Talk of the Endings

January 8, 2022

We talk a lot these days
About the Endings
Put your boots on
When you enter the kitchen
And step carefully
Through broken china
Sometimes the Ending
Is only a burnt tortilla
With the face
Of Jesus

But mostly
We talk of the Endings
In low tones
Fearing the unknown
We speak of lives lost
And suffering to come
As if these things
Aren’t just variations
In the rhythm
And the beat
Goes on

Maybe we can only know
Some tragedies
Of the Endings
After they’re over
Through songs left unsung
And artwork left unfinished
And books left unwritten
The collective works
Of broken souls
In burned out mobile homes
That would have let the rest of us know
That we aren’t alone
And that we’ll always have a home
To go back to

Damn it
The world cannot end today
We’ve still got work to do
And as much as we talk
About the Endings
We never really know
Where or when
We will see
God’s face
Again


Plate Tectonics

January 6, 2022

A plein air painting of the steep cliffs of the Pelican Bluffs trail on the Mendocino coast of northern California

 

When two bodies collide
There will always be
A fault line to find
In you or in me
But not now
For today we are lovers
Folded one around the other
Cliffs and chasms
Metamorphic
And sedimentary flesh
Thrust like beating hearts
Love is a precipice
We stand on the edge
And as we spill over
We fall into the wind
And rise like mountains
On the updraft
And from these higher heavens
We wonder at all the gems
Glowing like children
Pouring out from the earth
Below

 

Artwork Title: Prime Pelican Real Estate
PRINTS AVAILABLE HERE

Water Wheel

January 4, 2022

Time is a water-wheel
And we’ve gone around the bend
Water spills out
And down the creek
To the oceans to the clouds
And back for another spin
Looks like we’ve got a whole new chance
To do it all over
Again

Our last turn was dripping
Into an empty room
Full of whole new ways
To put each other down
Busted neon
And a broken tune
Perfection left the practice
All in a ruin

Yet water takes the form
Of the vessels that hold it
The river is the shape of the valley
And the poem is the shape
Of the thoughts in the mind
Of the one who thunk it and told it
So we’ve got another year ahead
To take this water
And mold it

Let’s think some higher thoughts
Of garden plots
And fresh laid eggs
Or just getting along and getting by
With our feet in the dirt
And the only division
Is the line between earth and sky
Let’s hold this year’s water
In better jugs
And nicer buckets
Or even that fancy pitcher
That your grandma left to you
Yep, that one
The one that’s hard to reach
The one up in the back of the highest cabinet
The one that’s shaped like a chicken
And makes you laugh every time
It may not work at all
But it might be
Worth a try


Ghosts Can’t Swim

December 28, 2021

You never really know
Who they bring along
What ghosts are riding shotgun
Talking
And drowning out the song

But everybody here
Knows that ghosts can’t swim
Cold water to them is searing heat
And anyway
They can’t even stand
A bit of sand on their feet

The ghosts just stay in the cars
Angry at the stars
And their children here below
Made of countless planets
That stick between their toes

So in the cars they wait
Grumpy
Listening to AM radio
While the real people
Laugh and play
Real smiles on real faces
Beneath a bluer sky
Better times
And better places

So linger a bit if you will
Lend that wax to the stranger
Crack those jokes
And hide those beers from the ranger
Take it easy
And take it slow
And don’t be in such a hurry to go
Because it’s never really known
Just who’s waiting for your friends
On their lonely ride home


The Light In Our Eyes

December 21, 2021

One fine morning we arose
And somehow cooked
Our morning brews
Seventeen machines
From which we could choose
And some of them
Are pretty good

We stare into ceramic darkness
That floods our morning with life
Egad, what’s this?
The sun that shines
In our eyes while we’re trying to write

Piercing light whom I address
One little request if I may
Just please step aside
And shine from behind
My eyes weren’t yet ready to play
My coffee’s not drank
My mind like a bank
Robbed at the break of day
But take it slow if you will
And I’ll dip this quill
And jot down whatever you say

And though I heard every last word
It now seems rather absurd
Like a worm that swallows the bird
And the details may be a bit blurred
But it went something like this
Rest assured…

The moon is in tears
Out under the pier
For her lover’s been stabbed by the light
She’s dressed to the nines
And dark eye shadow lines
Streak her cheeks as the night slowly dies

The clouds collapsed
When lighting made cracks
In the urn in which the wind churned
Out the rain poured
Through cracks in the floor
And the fire no longer burned

Winter’s love has gone cold
There’s nothing left here to hold
You walk in and she just looks away
But the note on the pillow
And her suitcase of snow
Make it clear that she’s leaving today

This season of strife
This fight for your life
This darkness that conquered the world
It’s converted to digits
There’s no way to bridge it
In a blaze of light the plug will be pulled

The night and the storm
This season forlorn
You know them well and you hold them so tight
You let them define you
But let me remind you
The warmth of the sun still brings you delight
And when all things end
I’ll still call you my friend
I am here and I am the light


