms,
a coffee shop on the far side of Water Street.
The town, five blocks long, scatters
early traffic, but mostly just waits
I’ve seen before
snow covered peaks,
canyon hanging clouds
and deep harbor blues.
But Skagway is so much
its own, I’m almost afraid
to ask how long its light
poem as poet—poet as poem
the heart-mind, feeling-thought,
seat of intentions’ resonant center,
presenting through words
Open ocean reminds us
sight goes just so far
and maybe just far enough.
It occurs to me
while walking this morning
that while I often don’t know
what the next step is to be
in this life, these feet do.
Lights across the valley
sneak through cracks
in the blinds, remind me
of the looming hillsides
hiding now as darkness,
their ruse given away
by the unhindered innocence
of sparkle—I turn my eyes
to the night skies.
The building guard grimaces
a tight-lipped “second floor” response
to our restroom request, later managing
half-smiled eye-contact, in return
to our departing waves.
Morning sunlight finally finds the window
letting to the carpet, spreads about
my bare feet as readily as patio shadows
drink illumination, open petals glistening
crescents on ripple dappled leaves—
quiet workings, so close, so intimate,
so easily missed, unless not.
The poem, then, is something happening
in and of language itself
that catches our attention just because
it does—the poet’s role, to touch
by listening, so as to share the continuity
of consciousness there—self-expression
but one part of the whole heard,
attentive readiness the preferred posture.
A poem then, if we open to the occurrence,
shapes us as we might think to shape it.
Laney College, Oakland
At the edge of the community garden,
the lift and catch of airborne water, the estuary
plays in breezes enwrapped in the constant run
of freeway songs, sifting nearby trees and slow
collecting aromas of sun-baked hay.
The campus feels of these things as does a home
the voices that roam unhurried there—murmured stories
of student commutes, bird calls and leaves, passing traffic,
children’s laughter, the staccato cries of lingering geese.
The blinds in the room where I write are raised to cover the upper quarter
of the window, but are never fully closed. I peer through angled slats and
the underside of the wooden trellis just outside, enabled to sit hidden, doubly,
from whatever eyes perched on the neighbor’s balcony, yet still exposed
to filtered sunlight and the full press of happenings in the front yard.
The window opens from either side with horizontal pushes that create vertical
rectangular openings. Breezes in spring and summer come in strong gusts, trees
and bushes jump and wave and bob and whoosh. But for the blinds, only the far ends,
exposed to narrowed passing streams, quiver. Like aspen leaves seen in the distance,
resonance un-sounding, echoes lost. Yet, voiceless transmissions received.
The mute and resilient interior looking out over silence.