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Alphabetical Listing of Twelve Line Poems

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  After Bathing at Baxter's

The mud people, handsome and smiling, wandered
across the pavement and onto an open field.

Some bead people were already there, sitting
cross-legged on the grass and talking amidst incense.

Still outside the park, leggy flower children piled
in muchly-redolent poses against a graffitied brick

wall, and against each other.  Soon a pale woman
began to wail.  The mud people found this pleasing

and began to dance.  Then the bead people gathered
their guitars, and their tambourines, and tiny

drums and hand-carved wind instruments.  To the north,
in astute prehensile energies, the city rose above them,
      juxtaposed and listening.

  Ambling at First

Awakened again, she ponders a slow notion of angular men
wildly uneven—sitting on feather beds, standing before

white curtains.  In each one she recalls last night—she
redeems him as smiling, relaxed, wistful; uncertain—he,

too, may have shared a lamentable past.  She had met men
from Georgia, from New York and Tennessee.  She preferred

color photos of unclad, husky workmen—yet he was thin,
pale, hard-bellied.  She stirred to the fat side of the room,

ambling at first like a rumor spreading.  How benign last night
had been, superfluous, fast—less than witty; now growing

memorial in aspect—an evening devoted to unenlivened talk
and the usual expectations; but he was so young, and so adroit.

  Angel Sources Run

Along white birch May a light spread
as convention—upon the padded shins

and mitted fists of young men crouched
on playing fields, stubbornness, resolve, other

alternatives to lust:  shadow, beer cans, busted
at-bats.  Across the park a woman canters

a big horse down the ravine; across the lake
two lovers wrestle in the trees.  And the heavens

rise above them, adjunct, incidental, abrupt—
the shortstop muffs a pop-up, and the left fielder

throws the runner out at home:  this world is
so abstract the bleachers howl to greet it!

  Angled Horses Sun

Along white church March a light spread
in redemption—across the evening chins

and cheeks of young men reclined in trucks,
heaviness and repose.  Beer cans.  Cars.

Commerce.  The unkind things that eye the spirit
with jealousy, hiss and make wishes.  Fuchsia

pants and cerulean blouse pass gently across
the church:  a little satori happens outside.

The pines dance.  The oaks gnash and wail
in their nakedness.  The pines peristyle

in bright cloaks of redemption:  this world
is so abstract it enchants the horses to eat it.

  Another Little Wind

Timid, sourceless worry caught as a small pain in our eyes
as we sat—the light drifting in gray sheets—distrusting,

untiring, benched. Today was atop us all and groping
in Oakland, California as we waited a commuter train.

I could not think. Ill omens and graffiti stunned my eyes,
always the focal point of our residual being—too soon

remorseful, swelling, gender-based and fleeing toward
a shitty little thrill; and besides, the train was delayed

where a little wind now blew newspaper across the rails.
The restrooms were oddly unoccupied and something

was, in itself, becoming a focal point—around the open
trunk of a large automobile, rude words, threats, elevated

  Cloud Litter

Her cheek still shining from spittle and booze,
she could not agree what it was. The wind spun,

flapped, or jerked—that slow howl—precursor to
this immensity always standing before her; she lives;
      she bears
that which abducts her attention, reaching abruptly
for her sex, money, or her cigarettes. And just after,

her own thoughts are quietly tempered, lessened, like
a sky crowded with clouds above an oddly-altered landscape

with warehouses, loading docks and fences, abandoned
cars.  She leaves them alone with their senseless details.

Instead she dares not to scratch the itch, choosing
to piss in the low weeds along the littered roadside.

  County Fair

Big pigs dreaming of gopher snakes.  Small,
shapely blondes screaming on the tilt-a-whirl.
big youths stalking the midway, dumb as darts
—testicular triumphs, Nubians, colored balloons,
sell corn dogs, corn, and beer in tiny cups.
Beside the exhibits, the exhibitions, the growing

excitation—cheers from the grandstand reach
a hearty applause above the cotton candy

and the kewpees and herefords on fresh straw.
Resting my forearms on the ferris wheel bar,

resting my eyes, I leave my soul to unwind,
to unsorrow, as I rest these aging wings.


