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.

Maybe this time

Maybe this time

You might stand a bit taller

Framed

In October’s teasing words,

Where summer wanes

In its wandering light,

Barely holding on

While the romanciers take flight.

.

There was the time we fell asleep

Playing along the tracks,

In between a train,

On the day,

come and go:

our rhythm,

Calling clouds,

Whistled story

Of great valleys

And toys

Still scattered

On the dirt bank.

.

Before we hid under the bridge

On a dare we answered,

Rolling in our slumberous child ideas:

Notions of far off places, tall buildings maybe,

Or wild woods,

We would soar.

.

While this air is changing,

I wonder if you look back,

To the dawn of memory,

And find in this day,

The stillness of space,

That open quiet

Calling once again.

.

I sometimes stop and wonder,

if the air we breathe today

Was our gasp at the trains

Passing overhead

Back then.