Again



December 2, 2021

1981  
She sat in her chair   
Laughing  
(with concern)  
When I put 27 grapes in my mouth at once  
And got one stuck up my nose  
Again  
  
1982  
She sat in her chair   
Sleeping  
(blissfully unaware)  
While I dug a hole  
All the way to China  
Again  
  
1983  
She sat in her chair  
Pondering  
(with me)  
When I sat beside her and asked  
Why the sand was full of plastic  
Again  
  
1984  
She sat in her chair   
Reading  
(romance novels)  
When I was hit in the head  
By a stray surfboard  
Again  
  
1985  
She jumped out of her chair  
Yelling  
(things I can’t repeat)  
At the seagull thiefs   
Who came for our lunches  
Again  
  
1986  
She sat on her boogie board  
Grinning  
(behind dark sunglasses)  
Like the coolest kid on the beach  
After riding the wave of her life  
Again  
  
2021  
She sat in her chair alone
Leaving  
(this world behind)  
And I wish we could be  
Back on this beach
Again  


Parts and Pieces

December 2, 2021

I forged you in an open field
On a bright and cloudless day
Rare elements and minerals
Mixed within the clay
You took the form my eyes beheld
And there was no other way
I gave to you part of myself
And let the chips fall where they may
I gave you more and more and more
I gave and then I gave

And now parts of me are missing
I’m losing pieces everyday
I’m not the same as I ever was
And I don’t know what to say

You stuck your boot into the mud
Your hand into the brine
You painted me as though I mattered
As though parts of you were mine
And now I’ll go into the world
Forgotten by design
Set aside where few will see
Although to them I just may shine
But it’s not me that draws them in
It’s the parts of you they find

And now parts of you are with me
I’m finding more everyday
I’m not the same as I ever was
And I don’t know what to say


My Father’s Song



November 8, 2021

There’s a song my father used to sing
Not really a song at all
Just a rhythm of syllables
Rising and falling
With every step
And a pause with
Every breath

There were never any words
Neither for the song itself
Nor for the way
It brings me home

It would often be sung
Out in the wilderness
Surrounded by wonders
Sometimes emerging
From an ice cold pool
Formed by a beaver dam
In the high mountains

Or sometimes just in the kitchen
After a phone call
Grandpa has gone home
And our hearts fell
Like fresh-washed plates
And broke

Today I heard the song again
It came from my own heart
Sung quietly over my kids
On a forest path
As they took my hand
And said
Papa we’ll show you
The waterfall
And the ice cold pool

And along that path
The song walked along
Never really beginning
And never really ending
Just filling the air
Like the call of birds
Like the rush of the creek
Like my Father’s song


The Sea is for “California”



05/02/2021

The Sea is for “California”
The Ay is for “Ay, it looks kinda fun out there”
The El is for “Where the El did all these people come from? It didn’t look this crowded a minute ago”
The I is for “I didn’t see you back there”
The Ef is for things I’ve heard out there that I can’t repeat
The Oh, is for “Oh look at this set coming in”
The Arr is for “Arr, that guy seems like he’s getting every wave with that massive log”
The In is for “Hey those guys just went in”
The I is for “I might get a wave or two now”
The Ay is for “ay, it is was super fun out there today”


Walking on the Moon



04/19/2021

I don’t know why the child suffers
But I know he is more than his pain
I don’t know when he’ll return to this place
But I know he’ll be here again

I don’t know why this life
Brought him these troubles so soon
But I know that when his feet touch this sand
The child walks on the moon


Painted at the request of the parents of a small child suffering a painful medical condition. This beach is his favorite place in the world and they wanted him to have this painting to remember the place and bring him some cheer and remind him of good times had, and to look forward to as well.

2021: A Few Questions

December 31, 2020

Can you just tell us now ⠀
What it is that you’ve got?⠀
Triple sevens for heaven’s jackpot⠀
After 2000 years in the casino hall⠀
Finally old enough to buy alcohol⠀
Make mine a double⠀
Or nothing at all⠀
If it’s the last call⠀
And that’s all you’ve got⠀

