Monday, August 19, 2013

Cowell Beach Anatomy

I’m wetting my shins,
toiling through surge & tow,
recoiling from chill at my thighs.
My torso shudders & sinks
through ocean brown & cluttered
with plastic & feathers.
Kelp threads harness my hands.
Below me I wish for seabeds
of starfish & anemone.
Otters turn ebony heads
to witness the sea lions barking.
Close to the wharf
a breast imprudently slides
from a worn-out bikini.
She’s sleeping, a cloak
of flesh-seeking flies gleaning
her sun-buttered hide.
Walking myself dry
I’ve seagulls for mates,
no sand-crusted lifeguard
in-training feet sprinting 
toward waves, no one hand 
straining for coach's brawn, 
the other backstroking hard
to earn one of ten batons.
One my way home
the sign — bacterial tests,
not to be touched, not to be ingested.
What brain do I swim by?

— 16 August 2013


I sing to moisture on the back deck —
mirroring, convex.
Since May I’ve been doublewide
where density is law.
The fabric of the deck chair
as moisture infiltrates
thread by thread.
How vacant it is, decrepitating
in morning scrim.
To me this trailer park
is daily abstention,
an intervention.

— after Akhmatova

— 18 August 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Out of My Skin

Itching —
my torso where
humongous hives had bloomed
after four doses of Aleve.
First I had thought it was the massage cream
but Googling listed rash & hives
as Aleve side effects.
Last night — awful


frenzy convinced
me poison oak was back
conveyed by yesterday's T-shirt —
a blue one, stained, uncovered while packing.
I scrubbed with Zanfel, Mike scrubbed too —
get it off, get it off
me. All of a 

— 4 August 2013

I Wake from a Dream of Real Estate

Down the river chickens are streaming —
large chickens with knobbly veins.
They have a trick of catching the current,
racing along. The man who owns the chickens
rides with them, the current so strong 
he’s injured — a herniated testicle —
sounds painful, but we don’t like him, so we’re glad.

In my dream, as always, I’m young.
I wake up an old lady, struggle to dress
because the bed’s too high, my balance bad —
I’d sit on the floor but that’s beneath me.

I’m not sure I’m in love any longer —
I don’t feel surges or urges.
Mostly I want things tidy & I want to be left alone,
to go whaling in Patagonia, birding in Ecuador,
to ride my bicycle down Center Street in Santa Cruz.

If I brought Tova to Esalen we’d go to the hot spring baths.
She’s three, old enough to find the nudity surprising —
her people wear clothes
though they haven’t always, her daddy for sure
spent his second summer naked
including a week on a public beach with his naked brother
& mother & her boyfriend.
Two men threatened us at one point, but Steve had a knife too.
A man, his wife & donkey stared —
Whose children are they?
Surely not yours. Your breasts are too small.

— 10 August 2013

Coming Home

I mistake my kitten for a demon
breathing sparks & trailing fire. He grew wilder
while I was gone. When I crouch low
outside the front screen door, he raises his paws
mewing like a child lost, now found.

Back when I was eighteen, stranded
without my car, the aged Pontiac I lived in
that summer between high school & college,
I saved my tips to buy a Ducati —
all I could afford. Freshmen couldn’t have cars
at this women’s school, but no one thought
to proscribe two-wheelers.

The bike shop’s amorous Italian helped me close
the deal, score black-market plates from a DMV creep
called Lester the Molester — yes
he made me nervous but did me no harm. I guessed
I knew how to ride. From Western Ave to Garden Street,
Shepard to Walker, I blew through traffic signals,
cropped every corner, careened
through a Shell station without pausing for gas,
braked at the curb in front of my dorm &
tipped the bike over, slid
my left foot into the rear spokes —
a poor choice to stop the wheel from spinning.

Nothing destroyed but nerve
yet I couldn’t walk. My friends found me a ride-share
home to my mother — estranged
I wouldn’t call. Arrived on her unlit porch
I rang the bell. I knew it was late
but college life became me —
skipping morning classes meant
I stayed up half the night. Last I’d heard
Mom was raising my teenage brother, they’d adopted
a Great Dane. The front door opened
to rabid barking in a blaze of light
my mother aiming a revolver at my heart,
crying out to see my face,
the crutch, lowering the gun
she said, I thought you were a burglar.
Lucky for you I didn’t fire.

— 12 August 2013

After Watching Another Video of the Tsunami

Half a city flooded on top of the other,
houses broken apart, whoever
was inside them gone, whether
or not anyone reported them missing
gone because the houses are downriver.
Like papier-mâché once was paper
once these were homes. Many who lived in these homes
don’t care, they’re dead. After Fukushima
who remembers how many died —
many more, we suspect, will die.
Why not watch, again & again
the wave when it arrived, how it damaged.
Just watching it, we’re still alive.

— 13 August 2013

Orare for Argentina

Why irrigate the desert
if no one walks the paths,
looks at flowers.
So many things we bought
there, took there,
what’s missing in our life —
the photo purchased in Carolina —
a sun-blacked heron,

an algae-green pond.

— 14 August 2013


When friends put sail to their catamaran
I’m mildly troubled but not worried.
If anyone knows how 

they do, still, chancing it 
on water, the heave & hum,
liable to storms
though short-hauling
they can know the weather.
Months now, spring
& all summer, they’ve made port
in Portland,
their Argentine house finished but untried.
Already it’s August, the month 
the great wind starts.

— 14 August 2013

After Akhmatova

The moon’s cool cream pocket has brimmed
& bottled the choir of evening crows.
It’s merely urban citizenry,
crepuscular filibuster.
Who made it my lamplighter
& why does it lampoon me?
Or is this a koan conjuring
vexing voodoo for me?

— 14 August 2013