Friday, February 13, 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

The imagery is violent, but  necessarily so, as it describes a time when light must find us  because we cannot find it.

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

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