Your Arms

Outstretched into a warm, fetching wind that will define this winter.

Your arms,

Frustration and reaching,

One more time.

Your arms,

Grasping my lumbering, cold body

Shaking,

Pulled from a creek,

Thundering in flood.

.

Your arms,

Will soon hold me, bedridden and tired of the years,

Finally.

Your arms,

In April, as the sun’s hope returned

And I slipped easily into the familiar light,

Cast across us both in one last embrace.

Visiting

There, at the far end of the long, ramshackle yard,

Where grandpa’s garden starts,

And the apricot tree:

Pilfered Mockingbird delights,

For us, the watch from a circle of chairs

Some Sunday afternoon.

.

But that was before the rain,

And the wind, and shuttered windows,

Only to peek, to scratch its belly,

We knew when to stay in

And dash out,

Before the water came

Or in between.

.

Then we were graced with the long showery spring,

Great stories I was since told, in thunder and sun,

While I huddled in fear of night and flashing sounds,

In the time of peas,

And chicken manured spring gardens.

.

The San Joaquin would run high that spring

Into the summer

When the first zucchini bloomed,

And we rinsed the last of the mud from our socks.

Like it always was,

Back there, where the water still was.

Central Valley River

All these days start with hope,

Optimism,

And some serpentine skepticism

That stays put

While the water lies flat and glassy.

.

This valley fog,

Soured and pressing,

will harken feelings of home,

Summoning some seasonal, familial promise.

.

This is a cold morning:

River hosting winter,

Almost a thing of the past,

On the shortest day of the year,

Defining the deepest place of then,

Like the hottest sequestered August afternoon:

When, as kids,

We were shut in,

And left wanting for a calling evening breeze

Never to come.

Or, now, just a brief parting sky:

A blue never seen.

.

This is the Great Valley: Tethered in the cliche

Of fog

And heat.

.

In both:

Rain is forgotten,

In the wretched gossip,

That orchards will tell.

.

But here,

When the gentle boils of this big river

Still breathe steady,

The scope of years, lives and old people:

No matter how unreal,

Or long,

Turns, now, slowly into view.

They lived this,

And danced to the sound.

.

Hunker down, into this patient water,

Fish, sands and winter bugs still crawl.

Feel this breeze:

What should be gentle and pleasant,

Is biting,

Up along the fetch of a journey,

That is not ours,

But must be.

This chill is almost enough,

We should turn away.

.

Ultimately, though, this grey sky grabs me

Takes me,

Stretches me,

Into the fading call,

Of a day that just got started.

.

Postnote: this could be the San Joaquin, the Merced, the Tuolomne, the Mokelumne, the Feather, the Sacramento, or a whole host of small streams that drain the west slope of the Sierra Nevada. All these rivers regain their magic during magnificent California winters and were once home to people that lived in a truly splendid place now fading into a soon-to-be-forgotten glorious past.

Home is where the water runs from the hills.

New climates and old winter base flows

Gosh,

How the hydrology seeps back out of our bones,

Pouring across landscapes gone silent,

And waiting.

.

This is the way way it used to be,

Like some song playing in the corner juke,

When bars crowded early

And left well before closing.

.

This storm won’t give you resolution

Not yet,

Years will go by

Until the sun sets on a foggy bottom land

In the stalest of latest possible summers

When water is again a pastime,

As the next wind blows:

Turning heads, and raising the mutterings

Of those who still live out there.

Celebrating the 4th Rain

Like old days come to visit again,

Now the dampness will live here,

For a good long while, Defining

Hopefully

This place and this time.

Soon, the waves of hungry cold

Will take the leaves,

Peaches, pears, finally the apples.

Always the last apple.

.

Released, now

To a brief ease of playing in a fickle sun

Soon covered by the gauze of quick rains.

Rains that sneak through,

Leaving grand dripping choirs

And the late night sounds of wet soil.

.

The day opens to waters passing,

And the joy of new light.

How we Count tombstones;

The graveyards of climate:

Like fishing,

where a scant few days are easy.

.

But mostly,

August’s forced languor

to some other eden,

Far from this nihlitude of sapped topographies,

Calls us down.

Now: the dusty dry interludes of impossible

Hell hole hermitages of heat.

Oh, Hell yeah!

.

And those cruel, cheating soft years.

.

Neah, the feint tries of Autumn:

Failed shadows of yesterday’s

Arguments over long drives

Through once watery green valleys

Where tiny creeks had life:

In those old memories we write about now,

And dream of,

Before the tiny earthquakes stir us,

From the empty, dark hour before dawn.

.

All this:

Left behind now.

.

If I could wish on a genie,

Just for this time:

Give me the geologies of water,

Grandma’s fountain,

once again.

Enter left, exit hopefully (draft)

March, April, May

Those hideous months of spring

And dying.

Times to drink to oblivion

Or get sober

Because things have gotten that bad.

More than once.

.

Summer is just a known

Constant staleness, defying perpetuity.

And time of asking calendars

About the rules of a waiting game,

Measured in drought,

Day length,

And sometimes tomatoes.

.

Give me those 4 days in October,

September, November.

Doesn’t matter:

It’s when the counting ceases,

And the shadows come to stay.

A Gathering Gale

Overhead: the soaring sounds,
Calling.

Down here:
The edgy electricity
Jostles limbs,
Loosening blackened blooms
And thickened tassels
Of tiny pears to the back porch
Wind chime chatter.

Damn these winds!
To stir stale oceans,
Stomping seasons,
And lifting life anew
In their leaving.

Another Poem on a Windy Evening

The jostle of limbs,

Loosening more tiny pears,

To the erratic beat of restless wind chimes,

While overhead, the soaring sound persists.

Down here: an edgy electricity.

Damn those winds!

That stir oceans,

Recharge life,

And change seasons.

In one fell swoop.

West Coast Therapy Sessions

Remember the winter that barely passed a month?

And then came the sun.

Yes, still cool enough

To host lingering frosty mornings.

Until the heat came,

And February anniversaries

Were forever changed.

On that exact day thirty years prior

Snow, days of snow

Then ten days of ice five years later

Frozen,

With the surprise light dusting

Of sea level snow for a casual two year memory.

.

And then the rains would come again.

Now,

I tenuously hold on to a line in an article

Discussing the human experience

Of a changing climate:

There will still be good days.