As Henry stood aside the idling yarder
a steady rain fell upon the piled sawlogs.

One hour and ten minutes to lunch
and some of the framers, striding

the shed joists of the roof expansion,
were still burdened with Thursday's hangover:

commerce happened readily at the mill
and a certain intercourse common only

to men—so that what did take place
could do so, outwardly, at its own risk

and only above the din of the belt saw
and the still-wet lumber's painted ends.


The antpeople of Xanax-Tranxene surely were not
the most noble beings.  They regurgitated

their meals thrice.  With coaxing they would
mate in public.  In prosperous years, as a sign

of prosperity, they might eat their young.
Culturally, an extreme tribe:  ancient intelligence,

political deftness, and loyalty beyond reproach.
I admired them.  I also loved to watch them dance.

Their music—tonally bizarre—held heady, Caribe
rhythms that broke into base passion; percussion.

Picture them rolling their heads, spilling their
six eyes, antennae swaying, abdomens stomping feet.

  The Entertainer
As consciousness persuades the mindful to be
somewhere else, I find myself bemused,  watching

a pirated video tape of Tom Waits singing
his hoarse songs.  Sunday morning:  a fine time

to regather and find a new strength
suitable for a man with a beer, languishing

in his underwear—pondering detective poetry
and redheads riding red streetcars—tossing

playing cards into a top hat:   she loves me;  she
loves me not; she loves me; whether she loves me
      or not
she sees a lesser intention:   it's the propensity
toward that and a few other things that carries
      the thrill.

  The Evening Light As We've Come to Know It

Why did the dog do what it did when Dale aptly dashed
past the tool shed?  On a warm afternoon in late August,

the men gathered in the backyard laughing about softball,
sex and the length of their penises.  Oh, the happy wonders

of our serial lives with its sound assurance of tomorrow
followed by tomorrow.  When the afternoon began to wane

Dale lit the barbeque and the dog doed what it did yet again.
An assortment of meats were brought out, including

sausages which of course inspired the men.  Potato salad
was placed on the picnic table, along with potato chips

and potato fries.  There were soft drinks for the children
all of whom shared at least a passing fancy for attention
      deficit disorder.

  The Evening Light Crossing Paths with the Young

Our parents suggest we are less than disciplined
as if saying that would be a thing we could

obfuscate into something else clearly meaningful.
And what, in return, were we to say:  a pack of dogs

pissed or sniffed their way down the street; a woman
stopped us for a cigarette; and, it was truly

warm.  The sky was gray and the stoplight red
where we suddenly waited.  What was the point?

That night we walked barefooted beneath obscured
constellations to the pier's end; we met some girls

and saw that tucked in darkness near the highway
a bathroom door was left open and still lit.

  The Evening Light Attempting to Hide a Dark Horse

The all-too-restless become bitter with hope, stalled
by a pale light issuing above standing water—yet

they retain the ardentness of their sourceless unrest.
Granted, it's much like sharing drinks in a crowded bar

where a pact is stricken the hopefuls knew would soon
be broken—outside you watch the tattooed haul rock.

You feel their vibration at odds with your heartbeat,
duly violent, sharp, embodying all that is merely
If only you could anticipate the sweep of your desires
as music congealing on your sleep-weary eyes.

Then it would be something you could hold in place
among these big-winged angels in their little t-shirts.

  The Evening Light Holding the Sleeve of Your Dress

Misfortune drifts, or expands toward a mayhem
that can mess you up, push you sadly around.

