Monthly Archives: December 2018

Rivers of Oregon

Between the ribs of Oregon’s green and gristle
   rivers do the pulmonary work of short stories
The Rogue river once smashed my wooden
    drift boat into fist sized chunks
The North Umpqua river swirls around hip waders
   caressingly so
Where the sun breaks into pockets
   they land on the tree-lined Tillamook river
The Pudding river seems to have nowhere to go
   until flood season when it doesn’t have to choose
The Little Nestucca joins the Nestucca river
   on its short strut to the sea
Near Sarafin point the Clatskanie river
   picks up the rain from the forest
   and threads into to the Columbia
Near Sisters the Metolius river is where surgeons from Chicago
   come to fly fish in their two hundred dollar river glasses
In the Wallowa mountains the Minam and the Wenaha
   rivers are pristine as old scarecrows
Once I saw the upper Columbia river freeze
   I listened to its blocky grinding talk
   on my way to a funeral in Idaho
Steelhead sometimes come out of the Clackamas
   river like from a foundry
The Klamath river had dams for a while
   but now goes without
Sky barges full of water drop them
   in the Nehalem river
On Eagle creek I saw a river otter
   do a two step shuffle dance
Near its mouth the wilful Deschutes river crosses under highway 84
   obligingly but not without a hint of sadness
At nineteen I nearly drowned in the Rogue river
   on that sleepy hot afternoon
My friends laid me under a madrone tree
   while my insides roiled with adrenalin and stomach acid
I watched the green painted pieces of my drift boat
   wash down the river for days
Some rotating in eddies and others
   riding the rapids like tiny oarsmen

American Rebel Yellow

some see the virtue of drowning
faithfully like Jonah
thighs pressed together
in the fin and rib of things
cramped where tongues bloom
muscles tense like November trees
curving downward into moist blades
with just enough left for their desires
to be strapped to the back
still singing loudly
and overhanging like cattle

they do not obey language
like an SOS from
poorly healed stitches
buried in the viscera
only a bonfire of redwood
in the oilfields
can make them look down
can make them feel
the engine entering them
with eyes like elevators
inlaid bent and perverse

all along their bottle capped horizon
wearing their shirts untucked
singing falala songs
to buzz their hard won
southbound lives
they hurry along
hoping to curate
some kind of armature
or refrigeration system
made of steam
and the better kinds
of software

Propeller

I don’t need their winter curse
from a time gone by
even silence turns on its rails
staying clear of the painters easel
the windows of the old school
full of griefs harder than boxwood

down the road the gritty white ruins
of an Oklahoma prison
that held Clyde Barrow
that nobody visits

from these animal bones
in private gardens
the solitude shuffles where the boy
defecates in the dirt under the porch
his bronze body never again less
incurable than now

some are snags bare as chalk
some conspire to make noises among others
full of hooks and ministers
a flash of criminals

where a girl is walking
a fragrance of hips
smoothes out time
lines and ruts
cut into her school desk
far from profound
say things will remain
all the numbers and letters
stretch out beyond the heat plant
towards the winery
like copper trees at dawn

no balm in gilead
just a rollaboard suitcase
in the carousel
at the airport terminal
our secret decay
fills the gaps
in the paraphrase of faces
before words can

maybe Charles Lindbergh’s
only mistake was
he wasn’t a mistake
or Michelangelo
only a boy
carelessly bronzed
over time

New Grandchild

Baby Ellie looks like her dad.
Roughed up a bit by birth,
but insistently here
and looking out at the world
with fearless, punch drunk eyes.

Now that I am here with you people,
I’ve yet to make up my mind about, she says,
where is the food? And can a girl
get a little shut eye?