In This New World

In this new world,
I watch the rain for hours.

I know the sparrows by their
brown striped chests,
and golden crowns.

In this new world
there is time

to watch a butterfly
unfold her wings
in the warm rays of morning

or to trace the shadow
of the house next door
as the sun cuts across the sky,

Each day
the patch of light
on the back porch
grows brighter.

In this new world,
I check each day to see
if the plum tree
has blossomed.

I measure the size
of the puddle where
the gutter is rotted through

and look for snails
among the cabbage leaves
in this new world.

Now, we have left the hive
and spend hours
in the backyard
chatting with the bees.

My hands are in the dirt

My hands are in the dirt

the ground is soft
from seasonal rain

after the shadows
of deep winter
trap me inside

yellow Oxalis flowers
are a blanket

my fingers seek
the weeds between
tendrils of stonecrop

and tiny echeveria fallen
from the mother plant

February storms
may still destroy
newborn crowns

the sliver of sun
over my neighbor’s house

breaks raindrops into
pastel prisms

assurances of spring

Time to Write Again

photo by author

Time hangs like
exoskeletons
in amber.

Our sweaters layer like
the rings of trees,
revealing how long
we’ve been waiting.

Events need to happen
to write poems about them.

Something more than
making waffles every morning
how the tomatoes lasted
well into November this year
the way we watch a film noir
from 7-9 am each Sunday
waiting for the football
games to begin.

We are relying on
a new trapeze of trust
to hold us
learning how to balance
on a high wire
with no end in sight.

The false floor falls out and
mountains of sand
form dunes beneath us
it is slow going
either up or down
our shoes fill with grains
and feet sink ankle-deep
with every step.

From deep inside the line she said
this is not a poem
and so I stop, but still

pissed off because, you know,
Bukowski never edited
his shit.

Life After Falling While Filming a Teen Drama

photo by author

It was a stunt
we hadn’t practiced
that erased
my memory at 30
and left me wondering
why I was wearing
a cheer uniform in the ER

Then there was a doctor
who said short
and long term
amnesia
and what
was there to do
but go home

to a stranger’s apartment
with an unknown
man who said
he was my friend

and showed me
pictures of us
on the beach, and
getting morning coffee

and the one of me
with Sal shading
her eyes against the sun
her eyes the same as mine
so I believed him

what made me remember
was not a fact but a feeling
an intuition of sorrow
a space of absence
that was memory

when I said
I love you
it was met
with silence

our union was
a thing that ended
long ago
signed and certified
a document forgotten

so what is this
tenderness
that is not love?
this compassion from
one to the other?

what are we
without our memories
gathered with intent
held in shadow
boxes on display

the attic of my mind
is empty

we are here now
our love is here.

This poem is based on a snippet of an NPR radio show I heard where a woman falls while filming the pilot of a TV drama and ends up having total amnesia. She had divorced her husband but has no recollection of it, and he ends up caring for her during her recovery.

Some Birds Perish in the Learning

Will we look back
upon this year
with perfect vision?

Might cartoon
balloons of thought appear,
transparent minds
blooming like dahlias?

Let’s pack up old language
to lighten the scale.

The clenched fist of time
poured hundreds of years
tipping the whole machine
toward ivory towers.

Now inner workings
are revealed—
we see suffering
behind the grinding gears.

To weep, exclaim in agony,
turn your face in silence
will not stop the steely teeth
of systems that never sleep.

Some birds perish
in the learning,
pushed from the nest on wings
like flimsy scaffolds,
the attaching muscles
new and tight.

Speaking new words
won’t kill me
fresh language may be clumsy
on my tongue.

I will share the branch
in poetry, in life
rest beside me on the bough
and we can harmonize. 

The Owls and Us

collage by author

It’s late fall and there are many things flying about
starlings tweedle and chirp from the telephone pole
where this morning as I am taking out the trash
I look up and see a great horned owl
silhouetted against the lightening sky.

I jump and run to get my husband
and he joins me on the cold brick of our front porch
It’s Tue, he says, and we both agree
this is the spirit of our cat, recently deceased.
How does the call go? he asks, sheepishly,
since all last autumn we walked
the streets and narrow alleys
of our neighborhood, calling for an owl
who would sometimes call back,
sometimes appear overhead on whisper white wings.

Last year we saw a couple nesting in the eucalyptus grove,
two dry-leaf colored lumps on one arching branch
and listened as they called to one another.

Once I was on the back deck crying
over some old wellspring of pain, and looked up
to see the cobalt sky, and the owl flying
across our yard from east to west.

Once we were lost driving back roads at dusk
sniping at each other in annoyance
and an owl swooped down like a blinding angel
across our windshield.

Once we were night walking
and you said it was an owl, but
I think it was a black-crowned heron
that erupted out of tree shadows
like the surprising strength of our grief
and knocked you to your knees.

Holographic Squirrels are Eternal

Salvador Dali's "Ten Recipes for Immortality"

Casting her as the star in his
voluntary program of desire
Gala swimming, smiling.
Gala, darling.

He wanted to consume her
to absorb her organism
each atom dissolved
and reassembled
on another plane
a fourth atmosphere
where infinite consciousness
takes the form of
an eternal holographic squirrel.

He has a paranoid passion
to reveal invisible truth
becoming everything and nothing at once.
To devour the known,
take in particles of perception,
and birth a nightmarish cousin.

Did he deliberately misunderstand
what we all know to be true?
The squirrel, flesh and bone,
scurrying, instinctual,
hoarding food to last the winter
acorns piling up
against starvation

steps through a portal
into another realm
rising through the ether
forming a staircase
to eternity.

In the nuclear age
we are all immortal.

-after Dali’s “Ten Recipes for Immortality”

Time’s Siren

photo by author: Luther Burbank House, Santa Rosa, CA

Time only moves
in one direction
ringing into the future
like a siren,
like a cowbell.

Trapped in a house of nostalgia,
the past reaches like a vine
climbing and clinging
to doors and windows.

Human-size ferns
gather along the garden wall
with secrets folded away
among the tender green tendrils
grasses whisper, grow wild,
obscure the road to reality.

There is
something on the horizon,
maybe.

A stone house
maybe a
flock of sheep
maybe a
sleeping dragon.

Seems like choppy waters from here
In a rough little boat.

Disaster may shortly arrive,
but that shouldn’t stop us
from planning things away.

Failed memories haunt my diagrams
and blueprints, I
design a fortress
to keep success at bay.

Someone lent a hand, but
it wasn’t me.
When things unraveled
as they do
a bill came, overdue.
A price I paid,
without asking
who, or why.