It’s a new beginning⠀
And a whole new end⠀

When the keys punch the headlines⠀
Into your skin⠀
Burning hot like cattle brands⠀
Will you have a choice⠀
Or will it be out of your hands?⠀
Will you see what is written⠀
Will you read your last rites?⠀
Will it be everything black⠀
Or everything white?⠀
Everything day or everything night?⠀
Is it all or nothing?⠀
Just this or just that?⠀
The record keeps skipping⠀
But nobody knows⠀
Where the player is at⠀
Something is broken⠀
Might be the record ⠀
Or maybe the needle⠀
You can get another one⠀
On the corner⠀
In front of the steeple⠀
The gates open wide⠀
The door swings on its hinge⠀
An injection to heaven⠀
Or a highway to seven⠀
Just a shot in the arm⠀
From the holy syringe⠀
What is it you’re drinking?⠀
Tell us again⠀
Do you have music⠀
In your streets with no end?⠀
Do you have love for your children⠀
Stronger than wind?⠀
Will you have my father⠀
To his own father sent?⠀
Do you live and die⠀
On this land planted deep?⠀
Do you know what is yours⠀
And what the earth keeps?⠀
Were you called into existence⠀
At a child’s first words?⠀
Were the lines on your face⠀
Just the flight path of birds?⠀
Will you have artists at work⠀
And writers putting it off?⠀
Will your wretched be righteous⠀
And your faithful still scoff?⠀
Will you make spaces between⠀
The wrong and the right?⠀
Will you have visions between⠀
Blindness and sight?⠀
Do you have multitudes always⠀
Demanding their way?⠀
Do you have anyone asking⠀
What you need today?⠀
Will you have a place ⠀
To keep these words hidden?⠀
A heart to hold them⠀
And break⠀
And be forgiven?⠀

It’s a whole new end⠀
And another beginning⠀

So one last time⠀
And then I will stop⠀
Tell us again⠀
Just what have you got?⠀
Triple sevens for the jackpot⠀
After 2000 years in the casino hall⠀
Finally old enough to buy alcohol⠀
Make mine a double⠀
Or nothing at all⠀
If it’s the last call⠀
And that’s all you’ve got


Solstice Song: 2020

December 22, 2020

Before there was light⠀
There was water⠀
And before there was life⠀
The water broke⠀
Staring up into that black ocean⠀
Eyes blinded by the falling seas⠀
On this winter’s solstice⠀
No stars tonight⠀
Just a child⠀
Floating weightless and free⠀
In a fish bowl for all to see⠀

Mary and Joseph⠀
They live down the street ⠀
We ate donuts on strings⠀
Tied to their tree⠀
Last Halloween⠀
But tonight is for listening⠀
Country music on the local radio⠀
A long line of cars⠀
With out of state plates⠀
And a man that spoke⠀
“Don’t be afraid”⠀

We walked a path ⠀
That led to the river⠀
Where the waters had broken⠀
The land in two⠀
We saw a man up ahead⠀
He stopped ⠀
And listened⠀
To the darkened forest⠀
A rustling noise⠀
And a woman’s voice⠀
Calling him to come in⠀
We never saw him again⠀

A grown man on a bike⠀
Rides down the boulevard⠀
A woman in tears walks the other way⠀
They cross paths without a word⠀
She keeps walking ⠀
Tears like the rain⠀
From the broken sky⠀
Her cries fill the void⠀
And break the awful silence⠀
He keeps peddling on⠀
Awkwardly⠀
And alone⠀
On his tandem bike built for two⠀

As lightning bolts fell from the sky⠀
Landing on the ground⠀
Unconvincingly⠀
Like actors in silver suits⠀
Performing in a school drama⠀
On daytime TV⠀
One of them curled up in agony⠀
Or defeat⠀
I never could tell⠀
He could barely speak⠀
His voice cracked so quietly⠀
You’d think he was about to cry⠀
“I’ve lost my thunder”⠀
And there was nothing more to say⠀

They say this is the longest night⠀
But I don’t think they were there⠀
When the heavens and earth aligned⠀
And the earth could not be satisfied⠀
Until heaven was laid to rest⠀
Within her darkened womb⠀
And the bride was left⠀
To walk the road⠀
Alone⠀

Before there was light⠀
There was water⠀
And before there was life⠀
The water broke⠀
Staring up into the darkness⠀
A face full of ocean⠀
On this winter’s solstice⠀
No stars tonight⠀
No great conjunction to be seen⠀
Except for the one⠀
Between your eyes⠀
And the eyes of a child⠀
If we can’t see the stars there⠀
How can we expect ⠀
To see them in the heavens?


My Father’s House

December 17, 2020

What do you see?⠀
A land taken by zeros?⠀
More zeros than you’ll ever know?⠀
By money changers⠀
That take all they want⠀
In exchange for their soul?⠀
If that’s all that you see⠀
You’ve only read headlines⠀
In the red letter press⠀
This isn’t your land⠀
This isn’t my land⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

Some small success⠀
Some chance at a dream⠀
A life built for two⠀
But what is life if not pain?⠀
A standalone shack⠀
In a narrow ravine⠀
All that’s left⠀
And it’s all that he needs⠀
But this isn’t his land⠀
And it sure isn’t ours⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

This land he travelled⠀
Paving the roads with his bike⠀
He’d led them all onward⠀
Riding further each day⠀
Riding for their lives⠀
Through sweat, tears, and smiles⠀
Roadside sandwich breaks⠀
He watched a wayward driver⠀
Drift out of her lane⠀
One from his flock⠀
Laid to rest that day⠀
It wasn’t her land⠀
And he wished it wasn’t his⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

