Hummers

 

In the garden clicking quickens,

streaking blurs thrum

spinning quadraphonic

feather-beats

materializing green and scarlet

as if by sci-fi transportation

one by one here then there

motionless but nonetheless

in brazen buzzing turbulence

hovering hungry

beneath pollen-dusted

slippers tipping

slender tendril

legs that dangle pink

from fuchsia skirts

and licking once

their lethal-looking

beaks with sticky whips

extend their nectar-seekers

to the hilt

their furious wings

translucent ghosts impel

the unseen scour of the sepal,

hunger never sated.

Green Privilege

 

Generators drone exhausting blue

smoke

like stationary lawnmower engines—

can’t be

without the life breath of electrons

now can we?

No.

 

We pull together, shelter those in need

fight the good fight, now and for the future

at the polls and in our homes

and rail against the P the G and E

the lavish lives of management and board

and all the others held to blame,

 

but this outage outrage is on us all.

Whatever needed to be done was not:

Paradise is lost—

and now so may we all be

as flames race the wind and blacken the vine

we reap red cinders in the storm

and warm salt water

soon will lap our lawns.

 

But save the frozen chicken, save the milk!

(The booze we drink at any temperature.)

Save the electrons in the batteries

so we can turn them into photons

in our lanterns and devices,

save the date

the coming of the deadly winds is on

my weather app,

save the trees, the roots, the stock, the seeds,

save the planet and the plant

where my mother used to work.

Save the workplace,

the occupations and the meanings

of our lives: SAVE THE ARTS.

Save the country, as Laura Nyro sang,

save our children’s    children’s    children’s

future

save the waters of the salmon and smelt,

save yourself and everyone you love,

but don’t save the money—

spend it all to save the rest.

 

I am sure we all do what we can.

To save anything, first we must survive.

We are all heroes in our own struggle.

We save our memories and use them

to fuel the fires of our best intentions,

for who will save us now from blistered skin

if not ourselves?

 

But some do more than others.

Support them. Cherish them.

Honor them in life and death.

See them

on the front lines with their hoses,

dozers on the smoking slope—

many so-called volunteers from prison,

a dollar an hour, two for the day,

not really choice, just more modern

slavery—

the trauma teams, the cops, the EMT’s,

dispatchers, techs, and line crews,

the press who make the people’s interest theirs,

the victim/heroes helping as they bleed,

the endless twenty-four-hour shifts,

no start of day, no end of night,

for us

and know them for the saviors that they are:

their bodies

through fear fatigue and pain

are focused on their jobs,

their minds

on mothers, fathers, lovers, friends,

and strangers

for whom they may at any moment

give their lives,

on fire, water, ashes, blood,

and tears,

on lonely despair they can’t acknowledge

or they — and we — are lost.

The definition of brave.

 

So, what to do

when in the morning light of day returns?

Fire up

my five-horse-power Snapper

don

my ear protection, and mow

lawn

too moist, too lush, too thick, too green

to burn.

 

 

 

Figs

Figs hang dense
velvet-trimmed
twig-bent
promise—
flowers flow petals
anthers aquiver
with questions
pollen personas lifted
to fall and burrow
deep into sepal
turn ova to fruit—
sweet swaying
succulence
seeds abeyant,
their patient life
within awaits its time.

 

Were This the Final Day

As in The Last Temptation of Christ,
within that Pincher Martin moment,
that Occurrence at Owl Creek instant,
a life is missed before it’s gone:
all the fertile possibilities yet
unripened, yet unseen;
all the scents unsavored in the air
around the further life we’d miss;
your skin, the touch of all the world,
delicious darkness yet untouched;
all the flavors of our mouths,
your lips, the bursting fruit untasted;
and all the atmospheres of music,
played and sung and felt
like wind within my skin,
and heard and heard and heard and still unheard.

For how long does the air vibrate
with the fugue that passes through it?
Echoes linger in this hollow hall
but will there be a you, an I, a we?
How will the air be known without our ears?
And when the music fades into the wind
will counterpoint arise to take the lead?

Ways of Seeing the Mattole

1
The river flows beneath itself,
seeps through gravel
sand and soil,
pulled by roots,
lifted to leaves, excited
by the sun
into the summer of the sky.

2
Afloat, afar, adrift, above,
a light ascends,
altered air
aligned anew,
ascribed along a line
achieved again,
again, again against
the river

3
The seam below descends
between eternities of stone,
gravities of granite pressing
black-hot densities of serpentine,
a warp of solid space, a vertical
plane of subatomic scale,
not the featureless thought-points
of geometry or an arrogant line
on a subterranean map,
but a real place of nanohorizons
where the particles of a planet
part, so nearly mingled,
into separate continents,
while above the shearing
seethe, in the low-lying crotch
of dross, where life clings to
itself in the clefted land
cut by the churn and grind
of the passing plates, water
careens in an endless stream of moments,
a young and transient interloper,
down wrinkles
in the countenance of rock.

4
A single silvery bubble leads
the round brown head
to the surface,
broken twice.
In a mass of algae, bright
in the deep of a pool,
mud-dark bodies, smaller
shadows, still in the liquid glow,
buoyant,
abeyant,
at their edge
a smiling line of gold.

