Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Careless Remark

Portions of the dinner sit untouched.
Wrinkled peas and crusty potatoes
even now begin to show decay.

The wine was dry, the salad crisp and fresh,
but somewhere in the middle of the main course
something was said.
A little thing.
A careless remark.

With bowed heads,
and forks aimlessly pushing food
across our plates,
we share a silence
and digest the hurt.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thunder In My Heart

Asleep in your mountainside bed
the sudden clap of a storm cresting the peak
rattles the windows.
I wake to find you beise me.
My thoughts, dream clouded,
run with the mists pouring
down the mountain's flanks.
With the same abruptness as the change
in weather announcing its arrival,
you lie quietly beside me
and your presence claps like thunder
in my heart.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Moon Ghosting

Awakened by the yodeling chorus
of coyotes gathering,
the dream image of your face
lingers in my mind.
The staccato yipping
and occasional sustained yowl
send shivers down my spine.
It has been long since I have seen you.
The image of your face haunts me.
Green eyes pierce my heart.
The memory of our love passes
through my soul
like the silhouette of a new moon
ghosting through the star-clouded Milky Way.
Another refrain from the song dogs stirs me.
In my sleepy reverie I wonder
whay are you in my dreams tonight?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Faces

Where will you be
in this carnival of faces
when the calliope stoops hooting
with the last golden ring on the merry-go-round
caught?

Will you be in the House of Mirrors?
Or would it be the Tunnel of Love?
The Penny Arcade?

Or will you be but another vendor
selling balloons and pretty things
that break
sooner or later?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Maybe I'm Still Dreaming?

I think of you
when the morning sun splashes
through the flowered curtains.

The textured patterns on the bed
bring the memory of your face pillowed
in thick brown hair,
lips slightly parted and moist,
breasts rising softly
in the muted breathing of slumber.

I rub my eyes
and the memory is gone.
Only dust motes dancing
in the shaft of sunlight remain.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Non-negotiable

After all the plans are made, and
the faith is acquired to make hope viable,
the ability of youth to determine the world
as something manageable begins to fade.
Age diminishes one's bargaining power
with reality,
and death is non-negotiable.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Seeking Rhythms

Finding a place to start
even though it has already begun
and looking for the ending
though it's never done
seeking rhythms
in a syncopated world
first one way
then another
it all comes unfurled
like a flag that's raised at dawn
another sign
another time
just another direction to be taken
knowing all along
that what is right
may also be mistaken.
Rhythms
silly repetition
like waves, a sign of constancy
that always seems to change.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Storm Coming

Alone with the desert night
I hear the city rumble
breaking like waves on a distant shore.

The breeze is stiff, rain scented.
A dust cloud blossoming
at the base of a towering thunderhead
paints the horizon a pulsating
dirty orange.

Alone, I await your return
with dust-stung eyes searching
the lighted street.

No rain comes, just dust.
And you don't come,
only the storm.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Homecall

Treebloom...
the river is fat.
And oh! The old lady next door is dying.

Child's call...
cold mud stands thick.
And oh! Yes she is, the old one is dying.

Kitefly...
the yellow sun burns.
And oh! There's an old man, an old man that's crying.

Homecall...
the silver moon gapes.
And oh! It's Spring!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Do Flowers Dream?

I have heard the trees discussing
the wind's steady climb up the hill.
I have been startled by the exclamation of rock splitting
from oak roots carving pathways into granite
spotted with colonies of mustard colored lichens.
Growth shines in the excrement for those who can see.
Life lies waiting in the rotting carcass.

It is said our own death is implicit
in the consumption of fur, feather and scale.

The truth of this has not been revealed to me.
I do not pretend to know
which is higher in the scheme of things.
Is the food chain linear?
Is there a moral hierarchy with a line
marked clearly in God's handwriting
saying, below here you may
with clear conscience consume for food,
above here you may not?

Some say life is linear
and there is an ethical line drawn
at some indication of consiousness.

Do leaf and stone have knowledge without voice
(at least that we can hear and understand)?
Do the flowers dream?
(I think I caught a field of poppies dreaming, once.)
Should we refrain from eating dreamers?

Dogs dream, I know, a hind leg twitching
untethered chasing dream bunnies.
We do not eat dogs
except, I hear, in Korea.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Natural Selection

Watching dark ash and dust devour the sun
was a hard lesson for Rex.
Strength, claws and incisors
were no match for the advancing ice
and his reign ended.

We were prey, not predator,
running bent, adrenals pumping,
hoping to avoid being supper for the tigers.
But, we learned, and knowledge became power,
a subtle, but awesome substitute
for sinewed muscle and sharp teeth.

Once life was a struggle for food and shelter.
Successful procreation was a clear measure
of the success of the species.

Now, Nature begins to stack the scales
in counterbalance as we foul our nest
and eat the seeds of next Spring's harvest.