It's not something to dwell upon. I was fortunate
to ponder the evening's lucid attire, the vestige

of light. Mine was a living largely made of longing
for an ability you aptly possess—your gift exists

as a distraction I wander through as if real life:
the sun was red; the moon was gray; the sky

was love felt in the sleeves of your dress—darkened,
no, harbored as if by a lover's anxious hand. This

evening's fortune was to be blessed with fairies
where, for a moment out of kindred respect, you

  The Evening Light Presuming Our Wishes

Much like a verse suggesting an inceptive purpose
some form of courtesy seemed always to accompany us

and this unnerved those who might obstruct our wishes.
We were able to incorporate this into our happy lives;

small waves, slowly paced, broke lullingly along a thinning
beach; I listened to my child sing her part of this ceremony.

Behavior was a specific thing we opted to reaffirm
as exacting and melodic. It was terrific

yet when I turned there was something definite
I did not sense, but could suspect:   little, elegant

notions that eddied on the bigger swells offshore
as the afternoon lessened its brilliant light.

  The Evening Light Shedding Its Anticipation of Rush Hour

Our journey then began as a misdirected predilection
toward a medium suddenly full with the mystery of life

and headlights jockeying across a raised concrete slab.
The wistful, hapless, urban shrubberies among the crowded

gray memorials—time and time immemorial and memorabilia
longing to wander off through a scattered jointfir

or to moor a sleek pleasure craft and then swim to a beach
offering dirt streets and simple drunkenness in tin bars.  Piquant

amelioration.  ...that which flaps like a seabird beginning flight
moves beyond fear or consummate worry; the imagination

drifts in like a small sun or a bulb through a curtained window
as we seem in ancillary repose, slowly headed toward it.

  The Evening Light Sliding into Hardening Beauty

A plaintive thing spools quietly in unabated
beauty, a hardening beauty—and who knew what

was going to happen in part 2 or in part 3, or
after. Certainly this evening's light had been made

stern by age, congealing as a varnished strata
across what we see—a now eighth story sun renews

its muster upon the pavement, keeping us postured
against a battered abutment and railings. Anything

misplaced, errant, ill-applied or unwrapped was
of little interest for reasons that were both functional

and apparent. Evening was indeed coming on
as if being filmed as a sparkling, big-screen western.

  The Evening Light Through the Eucalyptus

Rather disputedly and near the aloof delimiters
of what you might discern as your receding desire,

all things remain safe from examination.  We try
to think of it as something else:  something

sipping iced tea on a redwood deck in June,
gazing across rooftops while gunshots are exchanged.

She reads a magazine in the pseudo-pastoral beauty
while holding a strong bearing and the notion of truth.

But even truth can lead to a sudden remorse, the sudden
wound; and it's the music that is so unnerving.

A warm wind remains, breaching the gathered trees,
leaving behind them the besieged, beige hills to plunder.

  The Evening Light Upon Two Daffodils

It begins as a growth on your breastplate, round
and red like a wound from a small caliber gun.

It's life in America as you wait those anxious days
until the unfolding. Yet the evenings are forceful,

so full of life—physical in their expressed delight
and profoundly solid. It's two weeks prior to spring

and a couple bulbs start into bloom. You hope
that rain won't muddy them, and continue to notice

a life mostly protracted from true, astral affiliations.
It's certainly clear:   you can hope; you can desire.

You can weed in a rain slicker. What the narcissus bear
may be obstructed by weather, torn, or held briefly
      in esteem.

  For Ricki on Her 40th Birthday

Within the tumescent light something arbitrary hovers
deftly expressing its subtle wishes as action,

or prescience, or, the mundane administrations
of simple manifestation.  Gainfully, dutifully, it dwells:

two fellow employees share a non-work-related chat
in a narrow hall—as you pass you do sense

their good spirits and that aspect of the light
which is filled with much flotage; you either inhale,

sneeze, or ignore it.  And you might ask how this
will affect your waning fertility—but you don't

passing it off as one more incidental question
no one in their right mind would stop to consider.


