Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Say My Name

What happens is the way the weather changes
or the sun sitting a few inches higher in the sky
bending back along the wings of 3 pelicans
gliding above the surfline…

A fistful of sand & a rippling curtain of mist
is about all I’m going to need for the forseeable

PART TWO (later that same day):
The collected writings of Chuang-Tzu
balancing on the broken neck of a tequila bottle

PART THREE (whenever):
A skate wheel, an avocado, the nape
of your neck & all the crooked numbers left
            on the table like weighted dice

1) That’s you speed-shifting on Mulholland Drive
2) That’s me in the headlights

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flower of Michoacán

Tap.  One, two, three, four.  Tap.
Everything is light & dark.
I should give a fuck.

"You have evidently mistaken me for
someone who gives a fuck."

Tree fern.
Sea shell.
      3 yards of the finest silk.
                  21 miles of pavement.

Ocean W A V E S .

Tap one. Tap two. Tap three. Etc.

If your tongue swells, your vision gets blurry,
or if you have trouble memorizing The
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
it may be the sign of a serious side-effect.

If you experience chronic feelings of euphoria,
or start walking funny
seek medical help immediately.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Revelator Blues (A Valentine)

for Pamela

A sunset sky w/vinyl upholstery & tinted windows
parked just above the ocean horizon
You can see it from horseback
on the bluff where the seabreeze strums the barbed wire

Possessed as time
a furious passion
            rattling in the eucalyptus
like the ghost of a previous expense account that
neither of us ever knew

It all comes down to a loaded deck of loteria cards
unfurled like a scroll of waves in your dreams
where I speak to you in a cardiovascular language
whispering the sweet nada that you know & I know
you love to hear

Monday, February 9, 2015

50 Shades of Turquoise

A grip of dreamless blonde sand
& all the indulgences wrecked on adrenalin & perfume
drenched in corrugated steel.
                        The sky & the streets slanting down into the sea
                        just like me
                                    in advance of a cold breeze off the water
                                    that has knives in it.

You need not fear the Eskimos drinking Vietnamese coffee
nor the waterlogged legions of the dead leaving their damp
footprints on the concrete.
The beach is lit with votive candles in glass
            jars painted red & the damp pavement breathes
                                                the same air you & I do.

Draining the color from telepathic neons
the tides answer to a mythology
older than the gravity that sleeps in every stone
cobbled along the shore.
                        Something we don’t understand & only half believe
although you would probably dance to it if given
half a chance. 

                        We hit the road for Malibu or Damascus I
                        can’t remember exactly which.
                        A pharmacy in Chinatown, fish tacos in a parking lot
                        near the beach.  Redemption wasn’t in the cards.

                        Stagelit streets descending as in Tangier, or Todos Santos,
                        or an Albuquerque by the sea.

                        We slept on a stone floor in El Rosario
                        awakened in the dark by the thunder of the surf.

                        I may have been reaching out to you
                        with two or more hands
                        at that very moment
                        bending like a spoon to the flame.

A heel of sidewalk groaning with albatrossian hang-time
bedecked with seaweed brocade.  A surf manual
translated into Church Latin.  Chop suey w/a Spanish accent.

Straight from the bottle that stuff
lingers like a puff of Papal smoke.
So promulgated between tides.

There was sand in my ear & a million reasons
the air was seasoned with saltmist & car exhaust
            & your heart was like a flotation device…

The road north was just like the road south
only played in reverse.  I rolled in at
twilight feeling like Cortez—a real killer. 

Nothing had changed.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

(Je Suis) Charlie Don’t Surf

I swallowed some seaweed laced with
30-weight oil then
pulled out my guitar & sang Allah Be Good
launching into a prowling mambo
like Chuck Berry on Mexican radio

I got religion somewhere between the
second chorus & the freak-out section
but I gave it away to someone who needed it

I was still dancing when they took me home
Bonnie Moronie, Be-Bop-A-Lula, Twist & Shout

I said we have to spill a little something here
in honor of the dead

You handed me a can of Diet Dr. Pepper

You were wearing a t-shirt that resembled the
Pacific Coast Highway
awash in sunlight & doom
& I was replacing riptide intervals of shattered glass
w/the silver-green ripple sound 
of eucalyptus

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Among the Windchimes

I was thinking that I would call you
around 4 o’clock but you died between 1 and 2
that same afternoon.
Sandra called me with the news.
Both of us unable to choke back the tears.
A light ocean breeze came in through the screen
door & I thought I heard windchimes, but
they were out on the patio at 2319 Louella Ave in Venice
in 1971. Dad was having a
smoke & you were laughing at my Don Ho imitation.

