A Mountain is Easy to Love

A mountain is easy
to love in the spring.
The wildflowers blossom,
the rivers rush and heave.
Cool evenings under blankets
begged by wide open skies,
the landscape of dusk
with wild yellow eyes.

A mountain is easy
to love in the spring.
Yet warm afternoons
soon spread summer wings.
But summer’s spawn of spring
and so still easy to remain
in repose on the mountain
with tents to slake the rains.

A mountain is easy
to love in the spring.
Till the songbirds cease singing
and autumn takes the leaves.
Tents and blankets both are lost
For a mountain sometimes steals.

A mountain is easy
to love in the spring.
But winter comes to roost
and snow settles in.
It grows moody and cold,
but the mountain is keen.
The mountain is honest-
and shares everything.

A mountain is easy
to love in the spring.
So if a mountain suits you
build a cabin neath her eaves.
But if the thought of winter scares,
stick to valleys, narrow streams
For there’s only so few places
for those with mountain dreams.

Today I Found the Bag of a Homeless Man

A dirty green blanket
In a black garbage bag.
A pair of clean white socks,
Wrapped up in a greasy rag.

A hundred tiny catsup packets
Hidden in your pocket.

A bladeless ladies razor,
a broken plastic bottle
of salad dressing gone bad,
spilling into the bottom of your bag.

An aluminum tin of tuna.
(I gave this to a wild cat.)

and amongst the stains
A bit of bright red
And the idea: You are wounded,
Or perhaps even dead.

An implication in still life
A terrifying sight.

Bag, where’s your Man?
The pride and sorrow,
blood, treasure, hunger, fear
the back on which you’re donned?

Who gives these contents meaning
Now that your owner has gone?

Scrounged from the Wayback Machine from AKPCEP, circa 2005. I was 21.

Coyotes

crossing the street alongside five coyotes

a pack or middling clan

of half dog devils

chests bony

a chorus of panting

knowing open mouth smiles

cheap blankets of fur

and black spotted lips

hunched canine shoulders

swaying gypsy hips

they smell like wet desert

of both the hunt and the huddle

of frozen winter bushes

and howling monsoon summers

of our encroachment

and their struggle

as development snares

new square acres as its own

Now cat alley and dog street

will be coyote clan home

So I demurely defer

and let this nobility pass

but just one pilgrim

catches me in their glance

and across that midnight

black asphalt expanse

he speaks in laughing mute

tongue wagging silent salute

“Move mortal,

We beggar princes are on the move.”

I wrote this poem intially sometime in about 2003 or 2004. I was living with a friend on the outskirts of Phoenix, where the shore of the desert is crashed upon by the rising tide of condos and suburbia. At night, rattlesnakes and javelena and coyotes would invade the neighborhood. Walking back from some misdemeanor or another, I encounter a pack of coyotes in the neighborhood.

This poem sat in its primeviel form in a notebook from that time and wasn’t unearthed until about 2011 when I started read it at several open mics and events. I publish it here for the first time for two reasons- one, so that it has a permanent form somewhere. Two, because my handwriting from the time is so atrocious that the poem has changed frequently. This is the version I like the most.

Weaver and Potter

Playing her loom like an organ

the weaver now wonders aloud

how different am I from any god that exists

but the tapestry never makes sound

Her candles, they always need lighting

no matter how frequently done

the warmth never stays as long as she needs

and the night always catches the sun

when her husband the potter is spinning

and the kiln is baking his clay

it never stands up and bows at his feet

but in exchange it cannot disobey

and when the two have their first child

every creature’s already be named

all of the wolves in the world have already been taught

that wild’s no better than tame

And the stumbling son of the mold they come from

will still wander the world with his curse

and the blood of his brother will still cry aloud

from the fallow fields of the old earth

and potter and weaver together will sigh

for they think they are masters of craft

but in the end they’re alone with their flesh and their bones

shackled by future and past

So god bless the weaver and potter

and potter bless weaver as well

and weaver bless potter and god and the warp

as the loom and the wheel work their spells.

On The Flight of Starlings

On The Flight of Starlings

A murmuration of starlings,

now eastward bound,

clip like little ships

through the frail and distant clouds.

From my window, they are silent,

A moody black shape

that forms and disintegrates

like ash on the winter wind.

Though their litany is mute to me,

I know that in their midst

reigns cacophany;

a thousand little voices or more

swept up in countless conversations:

“where are we going hey whats your name

are we still planning on going that way?”

And each one navigates not only the wind,

but their place in the crowd,

feathers attuned to subtle shifts in the breeze

caused by the passing

of each member of their flock.

They must feel the sky

like a bed of nails rolling beneath them,

a million pins indicating

which tiny twitch of the wing is needed

which little tip of the head will prevent

and aerial collision, a misnegotiation

that could bring the whole shape down.

They must share some biological radio,

some instinctive group soul,

whose frequency will always be

a mystery to me.

And from my distant perch

I can see no reason or purpose

to their erratic flight plan,

and they can see no purpose in mine.