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

Monday, July 28, 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 universal common ancestor
enrapt by blue black dawn.

She is the moon we see 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
reverting to the mean. The lost river
has brought us together, this moment
taking shape within us.

And all this time, her lying dead in the
ground and me looking everywhere
to find the stone that has not moved
and trees willy nilly where their seeds fell.

Nevada, 2004

Tuesday, July 22, 2014



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 the 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 snow capped mountains. 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.

Seattle – On the occasion of my mother’s death

Monday, June 02, 2014



To the disembodied
painted faces of the inner air
the stone voice speaks
the whorls upon waking weep
the swamp of singing reeds
the growing world
turns to listen.

Time. white faced,
delirious with eternity
sleeps on.
There is no answer.
In the winter sun
birds are thinking.
They do not reply.
It is noon at my place on earth.
I have returned
from a long journey.
I have changed.
The end
and the beginning
stir and separate my thoughts.          

Ashland, OR 1988

Friday, May 30, 2014

Communiqué 3

Communiqué 3

I am writing
this in the
dark, fingers dipped
in ink, ushering
each reluctant word
to its place
upon the page,
the invisible theatre.
It is risky
business. Spies and
traitors everywhere, slavery
and broken minds.
But these are
strong old friends.
Old as war.

- excerpt from Unfinished Draft

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Three lines

Three Lines
For my brother

The wind is collecting the
dead. “Tell them about us",
they whisper as they pass.

Seattle, 1984

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Life at the top of the stairs

Life at the top of the stairs


Having to be somewhere
I found myself living
on the landing at the top of the stairs.
A thousand times a thousand times
I finished in my mind

the unfinished painting
leaning against the wall.
The eight-legged one,
tiny Protectorate of the Shadows
and her eggs, she alone knows

the rest of the story, the window,
the comatose trees,
the fog drenched night and
all the sad creatures and
voices caught in the scaffolding.

excerpt from Book of Images

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Yellow Shoes

Yellow Shoes
for Lawson Inada

When I had feet me shoes were yellow
ah yellow as pollen they were
bright as lemons
bright as me lad's smile
bold as his laugh
an oh how I danced in me shoes
all night
a swarm a bees
drunk from the flowers
sportin their yellow pants an boots
knew not as many turns as me lad an me
not haf as many

an when
in the slow river
a bare foot we went a wadin
me lad an me
an bare we were from toe to head
a hand an hand
me yellow shoes was glad to wait
all hodgepodge with his
for shoes has no need a feet
though feet has a need a them
but now
old as I be
I has no need a shoes
not yellow 
not brown
but glad I am
glad as I was when I was a lass
for I got me me lad
an I rather him than me feet.

Ashland, OR 1988

Thursday, March 06, 2014



When I was a girl
and hungry for pleasure
with feathers in my hair
and bells on my feet
a wild unpruned thing
a child on the run
feasting on the sweets
and bitters of love
on the full gush of all things
in a swarm of musics
and carelessly carefree
rising and falling  
on each tide swimming
a slave to the moon
with a barefoot heart dancing
to the flute of my own god
I spilled blossom after blossom
to the wind with no regard
being full of my season
and the aphrodisiac perfumes
on which I fed
lips red   
voice thick from singing
eyes heavy from wooing
until I delivered the fruit of the union
until I became
with the pain and the growing
the reaping and sowing
a woman.

Ashland, OR 1984

Friday, February 07, 2014

Saturday Night

Saturday Night
for John Chance, June 9, 1934 - February 1, 1992

Before the final breath and night
swallowed the glow above the hill
and in the eye
before the bloodsplash of light
pulsing with unborn and terrifying thoughts
was stilled in the gently falling hush
world to world of the quietest breath
and the last petal of a most beautiful flower fell
into the quick black stream of death
fell down and forever from view
know this darkness that settled
this disappearing act forever playing out
within the world, this knife
around which the wound dried
was delivered by angels.

You were a splash of light
between two worlds
grooving, ransacking visions
till kingdom came
singing till you shattered
ravaged by innocence.

You were a dying man
hungry for the company
of rain soaked pines
a downed bird whose fierce eye
grew dim in the cage by the door.

Holy Mary, mother of god
you were a curly-headed boy
stealing to the lake for an evening swim.

Pray for us sinner
stealing back to the lake for an evening swim
stealing back to lost summer.

Pray for us now, at the hour of our death
as I kiss your wax brow
at the door that is always locked.