Rhapsody in the stillness of an August evening,
the light broadening against the pines—big, big

ascensions where a single bird drifts from limb
to limb or pine to pine, or, perhaps, to the oak.

Incidental musics acquire in the afterlight—a dog
barks twice, the lawn being sprinkled, truck tires

spin in loose gravel as insects hum; lithe rhapsody
of stillness in this mid-summer light. The porch flag

limp in the evening heat, the barbeque coals fade
to shimmering gray; potted geraniums glow fiery red.

My wife's washed car shines in the driveway—her
license plate. My wife's broad reach bends over
      a flowerbed.


At last the industrious neighbors make him seem more
than slovenly.  Then, summer comes; his wife suggests

separate vacations.  So, what else for him was there
to do other than visit the forbidden city, doggy-style.

Early luck made him legend—he bet large, he drank long,
he ate big, women followed him to his bedroom door.

Other men envied the girth of his cigar.  That said, fate
adjusted—he lost everything, quick, not the least the
      pink slip
to his guitar.  He sat, deep in despair, in the purple lobby
upon a velvet chair, in loathing and self pity—the unhappy

man in paradise—when his cell phone rang.  His wife
despised the rich, fat bastard she met in the Keys. Why not,
      she questioned, come home.

  Hopeful Emigration

If we could facilitate the sway as an errant music
drifting like a journal of smoke and dancers

where common horns emancipate, and emotions
ripple—here the heady ones press to the front, like

pioneer riders making the treacherous journey.
Leaving us to wonder, as we sat idly at the bar,

if this was a real life, or one merely wearing a fresco
of graffiti and tattoos. Misinformation was a thing
      most easy to gather
as we looked across the mileposts of this evening's
dancefloor—a place clearly empowered, abundant,

and that too crumbling upon sofas and loose chairs—
the darker minions shuffling toward a place unbuttoned
      with entry.


The young woman bending at roadside
was both attractive and distraught,

wringing her hands and throwing them
down in spasms of sickness and emotion.

She was hysterical at having just car-hit
a four-point buck. How easy for this world

to drive you through someone's despair;
how suddenly it pierces you—nameless

and instinctive, as if only the reminder
was, in itself, the terror and focal point:

wall-eyed headlights and a busted grille,
hands wrung white, the buck's black eye.

  In the Beauty of May

There the teenagers stood, puerile
and classic, trying to look tough,

trying to look very cool against
the bright and natty wickedness

of the suburban mall.  Moot questions
they asked of one another.  Moot looks

hung on their sweet, bitter faces.
When girls walked by they stared

a hard stare that meant almost nothing.
When Jane and Sheila walked by

an indifference fell upon them all, each
side knowing maybe half the hard story.

  Inherent Motions

The morning assembles like so many edgeless thoughts
congealing as a strata on our sleep-weary eyes.

In your sweet, soft-spoken way you greet me
with a kiss much like the kiss our parents shared

when we were young and not yet kissing. The peripheral
notions of our scene slowly wander by and are

the essential currency of our uncharted lives.
The passing of each warm and beckoning night

with its salmon-colored distractions and heavy air
only helps whatever this is to further elude us.

We lie on blinding sheets with an assortment
of dreams delivered like converse suns. We shade our eyes
      and sometimes tremble.

  Journal of Cocktails

It wasn't much use, really, to stare
at the Keno monitor above the poker bar

as it, too, was less than fully realized
and lacked those other assumed practicalities

which currently were denied the suddenly
dysfunctional.  Even so, I enjoy the way
     personal reality
can be seriously challenged by the consent
of a cocktail waitress and the ardent wish

to trip over the light fantastic.  Where else
could this be better facilitated?  I've got

four diamonds, a desire to make it five, a plethora
of matches, and some nameless friends who have
     undoubtedly changed my luck.