A son that knows⠀
Too much about too many things⠀
Nothing to gain⠀
From his father’s love⠀
He’s moving fast⠀
And his dad moves too slow⠀
The son doesn’t see⠀
Just how much his father carries⠀
But one day he’ll know⠀
That his father’s failure ⠀
Was his greatest success⠀
And that he’s not the only one⠀
That was carried in those arms⠀
It’s not his land⠀
And it never will be⠀
This is my father’s house⠀

So get out of this house⠀
If you think you’re any better⠀
Get out if you think⠀
Your owed a damn thing⠀
Get out you bastards⠀
You never lived here⠀
You only came when invited⠀
To feast on his generosity⠀
There’s no gates of gold⠀
It’s worn down and rusty⠀
Broken and dirty⠀
But we’ve kept it clean⠀
It will never be your land⠀
It will always be his⠀
This is my father’s house⠀


Her Name was California

December 11, 2020

He’d laugh this little howling cackle that pulled you into his slipstream as you made your way along the path, down the makeshift rope, repelling into the cove below that you’d never seen breaking before and now was suddenly cracking it’s sonic water booms on the reef below. Everything made him laugh. And almost everything he laughed at led you to math, calculating the odds of survival. ⠀

Some friendships are like this.⠀

He led me to a burning mountain. He led me to wildcats prowling in broad daylight. He led me to a cabin where I spent long evenings watching dragons in the heavens war against the winds on earth below while Jack Kerouac sat on the recliner by the lampstand fearing the dark. He led me to the psychic who knew more of me than I even know and probably still has all the secrets she summoned from between my words dried out and saved in glass jars for seasoning on vegan tacos for the next visitor she entertains. He led me to the Captain who loved her and didn’t speak much because she already knew his words anyway. He led me to high ridges with views in all directions. He led me to a trailer where a Stranger poured me a glass of bourbon and shared Her cigarettes in the dark. ⠀

Her name was California.⠀

She led me to fields of poppies glowing red with love for all and none. She led me to highways that carry hearts to heaven and hell. She led me to destinations even deeper still. She led me to kelp beds anchored to the skulls of conquered peoples. She led me to endless lines of barbed wire fences that scraped into my flesh and instead of bleeding the wounds poured out cheap wine and could only be bandaged with brown paper sacks. She led me to the top of the steeple of the first mission on her skin where the air was as thin as the plot in these verses and where the smoke has been rising since it was burned to the ground in 1775. She led me to her far north where the trees were once taller than any lie ever told. She led me to a path on the edge of a cliff following a friend as he laughed his way down the mountain. ⠀

And she led me home.


Medicine Cabinet

December 9, 2020

When the music ends⠀
The lights go on⠀
And everyone slowly leaves⠀
Yet somehow the room is strangely dim⠀
Somehow darker than it was before⠀
When the house lights were off⠀
And the music filled the spaces⠀
Between the empty glasses ⠀
That are now also slowly leaving⠀
White rings on the wood tables⠀
As we hum to ourselves ⠀
And dissolve back into the cold night air⠀
And warm beds that await⠀

If we’d known then⠀
That the music would end in this way⠀
We’d have stayed all night long⠀
Played all night long⠀
And drank the bar dry⠀
Letting the jazz⠀
Lead the revolution⠀
Until they came with lights blazing⠀
To pry the saxophones and drumsticks⠀
From our cold dead hands⠀
To confiscate the pianos⠀
And abolish this beautiful night⠀

So now we sit in the quiet darkness⠀
Of a bright winter day⠀
Humming sad tunes to ourselves⠀
That we’ll later play softly ⠀
On our contraband pianos⠀
Sitting in our empty rooms⠀
With the lights off⠀
Because everyone knows⠀
The piano is just a medicine cabinet⠀
And the music will never end


Anaheim Bay

December 9, 2020

I was born in Anaheim⠀
Happiest place on earth⠀
I once got stuck in Hell there⠀
When Mr. Toad’s wild road broke down⠀
And I swear on my life⠀
I have seen with my own eyes⠀
Snow White⠀
Sucking on a cigarette⠀
We weren’t supposed to see that⠀
And we weren’t’ supposed to be here either⠀
In Anaheim Bay ⠀

But here we were⠀
After crawling under the fence⠀
While a large swell was pushing small waves into this bay⠀
An unusual event⠀
The warships weren’t fazed⠀
Some other kids were already here⠀
Further up along the shore⠀
They must have snuck in somewhere else⠀
They had boogie boards⠀
Playing in the shorebreak⠀
One of them ate sand⠀
The other rode 50 yards along the shore⠀
On a zipper of a wave⠀
Laughing⠀
But also hiding⠀
In Anaheim Bay⠀

