Monthly Archives: May 2014

Small Sea Monster

Small Sea Monster

from a sculpture by Severo Calzetta da Ravenna

The sea monster of 16th century Italian origin
looks in bronze like a freak show dog with scales

and a half human face. Its webbed hands arched
delicately like a lawyer’s on a witness stand just before

cross examination. A tail that could be a dinner bell.
Coming up for air from another dream of drowning

I think the tiny dog standing on my chest looks more sea
monsterly, and I wonder if I’m exchanging

one depth for a murkier other, of waking.
it’s only at the surface that we’re surprised

by what breaks through, in the shallows
that things get stranded between tides

like this hideous thought splishing about
that in the deep would be graceful, near invisible, at home.

Self Portrait at Forty Nine

Self Portrait at Forty Nine

Even in a small town there is a sound arriving
through the silence like the breath of the tiger

hidden in every house. Asking how can something hidden
arrive, finally, to the place it’s always been?

Nevertheless there is no standing on reason
for that is the mystery I hear in the silence

before the house wakes, when the train sound slides
away and the bells of competing churches hollow

out to the thinnest reminder of passages time turned
away from to linger on a single guitar chord,

from this open window, now long gone, hours
later, as I lay in bed and when the entire neighborhood

is between breaths I hear this breath, this sound
arriving to the place it’s always been. Earlier today

my neighbor dug up with his bare hands four solid
concrete steps leading from the curb to the space

between our houses. As if there was an invisible
house there all along, and in absence of anything

but a passage all we can do is wait to see
who owns it, or who will come visiting

in the silence, or if the sound arriving is simply
the door we cannot yet see, not yet open.


no sea here: breathe

Dana Martin is among my favorite poets, on or off WordPress. She has been posting a poem or two each week from her book “No Sea Here,” and while I regularly find something remarkable in each of her poems, I liked this one so much I formally petitioned the poet to change the title of her collection to reflect this beautiful, compassionate and disconcerting poem.

Another Full Moon Night, Under Clouds


Another Full Moon Night, Under Clouds


Weightless, local, essence of form but in no form
that keeps, these clouds block my view of the one

thing we can both look at tonight and know we share
the same world. It is not enough to know it’s there—

I must know that I see what you see. But if clouds,
empty of all illusion of form or permanence,

absorb their share of the moon’s glancing light
then maybe this love, shorn of time and setting

and shape, is equally bright and worthy
whether we see the moon or not

Soaking Wet Suite, for Human and Any Available Instrument

Soaking Wet Suite, for Human and Any Available Instrument


Wherever you hide from the rain becomes the rain’s instrument
the roof over your head tin or tar the glass and metal casing of cars

and every room in the house has its own sound of soaking wet
Earlier today the instrument was me at first the sound of a dry being

surprised by downpour and seconds later was already the sound
of saturated work clothes and splat of drops on hair as wet

as it could get: I love these sounds but I’ve had enough
Tomorrow I’m going out to listen for the sound of things drying

Fire Followers

Fire Followers

In the spring after devastating fire
they grow only here on the back of the devil

whispering bells and red maids, golden eardrops
blazing star with its spiky leaves and yellow flowers

and in the scorched canyons harder to hike and even then
for just a few weeks the fire poppy flicks gold notes

Under the pressure of smoke and firestorm and ash
the seeds break open then in the spring surface and bloom

For the only time in a generation or longer
the inclines of Mt Diablo are covered in gold red and purple

Gone in a few years and back to something buried
by what we see as the normal brush and vine and trees

Who knows what seed dormant inside us may burst
into quiet small beauty brought to birth by the worst

that can happen who knows how long it will last
this beauty not normally us and not someone else


Spring Thunder, Spring Lightning

Spring Thunder, Spring Lightning

Hungry ghosts bang their empty bellies
Who ever said the kettle cares not for the meal?

Trees lean to the earth and touch it like Buddha
asking the grass safe in its smallness to be a witness

That what looks like sorrow is sacred; and on this open
parking lot the rain slides under cars like a sea of snakes

and toward this tree under which I stand for shelter
where the yellow  teeth of monkeys flash behind the leaves