Turning, Part III.

I need to give a shout here to Joan Didion for the way she did it. 

When the Afternoon Holds Just Enough

Life and dying,

Should be familiar

In the narrow, empty spaces

Hiding,

In the confusing mass of briars,

And dried or mildewed berries:

Take your pick,

While the shadowed visitors of place

Sneak back home.

.

Somewhere, crosses a stretch ,

When memories,

Stretch further

Than the longness of stories

Our present circumstances

Polished in Elaboration.

.

The corner of life is turned

In some broad sweeping arc

Penciled in years,

And hidden in a dozen tin cans

Buried in the yard

Over a period of irregular years.

.

The day’s path gives a ride

A good long while,

Moving, really moving along.

The time, like the knob of some old radio,

Cranking slowly one way,

At once fading and boisterous.

.

Nobody talks about this stuff,

Like politics and newcomers,

Poking,

Unless we can all turn askew,

Upwards. All of us.

‘Cause we all see it our own crooked ways.

And one more:

Don’t fall for the witching hour,

Telling you, this moment:

Some speck of time,

that could turn the day.

No. Don’t.

Just watch this time,

like it was back then.

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.

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.

The Many Solitudes of Sun –

Life on the ragged edge of a Mediterranean climate:

Born raw

Again this morning

Sudden, under the monotony

Of unchanged days.

What’s left to tip this scratched record?

Slipping beats, mercilessly turning

To an old song

Still sharp and biting

But in new ways not heard then.

How far south

Or north

Or just across

Do I need to go

For the broad skies

Painted in pastel masteries.

Haunted eden,

Before the waiting time resumes.

June 26

June 26.

Is the real day here,

Latest sunset of the year

When it all comes gathering up

To glide into the doldrums

Today is the crest of a small wave

On some pond

Rarely visited in the brush

Especially on hot days

When it becomes the throne

For snakes and frogs

Having their day

On the crest of a small wave

This is the silent pulse

The long ebb

The onset of exhale

The practice of patience

If I could count flowers and leaves

I might try drawing the ripples

Depending on the amount of time

Getting lost in time’s subtle traps

Pulling us into drying gopher holes

Where new life goes on.

I have to step gently from today,

Steadfast in foot,

Hopping the waves

Or pointing to the shadows

The marks they leave

The same as the last go

Except changed

When I start counting.

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 thirsting 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.

Part II. Listening to Steelhead.

I cannot counter the edge,

Remarkable, memorable, inexorable

In an odd persistence that wanes in it’s coming.

I cannot shape this space.

Green years, short months and how the day suddenly curves away.

The center is far removed from place and time. Eyes turning to the bright prospects of hard lines on skies.

I cannot yield to grace, as the soft illusions of ease tempt me into the chilled waters.

 

 

The forgotten American dream: patience

Mid-way through the afternoon the wind doesn’t show and the sun hangs across the streets in a timeless bit of perpetual Sunday laziness. I wonder down to the little taco stand where I know there’ll be few people and no waiting or impatient customers hurried on by something. These are the afternoons where the morning gets forgotten along the way. How things ended up here is unknown. For a couple of hours, there is nothing going on. Everything just slows to a crawl along the street. The cars are missing for a while, the kids have all gone inside for a break. Everything just seems to pause for a while. In this little slice of time the sun lights up the flat water on the bay, spraying slow sparkles of light through the afternoon. If I could stay right here, sipping my drink, patiently waiting for my tacos – the kind of patient wait that bathes me in calming comfort – I might never need anything else.