Category Archives: Poems 2020

IF ROCKS COULD TALK

 

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                     The old granite stones, those are my people;
                     Hard heads and stiff wits but faithful, not fools, not chatterers;
                     And the place where they stand today they will stand also                            tomorrow.

                                 – Robinson Jeffers (“The Old Stonemason”)

Some like headstones thrust into the earth,
or weather-carved phallic outposts
natives knew by name, those are my people,
my landmarks nodding now as I pass.

They have grown cold and taken shape
from the fires of molten violence—
cracked and fractured piles, wisdom
scattered in the grip of gravity at rest

to hum as homes for rodents and reptiles,
a tunneled settling of colonies to feed
a wilder world. Some pulse with life,
dress with thick green moss, after rain.

But those tattooed with colored lichen
first draw the eye to unravel art,
question what they seem to say—
all good listeners, patient to a fault.

 

TRAPPED

 

 

I once dreamed I might have been
a mountain man in another life,
trapped cats and coyotes

instead of beaver—
learned to view the world
through untamed eyes

assessing sign as I became
the prize and placed my twigs
and scents accordingly.

               I sifted dirt
               to hide the jaws
               while writing poetry:

bird-wing fluttering
from a fishing filament
still fascinates me.

 

CHINESE POETRY

 

 

                              nothing left but a river flowing on the borders of heaven
                                             – Li Po (“On Yellow-Crane Tower, Farewell to
                                                  Meng Hao-jan Who’s Leaving for Yang-chou”)

A Chinese boat-float
like a leaf among starlit mists
would sell like hotcakes
for those with time and self-respect
                                                            nowadays—
an ascension yet from the page,
                    from discord and dissension,
and damn-near free.

 

OVERDOSE

 

 

There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
waiting
                    after the patches, gum
                    and incessant vaping,

                    the midnight bellyache
                    and rattly ambulance ride
                    to a chair in Emergency

                    visited by young, head-scratching
                    teams practicing medicine
                    by consensus

                                        find nothing wrong
                                        and send me home—

                    and the second ride
                    two days later
                    across the parking lot
                    from the Doctor’s office.

There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
waiting
                    after Sepsis
                    and the gut-wrenching antibiotics
                    and mind-bending pain
                    medications:

                    I build loops in my sleep
                    and shoot bighorn sheep
                    from my hospital bed.

There is a hidden pack of cigarettes
waiting
                    six months later
                    after the surgeon tells me
                    what I cannot eat

                    or drink—after we agree
                    to wait a little longer.