Poems from Starfish Wash-Up (Etruscan Press, 2023)

The writing of this ekphrastic collection began with the discovery of a 19th-century watercolor portrait of Telemachus kneeling by the Aegean seashore, back to his audience. Along with him, the reader searches the horizon for the Father (Odysseus) always it seems "off to another WAR" ...Telemachus thus becomes archetypal symbol for the LOST Son, who really has no parental guidance (many times due to war). What remains across history, is the many youth who in fact are still children of a missing parent. This focus repeats and circles into Modernity in this collection by also addressing the wreckage of our planet in current times due to Humankind's neglect--our own planet that offered us our first HOME. Life itself now in a tailspin in so many ecological ways.


Ever make bets on who lived best inside
their mother's womb?

Don't forget that question.   Turn round and forward face
en utero the eloquence and mindlessness of man.   

Made of water, we are tagged with sudden glints
of drowning.

Favor eyes above the waves,
                                                that kind of vision.

It's why the eyes keep score--flotillas of us simply out there
aimlessly looking.             

Who's to make it home?   

Telemachus thought about this a long time,   
long ago by the sea.



How might I return to the land named after brightness,
the home where lit mice once ran the fields  
and thrived on barley?

And who dreamed up lines this sharply pointed:
                Drink only from that fountain.   Leave your skin at the door.
Broken animal ribs served at cliff bottom.   Bottomland pox on those
who love the wrong gender.        
                                            Don't those phrases, no matter how dated,
sound like a way we humans think?                                      How a swift
jolt of war makes us as wicked as anyone else--those who wished they had
done what others did.                                               And they kept on wishing               
the same for an awful long time.



But please let's return to my perfect outrage:
how can some duplicitous voice then warn
me, do be careful where you travel
after birth?

Entanglements drag us through time.
Foreshadow.        Post-shadow,
or preemptive strikes of magic  

matter not at all  

for I did it.  .  .  it was me/Telemachus        
who was born and took on that status as trophy

sacks of grain for rats to eat in late winter.



the baby finally
arrives   vinegar
and white hibiscus
pour through the clouds
as once her undergarments
fell from the bed and on hands
and knees she crawled to fish the
flimsiest forward--she the first to
know their movement and departure.
Sprinkled rosewater on a new moon.



He handed her the iconic mask in a parking lot, and the nearest
trunk flew open to waves of light on an inland sea.

Byzantium brushed peacocks into the dying pines, and low gold
bees moved from bud to blossom    as young will do.

A gong struck. Streets went dark with sanskara--fists
deep in every garden.  
                      Phases of time that knew just where
to drop down hard.  Signs of waste, of laying waste.  

With that in mind, she brushed a finger to the cool one's temple
then down her cheek, saying,
                                             Sling silver arrows, and charge my mind
with what eternity can do.    
                At night a hand unscrewed
her head and sprinkled pollen on the heart.



How can children with parents wash up on the beach
(laid out in lines) grow sadder and stiffer before you
on TV?        

Your eyes have seen this.                   They have.   
Think this too will pass?     No luck, my friend.

Bloodied lambs, the busted granary workers, brown and gold
pheasants nailed on a barn wall.                 Look them in each glazed eye
and admit   You were part of our fancy passing.   Killing, a fad.

Remarkable too, those episodes of hiding in trees
to wipe out animals that make us feel strong and well-fed
before bed.

At home we are with control--our radical home-



At war, the present-tense of our world--bodies marched off two legs
at a time.      Swine, lambs, heifers and lovers rolled up as one and fed

as slaughter.        Leave at once, you greedy scoundrels, wail of the long ago
embattled or worse near the Aegean.

Telemachus kneels on the shore, the gray waves breaking. He scans
the horizon for his father.     If not by the sea spread before him,

he's baffled by looking--home collapsed to a vaulted museum of men
baying for his mother.             

Calm then wild, the sea confounds.  Where but the shoreline can a ghost
and his son be familiar?

