As I Was Saying

Yes, I’ve been off my site a long time. I’ve been active but just not posting. Here are 3 poem published August 1st by “The Timberline Review”, an excellent new venue for poetry.

Running The River Of No Return

As we rounded each bend, sitting on the lip
of our rubber raft, he plunged
his paddle into the foaming waves,

bringing us around the heads
of rocks, out of danger. The river’s
lessons he described softly

as he cleaned trout with a few swift
knife slices, laying open
the scaffolding of the fish,

or as he joked while petting the darkly
patterned gopher snake he held
curled around his arm.

By the campfire, luminous flecks of ash
drifted over our small cadre of rafters.

I remember only three:
my husband,
and me,
and the guide.

His body was younger, shorter
than my husband’s
and he had a large, uneven scar
along his upper right thigh.

His story of the shotgun wound—
a boyhood elk hunt with brothers
high in these canyons. I saw the elk

backlit on the crest of the canyon
and the blood-soaked pants
and felt the tourniquet and watched

the litter of branches
they used to carry him
inching down the cliffs.

The eleventh son of Mormons, his name
was Ray, and he knew the silver-skinned river,
its constant currents, and he had a look

as he watched me when I wasn’t
looking, and when I was.

By The McKenzie River

Midnight arrives on this river
as boundaries swirl away
between the safe and unsafe.

Running right toward me,
in the presence of the moon,
the river turns, bends and falls
over rocks like wet feathers. This

hinge of water and night, this river
reminds me the earth is wet,
gathering rain from the sky,
snowmelt from the mountains, sending
water to the sea, and returning rain
to rivers again. Here

everything is exchanged.
At the river’s edge, so late at night,
I am washed clean of desire
washed clean of difference
between me and this river;
between this life and the next.

A Smoky Rubble

I tramped around our marriage
like an unpaid strumpet. I traipsed
around like a toddler with icing on her face,
fist punched into the sweet
heart of confection. I expelled
babies that resembled you,
lost with what to do.
Through the cluttered rooms I rambled,
batting at cobwebs, dusting
the furniture but nothing
came clean. My dream was to rearrange
the scene, but the house collapsed,
its ceiling beams lay crossed
upon themselves, a smoky rubble
insurance wouldn’t cover. All
that was left—
the deep, indifferent blue sky.


The Atlantis Hotel
Heraklion, Crete

4 am and we can’t sleep.
Greeks have no clock for quiet.
Congregated below our window
a youthful party throwing marbles
at the walls—no—it is actually
the language tossed about—
hard and round—good
for argument and passion.

No use trying to sleep.
We might as well join
the revelers in the street,
roam the town, search
for their forebearers,
catch the energy
of Minoans, Greeks, Venetians,
Turks—all those who actually
started this commotion.

It’s heard above the swollen
waves that pound against
the harbor walls, it ricochets
off narrow cobbled streets,
and, labyrinthine with desire,
follows passage ways
through olive groves,
through the ruins of Knossus,
to the elongated desires of El Greco.
In the puzzle of these places
the skin of history breathes.

African Admonishment


You must ask for what you really want
Don’t go back to sleep. Rumi

The bushveld is too full to talk about.

Trees, grasses, savannah, swelling clouds
drifting toward distant herds.

There is the eagle,
the shadow of his wings.

The sound of no shoes walking
in the Kalahari sand.

The leopard saunters by himself
in the Mopane forest. He is not to be seen.

Here the trees are in prayer, birds full
of praise, sky kneeling, and the wind so light.

You must spend more time with low-lying wild
marigolds by the side of the trail.

You must be dressed with what’s here. The loose hair
of a beautiful woman doesn’t need to be combed.

You must try to lose yourself,
and stamp a deep memory
of all you love into the earth—

the eyes of the hippo
wallowing just above the surface;

the wrinkled skin and massive ears of the elephants,
cooling great bulk, so awkward but useful;

the bend of the trees
sheltering all; and

the ground hornbills carrying their red pouches
as if filled with their treasures.

From another continent, you must figure out
how to be delivered from your own figuring.

Understand you hold no stature in this land but
you must care for it still. Don’t listen to the Gray Lourie
birds with their harsh warning, go away, go away.

If you are quiet enough the grace
of this landscape will follow you home.

What ever can be done must be done.
Love has more courage than reason.

The Forbidden City in the Season of Snow Lion

Swept by the wind, the falling snow turns
down streets, blows around cornices
behind the geometry of dynasties
behind the footfall of fallen emperors,

falling gently enough for a man
in a denim work coat and wool hat to sweep
away flakes of snow with a broom.

How often have we brushed away
what we don’t realize will accumulate?
The roof guardians are still
watching but give no report.

Here is the handiwork of thousands:
of stonecutters, carpenters, brick layers
who labored to build and decorate
nine hundred ninety-nine rooms. Almost

as spacious as heaven, although you trip
over entry ways with unobserved sills.
Your guide continues to describe
the treasured scrolls, the gold, the robes,

the porcelain not to be seen—
stored elsewhere for protection.
The plans, schemes, the mascara behind
the fan have no force any more.

You can’t comprehend
what you are forbidden to enter
and something is always missing
from history no matter the length

of your search. And you feel very small,
did they? These doors
of imagination do not open.

And the snow is beginning to fall heavier, now.



On Edge in San Francisco

            Lo, the dove returned, bearing in her mouth
an olive leaf plucked off, so Noah knew…

            Genesis 8:11

 A shallow shawl of birds,
refusing to be named, floats
in the eucalyptus-light air.

See them here—these young refugees
from Minnesota, Iowa, Utah,
trying for a brand-new start,
working at the Sphinx Copy store;

sitting in small espresso shops
staring at the onyx surfaces
of their lives, and hungering
or the taste of revelations

as the sun’s slanting rays
create bright crystal crosses
in their glass cups, and church bells
call across Washington Square.

Book browsers surface
rom City Lights, shop keepers
roll down their awnings as the sun
sinks over the hills.  No answers

at the edge of this last place.
No news to be found in a bird’s mouth.




The Challenge of White

Poetry is a fleeting thing and anyone is lucky
who can touch it.

James Tate

Clouds drawn by wild horses have passed by,
their thinness of breath brought a message to me.

Bright, burnished wings beat into blue,
beat into ice, ice-blue sky.

Sitting in shattered sunlight,
light through the window onto the page,

snowy, white empty page, I am here
trying to catch the wind of winged horses

shining crystalline in the sky.
I am here trying to say

what flight feels like
and what I love as it passes by.

Cross-country Skiing

looking around
you keep in mind the profound
surface of things

“House, Tree, Sky”, Martha Collins

Burnished with a hard blue wax, my skis
slip into these woods—the jack pine,

the juniper, the spruce. I’m learning
to glide, to relax, to pole,

not push, in the two-lined tracks.
Deeper into the woods, cold

whispers between purple shadows;
a cardinal in the throat of winter

holds the world stark white
against himself and sings.

The air, like a mint,
is formal.

The contours of winter, nearer
the deeper I go;

and the stillness I am skiing through
deeper still.

Bleue et Blanche

Starting over…
Thousands of drifting white beginnings
Showing me a new life inside myself
And the blue jay returns again

For my son Dave who left me this poem he wrote one winter
day when he was twenty-five.

The snow falls on earth
A jay sits on my window ledge
dressed in blue.

C’est moi,
Je suis bleue et blanche,
I am blue and white.

Snow falls in my heart
La neige tombe dans
mon coeur,
I dance
doucement, comme une etoile,
softly as a star.

Je me dishabille
de bleu.
I undress myself
of blue.