Putting up a Christmas Tree

-OR-

Holidays of the Central Valley Suburbs

December fog,

Wearing, days on days,

Just holding.

.

These houses, now become exhibits,

Were never really new.

Always:

The years of potholed driveways,

Cracked pavement, a toppled fence,

And the bald tires on a car kept running

By visiting strangers,

Connections for a cousin,

From some other house unseen,

But always showing up

Just around meal time,

When a visiting uncle,

Now living out there,

Just happened to stop by.

.

The old garage in the backyard,

Everyone’s secret,

That decisionless haunt

Of misshapen mornings strewn about

Turning, in some methodical, timed way

To frustrated, wrenching afternoons,

And, finally, the long soft evenings,

If the drugs don’t turn weak

Or disappear.

.

All at once,

Spooled backwards, knotted, hungry

And free.

.

Kids would throw walnuts at passing cars.

And regret the open window

Yet appreciating the relief

Of an angry knock:

A chance at never again.

.

They wanted to pin us to the growth trajectory,

Instead of the stagnant complacency

Where we could just languish,

In the short, dark days.

Made easier,

In the the dim, grey lights,

Between holidays always celebrated,

Always.

Sketching the Klamath in November

The River is now a great bridge:

The one constant stretching morning

Across the entire day

All the while folding it,

Neatly

Gently,

Back into night.

.

In between:

Freshly poured green water,

Water of life,

Calling water.

Water that hides things

And

rarely reveals them.

.

Even the rocks revel in their newfound tones

Shining on their neighbors with the latest

Deepest

Hue of translucent

stained

Distant

blue.

.

Born of morning,

All the shadowed eddys,

Boxes,

And dark watching spots,

curiously,

Slowly,

Lengthen day’s best work,

In their icy stillness.

.

Dinner is jars of old elderberries,

And struggling greens, lost

Between the miseries of heat

And bugs and thirst

nearly quenched,

While seeing the path ahead,

Pitted, dense,

Still tough..

To where winter will set stride.

.

Cravings of sweets

in the soft, cloying dampness.

Chilled, but

cleansing.

All this:

From vistas of feet

on velvet landscapes,

To the endless jostlings,

Riding across this great bridge.

Sketch from the Orchard

As leaves loose summer’s grasp

They become ghostly ballerinas of the still air,

Glistening,

On the annual pilgrimage to winter’s soft cradle.

.

Morning here lingers well into the afternoon

And shadows replace light

As the preferred method of telling time.

.

Soon, the first winds will stir,

And the old days will be back,

If just for a moment.

Day Three at the Astronomy Office

The dense moments:

A perched and waiting infinity

like the slow approach

Of a December storm.

This will give way

To clusters of days

Grouping themselves into months and

somewhere listed in years and futility.

Some of these more relevant than others.

All this in hindsight, of course.

But all of them eventually get listed equally

Despite their distance from now,

And the patterns to deceive.

.

Maybe all these places and spaces are appropriately

Filed as leaves falling from trees,

As they play the light floating down,

Ghostly ballerinas of the wooded air.

Each one it’s own scratchy day

Wringing the counting out of us,

Collecting in the patches of light

And shadow.

.

Of course,

Back at the office,

all this started during the pragmatic era,

Which preceded the declining epoch,

Where the rusted pot of drought

Boiled dry, until the metal turned glowing blue

And this time of light appeared as some

Barefoot church-goer:

Enthralled and enthused,

Ready to shake, but still too worn and stiff

To let fall the remaining leaves.

Day Two at the Astronomy Office

Not sure where this experimental astronomy series is going quite yet but wanted to move it here to keep tugging at it…

The eyes of a fish tell all:

Where time is patient and easy,

Measured in long, deep stories,

And every truth,

No matter how awkward,

And probably still unsettling,

Swirls into some great closure

Not yet arrived.

.

Take, for instance,

The hotel lobby:

Shuffling lights of the metropolis,

Hub of travel,

And humanity lost touch with real places,

Like the warm sunshine of its own design.

.

Here, chances not taken

In the tenor of youth

When confidence was still seeded

Under unbroken earth,

Not yet turned to flowers.

And the wilted regrets that often follow.

But that’s time’s story to tell,

Obviously.

.

Outside:

The city,

Painted from afar,

In hard grays,

And street level stains,

Where the lives behind a million drawn blinds

Are scarce and fleeting imaginations:

At least that’s what the eyes might tell,

And the awkward split-second lifetime shudder,

That ensues with a glance,

On another Saturday night.

.

Shared purposes?

Or….

Different and far?

None of it really,

They will be quick to tell,

Not here,

Before I dare look again,

And see the stars so clearly.

Teenage thrills

When postcards were written in the sky

And notes were exchanged in practiced banter

Maybe.

Whatever the case,

The drive was always on landscapes

And shaped by weather.

Fabulous letters spelling places loomed large

Across that endless Flat valley.

Where vacations were taken past the edge,

And the familiar was repeated

every thirty-some miles.

Experiments at the Astronomy Office

Fortitude, perseverance, and integrity

Tedious shades of blue,

Like car commercials

Pushing stately,

Always on sale.

Perhaps a subtle gesture,

Books, papers and the undone

Stacked, scattered and up front.

Or swept aside.

Or the noises cast

By trains passing,

While avoiding the other side

Temples of drudgery

Examples from the inspired,

All the same,

In these tiny worlds

Endlessly turning.

Journey to the Rain Latitudes

The pink clouds are a surprise.

A glowing refreshment,

Then a long exhale

Of a wearied man having trudged so long

Through dust,

Succumbed to the dull stone,

Scraped in thorns,

Pasted in stickery sweat,

To a vista:

visited before,

Briefly.

.

The slow release into newness,

And old places returning.

.

This thirst will not go,

It’s scratching, clawing,

Snatching nights,

And holding fast in the haze of dawn.

.

Give me the sweet smells of loam,

And damp leaves.

Passing edens

Languishing

In the softness of decay.

.

My long exhale,

Reprieves from these gasping anxieties,

Before I sit and listen,

To the sharpening air,

As the first water

Falls on the dry grass.

Anniversaries

And Summer’s Dwelling.

Now:

The soft urgency of evening comes as a call of light.

Light in windows,

And the closing edge of shadows,

Where far off night calls for tomorrow’s respite.

The last places fold themselves into corners,

Where sounds hide,

Descending,

Slipping into a quickening stop now,

While yielding to the hills beyond

Staring down at our polka dot splendor,

While they wait their turn.

.

Now, the calendar gets marked,

Not in numbers and squares,

But in these lines,

Those corners,

And the rough shapes of passed time.

.

Now I remember this path,

Where it led,

How it was worn somewhat,

But tread in new shoes,

At a steady pace,

To the whims of clarity,

And the luxuries delivered

From the old shadows

Lurking all the while

Among the familiar.

Ancestral Valleys

Ancestral Valley

Scales across piano keys

Playing brisk,

With rising hills

Hiding their own verses

from the broad, watery grasslands

Where the deep ebb and flow of tides

And storms

And winds

And floods

And in the great dryness

Things move

In a time not meant for lingering,

Things pass

And begins the vast wait for new:

A return to the gently rocking cradle.