We watched for awhile⠀
And we were about to leave⠀
When we saw a surge pushing down the jetty⠀
I ran to it⠀
On water⠀
And rode barefoot⠀
And I mean just barefoot⠀
No board at all⠀
Banking into it with speed⠀
Knees absorbing the chatter⠀
The rebound wave off the jetty approached⠀
Up and over the section⠀
Carving back to the whitewater⠀
A cross between barefoot skiing⠀
And roller skating⠀
Until the wave flattened into deep water⠀
In Anaheim Bay⠀

My brother yelled⠀
The kids were waving frantically⠀
The cameras on the cell tower turned⠀
And focused⠀
Someone heard a buzzing noise⠀
I wasn’t too concerned⠀
Until they showed me notebooks⠀
Full of polaroid snapshots⠀
Of what They did⠀
To the Italian ⠀
That snuck in here last week⠀
You don’t want to know⠀
Apparently they don’t mess around⠀
In Anaheim Bay⠀

I’ve heard They’ll track you down⠀
Even weeks later⠀
When you don’t expect it⠀
When you’re alone⠀
They’ll surround you⠀
Pound you⠀
Till your face looks like a salami⠀
(I saw the photos)⠀
Above, beside, below⠀
It’s hard to say where They stand⠀
With the law⠀
Perhaps They are the law⠀
And They’ll do what they must⠀
To make you regret⠀
Your trespass⠀
Into Anaheim Bay⠀

But I haven’t seen Them yet⠀
It’s been awhile⠀
And every time I think of Them⠀
I also think of that strange little wave⠀
And the feeling of the cool water⠀
Slapping my bare feet⠀
At speed⠀
Beneath the shadow⠀
Of Their warships⠀
In Anaheim Bay⠀


17 Mile Ghosts

December 4, 2020

Pay the toll⠀
A piece of your soul⠀
And leave it there as a sign⠀
A cardboard box⠀
Full of rocks and socks⠀
From which we will rise in their mind⠀
Extrapolated⠀
And captivated⠀
Forever to walk this lonely line⠀
They’ll see us standing⠀
Calling out in the night⠀
With bare feet wet from the brine⠀
They’ll slow to a stop⠀
They’ll wonder how⠀
The water and ethers combined⠀
If they listen we’ll say⠀
It was because we payed⠀
The guard at the gate to get by⠀

So heed my words⠀
And stare straight ahead⠀
For it’s from this earth you were made⠀
You belong on it truly⠀
Its dirt is your body⠀
And these guards are made only of shade⠀

You’re a plumber⠀
A builder or an electrician⠀
Whatever it takes to convince them⠀
To let you pass⠀
Without taking your cash⠀
It’s not the money it’s the darkness it gets them⠀
So give them only a nod⠀
A two finger wave⠀
And a subtle but sure acceleration ⠀
With confidence high⠀
Drive right by⠀
Subterfuge will be your declaration ⠀
That you belong in their night⠀
But this day is all yours⠀
Like Dali, and Griffin, and Vincent⠀
Masters of sight⠀
Pursuing their vision⠀
Trespassing all baseless tradition⠀
Their work lives on⠀
But they are gone⠀
At rest and free from earth’s friction⠀

So when the future arrives⠀
And they ask our ghosts why⠀
We’re still here and still walking this path⠀
We’ll tell them plain⠀
We believed the guards⠀
Who said we’d have to pay to get past⠀

So stay free in the sun⠀
And when the day is done⠀
Just move right along down the line⠀
And pay not a dime⠀
To the liars in wait⠀
Who seek to trap you in debt for all time⠀


The Morning I Was Created

December 1, 2020

On the morning I was created⠀
I crawled out the back of the old yellow van⠀
Wide-eyed and blinking⠀
Wondering where my brother had ran?⠀

He ran to the sea⠀
He ran for his life⠀

Past the razor’s edge of the earth⠀
Into the mist where the horizon is long⠀
Where the black dots line up and wait⠀
Is that really where my brother had gone?⠀

He ran to the sea⠀
He ran for his life⠀

I unearth sandwiches buried in sand⠀
Sealed plastic baggies with PB and J’s⠀
Perfect gives from Mother Earth⠀
So why did my brother rush into the haze?⠀

He ran to the sea⠀
He ran for his life⠀

Looking around I see girls on the move⠀
Their bikinis and bodies these young eyes amazed⠀
What were we talking about?⠀
And how did my brother get past them unfazed?⠀

He ran to the sea⠀
He ran for his life⠀

He told me to join him before he ran off⠀
I was unsure of myself and scared⠀
Of the ocean and its blackened depths⠀
What made my brother think I would dare?⠀

To run to the sea⠀
To run for my life⠀

To follow him out and beyond⠀
To the great sea where its rhythms unfurled⠀
To leave the logic of land for the great “into-ocean”⠀
But he was my brother and did he not rule the world?⠀

So I ran to the sea ⠀
And I ran for my life⠀

Bewildered by movements unknown⠀
I tried and I tried and I tried and I tried⠀
I couldn’t get past these white rolling waters⠀
“Where are you, brother” I cried⠀