I had just seen you 3 weeks earlier,
a Christmas visit. You were so frail, had been sick since Thanksgiving.
I told Pamela I thought that this may be the last
Christmas with you as we drove past Rincon the
sunlight glittering on the water.

Talked to you on the phone shortly thereafter,
your voice weak. I told you to get better, because
I was going to take you out dancing on your 87th birthday.
We were going to “cut a rug”.

The hummingbird visited the feeder in your backyard
but it was empty. The house was full of family–
my brother & my sisters, nieces & nephews,
your grandchildren & great-grandchildren.
My heart fell flat as I entered. It was the first time I ever
visited your house without you there to greet me.

I kept my sunglasses on in St. Mark’s Church, the way you
often did when you went grocery shopping. With the shades, the
black suit jacket & skinny black tie I thought I
looked like one of the Reservoir Dogs but Alan said I looked
more like one of the Blues Brothers.

They have new stained glass windows in St. Mark’s.
The plaques representing the stations of the cross are
also new I think. Shadows danced across the altar all
during the service.

You told me once that you used to
talk to me when you were carrying me in utero
before I was born. So now I talk to you
after you’ve died.

I talk to you the way I did that aftrenoon,
out on the patio, among the windchimes,
& we heard a mockingbird singing in the avocado tree,

for Maxine Dorothy Opstedal, 1928-2015

Monday, January 12, 2015

Fringe Elements

The seabreeze played clawhammer banjo in the rain.
I was hoping you hadn’t noticed. Seagulls. Clawhammer. Wind.
Banjos in the rain.

Maybe you know what I mean. Maybe you’ve been there.
Playing Parmenides to my Heraclitus.  A not quite harmonic

Secrets buried beneath the waves.  From Point Dume to Rincon.
Seagulls cutting through the early morning mist.  Sand
scratching the bottom of the bowl.

I saw lights on the water like neon trembling that night
in Chapultepec.  I didn’t want to know what it meant.
Octavio Paz vs. Fu Manchu.

The tide comes in & swamps out the surf.  Drinks were served
out on the veranda.  I preferred the rainpuddles
in the parking lot.

Chinese checkers.  Correspondence.  Empty mind meets empty sky.
The source code of a generation.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Days Out

Magic fire wheel dragons in the seafoam
like votive candles flickering on the steps
of a Mexican church
the sky all decked out in turquoise & silver
I was feeling as responsible as a Hawaiian cocktail
spilled on the sidewalk at the foot of the pier
“Bone chance” as the Frenchman said
Salt mist leaning against the seawall like
a water damaged copy of the Manchurian Surf Almanac
Seashells in the sand, maybe diamonds
& writswatches…
It was Tuesday morning but felt like Sunday afternoon
Every card in the deck was the Jack of Hearts
& every blade of sand spoke Latin
w/a Japanese accent

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Way You Look Tonight

We were drinking sparking water
S. Pellegrino
“What’s the ‘S’ stand for?” she asked
“Steve,” I said

& the fog was rolling in
it rose from the beach like Godzilla
& slowly lumbered up Ocean
Street very deliberate

purposeful I thought yet mysterious
& damp I needed a shave
my sneakers were full of sand
the palm trees threw down shadows

the color of Guatemalan jade
We were called here to judge the pageant
although we know nothing of these things
of the two I suppose I’d choose the darker

more obscure version as it provides the
imagination with ample room for error
as if one were to read only the footnotes in
Ovid’s Metamorphoses

cross-referenced w/the way you look tonight