  Journal of Far Strings

She longed to work in the excess beyond
resident memory.  She thought about this

and how it might happen.  Like the planets,
she expected the conceptual image, substantial

and adequately stacked—and where to suspect
its proliferation.  She dreamt this dream

willingly and when awake; and it was, then,
a vision in itself, set like rock outcroppings

in the slate gray ocean—the sky and brine the full
extent of shades from a single source,—pelicans

winging in the low proximity to the axes, or,
undulating adroitly upon the ocean's virtual
      swells, (far pointers).

  Journal of Youth and Fish

Ablaze with the fecund arrays of his mysterious pan-
existence, he pondered distance through the deft simile

of the ocean's repetitive motions.  He was adroit
with youth—dilated—as sea lions reclined

on offshore outcroppings where pelicans extended
in the lower, non-aquatic planes.  Somewhat behind the

tide's penchant for reach he considered the odd fenestration
of what was curiously abstract:  the wetted sand

he stood upon; the land loss the water swelled up from,
the riven seacliffs crumbling onto the cropped beach—

shaken he was, disturbed by the void of panacea
and the cunninglessness of the ancient, butt-ugly fish.


How arduously he enlisted his random tasking
of quarrelsome memory! A trader he knew
      named Frank
insisted on a monument to our quiet dreams—and,
there were other things he longed to suggest

with demands tendered from a treeless expanse.
Rolling across in strengthening waves, they left us

rebuked—so we gathered our assortment of packagings
and disposed of them in the appointed receptacles.

Deluged with offers, deluged with refuge, I, simply
wanted to stand close to him and feel young. Even so

a man at work propels the incendiary; he remained
stalwart, listing random memory with lithe courage.


Her light found him squarely like an excited
heart beating. As he wanted his heart to beat,

knowing it was truly powerful to appear calm
and contented. It was a short form of courtesy

to display his venerable horns and desirable
notions. He wanted to disrobe before her

and wait for a few virile reasons to begin
the lineal, loosely-structured passage beyond.
      But first
he would share some food with her. She too
would want to eat before pausing long enough,

before he could press his chest against hers
and hope to interpret this first uncertainty.


In love among the outlayed nations, his eyes strode
upon sepia roses as platitude insisted upon motion.

And the movement was found to elicit anticipation—
we marveled at the oracle and her selfless courage.

Waves broke along a narrow beach and I could only
imagine it:   the delicate music of silkscreen.

Sand traveled everywhere without packing a bag
and still left offers unopened. Larry knew a barrister

named Frank whom we all despised. His behavior
was embodied as our observations were reaffirmed.

Yet Larry retained his service:   'the defendant awakened
harbored by the feeling he had not been revealed.'


He shook his head while the likes of resource
ascended ours. He shook his head

and from it fell a resplendent love
garnered from unstable notions. There were things

Larry enjoyed as service while the rain renewed
its luster on the pavement. It fell in a deluge

like offers at his feet. The restroom was unoccupied
even as existence spooled unabated across it.

So he stood naked before its mirror and recalled
his youth. He found he could now move through life

without its usual tremblings and exacerbations;
he saw delightful things in the fey, artificial light.


Rain fell and the sky shed its lightning with thunder
on an oddly altered landscape—dark blue hills

softened with live oak where evening was struggling
and Larry was both angered and tempted with offers.

Outside the yellow rushes of desert grass swayed
with its associate bushes and seasonal gulls.

I too am drifting and moved by life's hypnotic
motions and by chance I turn briefly to see

his beating heart beating now against the pillow
and the bathroom door left open and still lit.

I listen as his plasma enters the respective chambers
noting that even the plaintive will awaken, rested
      and astute.


His early data was disassembled and queried for bias.
What continued to take place only did so as long
      as Larry
enjoyed its service. Rain renewed many aspects
of this life, then quietly withdrew—leaving us a splendid
      crescent moon.
Again waves broke along a narrow, sheltered beach
as if this broken music could be translated anew—

and still we failed to sense what was truly powerful.
Larry knew a near mystic named Frank who insisted

this movement was meant to exist as anticipated...
The restrooms were oddly unoccupied and something

wanted to stand naked with us and feel loved
as a blowing rain fell against the piled sawlogs.