New viruses are multiplying,
reproduction is no longer a hope for the future
but a gamble with extinction.

Like poor Rex our blood has betrayed us,
beginning to freeze.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Morning News

The sun rises in peach colored splendor, again.
A hummingbird hovers at a feeder outside the window.
A jackrabbit dines at the end of the lawn.

Newspaper headlines greet the sunrise with fear.
It seems tribes are warring...
The food we eat is poisoning us...
cancers lurk in the air we breathe...
abuse is rampant...
crime is up and the Dow Jones is down...

Last night I stood at the end of the pavement
where a long expanse of moon bathed mesquite
and prickly pear provided an amphitheater
for the crickets' serenade.

A stench of gasoline, burnt rubber and radiator steam
swept away the cactus blossoms' delicate odor.
A body lay covered by a faded orange blanket,
dark blood seeping through the makeshift cover.
Desperately trying to keep a second soul within its vessel
three men and two women worked feverishly
stemming bleeding, immobilizing shattered limbs,
forcing a rhythm onto an unresponsive heart.

I looked up at the moon, waxing full,
and saw written at the breakfast table
Two Dead in Traffic Mishap.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

City Sidewalk Whispers

A partially avulsed ear
loosely wrapped in dirty gauze
listens carefully -
the eyes have long ceased meaningful input
staring fixated to the steaming sidewalk grate.
Maggots devour the dead flesh,
tickling like a child's whispered secret.
He strains to hear, to understand,
jugulars distended like dark blue rivers
crossing an ashen wilderness.
Voices are gray tides blurring across the grate,
footsteps strobe consonants through the iron slats,
occasional sirens break in red waves, pooling,
draining into the blackened cauldron
rising back up again as a gray steam.
"What?" he exclaims,
throwing a displacement wave into the foot traffic
pattern around him.
"Stop!" he shouts,
as the memory of a slashing razor
swoops out of the indistinct night
seeking his neck, but finding his ear.
Another whisper.
He listens carefully
watching the grate,
a tickling in his ear.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chasing Rainbows


Every now and then I'll see him.

The sun will be just right

flaring through the trees,

diffusing the shadows,

bouncing glare from the water

in a cascade of sparkles.


He'll be creekside, crouching,

knees bent and sitting low,

his fly rod lying across his thighs,

his head leaning forward, eyes intent,

peering into the fast moving water.


Sometimes, chasing rainbows with my children

I pause, looking downstream

and I see him hunkered in the shadows.


"There." I hear him say softly.

"There the big fish lie hiding.

There is where it takes skill

to tease a fish from its lair,

catch it on the tiniest of hooks

and work it through the riffles

to the shore, into the creel

and onto the dinner table."


Even when the sun is lost, swallowed by dark clouds

and the first thin raindrops of a coming storm

cause thousands of tiny circles

to ripple onto the water's surface,

even then when the forest is filled

with the silent clarity that precedes thunder,

I see him by the water,

jeans, blue work shirt and hunter's cap,

a tan fishing vest, cigarette dangling

from a hawkish face squinting

through horn-rimmed glasses.


I wish I could hold these moments

and look at him closely, to see those strong hands,

the stubbled face, the mischievous grin

and piercing eyes again.


But, as with all visions, it seems,

any attempt at seeing clearly, focusing,

and it's gone.


Still, when I take my children

chasing rainbows along the stream

I'll catch a fleeting glimpse

of a short, wiry man crouching creekside,

and I point, saying softly,

"There. There is where the big fish

lie hiding. Where it takes skill..."


And my son and daughter hear the voice

of the grandfather they never knew.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Demons

A blanket and old cotton robe
draped from her teenaged sister's top bunk
help keep out the monsters
that haunt my five-year-old daughter
alight with a keen imagination.

They're a blossoming warrior's shield
through which none but family may pass.

There is nothing in the dark
that isn't there in the light, I tell her,
remembering how like her
I would pull the covers over my head
to hide from ominous dark shapes
lurking in the night-light gloom.

I wonder if some day,
will she stand where I now stand
watching the milky way slip silently
across the desert sky?

The film of stars is like a blanket
that somehow shields me,
an aging warrior alight with a keen imagination.

I wonder if my sweet daughter
will also wrap herself in the comforting march of stars
exorcising life's demons?


An older poem but I still gaze up toward the nighttime sky and take comfort in its vast possibilities.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Your Presence is Electric

Your presence is electric!
The curve of your buttocks
and the soft swell of your breasts
send a blue fire sparking through my veins!

My nostrils flare and tingle
with the scent of your body.
My mouth waters in anticipation
of the taste of your lips.

Fuses blown, circuit breakers tripped,
the back surge of power generated
courses unchecked through all my connections
entangled in a web of hot wires fused
to each nerve charged with desire.

