The Topography of Rain (a rewrite)

These are songs we rehearse

Only to ourselves.
Feigning patience,
In the thick stagnation
When the wind fell away,
And the sun is all that is left.
.
This time of smoke
And old valleys
Sitting low, in their once verdant chairs,
Bosomy ranges now creaking, tight,
Under their own thirsty landscapes.
.
In this time of waiting,

Rhythms are scribbled across a dry creek bed:
Brittle choirs of sand and pebble,

Playing to a listless audience,

Muted in dust.

How the Rain Might Visit

These are songs we dare speak

Only to ourselves

While we wait

Patiently

Through the thick stagnation

We encounter somewhere

Between summer and fall

When the wind falls away,

And the sun is all that is left.

.

This time of smoke

And old valleys

Sitting low, in their once easy chairs

Of coastal ranges gone tight

And creaking

Under their own thirsty landscapes.

.

You can just about hear the memories:

Water-worn tales amidst the dust and rounded gravels,

Once verdant glee,

All gone brittle,

In this time of waiting.

The Solstice Snare

Even now, A thin glow hovers over summer’s dying sky.

The clock chimes ten,

the pull is there:

tomorrow will be imperceptibly earlier than today

And the next day will check out just a wee bit sooner.

And so on.

We said our last goodbyes sometime the evening of June 26:

the latest sunset of the year.

It didn’t pass off in fireworks and cheers. In truth, the night before seemed grander: an open sky, first stars, and night herons,

Squawking from the inky darkness painted in twilight’s corners.

Sunset was a scant few seconds earlier that night.

With no hint of the big swing into winter commencing two days later.

.

But I digress,

It all began on June 14th,

When the sun broke the horizon at its earliest point.

Celebrations began,

As the coastal fog had not shown that night,

And birds sang loud, in a pre-dawn clamor,

Along with a rooster

Still in its coop.

.

Those 12 days of summer’s solstice,

Perhaps more magical in memories

Now that they are slipping away.

In the subtle agony of my machined throes:

hold on, rewind, see it again,

Like I missed something the first time through.

Like last year,

And the year before that.

And so on.

.

Now mid-July

This slow fall long resumed. Gently pulled.

Through the staleness of what summer will become

Into the honeyed glory of Autumn, and winter,

Days gone meek,

Where mornings struggle just to raise a voice,

Resigned to a short, hopeless bridge between nights.

.

Forget that we should hold these times.

Turn, instead, so that we might fly on golden wings,

Sparkling eyes,

Above this great turning wheel.

Trailer in the High Desert

The great blue sky, expansive here

Like nowhere.

Billowing clouds, travelers,

Shake yellow flowers,

And comb green grass

Across bosomy hills.

.

Silence will not fall here,

Held back,

Until summer evenings,

When this landscape sparkles in memories.

.

The road here,

Part gravel and slop and long,

Gives way to the people:

An elderly couple,

Easy and rehearsed in their manners,

Anchored by a faded travel trailer,

Rounded and rehearsed in its place,

Matched by cows and sagebrush

in this brief, bright visit

To the thread of a stream,

Where small fish still hold,

Messengers from other times.

On the Death of a Friend


A telephone call
Is marked by the fearful urgency
That death will bring.
Suddenly,
We don’t have the practiced luxury
Of coming together for a last time.

But you will bring this great pause to us,
Moments of bird songs
And moving water.
Inward, I can see years as spaces,
Filled with people, moments, and habits,
And maybe, in this, Grace:
Saving us from the curse of time.

And now our words,
Wrapped in a fearful gauze of hope
That there is some neat way
To package it all up
Send you on,
Send me on.

These are the useless words,
The real words were then,
Filling all those spaces.
Now, we can only unwind something in us,
Take pause,
In this calloused space of no stories.

There is no book sitting on a table,
Waiting to be read.

And neither of us cared to anyhow.

We would be careful
not to reflect and linger
too long.

In the fleeting grasp,
Of those struggling moments,
that precede absence,
How I will remember our speechless last words.
Only in,
“I love you”
Is there summary
Of time’s wrenching hands.

Despite our rehearsals,
We are not so good
At allowing death
To be the one fluid motion it longs to be.

I love you too, Paul.

Apricot Afternoons in the Central Valley

In a summertime kitchen,

The hissing whisper of an old woman’s gossip

Under the dings of ceramic, cast iron clangs and

The thwaps of the back screen door chasing kids

With freshly picked great-grandfather tomatoes.

Soon, the afternoon wind will pick up,

Gradually pushing the cigar men inside

From their circle of backyard chairs.

Then, the mocking birds will come

Eating the last of June’s apricots,

Sweet and perfect.

 

 

 

 

Love in the Time of Storms

One evening,

The door opened to all of life,

Everyone came to visit!

Except you, choosing instead

To light the sky

Against the gesturing silhouette of a thunderstorm.

The deft lines of rain summoning afternoon

To the hills behind my old home,

Seeming so still from here,

Like looking back in time,

When we held hands,

And the world felt quiet and steady

And open,

And futures loomed distant

Shadowed in the fleeting gift of now.

They were the departed ones

The beloved people,

Faces subtly strained,

Warped in the wanting months,

Distorted in a now thriving remorse,

Into hollowed landscapes of once hopeful vistas and fertile soils,

Now mantled in weeds,

Baked dry and stickery.

.

Meanwhile,

The boats on the bay,

Scoot through sparkling water

Bright sails,

Just beyond the skipping stones

Cast through silver bars

From havens of solitude.

.

Turn westwards, to that single point

Where the day ends in its own beginning

Against ebbing tide

And the firm grasp

Of a mid-winter storm.

.

Soon, they will gather,

Away from all this,

Following the ragged topographies

Lying along the frailest of lines,

Where distant waters

Return to the sky.

Experiments in the Wind

This space, outside, like past years

Came back to visit, in cheers.

Bringing choirs,

Tenors

From trees above,

To the tiniest notes of sands,

All offered from December’s firm hands.

.

You might sing new a new rhythm

To the tells of water

And full moon lullabies.

An old song,

To cast off your wishes,

Before I move along.

.

Show me paths and leeside edens,

Your voice calling, should I turn

To hear.

Bits and pieces on this wheel

Turning,

In time’s great mirror.

.

To be free from this turn,

Take me to the place!

Just outside

the now and then,

Move me

to a different pace.

.

Those melodies pulse softly now,

Of stories you read,

From behind furrowed brow.

.

In electricity of the night you bring,

Nestled softly

In the damp cradle of spring.

.

Woo us from fields afar,

Peering through sky’s great fabric,

Of tatters and thread,

Let me in,

Return me to bed.

November on the Klamath

Night’s silent choir,

Patiently gathered around the roots of trees,

Inside the river’s long bend,

And in the shadows of boulders,

Passing time under morning’s great bridge.

.

Across:

The orange of maples.

Ahead:

Paws of a lone bear.

Behind:

Tracks of a fisherman’s boots

Through the damp, grey sand.

.

These might be cobblestone dreams

On a lazy afternoon,

But that was October’s rhythm:

Summer’s back porch, shaded

In creaky planks

And sliced tomato gluttons.

.

Now, the soft arc of light,

Chilled in air gone stiff and still,

Begging for hunched voices,

That dare not stir old winds,

From behind sedge and willow.

.

A conversation,

The groans and gripes of water on rocks,

Goodbyes of frogs and leaves and liquored blackberry sunsets,

The gratitudes of full moon clouds,

A gift of rain.

.

Hurry,

The long gaze of night

Will soon turn us to pebble and stone,

Smooth and round, barely colored,

In the fading light.