The constancy of lost Odysseus. He and Telemachus as though they were
roped together in foam.                       They share the ocean-keeper's heart.
Supplicant at the missing fathers' feet             Sons beg for a safe company
not departure.               But it's a child's guess who actually crosses

the threshold.                 Either way, a doorway fills then empties.            
No lit gods cure Telemachus's hoping.              History's bloodied

adore endless battle--those      the never-banned idols of men.  
Ghost-makers all.

Burst of thunder   and from wide and far the Greeks gather.   Closer
still                                       Odysseus sails.                    

Telemachus spots boats and men                  that come to nothing.  
Shipwreck of stars in the sky at dark.                      
                               Phantoms pay homage to nothing.

This boy's Bring My Lord Home song eats the mind.                        Chant
of sons who need more.      Telemachus cannot stop his father-husband

creations from arriving each night (one for Penelope too).            They swim
in his dreams but not a soul stops to think             such wishing

never will do.                                   Stories of home tell us so.



Telemachus floats about the dream-table with fresh bowls of milk.
Mother and father look at him   then to each other.  Nurse
smiles in the womb    currant tarts warm in her apron
so that boy first will know

What brilliant shocks await the newborn.


Telemachus (taller older now)  sits in a sea-cave
with the gulls        to question his own charging body.     

He touches new hairs down past his belly--golden
braille continent of fathers leaving.  

Taken by the sea     Odysseus sailed      blew     then flew
into the arms of Circe--enchantress attached to the heart.    

Lure for men to leave wives, daughters and mothers.            
House-of-cards son running (away from and back to) home:
Penelope with her would-be lovers.      


Islands blow from the ocean floor.            Wars glisten.  
Incessantly, they call.            

                                     Our shattered lineage.       

Strange     that Penelope

does not question or pray in a selfish manner    
Nor is she a narcissist with fanciful selves
startling from her mirror                           

But at times (not known to many) Telemachus watches
her levitate at sundown          for she too is out looking

He searches through her eyes until they form a long line
of clouds                       Never complete

(Maybe she too would have asked for more
had she known the magic of speaking)

Say    in the middle of one half-truth another comes bottoms-up
from a Bog of Letters in an Eight Ball that throws up broken phrases
but never finishes a sentence

Can anyone stop yes     from shifting       full-force into   No   
dopey kid    you alone did not cause the split in your parents
It's a dilemma arriving way before you                 

Pithy little essay (this one)                  but fixes rarely swoop
in from a wilderness of choices
                                                     Elemental puzzle of fire   
earth   and wind over water           add profundity to puddles
of ignorance

That loopy number eight counted too in my own murky eight-ball
as a child   Closed track of infinity            Over and over
the same route      
                          No better way to learn than with friends
and enemies who swap places                 but can't change
who they are



and they too are goners.
The water birds losing feathers--blue and gray,
they stand on one leg in marsh-stench near the ocean.

Up and down
the beach.       
and for as far as I can see is trouble,
as again this year hobbles giant deep-sea mother.  

She's lost her turtle eggs and cannot go one more
heave in the sand.

My baby girl, you who definitely has fire in your level blue eyes,
hang on and don't let go in mid-catastrophe.

Once a lighthouse cast brightness in my hometown.  Tattered red flags
signaled old human precognitions but for only the dead. Parts of porches
and window frames represent the same flotilla of the damned
that passed this way last year.

And always, that creepy lane of cars (or people) searching for any
road upland, sideways, or northward--just not to meet their end
at a standstill.  

Storms get wider and stronger by the season, closer now
to standards that thrilled Prospero and Miranda.
                            Infant child,
I cover your small face with my fingers so you'll best remember
my hands as they swaddled you in muslin.  

The strongest of cottons.                              
                For wasn't it you and me in our watery life
long ago in Chile?        Sailing.                 Dreaming I found you whole--
pearl of a skull and watery eyes filled with the salt wind.

                            --for Celine       



A son is born to many women.   Mothers love beaches
and the children who walk them.

