Tag Archives: time

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.




I study rock landmarks,
look for tracks
to see if they have moved.

The pipe gate swells
in the heat. Now only
swings but one way.

Resident ground squirrels
and immigrant ring-neck doves
share the dogs’ food.

On brutal days
over 110°—
there are no rules.

Like Dali’s clocks,
time is part of the landscape,
like it or not.




photo: Bodhi Rouse

photo: Bodhi Rouse


Never figured on a sunset,
children, grandchildren around
a smoky Live Oak fire,
the SoCal storm bleeding north

                    above a frost-bitten garden—
                    dry stem tomatoes
                    and peppers hanging
                    like ornamental gifts
                    for Christmas.

I thought I escaped California in 1970
to ride back through time, didn’t think
I’d camp in one place this long.

Never figured on iPhone photos,
satellite dish for shade—
or planning for a future
that depends on water
and obsolescence.






Long stiff with the sweat of years,
I see myself beneath its dust, retired
from the common ignorance of haste.

All the timed events, all the wild cattle
made by the chase are scars etched
in fragile leather, some in my brain

as sweet memories of riding high,
shoulder to shoulder in the gather
of good men shaped by this landscape

that will outlast us in the end. Too soon
old, they say, too late wise, I could
always have taken better care of time,

thrown away the watches and clocks
and invested it in the real observation
of other living things—even the smallest

of which has a mission to teach us
the hard way. And what I fail to see—
this slow creak of bones will illuminate.






With crystal clarity, stars throb
before the storm moves in at dawn,
black air clean clear to infinity,

leaky bucket worlds peeking-in
the window as I wake from sleep—
another promised day of needed rain.

Once, we took the day off,
went to town, visited neighbors,
congratulated nature for the extra holiday.

A machine takes messages
from a nine-to-five real-world
ordered to make hay on rainy days—

and I listen, hoping no one wants me
but time, time to ride the prolonged rage
of a loud and sudden thunderstorm.






Yearning is an easy look
backwards, a slow-moving canvas
colored to taste, shaded by habit.

Our war whoops but echoes
fading in canyons on trails of broken
brush long-overgrown, mocking

our wild-eyed blindness
since sharpened and tempered
by scars upon scars and time.

Now is the moment we begin
to be all we can—to revel
in its rich accomplishment.






No ceremony, no celebration
when we arrive, when we allow
the shroud of time to embrace

all fears and then dispel them.
We hang on the edge, hold
each breath until the next

turn of the sun. How could we
have known such peace exists
when we were chasing rabbits

for the sport of it, wasting time?
Ask the old dog in the shade
if he is satisfied with his magnificent

dreams, with his clever editing
now that he knows he’ll never return.
Who would we be without them?






Early yet in an early spring,
growing patches, orange-gold,
claim open slopes like flames,

Fiddleneck between gray skeletons
of Blue Oaks pushing bud,
feathery translucent leaves

where the gods walk ridges,
wave hands to paint,
adding color to hillside green

we’ve not seen tall in years.
Out of dust and naked dirt,
new mosaics, lush with moments,

openings for everything put off
in drouth—real work we absorb,
take our sweet time to recognize.



WPC(2) — “Orange”



December 28, 2013

December 28, 2013


Shedding a few leaves early, the sycamores
have begun to turn, quit taking water,
teasing me with peeks of more alabaster flesh

at a distance—first moves before the sway
of winter’s naked dance along the creek—
sandy cobbles like rafts of human skulls now.

On my morning circle of first-calf mothers,
I check the spots where water rises first
behind the granite dikes beneath damp sand

and short-cropped green as if I might
hurry time, escape into the future cool and wet
and wait like a rabbit for tortoise to catch up.






Mid-San Joaquin summer,
you can set your watch
by cows coming off the pasture

to Valley Oaks at seven-thirty—
back out into the blazing sun
by noon, breezes off the green.

Not one gossipy complaint
among them, chewing cuds,
relishing the timeless shade.