Syncopated Summer


The perched hummingbird scratches with his fine toe

A spot just above his eye; turn of the head: Ah. Just so.

Then off to crush his enemy, that other hummer,

And knock a nuthatch off a branch for good measure.

In a swift turn of events, a fig beetle wins the battle

Over the mulch for a burrow, while the kangaroo paw

Decides to continue blooming indefinitely, impossibly.

A young crow wags the power line like a jump rope—-rough

Landing—-and two lemon-yellow butterflies joust over

Said kangaroo paw (pink), presumably in dispute for

The right to make more lemon-yellow butterflies.

The red squirrels can’t decide who rules the coral tree.

Barbaric, yes: All this going in wakes and wakes of tragedies,

So many tiny victories, defeats. Struggle itself, a matter of scale.

First, Fall

The starlings vanished. They were there,

Poking through the grass blades, with forward-

Back-darting beaks—then: Gone. Now gray

And brown juncos have taken their place.

Black-purple silver sheen blossoms fill the air

With sweetness at night, so dark and so small

They go unseen until they fall, dot the walk.

The red of the pomegranate bloom turns

Inward, becomes the red of the fruit; different

Reds turning. When the wind shifts to the south,

It has the sea in it, a softer sound

Than this, and sometimes brings rain, just in time.

The world, it glistens and creates, it burns

And changes, transitions: All things, they rise.


Waiting for Rain at the Water's Edge


The sea-colored sky makes the sky-colored sea:

Storm moves in, all sliding clouds and strange

Changes in the pressure of the air. Ahead of it,

The gulls run, wheel and disappear; the sand

Prepares to receive. Inland, sagebrush and

Buckwheat await—they will bloom overnight;

The thin, seeming-dead twig will shoot out

Both leaf and blossom in response. Now,

Everything—there, here—is paused, hushed,

Inward-turning: A kind of unity; for when

It comes, all shapes will shift and make,

Build and breed, after the first rain of Spring.

Always, after the first rain of Spring, all

Things become—-again-—the thing New.

Tempus Fugit


The unseen air passing through the fingers

As they work—-the act of holding a pen,

Of opening a door, waving goodbye:

The moments most free, you are acting

Without thinking /

                    Almost touching it. . .Then:

The terrible moment, when you know it,

Then you are knowing it:  All the time, the time

Was there, passing like the air around

Your passing through it while you were

Holding the pen, closing the door, waving.


The Wave on the Horizon, Venice Beach


The sad, slow-moving shape of a sailboat

Traces the horizon line. Voices lost

In the wave-chorus. Shape of the line-up

Echoes the reef: Wetsuitted surfers sit

In rock patterns, pushing at the ocean.

A brave little sandpiper scouts around

The tourists’ feet, legs moving faster

Than the eye can follow—--if it cared

To follow. The January sun turns waves

To pewter as the tide turns, returns;

Somewhere, the moon waxes while the gulls’

Shadows slide effortlessly over the sand.



Knowing that it’s an illusion doesn’t

Make the horizon line less real—-Here,

Where the ocean may pitch up white and slap

The shore, there it begins, where an indifferent-

Colored sky meets a tangible blue: That

Line is a surface. Reach out your hand, meet

A place at its conclusion. Debris left

Behind: A feather. A rock. A sand-brown leaf.


The space in sound just after the line breaks


And a new one is begun. . .


The Last Pomegranate

Ripened most perfect, it snapped off the branch

As if it had been waiting for your hand,

Releasing the tree at last (the last fruit)

To drop its leaves and sleep. So there it sits,

Six months of branch to blossom to bee to

An odd, rounded five-sided red puzzle

Of a thing. The squirrel that got the second-

To-last sits on his haunches peeling and

Nibbling like a prince, all pink-stained cheek fur

And busy paws.

                Eat the fruit with wildness,

Because the world has worked millenniums

To hand you this perfect thing, and you took

The last pomegranate because the tree

Offered it, finding at last a thing complete.

November Webs

They lattice the house in thin white lines

And glisten on the windows in the early sun,

Origins and endings unknown, traveled

Threads that track the paths of their creators

Long gone. . .Or sometimes not: A wolf

Spider spins still, there on the west wall,

Sending itself before it, making its way.

Encased in those webs, this maker sits

Safely watching its passage, a fellow hunter

In the middle of many lines—-Accomplished,

Floating anchorless in the air; or intended,

Deep in the making; or still to be, even

The possibility of the next November unseen.

The Purpose of the Wave


Between the sets of them—-of three, or six,

Or more (they go uncounted)—-the salt foam

Paints baroque patterns on the surface

Of the Pacific. The paler light of a golden

Autumn tints the bubbles as they shift, pop:

Each lull, a new brief masterpiece of air;

Each wave, destroying the thing it creates.


Lines and Waves


Beyond the hash of power lines, the heat

Wave arranges the clouds like ridges of sand:

It’s agave weather, the heavy days before

The equinox, the pale low-slung sun raking

Light across the skin of the Earth and drawing

Long shadows. There’s a reason for it, you believe—

For the limping, dusty departure of Summer

And the swing of the light around the house,

For departure and return. When will we see

That face again? The same sun will shine

On different skin when you next find it

In that particular spot of September sky,

And who knows who will see it there,

Through the slashes of power lines, beyond.



Leaves Like Mountaintops


The red tips of the new leaves, mountaintops

At sunset. Each new layer of lost leaves

Feeds those tips as they turn a summer green,

Like old words of poets to new words of now—-

The present eats the past, an infinite

Feast; the leaves feed the soil, an infinite fast.