Of Bird and Girl

Secret schoolyard flame,

tall blonde broad-shouldered Shelly.

Her name was the name

I chose for my pet

peregrine.  Analogy

of girl and bird right

as rain in desert

Bakersfield, a boy’s eros

all flame and flight.


Traveler’s Companion

Follow the sun, see

the Pacific. Now turn back,

Atlantic rim-glow,


roads into the woods. Fulfill

yourself just not now.

Pick an island, sit

once more in the late sunshine,

letting it all go.



Bakersfield Reverie

The espresso machine’s

hollow roar, the snow outside–


the past a different

country, and nothing like this.

Mojave foothills,

tumbleweeds still green

in the bright winter landscape.

Enough love, enough

otherness that now

memories pour in and out,

save me from myself .


Reading John Burnside in the Snow

This never happens:

snowed-in in Portland. Silence

thick as grief, is it?

Well, that sweet cafe

is open, quiet, The Old

Familiar Places–

Sinatra’s magic —

absorbs the haunted self so

blank in the blank stare

of sun on mounded

snow.  A refill and I turn

the page: more Burnside


On Ice: Syllabics

Balancing sixty-

some years of flesh and bone, I

am out in the ice-

storm today. No pride:

I’ve learned to walk like a duck

breathing from my feet.

I’ve learned to relax

the will, to let the kind earth

root me in its love,

paying attention

at the same time to the gleam

of black ice ahead.

For Karen in Surgery

Whistling in the wind

a small thing skitters past all

decked out for Christmas —

an  empty beer can.

I listen until I hear

only my own mind,

or so we say. Yet

it seems otherwise–yes wise,

and yes quite other.




At First Light

Something in the cold

this far West recalls winters

in the East.  Not snow

but reminders of

snow within releases rage–

nature’s perfection

woos the soft flesh locked

down for the duration now

trees stark at first light.

New Year’s Poem: so where to now, mate?

For James Edgecombe


A breath of winter

I close the door behind me

cold breathed into me

from beyond the edge

where creatures greet each other

each from its own cloud

A State of Mind

The birds have vanished

from a thousand rivers– a

thousand years and more

ago Liu Tsung-Yuan

wrote about a state of mind

now  closer to fact.

An old man still wades

into the cold stream and casts

as he learned to do

watching the line’s glint

in the morning light over

the empty waters.