fire awe symbols

twenty and seventeen are just two numbers
and we were just six 
three tents one bivy 
all of us among trees
and stones you could never count.
days and miles logged were marked
by moments enacted like blue lizards
sunbathers of baroque paintings
positioned perfectly
to frame each view of disappearing horizons.
latent wildfire smoke obscured them
and reality drifted away.
this place was devonian jurassic and eocene
all at once and spoke the common tongue
the partnership of glacial polish and erratics.
seasons have always been its heartbeats
and we only just starting walking.
above waterwheel falls
we checked privilege gave thanks
and offered prayers to each our creators
with generous pinches of tobacco.
we drank from san franciscan toilets
and swam in their bathtubs
cold and called the tuolumne 
its pools every spanish revival blue of the mission.
granite calloused our soles
granite scrubbed clean our souls
all of it with its whites and blacks
pure quartz and feldspar 
a modernist dance frozen in homeostasis.
and where there is quartz there always is gold
and for us the gold was the perfect light
it led the way each day up only up
towards the cerulean
through grand canyon depths
and steps into scenes of
beauty refined but not by us.
for five full days we created fire
knew awe and sought symbols
here in this canyon we became human
more than we were before.



I bent over to pick up a branch
broken amongst the ponderosa weave of sliver sun collectors 
dropped when it was time to reach a bit closer
I threw it in to the running ice 
and you asked why
be the branch I said 
it is how you can will the flow
of this snowmelt 
future river momentum
salmon schools will know you as brethren and share your story upon the whisper of trade winds
every five years they will find you I said and you disappeared
behind a crag of
yosemite granite


as greenland falls into the sea

wind crashes gulls into gulls and rolls up an opaque from below
it splinters the sun into a dance bright white
  of embers across this vision filter
it's as one muscle rippling:
a return run of sockeye

god wants to know if the great rise can happen fast enough
to swallow these private estates.  they've devoured 
this beachfront commons property of sandcastles

we are losing the speak of speedsmith geckoes
  of pelican spears and bleach and burn of sun
from here it sets over panamanian silica
 over subgulfic gysers of brown-black death
  we've long since swam past

recollection is lost before its whim arrives
there is no time yet time values everything the same
and we were once leaves
we were once leaves nestled amidst the shade of our mothers 
  though the summer strikes have heard our action
 waved the flag
the forests will burn

waves crash waves of wind like a fire drill
and the shoreline a halfway exit


the j train

the city was a burnt paper cutout
backed with morning fire
as i rumbled back westward
my stay was short
marked by rest that knew
less than hours
and a predawn celebration
of a better year yet unfolded
i emerged from the stale
warm belly of this great city
sleepwalked into times square detritus
and through rising basement air
to collect my next leg
you were asleep finding those hours
we lost to night
nestled within the chaos
of stepped flat rooftops that
each met the racket of the j
and that is where i left you
your neighborhood of infinite jewels
of constant change and noise
and all those pink coral sunsets
once below aristophanes said we
spend our lives searching for
our other half

sub urban

some eight hundred miles later
and new york is wide awake 
eight million plus one
eight million
and still class is given to sway
with a car door held on the subway
like some prehistoric reptilian thing
outstretched and half shroud in dew
manhattan lies with one eye open
knowing nothing of her 
tossed we are into neighborhood pools
to tread for ourselves each
as the first time
"I'll have what's on special" we'd say
after finding the washroom to clean
the salt from our shoes and
gloss from our eyes

walton's natural state

those from here 
pronounce it fate-ville
this town
built upon nickels and dimes
this land
it bleeds rust
when you cut it open

how i remember europe the first time

bullet trains at the underground
rumble german earth
and scream oily wind
through station made vacuums
and on schedule i arise in old paris

ocean grove

the inch plus of weightless white
fell since last night 
was brushed away with quiet
a black bristle reveal
of glass and steel coated
and lost to the memory of heat
woven in your turquoise beach hat



death burdens questions with a weight unfair
as with a scramble about a ship's half sunken deck
we wander through desparate questioning
abuse rationale and cling to ladders unbound
to any universe but this. at moments like these
we reside with time meaningless and never enough

