Tag Archives: poetry

Pantoum for Willapa Bay

Butter, oysters, pepper & salt
all it takes to make a soup
thick around the bight of heaven
with particles of swoop and fleck

Out along the farthest dock
butter, oysters, pepper and salt
indigent & phosphorescent
thick around the bight of heaven

A diesel engine thooms on and on
out beyond the farthest dock
loosening the rivets on the bridge
indigent & phosphorescent

Circles fighting other circles
a diesel engine thooms on and on
spicules waving long & slender
loosening the rivets on the bridge

Muscle & mold of a continent
butter, oysters, pepper and salt
by a covetous river called the Bone
thick around the bight of heaven

Seed Pod

The troops are sweating
the people for cover

Elisions, drought, moving vehicles
are all places to shoot from

Inside the souk you can still find
seeds and good company

draped in the  scent of evening
under a widow’s garden of fossil light

Bargaining with god is what makes you sick
In the orchestra pit, everyone’s head tilting to the side

like cormorants, listening for what comes next
A beggar’s sign by the roadside: Make me leave you alone

Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to Florida
at age sixty four, without a shark cage, on the fifth try

Like a seed pod off the coast
drifting, swelling, nearly bursting

On Juarez Road

Someone is poisoning crows
They are dropping on the road’s
rough hide near my house

Their faces move
in leaves of slate
like an absent father

Somewhere a car salesman
lies in shrink wrap
Ants have left the door open

Rain goes back up
into the sky
in aluminum circles

The crows are
falling thicker now
like a fire of pencils

They dream
of black plum gall
their feral mission work

I bite my lip
against the world’s
dark mouth

Send Out the Children

The most
overwritten things
like how you feel
about dying alone
under a bedspread
of handwritten dark
these things get that way
because it’s better
to spread it on thick
than to run out

Like how King Saul
told David, if you want
to marry my daughter
you must bring me
the foreskins of one
hundred Philistines
& this was after
David killed Goliath
with a slingshot
made of goatskin

Sending children
to do the impossible
because we fear
the inevitable is how
will turns into fate


A wallowa is a Native American fish trap
the Nez Perce built from sticks,
like wicker fences set crosswise in the river.
They used them to herd bull and rainbow trout
into the shallows where they clubbed and gaffed them.

I spent this morning on the Minam river
at one of their old fishing spots.
I teased the river for hours with my fly line.
All I got was bone cold feet
from the mountain runoff.

On the way back to camp
I startled a bull elk in the trees
exploding the stillness
in a thud of hooves
and cracking branches.
The sun walked down the mountain
faster than I could get back across
the valley for eggs and bacon,
home made bread, jam and coffee.

Later I sat in the hot sun
warming my feet and trying to write
but in the end I just sat there
staring at the morning
with its buzzing quiet ways.
Maybe I could build
a wallowa for herding ideas,
fragments, chum and by-catch
into the shallows where my
gaff is sharp and my club is ready.
But I know the majority of the poetry fish
will swim through as they should
as though there were
no sticks in the river at all.

Running Deer

I wrote this poem for my wife, who is part Native American.

Running Deer

a moon-dark sun
ringed in Indian light
peace pipe direct

wild huckleberries
chiaroscuro necklaces
made from the seeds of days
you thread together

to remind us
of where we and love
come from



once under a long-stemmed moon
we became human for a minute

like a woman wearing a black abaya
with a gold filigree rose inside

singing softly behind a high wall
in the market in old Aleppo


i cannot think of why
you created me

remnant of
my father’s mind

there are splinters of knowing
(you and me)

open to the sky between
the tiny pieces of terror