Scratching the sea⠀
And scratching for life⠀

“Turn and go” was all that I heard⠀
So I turned and I goed with all that I could ⠀
That little white wave pushed me along⠀
And my brother watched as I stood⠀

On the sea⠀
And on my life⠀

I had never felt so alive⠀
As when the white foam gave way⠀
To smooth water before it⠀
I was made a brother that day⠀

We ran to the sea⠀
We ran for our lives⠀

And to this day we still run⠀
But I’ll always remember just how elated⠀
I was to join my brother ⠀
Back on that morning when I was created


Kindling

November 30, 2020

Some things are easy to overlook⠀
Others take a little more work⠀
Natural beauty⠀
Simple love⠀
So often get left where they lie⠀
While the headlines print bold⠀
On our aching flesh⠀
These haunts where our demons lurk⠀

Crashing stocks upon the shore⠀
Homes condemned to their blight⠀
The need to eat⠀
A will to survive⠀
We’ll do what we must to get by⠀
Sell our daylight for leprechaun’s gold⠀
That will vanish⠀
In the dark of the night⠀

We wake to a frozen sunrise⠀
Empty and cold and ruined⠀
It’s easily missed⠀
But always there⠀
The lift in our hearts at the sight⠀
Of these earthen glories before us⠀
By which we know⠀
That we are nowhere near the end⠀

So we’ll use our bodies for kindling⠀
To build this blaze bright and warm⠀
Our skin burns hot⠀
This smoky font⠀
A poetry of ash in the wind⠀
As we soak in the beauty around us⠀
We are fire⠀
Just in a different form⠀

Some things are hard to overlook⠀
Others take a little less effort⠀
The pressing needs⠀
The desperate pain⠀
Can grow louder till all else recedes⠀
While the light within and around us⠀
Steadily burns and waits⠀
To bring joy in the midst of the hurt ⠀


The Ocean is Just Leftovers

November 18, 2020

It’s true, she loves the river⠀
And it’s steady constant force⠀
The ocean is just leftovers⠀
And she prefers the source⠀

She leads me through the briars⠀
Stinging nettle, oak, and sorrow⠀
Some pain for the present moment⠀
But the rest we’ll save for tomorrow⠀

The path is narrow and overgrown⠀
If it’s even a path at all⠀
Two roads diverged and we took neither⠀
She heard the river’s call⠀

Down the bank we scrambled and slid⠀
Grasping roots along the way⠀
These roots they hold back mountains⠀
They can hold us here today⠀

Scraped and bruised and winded⠀
At last we find relief⠀
We swim and laugh and stub our toes⠀
Even blessings hold some grief⠀

My mind drifts off to the coast and its songs⠀
Why oh why am I here⠀
I followed her and would do it again⠀
But we should have brought more beer⠀

How we ended up together⠀
A mystery untold⠀
I am a pool of simple pleasures⠀
She is the mountain, faithful and bold⠀

It’s true, she loves the river⠀
And it’s steady constant force⠀
The ocean is just leftovers⠀
And she prefers the source


Verbal Alterations

October 30, 2020

A collection of short poems originally penned in 2012, now detached from their original purpose…

__________________________

A fine line
Divides the pursuit
Of overwhelming
Joy
From sheer
And loathsome
Irresponsibility

The high tide line
Divides
The rest

__________________________

On that Day we harnessed
History’s joyous
Laughter

But there was nobody around to hear it

So instead we
Split the Difference

__________________________

Under
Watchful Eyes
We pretend the Machinery
Will clean up the Remains
Of our Freedoms
Lost Forever
To the Systematic
Fire

We Burn your Money
And
Weep with your Love

__________________________

We drank
The last drop
And we left
The Sea
To Swim
In its own
Salty tears

We
Are
Bigger
Than you

__________________________

Drifting
Freely
Toward an Unknown
Moment

When it
Arrives
All of our eyes
Will be
Fixed
On
You

__________________________

It was already
Gone
Before we arrived, yet
It could have been
Different
If we had only
Tried

__________________________

We never did imagine
The Golden
Acceleration
Of our free fall
Would yield
So many left turns

And
No rights at all

__________________________

Distant words
Form
An altogether natural

State

Of thinly veiled
And
Unformed Rhyme

__________________________

We focus on the flight
And ignore
The objects at our feet

The Bird
Has been dead for weeks

__________________________

The river only Dreams
For those who Sleep
Otherwise it’s Life

__________________________

We lay tracks
To remember briefly
What the Unthinking
Water has always known

__________________________

Each passing storm
Brings a clearing of Mind
Revealing
The spiral rhythms
Of color
In your eyes
Both fragile

And totally free

__________________________

Wishing for another moment
To capture
The Inconvenient
Gaze
Of a child’s
Bright
and silent future

__________________________

Recklessly crashing
Upon unmoving
Geology

The cycle
Broken

Yet
Our Coffee
Remains
Unspilled

__________________________

These trembling walls dance
With their Maker’s invisible Spirit
As we wage War on Tomorrow’s Past
Victory was better an hour ago
And Defeat is a low-tide