The beginning of June or the future is not declared
happy or sad                beforehand.

There's a slowness to the hills when the tide comes in
     meaning the boy inside a man waits before he leaves.
         Love embodies then turns aside.

Every look at the Aegean,    Telemachus stops to learn more.

Fathers coming home from war lose track of things like that.

Odysseus finds time to gather his son and the sand
in his arms,                                               or not.



In your neck feel slits pulse with oxygen
bubbling through.
            So much lightness

you swear you can see in the attic corner
a goat carved at the foot of a three-eyed shepherd

on the sarcophagus--
final resting place for the god of planning.  

You sigh letting loose oceans of air

held in since childhood.


End of Poems from Starfish Wash-Up (Etruscan Press, 2023)


              I will speak to you in stone language
               (answer with one green syllable)
                                         --Octavio Paz

Touch the secret where
the heart in me began,  
vibrant in the amniotic pool.

A startle, perhaps, to a certain way of thinking--
the schism of another 

breaking through.

Curled in water, the spine perfected. Fetal and
blind, I bow.

Private, those stations of the fire.

              And ahead, that promiscuity called November.
Naked limbs. The orifice. Sap configured,

the same over

and over.

So it is with ghost strata in the canyon and the mating
hawks of spring--
                               pattern stained above each dwelling.

Our cold lineage,    space.                                Friction and flint,
darkness set afire.                    
                               Slowly then the syllables arrived of only
and once.             Distinct.                                      Solitary.             

The intimacy of time.



Moon on the rise, egg-shaped and full of eclipse. It darkens my sheets at dawn,
such a wobbling arrangement to start the new year--
                                                                          end-knots of silver loosening
the myth of constellations:
                                         Kuan Yin's foamy Dragon,
                                                                Phoenix startling from the starry ashes. 

And here I am without a clue--on top of and beneath an untouchable scrim
of light.

At sun-up I bathe and blunt the nails on both hands.


Who knows how insistent the mind can get about need,
about words, syntax, and the rolled-back nature of plot.
An hour a week to work on a silly book? Ego always wants 
a pinch more.                      Another man's way of thinking.
And how many pictures were shot as Teacher pinned him to hours
in the past? He stuck him there, photographing each grimace.                              
Slowly, student fell to pieces.

What good came from feeding the sick man pints of ice cream
to keep weight on, to keep him alive in his hut behind the big

Then that man with the robust mind was doing it again to aspirant
up to his chin in hospice sheets.
                                                  Watch the former circling the bed
to take close-ups with his cell phone of a dead man's face.
Lines deep enough for study.


Why were Kuan Yin and her compassion stolen from his
bedside drawer? Ordinary brass deity beneath some socks

at the hospice. In war does anyone need to be taught how
to kill, strangle, and smother? Boots slog up and down, and

have for a such long time. Farmland of pigs, babies, and
the ancestors flash in flames or drown in the river.

It's time to spit, the nurse says, entering the room. Time to leave
time behind, I think, and stay in touch. We hold hands for days.

He cannot smile. A squirrel with full teats scampers along
the garden wall. I almost think I see her young hanging on

for dear life, for milk, for anything offered in the vines.
He tries to shape syllables that miss and mix and fly by

like sparks of another life. At night in the sterile bed, he
struggles up and down with warriors, sometimes in a river--

mostly in the oldest region of the brain.


dreams his face--mouth singing that old trance melody.
I wonder if it's Orpheus again, and if he can wait
and trust longer.
Molecular notes from a head with no body--
Study my lips, this kind of detachment tears life to pieces.

