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