Rising

The Distance is calling Our name

__________________________

Memories
Roll softly over
Unbroken
Glass
With each
New
Morning
Washing away
All knowledge
Of what came
Before
We lost it All

__________________________

Crawl
Out of your
Cave
And into the
Spinning
Daylight
of your new
Mobile
Home

Welcome Back

Now move along

__________________________

The beautiful
Convergence
Of powerful
Lines drawn
In constant
Contrast to
Our desire for
What we know
To be right, but
Somehow never
Seems to happen
In our daily lives
Filled with sprints
To the green horizon
In Every effort to not
Be swallowed by the
Accelerating pace of
Life in the intertidal
Zone

One last breath


Another Barb on the Wire



October 30, 2020

3 days. One family of 5. One campsite. 2 children lost (only temporarily). 7 miles hiked. 6 paintings completed. 3 paintings I wanted to paint but was thwarted by barbed wire. 1 global pandemic making things awkward. One long and awkward poem to show for it all...


I. Going Nowhere

Another Barb on the Wire
Hours to days
To months and soon years
We sit between these walls
Going nowhere
Slowly
Trapped in the microscope
The giant eye upon us
They locked us down
We loaded the van
A quick escape
Our desire
Another barb on the wire

 


 


II. Fair Wages

Stretching the legs
The will to live
Denied by the barrel
Of loaded guns
Pay to play
All the way
To the cemetery
A reminder that in this life
We all receive
The same fair wages
Both the great and the small
The honest and the liar
Each another barb on the wire

 


 


III. Spoke Too Soon

Screeching tires
Come to a stop
It's called camping
When your tent is a Ford
Frisbees and beer
Appear
Just before we discovered
The bookstore is in the hospital
On life support
And our youngest would not
Read another word
Until the new day dawns
We stood in the belly of the whale
And circled it seven times
As the dusk bled into the dawn
Setting out at first light
To fulfill our obligations
To the stars who spoke to us
But in our reply
We spoke too soon
And now we patiently await
The lifting of the clouds
Ever higher
And it's another barb on the wire

 


 


IV. Making Amends

The veil is lifted
The light is a flood
And I'm drowning
In a world torn asunder
Erosion on the western edge
Will rip its way to New York
In time
This is the first anniversary
Of the beginning
Of the end
It's a teacher
Like sickness
Like death
Like marriage
The lesson to be learned
It's about making amends
It's about that which cannot be sold
Because there is no buyer
It's just another barb on the wire

 


 


V. Burn No Bridges

We venture through the thicket
To where the logs once rolled
Into the ocean
Of Babylon's market
We stood against the wind
We lost a child
And found him again
Across the bridge
And angry
Burning footprints
Into the ice
We return by a different path
Stepping lightly
Into the dark
Past the hobo camps
Where a deer steps out of the shadows
And calls another child
To vanish in the trees
Search parties and satellites
We cannot force the time
She'll return when she pleases
Because she too was there
When we stood against the wind
Altogether now
We sing in a circle
We roast the mallows
And let them burn
More fuel for the flames
But not the chocolate
For it belongs to us
To fuel the fires within
Because after all
Calories are a measure of heat
And besides
It's better to burn no bridges
When it's only our hearts
That are on fire
Yet another barb on the wire

 


 


VI. Bridging Continents

Another gray morning
Greets the child
Asleep on top of the van
We'd be leaving today
Packing up camp
Sailing away
Like the Russians
When they gave up
California
In 1841
And after a headcount
Determined
There had been an extra
In their midst
Since 1812
He hid himself in this valley
Like a stowaway
As the mainland sailed
Away from the ship
With only his memories
Bridging continents
As he hacked out a new life
Through the brambles and the briar
He became another barb on the wire

 


 


VII. Spring in July

Unlike our lost children
The past is the past
It's not coming back
A ranch with no cattle
A park full of grass
With blood sucking armies
Hidden beside the path
A leisurely walk
No fences to hop
Just identical faces
Behind every mask
With identical fears
And identical tasks
Like Summer in Winter
And Spring in July
The feet they are blistered
And the situation dire
But all in all
And at the end of all ends
We're each just another barb on the wire


All This Time

October 20, 2020

A Song for Santa Cruz Island

I might have been a late arrival
But I’ve been here all this time
I was here when the plates collided
I passed the bread and wine

I was here when we emerged from weeds
When the heavens gave us fire
When our songs kept our mother awake
When the rainbow held us higher

Vizcaíno saw me here in 1602
He called me by my name
The island of Bearded people it was
And to this day remains

I saw them come and plant the grapes
To sip the nectar from the vine
Prohibition shut them down
But the idea was never mine

The sheep were led to slaughter
And silent so was I
When the cotton gin reduced their worth
To diamonds in the sky