The audience, motionless, lets their faces drop.
(Night-bird cries from years away--whippoorwill,
whippoorwill. Farmhouse in a field where for a summer
it flew back and forth outside our bedroom window.)
Then there's the jerk to stage-right, and I'm spotlighted,
naked on a toilet--the kind with armrests and wheels
you can die on beside a soiled bed. 
It's me on display before the remains of my audience.
Audience with the queen, I ask, and they sigh, what a shame.
I shut my eyes to go blind--secret cove where no one
ever will find me.
Then this figment of dream subsides, and I'm in the next
day transfixed in real traffic. An Alpine waltz pours down
from an attic window. A boy yells, hey lady, don't wait for your
friend in the middle of the road.          Three-quarter time,

the mystery of the world unaccompanied.


                        I will speak to you in water language
                        (answer with a canoe of lightning)
                                    --Octavio Paz

thinned     kiln-broiled                  as lazily    (slow)                                  
      the face composes

so that one night past childhood there'd be recognition
in the eyes of another.

Block of clay      the long rendering              (the time it takes
for postpartum flux to slide forward)

Blue flesh and the upside-down screams of forced entry.

Face-first, and sent forward into the days.   Seasons.
The year marked.                                (dusky clay calendar)

Limbs named and sponged.  Each orifice coolly numbered.

Possibility, how did you arrive at one child with a candle?
It's the skin of your canoe I see through--tincture of faces,

lightning atop the river.


a beggar's prayer kneeling and truculent in the womb,
            we were    a study in need--

beginning fluctuations rocked out to the morning
            field.     Damp soil of birth.

Come, Aphrodite, deliverer us from earth--sing
            the ocean scales for one world with others.

(long line of the landed beasts that knocked us first into
            feeling something approaching empathy)

How to travel the umbilical, severed, and that the long
            rope back home?.

Vertigo of vertical time
            or endless leagues across the ocean bottom?
Choice fears                                       roar along the coast.
            There too the sun moves up and down with purpose--
oily reds embedded in basalt.   Such pious rosey sheen.
            What was it-- evolution by revolution--pressed

deeper into us-- the dread dream of endings.


When he handed her the pale iconic mask in a parking lot,
the nearest trunk flew open to waves of light on an inland sea.

Byzantium brushed peacocks into dying pines, and low gold
bees moved from bud to blossom, paths the young take.

The gong struck. Streets went dark with samskara--        fists
in every garden. Phases of time that knew just when to drop

down hard. Signs of waste, of laying waste. With that in mind,
she pressed a finger to the cool one's temple then down her

cheek, saying, Point silver arrows at my travels, charge my clouded
mind with what eternity can do.  That night a hand unscrewed

her head, and sprinkled pollen on the heart.


( : river

Walnut Street ends at the bend in Broadway. That's where the first house stood, along

with her child-bed, as they called it. Small mattress curled like a feather to the wall that

curved with Broadway and the levee as they followed the wind of the rising, falling

Mississippi. She vibrated when trucks took that swing in the road, braking, hissing

with early morning deliveries for Hatch's Market.


In my mother's house there was no heart.
In my mother's heart she was always looking
for a home. I threaded stories of her, ones neither
of us had ever heard. Soft ones with feathers at the bottom.
When my son had a daughter, she came into this blueness
knowing details with a past.
                                           One night in bed playing puppets
with the covers, she made the smallest whisper, You know, there's
so much sadness in the world. She was three, and I almost
couldn't hear her.

It was dark in the bedroom, and inside her head. She didn't hesitate
but thought in stride with the world. Hem of the sheet humped up--
cave in a city on earth that soon could go away.
Branches of Birds, Kingdoms That Float

Owl asleep in a willow while the child sits on the levee with her storybook. O*W*L makes that windy OWELL

noise--night bird's name she scratches in the dirt with a stick. Branches of Birds: Kingdoms That Float,

her favorite book the year she turns seven. For Tink, 1925, inked in silver on the black page. Almost good

enough to eat--that page with a fat gold moon painted among bare branches. Her cat, Gray, will want to hear

more about that, even if he never listens when she reads
to him. And any day now, a raft is coming down-river for her,

and whatever else wants to get aboard.         No one can go home for supper.          The river is there for her daily, but

in bed at night she gets mixed up and starts to miss not having a mother--the women say "died right after

she was born." Then Granny had to leave too. Is she missing one or both of them, and whose slippers are these

her feet kept getting lost in? In the furry dream Gray fades from the levee, then the sky.