Ashland, Oregon 1992

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Between Us

if the blood red rose
blooms white some spring
lighting its obscure
part of the night

a small perfumed moon
nestled among its thorns
who would protest this miracle?
I tremble before love’s simplicity

oh bittersweet surrender
oh ever sweetening trust
even death is turned
inside out
let it pass through me 
love’s terrifying light
should I become ash
it will be enough

Ashland, OR 1990

Augury for the Child

Augury for the Child
For all my children

Even as a child I knew
I could possess nothing
so I renounced everything
but childhood itself

And as a child I knew
knowledge could not
be enough that only
a homing instinct
would be much use
after all

So abundant
are the moments of truth
diamond drops cupped
in the uncountable
small green hands
of morning
even now
I do not wish
to turn back from love

Knowing I will forget
again and again
how to laugh
and how to cry
and what you mean to me
and knowing
that each moment of love
finally presses its body in wet
fallen fragrant petals
against the stone to dry
I must welcome strangers
and imperfections

I have seen hope
like spring return again
and again
and the sleek and shiny
lights of rain
dancing everywhere

Even now
it is wise to trust.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

After Death

After Death

As moon hidden by morning
as water enters earth
as the blossom’s beauty quivers
falling from the fruit within
as night   embrace    effaces   erases   light
and light
being diminished or absent
speaks in dream
I went to the river saying,
here are my voices.
Return them to the sea.

after death ..
I entered River’s mind
and River’s song
which fills the twilight
replaced the sun.

after death ..
seeing through River’s eye
knowing night by many names
I journeyed far to reach and kiss
the pulse of earth and sea.

returning ..
new mind
a spring rain
slowly descending black bark trees

returning ..
young among the old
new moon asleep on the sea.

returning ..
I moor my ship
upon the wind’s voice.

Little Butte Ranch - Oregon, 1981

Friday, August 16, 2013



the key sent forward
a little boat
disappearing into fog
in order to grow
we must shed certain assumptions

behind the green leaves that always
face the light
behind the tombstone
and its long, narrow shadow
(which is a road)
the ashes of my old life
spin in silence eddies

the footprints are also mine
from this spot
I dragged the bone boat
to water
I am fed up with death


Ashland Oregon, 1988

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Music Theory

Music Theory
for John Chance

In the beginning was theory and the theory was made flesh so that we could find our way home. I walk slowly through the points of rain.

In the beginning was sound and it was everything, against all odds. In the meantime the bald bus driver has eaten his apple to the core and re-boarded the bus. His hand resting on the fare box, we start out again into traffic.

“Never was there a time you and I did not exist, Arjuna.” I am a ball of wings rolling toward you. Theory become flesh. The music is in the gaps.

I enter the lobby. "I have come to see my uncle," I say. "Where will you be waiting?" queries the lady from the glass cage. "The waiting room", I reply. She will not meet my eye. I am announced through the seven miles of hallways.

He appears, hollow and weary on his cane. It is not a walking stick to navigate the world of the living. It is his handrail to the grave.

He is an unanswered question. We step out into the mist and stop. I watch him openly, as one watches a child, the insane, or the dead. “Listen to the trees,” he says, rolling his eyes up and back. “It is good to be alive; to share a little company now and then.”

Nevada, August 2005

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Contact Language

Contact Language

the inky   
spindly cities
are in ruins
alphabets adrift
reconstruction impossible
the land is without refuge
a diameter without dimension
echo answering echo
emptiness consoling emptiness

I am writing you
from a crumbling church where
in its thick-rooted dark
I found a few others
by their heavy breath
snorts, sighs and whispered speech
and one by the drifting refrains
of her off-key devotions

otherwise only the rain
is true to itself

it has also taken shelter here
just inside the door

where an old man
hesitates between worlds
gulping like a fish


on the brown-frocked monk
watching us
rebar poking through
his scotch-taped hand.

Oaxaca, Mexico 2005
excerpt from Book of Images

Monday, June 17, 2013



there is a sadness
standing before light
clouds know it
stepping out
into the air

and great storms
born of upper
unseen winds
know it
to the edge of light
and for all its
is still
an uncored flute
through which
the disturbing
winds of heaven
cannot blow

there is a gap
nothing can fill
born of what
can never be

there is a yearning
stepping out into mystery
lovers know it
calling one to the other
the Unknowable
answers back
their hearts
with unthinkable

Ashland Oregon, 1988
Written for Actor's Theatre production of Amadeus

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Blue Period

Blue Period

I painted a moon to look at
and gave it a wild sky to rule
then I sat down to listen
to the night blooming flowers open
rhythm upon rhythm

I painted a blackness to sleep in
and forgot myself
among the
layers of easy paint

I painted an empty room for clouds to fly over
I painted a silence and fell to dreaming....

Ashland, Oregon 1987

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


    New York City

    By the sun I know the stairs from the street
    face north. I go up, mote rising through slanted
    light, through the door that locks the City out
    into the darksome hush. I do not disturb the pods
    each tethered to their different zero points. I go up

    one flight, then two. Here the path turns east
    then south again from the old Hasidic fellow's
    room with blackout curtains who sits, white beard
    guarding his chest, at his table reading scripture
    by candlelight in the afternoon; past the bath,

    toward the kitchen at the end of the hall. Then
    halfway down I stop, turn west, insert a key into
    the lock and open the door to my room. Window
    facing North Dakota a hundred years ago. Single
    bed in the south and east corner. Table and chair at

    the foot. I sit to write then instead lower my head
    and stretch across the cool green formica. In the
    whereabouts, bed spring frenzy, thumps and growls,
    startle then succumb to silence. My right hand
    makes its way over to smooth the hair from my face.

    The other remains on the edge, absorbing the petulant
    reds. We are bound by a mutual debt, these hands
    and I. They are here with me now, inexplicable portend,
    old friends tracing the cyan forms hovering between
    us, past and future working out the difference.