Friday, April 18, 2014

Anything Helps

Anything Helps

I ready myself for morning
phone calls, messages
they found you today, "he's blank"
they say, "blanked himself"
"he was blanking" they repeat

I ready myself for the afternoon
when I roll to a redlight
winter cold, windows half frosted
four o'clock, twenty minutes until dark
you at the corner, shuffling in frozen boots
cardboard sign, black marker letters
anything helps, thanks

I ready myself for nights
when I can't find sleep
because, I'm not ready
for what the morning might bring

[April 18th --- the 18th poem for National Poetry Month.]

Thursday, April 17, 2014

On Enormous Wings

may you spread
your enormous wings
and fly
as you carried us
through vanilla bean air
through sleepless nights
curing us
with Father Gonzaga, and
turning us into spiders
pondering how you
flew so effortlessly
with language and love
the logic of your wings
so natural
so completely human

[Poem #17 for National Poetry Month --- April 17, 2014 --- the day the world lost Gabriel Garcia Marquez.]

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Good Remains

One of the most remote graveyards in me.

What Good Remains

disturb no dirt when I depart
leave the earth alone
topple no trees
carve no cross
carry no casket
pluck not a flower

donate what good remains
place the remains on a hill and
thank the scavengers I so love

cry no tears
remember how I believed heaven a mountain, a river, a snowstorm
recall how I said I would return in the wind, the waves
listen to the ravens, the leaves, the caribou click
forget not how I saw life everywhere and
know that is where I went

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Windshield Stars

No Alaskan car window is complete with out these!

Windshield Stars

on the radio
the anniversary of the Boston bombing
fragments fly at my face
an explosion of white
from the tractor-trailer
I close my eyes for a moment
the dust clears
 the only scars
small stars on my windshield

a marathon from home
just a short distance
by car
but on foot
bloodied, chaffed, dehydrated
a different story
fear is a pressure cooker and
distance from loved ones
grows with each moment
each foot step
each fragment that flies
in our face

driving, running, living
the finish lines have blurred
the stars brilliant and growing
silver threads around our hearts 
leave me wondering when
we will wear safety glass 
in this new race 

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Complications of Clockwork

My view from Bear Valley, where this poem was composed...

The Complications of Clockwork

I try to imagine
this same spot I sit
centuries ago
Thirteen hundred and three
feet up the mountain
and let me pretend
that was the date

below in the valley
cacophony of confusion
cars, racing rocket bikes
train blaring at crossings, Cessnas,
Jets landing and leaving 
closer still
rolling rubber on gravel above
the distant freeway rumble
all this gas-powered earfiller
punctuated with a sleddog's bark
a confused rooster crow
then silence

the ears ring at first
adjust to the new era
then the hollows fill
the creek runoff
a chickadee chirp
a raven calls, then swoops
and prunes her wings 
beak pecking a feathers 
she croaks like a wood carved toad
snow crust crunches in the Hemlock
beneath moose hooves

the city below is gone now, too
a lone smoke tendril 
at the ocean shore
so far below
a campfire
perhaps a cousin
or an enemy from another tribe 

I let the spring sun warm my face
as I would have done then, too
and so many things would be
as they are without the rumble
of machine, the complications
of clockwork, castles, and composition

clear, clean, civilized 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Blood Moon

prepare for the monster
in two sleeps he comes

empty your cupboards
find the biggest pot
the widest pan
one of each

tear two strips of cotton
roll and wad them
one for each ear canal

gather outside just before moonrise
and when her pale orb appears
on the horizon
bring the pans together
with all the force of your soul

let the clatter fill the night sky
so that the monster relents
and does not devour

so we may, for once be
a celestial savior to 
she who turns our tide

[Poem #13 --- for National Poetry Month. The Blood Moon will be Monday night....]

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Old Dogs


We sat on the a gravel bar
a campfire between us and Three Step
"go get me a Coke" I said to your father
and he cocked his head, half lifted an ear
my friends roared in laughter, at me
my silly notions that I could teach
an old dog, a new trick, on the spot

they weren't laughing when he appeared
by my side, with the red and white can
in his mouth
and for a moment, we were all scared
he understood something we didn't

for ten years he was the best dog ever,
your dad, a red merle Aussie
a fighter, a lover, a fishcamp stink-head thief

and now, nearly fourteen
you plod down our gravel road
glazed with an ice, like the thin layer over
your old eyes, your ears failing you
Kita, Yuma, Charley, your father Loc,
even your own sister, Tundra, now just
a wooden cross on the Takotna River

for ten thousand years
dogs like you, like your father
like all those good dogs in heaven
have joined us around campfires
brought us warmth and laughter
licked the tears from our cheeks

we are better because of you
and perhaps all these years
it has been you, trying to teach
us a new trick or two