Before my mother's looking glass, I hold this photo of her as a child with the silent gray cat in her lap.        Imagine her years from then

pregnant after Pearl Harbor--and there I hang        being prepared, not quite ready to crown--birth muddled by predictions. A world at war.


Jyotsana means moonlight in the jumbled
city of Delhi, so she plays her queen of diamonds
on the green tile table while the ocean shimmers
off the coast--gold spotted leopard of dawn.

The sun paces itself on the far side of the planet. Warm thoughts
move in and out, tirelessly, so by twilight she asks a man to meet her
at the cave opening. He says something about his plans being worldly
(definitely other than hers), and that he must pick up one who flew in

by air. A peacock, she hopes, knowing this will not be the end of her lust
for birds. To counter, she asks if that man can guess (which he can't)
what makes her sing in her sleep for its a password to her dimension.
Others are variables on a feeling right below the navel where the grass tickles
as she moves towards the Cave of the Loon.     
                                                                     With such consummate wilderness
in mind, the woman in diamonds shakes all her facets loose
as the sea turns its face aside


            Buddhism holds that after forty-nine days,
            the deceased begin to transition.

He liked the time it took to read a book
and wanted someday to write one.

The doctor had to considered words carefully before saying,
An utmost need to communicate comes with speechlessness.

I do not recall her name.

Weeks into wishing, I learn to see what's absent
with sheets on a moonlit puppet.

Solitary pear, my prop.                    Pollen trails the lost around.

Two of us in your hospital room that afternoon:     you mindless
of me or who I ever was.
                                          Tonight, I knew you'd come, the cicadas
that loud.   It just takes time to make it up the tangled ravine,
and into my room



Watch the patterned weather,
the design of the slow, returning

Clouds roll by, each shape a whole new
species with no purpose yet in mind.

They cast illusion on rhythms in my whale.

By evening, I want a nocturne on a formal
instrument. Wind blows on the bare branch.

It turns me small,
                                     my shadow long.


Cryptology     speaks ( ~  * / < \ ) in gold and silver

Coded shapes       masks        to hide behind
while being presented with (or present in)

a new life

(Frequencies buzz with interpretation
Indeterminate ruminations)

Breathlessness    of the first     fly-away-or-stay       thought-question
as Eros magnifies heat enough       to scorch the brain

Bees in a crazed terrarium--swarm creatures    all

(polishing the glass storm)

Why so . . . Ba Soul's job it is to hover speechlessly
above the strapped imperial mummy--

myth Ba erects      skeletal joke of naked-as-you-go   poor
old kings and queens       relentlessly tied and bundled

The body counts                       (forwards and back   it does)

Numbers count too--
                                         rigmarole of forever       then those endless days

Pronouns:     the he/she/it/ and they of it               and of course the royal we
who cross every boundary and will not be set aside

SHUT               a directive lovers and young souls deny


Iris recalls the missing petal--pressed to a glow, it's an energy that won't succumb

to circumstance. The twilight of what left, rising and eerily real. No future like that

of the fresh survivor    no past like that of a relic--dead pheasant shoveled from

the road, but for one wing prone and blowing in my headlights. Another refusal

to leave at once and go quietly



I tracked it through branches, then deeper into the woods,
these flickering variances in green. Splices of sunlight
we measure time by.
                                 Early water clock, how it turned
the molecules to logic. Chirp of seconds--our need
to always know what time it is
growing strong.

Shade clock. Sundial. Brass pendulum with its propensity
to fall toward earth again.

The gravity of time,  

seconds that tock and tick and trick us into thinking
water's the same twice. Go figure midnight and the river
as if they hold the twin of all that disappeared.

I've felt through shadows in the dirt, and wanted
to be like that. Dark and humid.
A lowness,
                  not these passing thoughts, my questions
answered by minutiae. Equivocation--headlights
blur along the ridge, travelers caught in fog.

