Saturday, July 11, 2015



Now, back into the current flowing past this quiet room, back to the
leaving road. A taxi stops in the middle of the street. I throw in my bag
and go. He drives to a market where I board a bus which moves out to a
road edged by trash, blooming fence posts and occasional makeshift cafes
and crowded with cars, food carts, trucks, bicycles, buses, chickens, people,
starving dogs and overloaded tilting wagons pulled by dying horses… and all
moving down the smelly gray river, a hydra-headed body decorated with scars
and symbols… moving... always in the same direction... Chinandega... hottest
city in Nicaragua... Chinandega... where the hen and rooster lie shackled together
by the feet of three women sitting at table in the middle of the road. Chinandega...
where life is how they keep the meat fresh until it's time to eat.

Nicaragua, 2008

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Ontology of Clouds

Ontology of Clouds

A thrown stone finds its resting place
within the grass
the egg 
more than a tombstone
must shatter first into light

in the brutal night
on the back side of light
what is born must devour itself
in order to survive
this mirage
this promise and threat
like the egg
must be shattered

the dandelion lanterns
along the path 
soon blown out
are not a loss
no seed is a loss

for being born I inherited
a terrible darkness
but in the green light
of my first summers
seeing the wild mass of morning glories
swarming secretly over overlooked places
I knew all that was a lie

when the spirit is wounded
and the wound is deep
be gentle

in this ache
this flare of dying light
again and again
we risk everything
salt stained clouds
foam up the sky
it is on an afternoon like this
we will begin again
with nothing

Ashland, Oregon - 1987

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Water Brother

Water Brother

When I see the brown hills lying
coldly in the sly distance
and the clouds     having lost their ocean
looking for a place to weep
and the crystal drop on the still leaf tip
I remember the angels
   perfumed and ancient as midnight
   new as silver of the waxing moon
who spoke to me of death.

At dawn I went to the hill that sleeps
and called their names
loudly     louder and louder
until even the snakes in their dens
then softly I called them
quietly whispering each name
until there was no sound at all
but the tolling of a distant bell.....

It was then they came
sursum corda
scratching the sky
reaching through the eternal blue dream with their talons
clawing long blazing marks in the wind
and in that moment,
sweet inconsolable lover,  water brother,
one     mad     despised flower
with no petals at all/with translucent petals
growing beneath the bridge/beneath the fig tree
laughing to itself
bird on the morning breeze
empty of everything but light

Ashland, Oregon - 1984

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Spirit Barrier

Spirit Barrier

I remember it all
the human flood
the empty chair
the calf crying
before a growling wind
lost histories leaking
through the spirit barrier
a delta of pain
draining into
a bayou of suffering.

I awake beneath
the magpie's beak
see it reach
for my eye
see the world
turn red and black
and white and fade.
This is not death
these quills
brushing against my breast.
I am smudged and washed
and swaddled
in the stiffening sheen
of my own blood
and readied for flight.

Spring, 2004

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice

It has always been spoken of
as the grave and womb of light
this most brief day
this deepest midnight
stiffened with ice and silence.

It is crucial now that there be
harbors and pools and islands
of light

and it is necessary
that there be song
for the dead are everywhere
stricken with grief
wandering among the birds of winter

but with song they may be comforted
and Love, on this longest of nights,
requires the giving of a gift.

I wrote this poem as poet-in-residence at Actor's Theatre in Ashland Oregon, at the request of the Director, Michael O'Rourke, and added the graphic later as the two seemed particularly suited to one another. It's based on a photo I took of a full moon rising over a wash (small canyon) in the mountains of northern Nevada. It was a ridiculously difficult place to get to, Unfortunately, after a few unusually wet springs and flash flooding, I doubt access to this magical place even exists anymore.

Monday, August 04, 2014



I have been up all night
writing and re-writing
watching the stars
tick across the sky.
Around midnight
the Big Dipper is just
beyond my window.
By 3 am only stars.
No names.
Then in the hush
just before dawn
when time slows
nearly to a stop I see
my grandmother’s dog
the one she made live outside
that entire North Dakota winter
his pleading, cold-crazed eyes
a sad, two-star constellation.
They shot him in the spring.

The sun doesn't rise.
The world falls face first
into its light
finds its mark
resumes the
fiction of the day.

With regret I sense
before I can see
the Holy Dark
dissolve into grainy
morning. Here and there
a bird stirs in its quills.
Before long
they are on the roof
rattling the gutters
pecking at the tiles.
One of these days
they will pull
the house beam out
and the whole thing
will fall down.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

La Pared

La Pared

They are not gone, they
are gone home past bricks
lost beneath plaster, beneath
paint, posters, handbills
fragile as snakeskin abandoned
to the sun and wind, past the
stenciled telephone and
"Jesús, el teléfono del diablo",
a face, "Mexico, poco real",
and startled black figures
suspended in a running
tumble, past creeping vines
turning what was once a wall
into a crumbling spine
blackened by the repeating,
always humid afternoon.

When the day is done I
open my window to the street
stir my brush into the sleeping
paint and begin again.

Mexico, 2004

Sunday, July 27, 2014



I am working my way back, practicing speech,
re-learning the language spoken at the bottom
of the world, where the hair is.

I am threading my way back through the complicated
rain where the words were. They do not want you
to read this.

I am learning your language, working my way
back to our last common ancestor enrapt by
blue black dawn.

She is the moon traveling at the edge and words spoken
from dream. Listen. I am re-learning our language.
These are the words they do not want

us to speak, this silence breaking. The river has brought
us together, this moment taking shape within us
and, all this time,

me lying dead in the ground and you looking everywhere
to find the stone that has not moved among trees
willy nilly where their seeds fell.

Nevada, 2004

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Seattle, 1979 –  On the occasion of my mother’s death

Touched by your eyes, I quake. Whatever is good has ceased to flow. I throw the poison mirror away. The walls close towards center. Barely room to breathe.

Morning comes and again I resolve to survive the day, overcome this. We had planned to do that. Times have been better. My flesh hurts. I plunge back into sleep.

But the urge comes again, jarring open my eyes. You aren't here. What am I creating here? Or am I just re-living-re-living-re-living the worst old outcomes? There was a truth here somewhere. Sinking, my thoughts become seeds seeking the comfort of dark. Memories are of no value. Where I am now I am safe, between everything, away and alone under a high cloud sky.

In this inner world of the closed flower there is a moment’s rest. The wind and tide erase all. I do not speak the language here. It is a comfort. I communicate through half tones, faint smiles. Outside the petals, rain and finally a clear sky and distant mountains asleep under their snow. Having held back too long, I do not cry. We bend or break. Now I lay me down to sleep. The rain drenched petals creak. I am lowered into the storm, small boat, small wings, to try the sea.