If I could tell you.
I would tell you
that knowledge is fluid
what comes out
of a mountain
is only a spoon full
of what lies underneath
I would tell you
is accidental that is littered
with human debris.
The imaginary is real
when the real is questionable
and so in this, an odd page
out of our past life,
these times demand
we be armed and dangerous
with songs, with poems,
Where nothing is made to order
and everything falls apart,
myriad discoveries spiral westward,
dancing with the eyes of a hawk,
murmering feathery evasions,
sending waves up thrusting to fall
against this coast.
Here, I shall build with the compressed
history of boulders of rock and raptor
round a pillar of whirling words.
whose soul is a blue ox,
or Santa Barbara Song Sparrow
or Labrador Duck
or Passenger Pigeon
races for a threshold to cross.
A crimson estuary.
From the rivers inside of him
the sky pours out.
That girl from Reedsport
Just as the morning mouths its most perfect prayer
the girl from Reedsport rummages through its universe
of colors. She tastes each one as the street before her
flattens and curves into a prospect of artistic whimsy.
She paints herself a pair of sandals but walks barefoot.
Her father ran away with a pair of beautiful twins.
Her mother remarried before her father really left.
Even so, it must be painful to be unable to long for
what you cannot have. She is looking for a puppy
trapped between the beach and highway but there isn't one.
Like the puppy she can't tell anyone about herself.
There are dozens of waves whispering in her ears.
Shrugging her shoulders, she puts their tongues in her pocket.
The girl from Reedsport kisses the sea she makes promises to.
The sea is under constructed. She dreams of a whale
but men throw harpoons at it. She picks up an old shoe
and calls it her philosopher. She sings a song to it
that ends with the word stars.
In my small spiral notebook
I've written this poem about
three burning candles roasting
a dead mule peddling furiously
on his green tricycle to escape
becoming the honored inductee
into an old fashioned Yankee
pot roast and I'd feel sorry but...
I've got dibs on his red hat.
Just another bad poem
Picture the subject.
A mug shot of a poem
that went terribly wrong.
Who is really to blame
for its coughed up fabrications
and bits of hoaxes?
At 10 it was discovered
fondling imaginary landscapes.
At 15 it was accused
of putting to the torch
a party of harmless
adjectives. At 23
it was jailed for littering
Crater Lake with rhymes.
It survived for years
by defrauding gullible
At 28 it was sent
to sing up the big river
for stealing petty change
from the pockets of elderly
Who is to blame now
that it's back on the streets.
More dangerous than ever.
Doing the work of the period "." or toward which it portends.
What is tangible? When our sentence is carried out
nothing is forgiven and everything has already been said.
Every completion is full of minor, little passings.
If the detectives of words were to press against
their own transparencies and shapes
language would show itself to be both blind and dumb
pitching to sunrise a belly full of shouts,
art froths in its saddle, rides nightmares through
to an ambiguous countryside pickled in brine, in pig's feet
where nothing is but seems and poets jump
like trout from the roof of their fatal mistakes
only to land on a tattered page with the tongue of an asp
biting back at mirrors and smoke
shouting fowl play. Cluck. Cluck. Cluck.
In the Capistrano of poemdom
tiny swollen swallow throats stretch their chords.
When Jackie Robinson took the field
Everest straddled Tibet and Nepal.
It is hard for swallows to reach for their throats
or lambs bleat from a tiger's throat.
Going down for the count. Tell me, arenít you ashamed?
Where do you come from? What is your name?
Do you cuneiform? Though my pockets are filled
with barking dogs, it's the silence that draws me naked
through an inch high broken door where time sings in its bowl
and the ocean I sail fills with hearts I now name:
talisman of symbols, icon of memory, love, passion, poem.
Fog off the Umpqua, Oregon Highway #38
Its wings can dip
through mountainous valleys
of trees, of gray clouds,
then rising, disappear.
Trees create clouds.
Clouds sustain the trees.
One calls to the other.
Where the paved
mysteriously far off,
in a charmed tangle of reeds,
a heron nips at fog.
Its voice caustic fire.
There is Reedsport,
a greedy speed trap,
after that, the sign
for Loon Lake,
then Scottsburg, Elkton
and Drain rising
where the river curves
into the wing of a hawk
near the rain dark road
wrapped in tendrils of mist.
A tunnel ahead.
There are tales to tell.
By the side of the road
a crush of crows.
and scents. A white elk
in front of a herd of deer.
In forest clearings
a congress of watchers
as Morning quakes
her waking brow opening wide
eyed to shake her hair
spilling across the land
in a conflict of upheavals
for beauty is an argument
of exclusion, an oblique lie,
a spectator of lost causes
that may, or may not have happened.
Can language formulate
what silence hides?
There are so many failures.
Uprooted trees, Alder lie
like a jumble of bones
in the shape of a broken crucifix
wrapped in the scent of pine.
To be and go for-
this never ending flow,
then and now, a rising thought
dark in deepness, in memories,
dreams and reflections.
Are you here to please?
Are you trying not to offend?
For thousands of years
the salmon up the Umpqua
swarmed. Each year
there were less of them.
The salmon rotted.
Time wounds all heels.
What does it mean?
Care now. What one thinks.
Tiananmen Square. Kent State.
Our home town
in the children we were,
idealizing at the altar
of what we couldnít understand.
Now, butter melts in winter Alps
and our own bodily fevers
must destroy to burn.
We think in Manhattanese
of decapitated heads
up from the mouths of bombs.
Self, do not stress
or lean too far.
Yearning for belief,
it is the air we carve
our names into.
The times are veined
as lichens smothering
the pumice burped
A stranger among us. What does it mean?
For those who know the power of the word,
who seek the key that opens the gate
to what must be faced, a house of light within
and may all shadowy impediments dissolve,
for only they who know what is truly lawful
and not lawful can summon spirits of the air,
the earth and under the earth who present
themselves in myriad shapes, for always,
that stranger at your door may be an angel
or a missing child.
*Portions of this series appeared previously in Contemporary American Voices and Ken*Again
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