5
Start from the place you began,
the moment you knew you were,
and listen to the shape
of the wind in your ears
and follow the feelings
that form in your heart
and whisper, at first, to the echoes
and shadows that rise
and fall in the dazzling mist
and let yourself and all the others
you find there scrambling for direction
connect and be as one,
and find that you have been here all along.

Waking in the Field of Jade

Cassula Argentea – “jade plant” – Top-notch house plant. Stout trunk, sturdy limbs even on small plants. Will stay small in small containers. Can reach nine feet in time. – Sunset Western Garden Book

In a seeming greenhouse, lightless—
under a water-waken dream,
the deep green touches me
through darkness as a liquid
filling all dimensions—

a field of vision, sightless
shadow of a shadow, merges
seamlessly into the dreaming
mind evoking it; awake or sleeping,
open eyes or closed, the substances
of thought invade the vacant space.

So I wake in staring blackness
in the ditch where I had lain, and cry—
the deep green jade a memory
of shades that press their color
to the surface of the night before my eyes.

Not for hours will the dawn infuse
the fog that wets my face with light
enough to set the reaching fields
of living gems aglow again;

translucent succulence of juice,
turgid capsules of ripeness,
each thumby polyp pressing forth
alone from dense and swollen arms

that row on row will not betray
their presence to the warm downsloping
wind that sweeps before the sun.
They do not cry.
In silence they await the day.

This Gray Lady

 

Who is this gray lady across my lap,

so broad and thick, her head and bottom lines

combined to find the truth around us all?

Who has passion and time to engage her

day by day, to know her proffered charms?

 

The sinews of her columns, slanting

though they may, uphold

the language of the stories that sustain us,

give us reason and tell us who we are,

at times she is a sedative, sometimes

a stimulant, or a salty barker

at other times a knife between the ribs

of power giving focus to the mass

hallucination of our public lives.

 

Above the fold, swollen proclamations,

sometimes the pain and grit of lives revealed,

at times that first rough draft of history.

Below, within her seductive sections,

the sweet opioids of crosswords,

style, travel, gossip, and sport,

her daily insistence drawing us on,

sickened on Sunday either by how much

or by how little we have taken in,

until we’re on the nod beneath her weight.

 

Jilting her on Monday like a chippy,

her inky tatters strewn about the room,

I gather up the gray and wrinkled dame,

day old, but spent, and ready for the bin.

Still

 

Even with the children

talking hiccupping treading

their shoes from shores afar

scuffed and scratching softly

on gravel from a local quarry

picking up soil from the hills

with the soles of their Nikes

the sounds of the creek

with the souls of their hearts

 

in between the humming

of a Piper Cub above

the clang of distant hammers

trill and swoop of birds

the tripping tapping of the stream

the mundane signs deem

guilty the innocent Asian snail’s

quiet invasion of death,

while English ivy strangles trees

the silence is infinite and eternal.

Sea Meadow

Near, the ocean air rims
the cups of my ears,
resonates with my pulse,
Next to me, I hear the crisp
green silences of fern and grass,
the tickling of insects,
Beyond, a rhythmic singing
shimmers in the gray-green Sitkas,
holding back the distance,
And far, below the sheening
hiss of shore I feel the deep
sigh of the sea, unheard
but in the offing,
there as sure as whale songs
adrift in winds of water.

Azure as the iris, in my eye
as in my hand, held there
amid the green from which it came,
the sky fulfills the flower.

Petals of the sun arriving,
meadow prism glory, hidden
hues unveiled in reflection,
create the world within
an eye, as near and far
as tears upon the tide.

To sea, the color of the sky
redeepens into indigo and darkness,
a lover penetrating
just enough to bring forth life,
intact
the liquid stillness of its heart.

Recipes

She seldom reads poetry,
so when I saw from behind the couch
shapes on her glowing page
like short-line free verse
followed by, what? a prose poem?
suppressed enthusiasm bubbled forth
and I rushed to her side to read
a recipe.

Hiding disappointment, feigning interest,
as I sat, read, and thought
I saw for the first time this artifact
for what it had been all along:
a script for performance art,
like Yoko Ono’s wall of instructions,
ingredients combined with style and joy,
life-sustaining optimism for the future,
realized and evolving
through a series of interpretive performances—
Jules Feiffer riffing Martha Graham—
that culminate in grand presentation,
the audience eating
the essence and the substance of the play,
destroying the production, chewing the scenery,
a vanishing act at best, a wreck
of leftovers strewn about the stage,
the theater dark, but the show going on,
its true venue the palate and mind of the diner,
it’s inner value satisfying
the gut, feeding the muscles, moving blood,
as the play takes place in eye, ear, palate, mind
but lives on in hearts, souls, and memories.

Recipes are not from scratch.
Long did people cook and eat
before they were derived—
the oldest cuneiform
a recipe for beer—
yet they are not about the past.
Like so much else we cook up
recipes’ worth is flavors yet to be,
changed, adopted and adapted,
abandoned and rediscovered,
bequeathed and inherited,
the transubstantiation of their scripture
the body of our future.