though powered by pink rosary and mother mary
years were a film to which there was no projectionist
or door to where hers rolled. the last thirty were
without her John L yet never was joy outweighed
giving unseated or throws left unknit by hands astute

two nights before the first snowfall
her breaths were puffs of delayed summer
pushed from beneath doors of two rooms away
her eyelids moved as dropped feathers
through a windless silence and still
she mouthed my given name hello

she entered the black wood the day after
so in time we can. long after grief's quieting
her scent: roses and life
yes even now
her lantern: bright
the same raised by her mother
sixtysix novembers past
this gait of hers: courage
practiced and for us
twigs' soft crackles
leaves' sweeps
we will follow
and without fear

her release to the beyond
was a sun's reminder
for crocus awakenings
and geese returnings
and we thank her for waiting so long


souls imbalanced

how long does water's memory last
what drops will remember me
when i lose it and marry my bones
should we hope it's not a shallow seive
a camera with a stuck shutter
it might be too much

from up here i can feel
rhythm of the breeze hear its rise but
nothing from the place that knows
less sun than a Buffalo winter
the deep it's lost its chorus
voices who've been given
over to life veracious and finless still
i want to see echoes of scaled bodies
dance with glint in the saline spray

life begat life and is now with us
our fire indifference shrugging most else
jellyfish replace sharks as things of terror
plastic is the new black krill 
we eat existence
breathe ice deliver volcanic excrement
and answer only to feckless distant gods or
the next beachfront vacation rental orgy 

in the next town over
the allyoucaneat buffet closed
it learned of thresholds and supply
fueled with myth that's come
like onehundredyear locusts:
rebuild the fruit cellar where
they crawled out the ground
find shade fill bags with
sand and blood.
the great entropic scale
will redistribute souls
will itself balance
and the water
it will watch



the fog it rolls arriving nowhere
from here we watch it a short film
stuck in a loop with stops: the clearcut
boundary creating wilderness where forgotten
delivering walled comfort where
none ever existed
it is night cold
arriving before sun setting now
the drop of seasons into one
of dropped leavings
at least in our memory of the east:
hills stamped a red giant star's palette
of warmth
another last breath of life

our mother she once deserved respect
never for beauty but for fear earned
unless unless
that boundless slope beyond:
a sea for mills and you a life turned silk

deep earth bought privilege
and privilege bought this luxury
to bring it to art and object
and destination on a park-way
but hardly art will it be still
when the wilds reclaim
and the fog rolls back and on 


remembering clayoquot, 1993

big big trees this way during day
salted meat wrapped in tin
stickered fruit picked
from a different season
days ago. plastic jackets
in case the blue recedes
decides to hide in deeper
than night fog. here
humbly stands stands of columns
cedars grotesque and beautiful
and infinitely reverent
amongst a crowd of others
drinking ruddy tonics living
along the currents from
these mother lifegivers
pulsing silently underpeat.

there are potlatch peoples left
near here beyond the kelp
peoples who have never been visitors

and with peace enfold meaning
and symbol of trixter raven
of spirit bear and each sentient the
collective life. each know but a soft walk
where streams begin where salmonberry

can forever be thinned. they
who with their oral tradition have
and still notch millennia with harmony.

these fog islands have always 
since the last great freeze
a nurse log puncturing the cold
crystal currents. hairy coniferous mounds
in a monstrous slumber
waiting for all of us to decide
to commit to its ways

or to our modern ballast foreign.
the local anywhere will have us
not just here

and freely
but the thickening of life
the embrace of timeless rhythm
is of it and not for it to choose.
it is one and we are disconnected. 
there are things you cannot buy back
there are still places alive not yet
wholly sold. consumptive indifference
that is what bides time with more
that are tankers and pipelines
and disappearing bees.

there are potlatch peoples left
near here beyond the kelp
peoples who have never been visitors

and with peace enfold meaning
and symbol of trixter raven
of spirit bear and each sentient the
collective life. each know but a soft walk
where streams begin where salmonberry

can forever be thinned. they
who with their oral tradition have
and still notch millennia with harmony.