When first it fell as downtown, resplendent love
the movement was thought to exit as anticipated:

the plaintive and the rested awaken; this fact was noted.
They gathered their assortment of admissables and left.

Larry knew a broker named Frank who had insisted
the offer be not quite revealed at the Orchid Bar.
it was riding on how cleaver the moon was that night
as if the broken likeness of truth could be captured

with offers, or deluged with spectacle. Larry, simply
chose to brood about it. The young have problems

which may seem benign at first, even surmountable
as rain leaves diamonds upon the city and its lights.


Nothing marred the thick lines of his black
leather jacket, yet when it ceased being ceremonial

was his hope to find love among the rural stations?
Smaller in scope the plaintive and the restless dream

the other is not quite revealed at the Orchid Bar. It is
as if the evidence of broken cigarettes could be translated

into a verse suggesting an original purpose—one that was
just not met. The restrooms are plainly unoccupied

and longing for a fresco of graffiti. Barring
the moot discovery that nothing has been obscured

by the evening's arpeggios, Larry quietly withdraws—
his Harley roar quickly receding into what is still
      the night.

Bounding up the canyon was a truck in which
some boys craftily inlaid themselves—what more

was there to do other than lean on the porch rail
and watch the alluvial landscape change

in ways that would never seem odd or senseless.
The opuntia vigorously impaled feckless tumbleweeds

as the first chords of 'Purple Haze' subsided;
to get to that place where a pact could be stricken

our lives begin and expand toward something fertile.
Larry clearly enjoyed this feature as the afternoon
      moved on.
If the broken magic of high school could be assessed
he guessed it was this frail, columnar light receding
      from everything he knew.


A Sunday in late summer, dusk; shadow en regalia
as our man leans against the porch rail
      and contemplates
animate leagues of clouds amortizing the light.
Their likenesses amused him like electric tools

and those shapes that happened also happened
to drift away. The trees reached into a sky
      that seemed
at the edge of deliverance. He suspected something
that was too deft to manifest; it was so quiet

that evening that his breath, that his pausing
to breathe, was met by something else pressing
      against his chest
like a landscape with handsome ornamentals, scattered
boulders, and a dirt road evidently leading toward
    distant arpeggios.


Was she brooding, or assiduous, he wondered
while she disrobed before him and looked

for direction. And what might she think
of the body's pageant, later—post-encounter, when

now slips into memory and then...  She feels
his warmth reach her loins and things change

correctly for a few minutes, followed by a few
casual moments of examination and companionship

until a boredom returns, headed toward loneliness.
She dares not scratch an itch and instead

turns toward some calico hills where, already,
a few scurrilous things are starting to assemble
      and shine.


Larry thinks:   my hopes are sincere, modest; I have
a friendly view of these moored, pleasure craft

settling upon the blue bay—the dirty haze above them
only enlivens the sunset. Yet the background music

starts like a sign buzzing-on above the entrance
to an empty dancehall. It mildly surprises

the security guard in his continuous wait-and-see
reluctance—he is, without doubt, the scene's most

discrete dancer. How awkwardly the light
now spreads as if this were the Evening Light

as Fate would have it—full of raw contempt, bored
with drunken enthusiasts, but ready to fuck the night.


Approaching glass doors, narrowing to entry,
their sullen looks fell like a virus. The pointless
      rest of us
may well be content to merely be a piece of it—
an essence of being, inarticulate dispute, atom

of the universe—but deftly immune to this
cryptic elegance of uneven life. Congenialities
      for some
are just not enough. Larry stood tucked in shadow
and tired of these neighborhood vagaries. In this
one might eventually come to believe in
the weathered light from a frontal. But what remains

is the outcome, the wetted pavement—each day
ground to a point, wavelets licking at his ankles.