Years ago I held a match to glyphs in a limestone cave, then
walked the old path down to the river. At noon it stopped
by water.
               That's when I floated facedown on the current--
my body offering anonymity to each small thing below.


Delirium of broken placenta,
snow on the path makes her ride home

The sleigh the sort that wolves can't leave alone.
Teeth snap in her sleep.
                                       Organs, a ripe darkness on ice.

Then dreams of the panther in bed, its paws
on both her shoulders.

Wet winter smell of big cat. The two of them
       A strange place to end up.

Who said, Don't be afraid to show how it started?

. . . island covered by sleet, and afterwards they never
could get each other out of the blood. His. Hers,
while the ghost capillaries traded oxygen back
and forth.

Thin blue storylines inflate.

She bit her tongue, and it was still his blood in her mouth.
Sap in the maples froze. Talk of strata and winter sadness

under a delicately pricked roof.
Ping, ping,                        ice on tin.

Time, unreasoned and amorphous.


Beyond the window shines the blue containment of noon,
and every day the dog trots into it, pees on the clover,

then makes headway through the timothy grass,
his coat full of seed. He has some idea of where to go

and who wants him. And since he's no skeptic, he goes--
rye, corn, the whole fermenting season ablaze,

a dog running off as if to make August history.

Who's to say his is not the lithe world that swayed
around pharaoh's daughter and the baby
in the bulrushes.

And this same sun overhead heated the earth when voices flared
a final, frantic time for Joan on her pyre of wood. Exact, those
moments in the reeds or staked above the fiery sticks, while
a dog flops down after hours of futile adventure, the ravine
filled with wings and an undergrowth of eyes.


How diminished she was after settling
for the underworld--a malcontent

in Hades household, her thoughts unspoken.
That sibilant shhhh, shhhh, Eurydice--like

the owl's who-who at dark in the branches
of another life. Here there's neither night nor day.

No break, no brokered hours. Only an unwinding
spool of gray. Some dismayed Shade must have

stuck a hook in Eurydice's mouth, whispering,
do not speak or swallow. Weak-muscled tongue,

a dying thing. She knew when Orpheus looked
about what would be exacted, her future set

as a cosmic reckoning.              No reason why.
Nothing left finally but his singing, floating head

and she a silent creature accompanied by her body.
Buttocks and hips that sway like death in the saddle.

Spectral too, those wild Maenads who ended Orpheus
for not rolling naked with them by the river. At night

she dreams other women's fury. Fate bows and steps
aside. Part female, half fish, she's subterranean

with the blind albino eyes.    Cavern silt, gill slit, and
cold skin--she's lashed to the mind of Orpheus,

his backward glance.


i. asylum
                 --North Rim (8,000 ft.) facing Red Butte. Transept path.

On the north side of this ancient dwelling (only a stone or two high
by now), I sit after dreaming of my office mate last night: Two of us

in our own cramped cubicle separated by the backless bookcase,
unsteady ladder of glory-be-to-the-brain.       Pink and sprinkled

with quartz are the stones in this makeshift foundation: 5' x 17'.
I pace it off, lodge it in my mind, and at center are remnants

of another wall. Another crumbled attempt at solitude, one rock
layer, then another--high summer shelter from long ago for

humans to sleep inside.                    A woman passing on the trail
mutters, Just face it, as her man slumps into, I guess you're right,

and neither see the shades of canyon light.  Resin glistens in a
pine--ruts where lightning leapt up a tree. While above,

that old sapsucker sun keeps shining down.    In my rucksack right
now I find the card marked SKY-CREDIT for the miles we once

crossed.   Rivers, villages, and mountains. These words  Sky-credit
are arced by a rainbow and three commercial stars offering a ticket

soon to somewhere else.     Always, another time than now.  Credit,
the promise to savor.          Vintage credit, I think, strings of imagined
coasts, our reward for delay.  Everything stored for the future.   And
only months ago, fox maiden danced in canyon heat--glimpse of fur

and flame in the branches.    Fox on the move,       fanning the blaze
with her tail.      No plans        or energy to save.                

