Monthly Archives: May 2014

Star Charts

The storms are on the ocean.
Rain, squalls, soft breezes
and then the tumult.

I steer by words no less
than the wheel and spinnaker.

Poems, gimbaled like the cook pot,
help keep my small boat from swamping.

At night I dream of a kalimba,
of star charts and island girls
and more poems.

Grappa

the distillate of
a vat of raspberries

like spinning uranium
gas in centrifuges

finds something that was there
as a promise only

Today’s Journal Entry, 5/24/14

Portland is under a boil water alert today. Some human or animal pooped in one of our open reservoirs. Our taps are tainted, our ice must be dumped.

The electron river that flows into our homes remains pure however, the lights burn bright as ever.

The methane river that enters most homes through its own back channel is also clean, our furnace hums without indigestion.

Our dog, who regularly eats the offal of other animals must think we have gone mad.

The citizens of Kathmandu, who daily drink water that would put many westerners in the hospital must also wonder about our delicate intestines.

So this morning I’ll give thanks for living in a maritime climate where water is abundant and cheap and raise my glass — of beer — to those elsewhere who struggle with real water problems every day.

Leaving the High Country

I saw satin knife blades
leaving and returning to their sheathes,

sweeping the skin
from the carcass.

A herd of elk leaving the high country
Swam through a sea of blue stars.

Driving to Wyoming

Idaho.
Alkali desert.

Greasewood.
Distant crop prices on the radio.

The scrape of highway narrows
to a single country song.

Then finally the mountains
arrive on big red shoulders.

The back side
of the Tetons

says wait
till you see the other side.

Baryshnikov

I saw him dance Swan Lake.
He was utterly thrilling
because he was humble.

Standing with heels together,
as if waiting for Icarus to move out of the way.

It was not enough for him to fly through air–
air was a poor canvas for what he did.

He took your heart in his hands and said, look what God wants from us–
he wants joy. He wants us to feel his joy.

If I were to write a home repair manual for poetry,
I would put those words into Baryshnikov’s mouth
and ask you to believe that you stand in his incomparable satin shoes.

The Pleiades Below

A human heart pumps enough blood
over the course of a lifetime to fill a super tanker.

Say this heaving ship full of blood
hits a shoal and spills its precious cargo into the sea.

All the proud, anxious, willful hours
infused in an entire liquid lifetime
mix with the dreams of sea urchins
and manta rays become blinded by love incarnadine.

Above the waves a lighthouse casts it’s watery beam
on a little white clapboard Catholic church near the bay.

A priest bends over with an aching back to tie his shoes,
wondering–out of nowhere– if God gave sea creatures
a mining claim on the un-lived fossil bed lives of his believers.