  Little Wind

A little wind was stumbling through the nut orchard
as a hawk rose in anticipation.  Some form

of implied consent seemed always to accompany us
like an incidental music.  There was a drum sound

or a sheet flapping on a clothesline, and the sky,
sky blue, appeared to be moving in ways that were

both exciting and melodic.  It was like finding
a clearing suddenly full with the mystery of life

and we then wished, like kids, to discover what lingered
across the drainage canal.  Evening was coming on

and this little wind was stumbling through the nut orchard
as a popular song traveled to us from a truck radio.


All of the women who took the woody trail
to Harwayne's backyard hot tub

were small breasted and enthusiastic
which lessened our difference. As

wives of friends, as lovers of friends,
as friends of friends or their sisters,

as cohabitors and cobelievers in water,
we favored its caress—choosing to think

or to not think, but certainly to watch
the illumination of buttocks

in full moon light—steam spreading
from our chests, the weakened shadows.

  On a Western Plain

And before us lies a long, lightly-treed field
—an accurate delineation of an afternoon

that holds steadfast. Our elected destination,
to lean against a porch rail and dangle a beer.

We could be content, even thankful, standing
as these things labored to satisfy the soul.

As time would then grow, and make them
things that now happened and casually passed—

you chose to embrace the advantage of difficulty
as we both share a lamentable past. It was your

preference of an imagined scenario:   cottonwoods
billowing overhead; the clouds anxious, fleeing.


Who knows what's going to happen
after you car crash or join a private club

with ideals that may come between us.
Will I still love you? And will I continue

to see the morning as a light that fills
the riffles in our bedclothes with an expression

of my being, its incorporation with yours
and whatever that other thing is

that passes as the tapestry of unbuffered life.
In this lovely place where anything can

and does happen, is it permissible to allow
these things to satisfy the longings of the self
      and its promise?

  Quail Eddy

Something was bothering the quail, some drama behind
the woodshed, but I couldn't see what it was. The sky

had already started to darken and its sharp light fell
in rumpled sheets across the pasture and its cowpond.
      I raised
a thigh against the porch rail and opened another beer.
It was a good and pleasant view to examine keenly;

there were opuntia dancing among the tumbleweeds
and an old truck just coming up the canyon

delivering its signal of dust. Fine instances
of pastoral harmony herded my shifting thoughts

yet I left them to start the evening fire. Later I shall
take them where their fire shadows dance against the
      canyon wall.

  Sea Cruise

I can only think of it. I can only
reel:   waving from the rail, gazing

across vitreous water—it rose
above the landscape and heavy fog,

a landscape itself:   lights, colors, passions...
On shore that night we walked, barefoot,

the dirt streets and drank in tin bars.
Rain fell and thundered while urchins

stole our change. Devils watched from
little tables as we grew mythic, too

subtle to annoy the bartender—laughing,
disheveled, our wings like fallen bra straps.

  The Secret Life

As I leaned into the bathroom mirror, a rooster
crowed—unenhanced anthem of life and little things.

I ate some cereal and packed a lunch.  I greeted
our neighbor's Dobie in the drive, then headed

for the freeway and drove to where the mountains
rose in happy vistas.  Stepping through the clear

membrane and into the secret life, I continued on
my way to work:   an ordinary April morning

as the sun shone down in unenhanced anthems
and little spaces.  I sat quietly in the secret life

in which an oak tree played an afternoon part
and was, perhaps, its most beautiful player.

  Some Thin Clouds Marring the Morning Light

The day was untiring as if it sensed the night
which seemed benign at first, a surmountable urge

to wander through an empty winter woods
or to raise a red flag from a circling boat.

When you were young you took love in ways
you could not reform, especially near a river
      or on an interstate.
The sun moved in on this and its warmth herded
inside you a pastoral harmony of troubled thoughts

waiting for deliverance. You suspected the ideas
would be interesting, clear, and informative

even to medical technicians, one of whom is combing
from your chest's shaven expanse, some thin clouds.

