Remembering What Happened in Photo Lab in a Dark Room

The faint light of distant memory
fluttered in the dry distance,
rode over a cool wind into this room
to crack the enamel of a dream,
blundering before it began
quietly getting used to itself

This is all meant to be in praise
of the silent interval, when you are still
turning on the light in the photo lab
because the exposures are only soap bubbles
Kodak Photo-Flo 200 leaking onto
hydroquinone-stained sweater

Give it all away- one sole salvaged photo
bumps about the tilting tray of fixer,
stagnant roadside water in Virginia
thick with gold pollen, gathered in a murk
by blue bolts of summer rain,
colors meaningless in Ilford 400

I suppose a memory is not symbolic
it can just be a chemical voicemail
from feelings that arrive unannounced
not elected by any respectable committee,
allowed to perspire away its anxiety
into sweatshot shirts in the furious night

When you awake it will quietly disappear
and you will assume your voice,
saying something to yourself like,
“I can’t remember what was in my dream”
and you get up and walk to the bathroom
with a mind like a two-finger typewriter

One morning, after considering dead time,
it will drag its lame foot behind you
as you wish to propel yourself
out of some open first-floor window
to write someone else’s unedited biography
and bluff a memory or two.

Of the Moments Before Encounter With AeroPress

Lightly ascending

half-stack staircase

to make coffee and toast

with aid of chrome machines

I am shivering, exhaling steam

there is a word for this feeling

and its hidden in the space

behind the stove,

statistics show

it will not be found

so I focus on

my blue knuckles

the beans, the kettle

and admire the histories,

the lived-in cerulean tiles

for now I just keep smiling

as if I was warming,

faithfully attempting

to recognize the subjects

of words that are forming

Snowfall at Truckee

The dusk-light glitters
along the frozen edges
of the windowsill
the sun rolls away into its corner

and the moon has its eyes open
as the midnight moment
passes from white night
into white day

it has finally come,
awaking to the world buried
in the first snow
she has ever seen falling

I’ve waited for snow like this
to see the firs sag
the road salt masked
beneath a new drift

now all is filled with a
pristine quiet,
quiet as the boughs
quiet as the muffled light,

even the sun hesitates
to cast its beams,
with passing hours,
there is a warming

here in Truckee
hawks fly obscured,
the snow-stubbled access road
veiled in silver-green and gold.

Unobserved Grace of a Cold Morning

Here, I’ll drift from playful to inconsequential
in our sly, cold morning vernacular
clambering out of our dormant expressions
we could take a pit stop in meaning
unravelling dense object histories
nostalgia for some discontinued flavor
of coffee, on a porch or behind a blue door
there could be multiple Berkeleys
down a US highway made of familiar materials
yet the scenery feels completely foreign
documenting countless ordinary split-seconds
examined in the beautiful light they deserve
pleasant and not at all contrived
I watched our future remaking itself
over and over in an engrossing manner
pushing air, deserving to be called what it is
we could watch its snappy surprises
squeezing delight into impossible contortions

Drowning In the Sweet Touch of Light

I had forgotten
how winter’s torrents overflow
to descend, at last, to the sea
under hot sun, salt air,
I had forgotten
my burned flesh,
crimson, stinging,
a live hive of bees.
Hope works inside
the green tunnels of light,
within the breaking waves.

I would have shells for bones
under those quicksilver mosaic arches,
those dynamic window domes,
running to the shore
in endless succession,
beyond the last cliff,
where every dream is an island,
I would lay outstretched on the sand
under the city-sky.

I had forgotten
how near it was
how near we were
to that island dawn,
the upward arc of a pilgrim
cut short, drowned,
eyes darting behind closed lids,
mouth straining the dark water,
down into shining depths,
only to arise to the surface
on the tide of time.

Here, this journey ends,
miles of footprints
reduced to faint dents,
it has nowhere else to go.
It vanishes with every day,
encircled, in flashes of light,
tapering, into a horizon line
of clouds and waves,
lungs filling, falling,
the repeated cry,
the rhythmic roar,
the echo
the silence.

Night in Early December

I stand on a patio, waiting
as though in a photograph,
it is always the same pose.

I wait close to the door,
I will not surrender my stance
to the rain drenched chair.

I am unaware of the cold,
the image is blurred
as the clouds clear,

the hushed stars,
surfacing from the distance,
assembling the secret image,

remain suspended until they fall
into tidy nests,
not knowing what comes next.

Night in Early December

I stand on a patio, waiting
as though in a photograph,
it is always the same pose.

I wait close to the door,
I will not surrender my stance
to the rain drenched chair.

I am unaware of the cold,
the image is blurred
as the clouds clear,

the hushed stars,
surfacing from the distance,
assembling the secret image,

suspended until they fall
into tidy nests,
not knowing what comes next.

Wild Dirt

I have a velvet box
full of wild dirt
and purple porphyry,
unbelievably smooth

I have garbage bags
full of wild dirt
and leaves and layers
of paper manuscripts

I have a golden reminder
full of wild dirt
aching, locked away
like a holy relic

I have four walls
full of wild dirt
brown as a boxcar
I measure an ardor in years

I have kitchen cupboards
full of wild dirt
we will eat peacefully
and keep to ourselves

I have my own hands
full of wild dirt
I will tell my children
there are good people

I have open wounds
full of wild dirt
and blood and spit
and honey drenched fantasies

I have a half-finished dream
full of wild dirt,
of Medusa, waking to find
my mind has turned to stone

I have this memory
full of wild dirt
slathered in sunscreen
and chartreuse

I have a shard of blue glass,
under a bright moon,
I buried it in a field
full of wild dirt

it is like that

it is like that,
crossing a crowd of wet leaves
having put on grey coats
in the uncomfortable joy
of the first frost, thawing

it is like that,
reflections seem upside-down
daylight pushes shadow to shadow
the chimney stones are all bare
where walls swallow prayers

it is like that,
on yet another day
when the dream is gone
where there is no fundament
for vision to lean on

it is like that,
something lives inside you
high on a tall shelf
after the short war
against little spirits

it is like sleep,
drinking in night
neck-deep in a creek flat
fog boiling up over mountains
silver stars keep on falling