Your presence is electric!
Your being a dynamo, and I
short circuited with lust
wait anxiously for your voice,
for a touch,
for the power of lightning
alive in your flesh.


Love poem, lust poem, even after all these years my bride does this to me!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Where My Love Finds Denial

Tracing the gentle curves of your breasts
and running my fingertip across your belly
in the teasing tickle of love making,
my finger pauses at the tip of a long scar
stretching from below your sternum
to the coarse thatch of pubic hair.

We are beings of light.
The strength of our souls emanates
in fine tendrills of luminescence
from our navels.

Your scar, cold and white,
belies the black strand of despair
that eclipses the glow of your being.
It is here my finger pauses
touching the source of darkness
I have sensed in you.
It is here where my love
finds denial.

This is a true poem or should I say a poem of truth, perhaps. It happened. There was a scar. We are beings of light. All of this. And because of these things, these true things within the poem, I have had many tell me the poem spoke to them in some manner about a failed relationship. There is something deeper here, I think, than love denied. You decide.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Philosophy

Each day contains a wealth of sights and and sounds,
of joy or sorrow, of pleasure or pain.
Each day reveals a secret of the gods
in this wondrous world of sunshine and rain.
We are alive! We can think! We can feel!
It is these things and nothing more we need -
To bathe our toes in sun-warmed ocean sand
or run to catch a floating thistle seed.
Philosophy upon life's wonders fed
will seek no answer more, but pause and stare
at what marvels a searching hand may find
and all the inherent mysteries there.

There you go! A sonnet!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Desert Kill

Burdened with the weight of fresh carrion,
feathers struggle in the dead air
seeking the elusive updraft
that gives an easier flight to aerie.

Soon there will be a patient stand at guard
as the present and future meet
in the yaw of hungry beaks.

Each year the shells grow thinner.
Each year more of the destroyers
pass by on the muddy river far below.
Each year there are more beaten paths
to every arroyo and promontory,
trails lined with stumps where mesquite once grew,
trails dissolving from the summer rains
into unwelcome canyons of the next millennia.

Some day the rodents will run riot on the mesa,
their fleas shrieking plague and hallelujah!
the eagles are gone, the coyotes are poisoned.

Only the fire ants will partake
in the desert kill.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Fear of Fire

Color floating on the breeze
has caught my eye, a butterfly,
And no, I may not try to run
and capture her, I must not try!

For if we touched the spell would break,
She'd never fly again.
And I would have to bear the blame
for causing such an end.

My love for her must be content
to mark her flight among the trees
and take my joy in watching as
she dances on the sun warmed breeze.

But oh! Such colors strike a flame
that burns within my heart
and fills me with a crazy need
to tear my world apart.

For want of something I can't have
do I follow my lust and run
the risk of losing what I have
for colors flashing in the sun?

No. I just stand here helplessly
imprisoned by my wild desire
to touch and hold the dancing flame
yet fearful of the fire.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oh, To Never See Cortez Again

Clouds are crashing
against the jagged mountain skyline.
Ice on the wind rattles the blackjack pine
and the forest sings with a susurrant waving of boughs.

Puffed white against cobalt blue
cumulonimbus underbellies stretch darkly
with the promise of snow.
The mountain receives them, impaling and holding them
until the vellum of mist rips
spilling the gift of moisture onto the cold dry rocks.

A mile below in thevalley
rain is tapping on fogged windows.
The gently pinging litany of the drizzle
is the prayer of hope for Spring flowers.

It is this cycle that engorges each wash
with rock crushing water
cascading into shallow streams
swelling finally into the green river
that once ran to the Sea of Cortez.

But the sea no longer tastes the snowmelt.
Red canyons are drowned behind concrete dams.
Now the moisture is scattered helplessly into the air
above the thirsty creosote and sajuaro plain
by fountains, stale artificial lakes,
swimming pools
and golf course greens.

Still, the clouds return from the Pacific
and the cycle begins anew each season
despite this broken spoke in the wheel.
And a river that searches for the Sea of Cortez
rushes to a pointless death in Phoenix, Arizona,
never to rise from the ashes again.

In 1994 this poem took third place in the Flagstaff Festival of Arts Statewide poetry competition titled Arizona Anthem. And yes, I know there is a split infinitive in the title. So did the judges. I may have placed higher but the grammar police busted me on this one. I did it intentionally. I really did. I toyed with "Oh, Never to See Cortez Again." I liked it - I liked the sense of never to the sea of Cortez sense of it. But.... there was this "to boldly go" thing in my head and I liked the rhythym and - so, I split an infinitive! I dangle participles too, you know!
p.s. by the way - in this same statewide contest, my daughter Megan took 1st place in the under 18 division for a sweet little poem titled "friends." She was 7 years old at the time! I got a nice placque, she got a paper certificate - it should have been the other way around.