  Suitable Distraction

As Uncle Ken readies the evening light
each furl is detectable to the ready eye:

they came in a big-tired truck with blistering paint
—the neighbors' Dobie met them in the drive;

the aging and sullen Dick with his bare-chested,
witless son hoping to find that place where a pact

could be stricken—the demands of which Ken
was happy to consider. They paused there
      with hands
on the waist, each eyeing the other, then finding
the plain reason of virile distraction. Spring kept
its showy self, bud stricken, as the light elects
to emigrate across the cut of her hair, the dip
      in her collar.


I like summer because it is hot.
Boys drive around, bare-chested

and browned, in little trucks
while the girls feign they can't

foretell the future.  It's a great time
to get drunk and dance to music

or sit by the quiet lake at dusk—
spirits knocking at your skull—

and marvel at the lithe strength
and beauty of our children.

It is the only fair thing:  to let them
sprawl about, idly, on vacation.

  Summer Evening

It then finds itself as a thing we'll reconsider, basking
at the tire-marked edge of a barren parking structure:

opus of late afternoon—the advancing grace
of grace in light. We sense and begin to wonder

how it unfolds so largely unrevealed, unheralded.
A pleasant task it is to examine it keenly; the distance

squashed, dioramic, cottony with evening haze
and the odd pointers of dragonflies darting about

breast-height to hip-level—crazed, quick, dark shelled
metaphors of the too, too many variables embedded in...

It could happen like this:   you leave work late, and
find the caladiums sprawling the borders of the walkway
      languid with excitation.

  Uncle Ken Fixes to Ready the Evening Light

Articulate and simply proffered, the light was never
errant or misplaced. It was, to us, of simple

interest—like a summer dress, a hair ribbon, or shiny,
new shoes. Even so, we joked and made wishes

and felt privileged to be witness to this release
of autumnal light. Light like a thin blanket, light

on our opened palms and on the geese by the cow pond
and the brown leaves crowding our abundant garden—

Aunt Gwen brought out supper and soon Uncle Ken
put his pipe down on the fabric of the tablecloth.

There was something in the space between them that
I could clearly see, and feel, and know it was where
      I might always find them.


Having come to expect little else, this inaction
captures your attention, then yanks it abruptly

until you watch for it to occur. In a coffee shop
fluid with desire, you find yourself again beneath
      reddening clouds
as your refuse is carried to an undisclosed site.
Misanthropy and disinclination rush into bloom;

something behind the dumpster now bothers
your attention traipsing out on a line somewhere
      between wooden clothespins—
a landscape drifts beyond, faltering in dissent.
There is an ability you aptly posses, an unwanted
existing as merely one more thing that hides out there.
It could happen like this:   you leave work, late, rain
      begins to fall. Transgression.

  Working When Mozart

As rain renewed its luster upon the pavement
the afternoon eddied its elder passions

in an eventless release.  How benign this movement
then appeared.  Characters scrolled down the monitor

in green, numeric cascades—as research answers
for aggression, a defense for planned enterprise

when the rain ends:  when Mozart began
an old melody I saw through the window a hill

rising up, cloaked with brush and weed
trees and lumber pines of primeval majesty.

I longed to cross that blacktop to the deer trail
and follow it to the top—but I did not.

  World Party

The hills are a smoothly-weathered landscape; dullard
brown, rising behind town and running past it and down

to the river.  We watch it with distraction and a bonfire
among the gathered trucks and ephemeral tumbleweeds.

The green is the river flowing.  Some willows soften
the arroyo as it wanders through the mission canyon

and the jockeying headlights—and then, in the blackness
beyond the railroad trestle, it disappears.

Not much is revealed by the two, stoned and whirling
dancers:   you're sitting on the tailgate of a small truck

listening to what might be another beat to your life...
certainly not adobe or something you might have heard
      on the way to work.

© 2015 rdking