Category Archives: Poems 2022

AFTER LEONARD DURSO’S “on reading Su Tung-p’o”

April 13, 2020

                                      Never arriving, what can we understand,

                                      and always leaving, what’s left to explain?

                                                  – Su Tung-p’o  (“After T’ao Ch’ien’s ‘Drinking Wine’”)

 

Leaving only the moment, I remain in this canyon’s swirl

of loose pieces, histories before me beckon memories

and how it’s changed in my lifetime to survive the storms

of wet and dry that forsake young skeletons of hillside families

to stand among the forgotten limbs at their feet.

 

I hold this landscape’s perfect smile of emerald green

in dreams, waiting for a glimpse of her velvet face,

wild skiffs of colored flowers entwined in her hair,

amid the planet’s storms for power, day and night—

always faulty propositions for the masses.

 

As I draw closer, leaving an uphill trail of time behind,

this place I have circumnavigated since I was a child

owns me—now that its desires have become mine.

My eyes ride the ridgelines at the edges of heaven

where I will rest easily when I finally arrive.

AT SUNSET AFTER CHRISTMAS RAINS

Last flash of limbs

in a pagan dance

as shadows crawl

across the creek

to pull night’s curtain up

into the stars.

 

The canyon has come to life

with promises of spring—

birds and trees are talking

above the bulls’ primal bellowing—

tension spills with energy.

 

Shrill yips and howls

in every draw ignites

another all-night

canine celebration

to exasperate the dogs.

 

Even the old flesh perks up

with fresh strategies,

just in case the market’s up

and we get more rain—

just enough to do it over again.

THE GOOD SIGNS

There were no wild turkeys here

when we were boys—no Great Egrets either

mimicking Blue Herons

statuesque in the pasture

waiting for the earth to move

a varmint cleaning house after rain.

 

Scattered atop the ridges,

we haven’t seen the cows and calves

in weeks, the young bulls longer

through December rains.

They don’t need us now,

they don’t need hay.

 

Lifeline of the canyon, the creek

arrived on Christmas Eve

running muddy, coloring the river

with streaks of chocolate

under the new bridge

it took years to finish.

 

And when the Tule fog

leaps and claws up canyon

like a lion to wrap us in a gray

cocoon that shuts the world away,

there’s nothing to do but wait

until the sun burns it off.