I saw the pigs run feral
Chased off by dogs who fell from the air
The pigs are gone and the bacon fried
You’d never know they were there

My name is Stanton now and so it was
On the day I signed
And gave the land unto the guards
I was ill but I wasn’t blind

They will keep it from abomination
A trampled barren place
But I’m well aware they’d sell the air if they could
As well as these lines upon my face

It’s for the good I’m sure they’d say
They’ll save the earth with money
Listen at the gate when I pass in the night
I’m laughing but nothing is funny

I did what I must and not without Caire
How I longed for a better hand
It was them and their lawyer’s greed
Or else it was the land

I’m the homesick Italian that built the Chapel
With bricks of my own red earth
And I’m the one that’s buried there
Whose death precedes his birth

At the altar I have heard
The mighty man’s confession
And to the courtyard I have marched
In his funeral procession

I stood last night beneath the moon
Where they’ve sold God for the highest bid
I may have defied their lawyers decrees
Breathing a graven image in the mist as I hid

From watching eyes I was not seen
Except by the all-seeing lens
To which I danced and jigged about
As one does when among their friends

Today I rise with a mist in my eyes
Tired from last night’s dance
I called out from among these ancient trees
And I answered with a glance

And here I stood among the saplings
When first their roots went down
The mighty eucalyptus whose beauty invades
Like a king in quest of a crown

The fox and the eagle and the vanishing trees
The trees they love to rhyme
The eagle loves the fattened calves
But the foxes they are mine

I might have been a late arrival
But I’ve been here all this time
I was here when the plates collided
I passed the bread and wine


Thou Shalt Not Steal



September 16, 2020

In the home where I grew up⠀
A porcelain monk lived on the kitchen counter⠀
Belly full of cookies⠀
Admonishing us not to steal⠀
Back when the house was full of sneaky fingers⠀

I saw him enter the kitchen one day⠀
30 years ago⠀
Something clearly wrong⠀
Part of him had vanished⠀
Struggling for the words⠀
To tell me that my grandpa was gone⠀
His father⠀
The pastor⠀
The preacher⠀
Thou Shalt Not Steal⠀

Fiercely independent⠀
Now 78⠀
Yet socially engaged like a teenager⠀
A calendar with no empty days⠀
Erased by a global pandemic⠀
A solitary castaway⠀
In the island of his own home⠀
In the socially distanced archipelago of our lives⠀
The dispatches from neighboring islands indicate⠀
That something was clearly wrong⠀
Talking differently⠀
Slurring words⠀
Isolation taking its toll⠀
Or a stroke of something worse?⠀

I’ve traveled this road all my life⠀
And so did my father⠀
Miles on our odometers until the math became meaningless⠀
Never expecting to find him at the end of the road⠀
Beneath these parting clouds⠀
No longer driving⠀
Not even moving⠀
In his chair⠀
Eyes rolled back⠀
His face lifted to the heavens⠀
Feet still on the ground⠀
But getting lighter with each labored breath⠀

911⠀
Caught before he drifted off⠀
3 more weeks in the hospital⠀
Confined to his little room⠀
A castaway once again⠀
He’d build rafts out of medical equipment ⠀
And attempt to set sail to freedom⠀
Always thwarted by the tide of nurses⠀
As he floated down the corridors toward the exit⠀

He’s back home now⠀
In the house where he raised his children⠀
But at any moment⠀
I brace for the news⠀
That he’s built a raft out of old family photos⠀
And managed to sail away⠀

We hope his sailing days are done for now⠀
His final voyage a long way off⠀
But when it finally comes⠀
And his home is left empty⠀
As that porcelain monk ⠀
I will remember⠀
That there is nothing⠀
No illness⠀
No hardship⠀
Nor even a global pandemic⠀
That can steal our joy⠀
Or our hope⠀
Or our love⠀

Hold on to what matters⠀
And say to the thieves that try to take it all away⠀

Thou Shalt Not Steal

(more…)


Out of the Strong, Something Sweet


A plein air painting of a dirt road at Lyon's Ranch in the Bald Hills of Humboldt County, California

06/24/2020

Out of the eater
Comes something to eat
And out of the reader
Comes something to read…

You may find me in town
Or at home resting my feet
We’ll discuss the numbers
Of money, milk, and meat
We’ll entertain the angels
Without offering a seat
We’ll speak of the devil
Without feeling the heat
But this meeting of minds
Will remain incomplete
This is only my shell
With which you meet

I’m off in the distance
I’m around the bend
I’m out in the wilderness
On a hill in the wind
I’m fighting with God
I’m also his friend

I’m down in the valley
Of the shadow of death
I’m six feet under
I am one last breath

I am the funeral march
I am the end of the road
I am the one to whom
Nothing is owed

I am the mountain moved
I am the song of the bees
I am an avalanche
I am a gentle breeze

From the chaos of love
Comes a heart’s quiet beat
And out of the strong
Comes something sweet