Seeking Ben Lomond

wooden signs
suggest a place
where branches glow
in the six o’clock sun,
where birds seem
shadowy messengers
there between box elder maple,
acer negundo,
where helicopter leaves spin,
the winged seeds
in their fast descent
seek prime sites,
where the red-tailed hawk
ascends to the chancel
of interminable canopy,
where a yellow-rumped warbler
perched on a warm bough
made for this world, chirps,
thin stems grow off
gargantuan stumps
leaf remains steam,
not common ornamental trees
but reliquaries for
radiant vacancy.

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O Pacifica

On I go across Miramontes Ridge.
The day dragged me out,
the sun took it all.

This place begins to feel like home,
shapes in the mist swirl,
the air breathes and billows.

This thought begins to feel like home,
wayward and noncommittal,
memories slurring their lines.

El Granada to Montara,
now fully dipped in fog,
alone at the jetty, mud in the water.

Only last week they found
sharks in the harbor,
things seem less desperate now.

On I go across my own territory,
gone too far, away
from categorical people.

O Pacifica,
I’ll learn to wait, watching
with slow eyes,

Your muffled green slope,
seen in a single glance,
transports me until I am gone.

And the names of things
as we knew them
will no longer suffice.

But I will never tell you,
how much went to waste
with each promise reneged.

The soft waves begin to feel like home,
they cannot help
but to keep breaking.

Buried without a word
beneath gnawing crests
under the moon-clock. Turn, turn.

another one of those flying dreams

five A.M., sat up in bed
another one of those flying dreams
over CA-17 not far off
over conifers
over crumbled roadway
over trucks
over ferns
over soft sands
over time
over rising hills, slopes
over valleys, pastures
over sea bed, sun-bound
I almost make it,
closer and closer, until
neighbor’s dog
howling and yapping
rouses me, falling
from dreamy boughs
I shed my wings, this
flying and grasping
at dharma, ripe
as a dripping pith,
leads to no other life,
as flying dreams fly away
as I sit in darkened silence
as summer dust presents itself
with the coming of the light

Festina Lente. McLean, Virginia, 2002

We run across fields, propelled
by wind and clouds, abrupt
blasts from a whistle,
feet and knees stumbling
towards a hedgerow, towards
the world we will live in.

I hear myself breathing,
balancing, stopped, on a rock.
Later, tomorrow perhaps,
a simple pasta meal,
conventional, savory,
this could be true of anyone.

We are looking at a patch of sky
luminous gray clouds
begin their encroachment
and it is time to go inside
as thin green storm-mists sweep
westward through Fairfax County.

Potomac in view, royal
wafts of bush honeysuckle,
sweating nectar, rising,
outpace wisteria and wineberry,
no ambrosia could equal
its embrace, so sweet.

Gentle handfuls of rain,
I am looking at
the same patch of sky
now blackened,
now I see it differently,
from the back seat
of the Oldsmobile.

Sunrise at Gorda

Sun-roused,
I called myself cured,
along Los Padres trail
at rose-mottled dawn,
a lone road guard,
pickup trucking
north along Highway 1,
how functional we are!

Stalled, sitting here,
asking myself questions
at seven o’clock while
the gray squirrels
rise from their tree-dens.

The metallic reek of the shallows,
the fly-blown beach break,
waft up the cliffside
to unite with clean Pacific gusts,
I am dry as a bone.

Rivers flow out
from ravines, downhill,
full of mossy rocks,
settling in caves and blue,
as cormorants pass above.

Shadows cross
from one side of morning
to the day, motionless,
tucked away, settling
in the shoal’s bed.

I place the apple core
in the garbage bag
I place the tent
in the tent bag
I place the stakes
in the stake bag
I can tell how long
it takes to forget.

I long to submerge
and be a dark fish
like a morning shadow,
emerging in the water
to fill my lungs again
primed for the depths.

If He Should Become a Hermit

Coming out from the mountain,
dragging his bare feet out of a cave
under a tree, eyebrows grown
long, with weeping
eyes grown weary,
glinting and charming,
trembling, he who sought heaven
under a mountain,
it exists, rather,
in the imagination
in interruption,
how painful to be born again
back out into the world,
he knows nothing
meek, before the absolute world,
silently, our bodies fall from heaven
arms raised up,
breathing in the open unknown,
driven, tormented and
wearing a fine beard, peppered,
humility is blessedness
faltering by a stream
all things inanimate
but his thoughts, radiating
into the thin bushes
if he should become a hermit
he would submit
to the passage
of moons between movements,
to the contractions of rising
last intimate gestures,
monk-like repose
beneath black doors
in earth’s darkened house.

Bethany, South, Then, Now

What is the similarity
between here and now?
Now was here then.

Each moment holds
all moments, and when
each instant elapses,

gonged off on some
gleaming path of possibility
by fatal choice,

I watch the bead of sweat
form the course of a river,
aware of time.

I dreamed I was at Shore Foods
canonizing the antacids,
then at the Kmart, I fear,

this is what happened
this is where we are
when the moment passes.

driving by country

Driving by country

dreaming small dreams

blaring by Easton, Denton, Delmar

the swatch of cloth pressed

against heart-compass

like moss, fixed to the ground

beside long gold typha

aside the blurred third-rate hotel.

Now, if you are driving by country

the farmer to your left plants soybeans

right up to the road

the farmer to your right plants corn

right up to the front porch

of the 1898 frame house

which creaks like an old ship

in the wind, it doesn’t hide.

If you are driving by country,

you may find Church Creek

come in the red door

downtown gospel, snake doctors,

in places where you shut your eyes

you won’t want

to speak, in your clean shirt

in your dark suit.

Driving by country,

I hear America groan of exhaustion,

a wheeze of heft,

how long will its fire leap?

How high?

As flames fling their arms

around my bones,

it doesn’t wait.

Ordinary Delivery

Every morning, sure as the light
brings its utterances to my window ledge,
a gold hatchback sputters out of the lane,
after breakfast
I drive plumb-west to the coast
I am close to loneliness
on a cold golden beach
this morning’s footprints disappear
behind the new glassy sheets
of limitless wet sand,
like a child pulling a flat rake
across hills, across glass. Slowly
I am aware of myself
as the beams begin to glow
the prickling fronds of light
of the chandelier palm
escape cloud cover, they
warm my face.

Every Wednesday night a white truck
delivers groceries to the house next door
sure as the dog barks, truck
stops, two bags, three,
a thin man donning hat and vest
dances around potted plants
places three bags on the step.
I keep in mind
the answer reveals itself in time
it is a clue that fits perfectly
and explains everything
I should have known
it wouldn’t be delivered
I should have known
it was there all along
overlooked and unhidden.

I am in the kitchen. Vienna, Virginia, 1996

I step

up to the flowered curtains,

beside an open window,

beside the linoleum countertop,

the sink, loose or broken,

is tilted to its side, the tile floor

etched with pencil marks

by a young cartographer.

The day is spent inside

for it is too hot

out in the yellow light

sometimes I am still swimming

but in my mind

the house is underwater

each room a chamber,

yellow light turns green.

I have a buzz cut

and my mother is watching soaps

I rest my head on the floor

ear to vent

and hear, in the distance,

the unrhythmic rain

unfold, as June

turns into

all summer long