19 December 2010


Home is the place where, if you have to go there, they have to take you in.” – Robert Frost



My family lived in a house far out in the country
on the banks of a small creek that cut deep through the red clay and glacial leavings

It left a cut bank
shallow caves

I would play there for hours
In my mind I go there still, lean back against the cool damp earth


When I was a young man my grandmother died, cancer throughout her body
She loved me
touched me

I did not stay to watch her die, but left
for anyplace
someplace unknown, known
only to me

My cheek against the soil, cool damp

The funeral was lovely, I'm told.

My grandfather lived on for twenty-two years without her
and never spoke to me again


He taught me how to pound a nail
saw a board
crack a walnut in my hand

held me against his chest


I lean my back against the roots around my arm against my shoulder
I can feel the tattered beaten flannel
hard whisky cigarette breath

I push back until I cannot feel the tears
no longer feel the hope
only my hollow chest
beating heart

I would like not to go there anymore ever again
who else would I talk to?
where else
can I go?


12 December 2010

Driving in Winter

I was driving a few weeks ago, on my regular route, when I learned about ice and snow on the Columbia Plateau. The weather was poor, at best; there had been fourteen inches of snow the previous day, then the sun came out to warm us all and give us the benefit of heightened molecular vibrations. Primitive cultures often worshiped the sun, but they also knew that she was not a purely creative goddess. We see that in the spring frenzy, the fighting stallion, the love bug and the cicada, the star fire and the gold that possesses more that just the soul of a heat-crazed sourdough, years gone in the brown desert hills. In this little town we saw it in the little runnels of water pushing everywhere, loading the snow with a massive inertia. In the night, the great sun goddess left to return to her usual haunts on the gulf coast, warming the mouth of Laurel Canyon, her temple at Teotihuacan, her fervent sycophants in Côte D'Ivoire. The land north of the forty-fifth parallel is only hers in summer. This time of year she comes to stir up mischief.

And mischief there was.

In the night, without her balmy influence, frigid air from the deep north swept in, pushing her playful, tender zephyr winds away to the south, sweeping everyone with the bone-chilling cold. No heart can be that cold, but only the restless undead who have given up that rhythm for a stone. There was life, still; but only that life of the dead still walking. They shushed the sun away farther and yet farther, willing the cold to pursue her deep across the west. There was a plan.

As wind moved away, chasing the sun and spreading the killing cold across November, moist, warm air was pulled in from the great Pacific Ocean. The air came across, then bunched up against the old bones of the Blue Mountains. The mountains spoke. “You cannot pass with your water and your warmth. We will have those things.”

And the mountains had their way. The moisture fell to the ground in sheets, frozen as it touched any stone, any house, any living thing; ice upon ice. It was a polished crystal sheet upon the world, resolute and cruel. All things must bow, and they did.

The next morning, we drivers went out. Some were lost along the way, vehicles overturned, smashed on the brilliant ice, bloodied and broken. Buses did not start and were abandoned, chains broke; several slipped into frozen wreckage. Finally we were on the road, carrying our cargo, first loop in the tapestry that pulls a child to a long working life of toil amongst the stones.

The radios were full of cautions, warnings, small disasters. Cars overturned, lives shattered, trees in the road, fire escaping its bounds and devouring a home while the family stands watching, mother in tears, father shaking and beaten, two young boys kicking at the ice, hoping for a snowball fight or at least an ice sword or two. Then it happened. There was a moment's calm on the radio as if those stone hearts had held their breath to set against us all the world. Four buses at once were set upon by sliding, unattended automobiles, their drivers distracted by child, by telephone, by hearing their favorite song on the radio. Another car tried to stop on the sheet spread over the river bridge, and we could see the tracing of her trajectory, to the left, tap the rail, to right, tap the rail again, to the left and across the ditch and up the hill and through both of the McCreary's fences and tipped up and over on top of Jenny McCreary's prize Elberta peach tree. Another woman saw my bus coming toward her and panicked, tried to stop, and slowly, oh so gracefully slid into my path, hands removed from the wheel and placed over her eyes, tears streaming, wailing over the sad song in the cab. One bus felt the full impact of a driver moving a freeway speed, pell and mell into a crazy, flashing yellow and black smash bang and all is silent, baby in the back seat still asleep, children on the bus tossed into a maddened heap.

I was driving a few weeks ago on my regular route when I learned about ice and snow on the Columbia Plateau. There are forces here that we do not know, do not understand. They roll over us as if we were not here, which, to them, we are not. This land is theirs; the pristine mountains, the rolling prairies, the grand rivers. They disdain our worship, our offerings. They know that one day we will be gone, and the land will be at peace, scrubbed clean of us and our worries like little toothaches; dangerous and pure once more.

09 December 2010

Divorcee (pericardium)

two years, now,
I walked away

I wore my ring for one full year as a reminder
six months more 'cause I forgot
to take it off

it doesn't matter
the skin around that finger remembers
the iron band

Once, when I still wore a purely golden ring I caught it under
a meat slicer, twisted it into my finger until I could see
bright, white, bone;
then it healed
without blemish.

(it doesn't matter, I can still see my children)

The silver ring I wore on a chain around my neck
disappeared one Christmas eve four years ago,
a stainless steel ligature not in its place
but on my finger,
resting against my skin.

(it doesn't matter, 'cause I remember)

I do not wear a ring, now, but
yesterday (I remember)
I saw
it doesn't matter
the skin around that finger 
the space around my heart
the iron band



I have to decide who, exactly, this foray into the electronic world of wordy things is for. Not because I'm going to write for them, but because I'm not always sure who I am until I write it down, in some directions (I know myself fairly well, having been doing this writing thing for a longish time, but there's always more to know), and I want to know who is commenting on me. In my mind.

So. Probably this is for everyone (you know who you are). Probably it will be poetry, or essays, or short pieces that are not exactly categorizable. I will decide more later.