Clicking her teeth, the sparks fly.       A forest on fire.

ii.  a beginning

                              When counting backwards, spring birth means autumn
rutting. Auburn fur caught in barbed-wire across the fire road out to Lovers Pointe.         
            Fox barks in the canyon.
Clouds shadow the river.

So, why this remains of a central wall in such a small dwelling?  Two groups of bodies given cover for nights.   Not as solitaries, these people migrated to the rim for summer, moon shining into crevices  and gorges
known as the ancestor's land.
How many embryos floated loose inside this canyon? Androgynous shapes, organs not yet complete in the amniotic pool. A boat prepared
for each to cross the water.      
                                             The raft midway to rest upon.   And westward,
a rainbow bridge from temple to temple--Zoroaster, Shiva, and Brahma
--those red rock spires that point out the heavens.

iii.  river

female     scooped     by current and quartz.

Purple clouds       
and hawks filled with the cries of broken glass.

For those who take note and are (sinking by the minute)
passing away                  
        there is the north star to be clear about
from below.

The mind        salient and lucid           

spots the white horse in snow for what it is,  
the rooster at dawn as no other.

Point and counterpoint.     The journey.

               A song sparrow
sat beside me a moment ago, turning a cup of tea
to warm vibration.                                 Filling it.

There's little sadness when the traveler departs.
Stones are cold that circled his fire.      After all,
who was the one that said, Look at me or be done,
and stood up in the boat.

Something to consider--that pearl on the night horizon,
and how we'll not pass this way again.   

Quiet drifting river, no fingers to trail north this trip.

Clips of a life.    

And cross-eyed with prescience--double-vision of the wise--
he whispered, Let's sleep on it     and see what dreaming
             That far away from the present.      Implausible
faults,  crooked seas.              Whitewashed faces.            

Oars in an empty boat.

. . . .

vii. inquiry

Who was the uninvited guest who followed another
down, and returned?

A kept secret.

And did your finger to the lips mean hush, no words
or spoken tongues will ever capture this one?

And had Swenson expected an answer when she wrote,

how will it be to lie in the sky/without roof or door/and

the wind for an eye. . . how will I hide?


Low down and blue as the sky is up and endlessly out there,
I lie naked on my balcony in the sun. The cat purrs
beside his bowl of water, garbage truck grinding
up the mountain.

I've sewn a bluebird wing on the kite, my skirt
hemmed and folded beside me as a helicopter dips
overhead. I could be a sleeping snapshot of beauty,
each of her tasks complete.

The pyracantha hedge grows taller around me.
In mid-thought, I'm walled in and put down
for a hundred-year nap.
Breathing slows
and the house becomes transparent,
more like a vase layered with cloud.
I fade to sepia, then to the shade
that won't wear off.

That April the rock garden was my refuge. Ocean stones
I placed around the concrete garden saint that stood by a dozing,
broken-hipped deer. Reports of you came from miles away--
certificate ready concerning one no longer here.



Above strata of fossilized coral, the condor flies
as it did sixty million years ago
                                                   when no digital distancing
could make life look hazy. Should I sink farther into my bath
water or head for the canyon ledge, bloody rabbit in hand?
Full frontal-view of anthropoid time--
my snowy robe parted.


Humans wander far below as they have for the past
month, or so, focusing on the dominant range of colors
in their world.
                        Pistachio, medium rare, Pacific-fusion green,
sugar blues. Espresso mean. A boy gulps a bottle of Jolt,
then charges the ice cream stand, shrieking.


Ninety years ago my grandfather appeared to be and
was truthfully in the process of leaving the family.
He locked his front door, and was next spotted
years from there selling cars in Kansas City.
Sound of small change. Gold ring of keys,
and heavy men with soft cowhide wallets.

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