Sunday, May 3, 2015

Woman Primordial


Among the hillside ruins,
they found a woman's skull --
ancient in age,  bronzed in tone.
Her facial bones angular
and her teeth intact --  ground smooth
from chewing on root and bark,
mincing  nut, seed and grain.
She clenched the earth's yield,
gifts of a wild garden,
and for that, her tongue
scribbled gratitude
along the mouth's cavern.
Praise to grass and soil,
tree and stream. Her skeletal head
becomes our lamp
lit by awe, burning off
shadows of the unknown.
We touch her, our fingers probing
the polished  relic for clues.
A song of how sparingly
we lived -- so long ago
when we wore the land blessed
as fertile cloth
belted with stars
and pinned together with rain.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Green Of It

This morning when I arrived home from shopping, I saw the sprinklers had just finished wetting the tree, hedges, grass and other plants in our cul de sac. Everything glistened, vibrating with a green hymn of intensity. In the distance, The Saint Gabriel mountains loomed over our valley enshrouded in dramatic swaths of mist. A bird landed on our single street lamp leaning its head toward  way. I felt almost enshrined in this moment of green and wet resplendence. To actually feel absorbed by the coolness of water when drought is always threatening and prevalent, is a very spiritual thing. A Christening that also invokes questions of what next and when will the sprinkling be forced to stop. When will the lawns and leafage be left to wither? But for the moment, the exhilaration of green overshadowed those worries.

The Verdant Joy
After a long, wet moment,
the sprinklers having soaked
hedge and grass, the leaves of an Asian maple,

a sparrow lands on the street lamp.
She tilts her head toward mountains
plumed in mist, the wings of St. Gabriel

leaning forward to cover and protect.

What I ask - some blessing or bane
hidden from view? The  cul de sac

glistens in shades of green, light filtering
through key holes of foliage. I know enough
not to ask more --just savor the silence, these seconds
spilling into a morning psalm.

Monday, April 27, 2015



Scarcity and plenty are as much qualities of the mind and spirit

as they are of the economy.

                                             Robin Kimmerer


I dream of you at night
spreading blue wings over the field
and soaking the feet of  trees
in your coolness.
I hear  your voice pouring
operatic into the canyon --
aqua santa, aqua santa
catching on weed and vine,
their chords so dry -- they rasp fire.
I feel your presence flooding
river and stream. My spine
becomes the spine of fish
chimed with rain song, a rippling current --
a rippling prayer.
I breathe and breathe again
through gills that expand into wings  --
your wings  spread even, spanning
coast and countryside. The stillness parted.
The moon white and feathered
by the mist. A gull that does not cry
as you turn my blood to water. My spirit
into one of your own.
During times of personal or physical dearth, we must remember what is missing. We must be grateful for its existenceeven at a distance. We must embrace its presence, dream ourselves into its soul, hear its voice, feel its heartbeat, become its essence. In that way, we evolve to a higher perception of its spiritual gift and content. We fill the void with an appreciation for what it is and how we can replenish through prayer and balance, humility and kinship.



Sunday, April 19, 2015

Interiors and Exteriors

The power of elements play a significant role in forging interiors and exteriors.  On the outside, those forces of weather ( air, fire, earth, water)  shape a landscape's character as well as those of each season. On the inside, it's the crafted materials of wood, stone and glass that create the atmosphere of a house and its rooms. But the human condition is influenced and defined by both. Recently, the museum coordinator/ director Sabine Rewaldi ( of The Metropolitan Museum of Art) put together an exhibit  that features a collection of   paintings that present as their subject matter -- rooms with a view. The canvas  invites the reader into a quiet chamber with an open window glimpsing an  expansive scene of nature. One evoking thoughts of release and  mystery,  hills/sea/vistas stretching  beyond the discerning eye.  The view and the ability to view from a certain  point becomes the harmonic balance, the magic alchemy of these reflective paintings.

The one featured here caught my attention and inspired this poem called   A Room To View. I was drawn to this  woman grooming her hair before the mirror while part of her seems beckoned by the open window and its scenic contents. I wanted to show the two sides of  self, the woman laced in the stifling elegance of her corset and morning toilette, (the sameness of routine) as well as the  girl needing to become free and absorbed by the wind and storm cleansed atmosphere., the passionate release of Spring and her own artistic willfulness. In a way, it's the caged spirit set loose and diffusing into nature.

A Room To View

The open window is an echo of the canvas, and a threshold literally and symbolically—you are inside and yet long for something outside.......

                                           Sabine Rewaldi

I stand here

glancing at the mirror

and an open window.


In the glass, a woman

laced in whalebone, a rivulet

 of dark hair running

 through her hands  Her face pale,

malaised in the pallor

 of routine.

In the distance,  a girl

freed from the sculpted

continuum, her shadow clinging

 to a storm wind.

The black tree, the green field

washed in rain, the release

 of Spring's sudden coming.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Listing On Dogwood Lane

The Spanish doors opened

to archways and dark wood floors. The rooms bare.

In the distance, we could see

water tricking over a stone dove and vine leaves; the side garden

calling us outside as we entered the house.


Their agent said the woman was artistic, had placed a piano there

in the corner -- but it seemed too large, not in accord

with the other pieces. I asked him if she ever played.

He said "no" and nothing else.


And I thought -- if music throbbed in her hands

and was liberated  like a bird,

it would dart back and forth. Disoriented, slamming

itself into fallen flight.


The  windows had wrought-iron bars, and the house

felt cloistered, almost paranoid -- to accept Mozart or the light.


The Joshua Tree

Here you are again
in my poem --
torch bearer of moonlight
and blue darkness that burns
into my brain
as I see
the spirits  you draw:
raven and coyote,
lizard and tortoise
owl and snake, squirrel
and jack rabbit.
They come to tell you,
tree of the ancient grove,
guardsman of the plain,
there'll be drought
furrowing the land
with sharp blades of wind,
rain shadow
and dry lightning
that sets to flame
many wicks of thistle
and sage,  grass and vine.
Most will leave
but a few will stay.
Those who throw
their hands to the sky
shifting to bark
and needle leaf,
those who will dwell
next to you 
as brethren or sisters.
and those at night
who know how to slip back,
silhouette into stances
that seem most human.
The moon stalking their field
with her chatoyant eye.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Lady Ferlinghetti Met At A Bistro Table In San Francisco


One grand boulevard with trees
one grand  café  in sun....
                                    Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Larry may have called her
Monet's lily floating in  time
                 because she wore an eyelet blouse
with  hair crimped and hanging
over its collar
like willow shade back-lit by the sun.
Nothing Wi-Fi about her. The cloud
was summer lace,
                             or a mind storing
other  lives she had lived
in old world cities
and sent home creased
on onion skin.
                      The envelope
stamped with bird postage
and sealed with her saliva. Sea water
                 rolled off the tongue
                        that had canto'd
the pines of  Rome, the spires of Prague, the green
                       crossing at Giverny.

 I have always loved two poems by Ferlinghetti, "Monet's Water Lilies Shuddeingr" and  "Constantly Risking Absurdity about  The  hire wire performer who tries to keep his balance just like the poet who must keep his or hers performing their craft  The first has alluded its way into the description of the woman sitting at the café table. But what really struck or inspired me was an interview Ferlinghetti recently gave to PBS discussing his view of poetry and the changing scene in San Francisco. He laments how hi tech has come in rudely and made the artistic city a place of rich real estate and almost non-caring residents. I also thought of how he might portray/interact with/define a woman poet who is sitting there like a figment/ghost from another era imbued with its Bohemian grace and wanderlust.