Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pacific Standard Time

It’s dark down here on the sand
although the sky’s lit up like
              gnawing on a lightbulb
                              above the crossed-up swell
that propels the pearl-handled

& the way your breathing sort of
creases the air
              makes me want to pull the shade on
a thousand years worth of
                              ocean sunsets

every single one of them
exactly the same

but I’m hooked on whatever
happens after
                              as the streets give up their
trembling denial
              & the moon hauls out it’s
black velvet paintings
              each worth at least a half-
minute of silence
                              pacific standard time

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Catching the stained
glass at dawn

Lost myself in the
original translation
                              taking it as my own
& not as strung-out as I had thought
              walking to the beach alone

Feeling the palm trees sway
in my heart
              tuning up on the fog
the same way the rusted wings of a gull might
reach for frequencies beyond the
                                                pale light
                              that washes up on the sand
just to prove that I can
& do
              as often as you

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Without vows or refuge

Gazing into a mirror where
all I see is
                              reels of smoke
out along the beach road
              where I don’t find you
leaning into the breeze
                              a half mile from here
Every wave wash foam bubble seashell pendant
changing shape before I can switch on the light
& catch them
                              to be turned into sand
                                                                & desperation
divided three ways
              exhausted like Beach Street on Sunday night
so you no longer need to remember
the way the pavement laid down at your feet
                                                nor the condensed
                              sea-shadows that
followed you there

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Then As Now

“Know ye that on the right hand of the Indies
there is an island called California,
very near the terrestrial Paradise…”
(Garci Rodríguez Ordóñez de Montalvo, circa 1510)
where you might remember wind
murmuring in the
leaves (eucalyptus)
                              The voice is familiar but
              what it says is
                                                something you never heard before
& rhyming the way it does with the early morning traffic
on Hwy 1 so much like the crashing of waves
out along the jetty
              I know you’ve felt that same rush
in your veins
                              & the arc of sunrise on your lips
as you are fully aware that the myth of terror
              lights up every third eye you happen to meet

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A bend in the haze

Sifting through the residue of redemption
hoping to find a few coins to get another
can of Tecate before closing time

Neon wrapped in a gauze of seamist
the pretense & conceit
better left for those who can afford it

Silence reverts to
              justification even though it’s
true I may no longer cast a shadow
if I ever did
                              a random act at best

I can only return to the wavy depths that
I never left in the first place
              & the compulsive imperfections
I have stubbornly
                              adhered to all these years

while those I used to know
              & whose company I carried
concede the rhyme
                              in some other world
                                                too far from mine

with words I might have heard
some other time

Friday, September 16, 2011

Circling the Drain

Cutting the cards to the
blank of hearts
              like trance music & sun stroke
to float the memory
                              sleazy but essential

tide shallows & the rocks there imprinted
with scripture of some sort
graffiti that predates any known language
or wireless reception
as maybe scarred with breath

              & no more shipwrecked kimonos
to worship in silhouette
                              where we’re the only survivors left
to blink         in the fog
                                                & wonder why

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Alien Presence

Description:   light
& dark
as if I really had a choice
other than a surfboard carved from granite
& these heartbroke lullabys

Something about taking a telepathic
chihuahua to church
or bumming a smoke outside the health food store
& dripping water & blank sheets of sunset
tying knots in your veins

Nobody ever read the disclaimer appended to your
suicide note
rhyming as it did with these allegorical sunglasses
& the rusted skeleton of a VW van
half-buried in the sand somewhere in Baja

I speak my father’s words I said in a language he
wouldn’t understand

as one always goes alone
drawn towards the empty waves which are
responsible to nothing
but the vicarious epiphany you’ve
chosen to decline
knee-deep in the shorebreak
on the darkest day of summer

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Force of Gravity

Like a message in lipstick scrawled
onto a tidepool mirror
nobody knows what it means but
everyone understands it’ll break if you
drop it which is what keeps us
coming back for more

sworn to green scenes right out of the tide book
w/bubbles & like glistening
catalogs of subtropical flowers
as printed on silk sleeves of fog
& rattling in the heart of oceanic machines
that manufacture thunder & indecision

If I wasn’t there you’d have to
dream up someone else to talk to someone
else who wouldn’t listen because the song the
wind sings in the palm trees is cranked up to
10 on the voodoo dial & if you had wings
you’d probably make a similar sound

but I’m still here & you’re taking it an
octave higher than any dog-eared hymnal would
ever allow & I figured we were more like the light that
dances across a swimming pool cemetery
than stained glass windows in a ’64 El Camino
parked at the bottom of the sea

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Spanish Blood

The fog laid right down on the pavement
3 blocks from the beach

a September morning in Santa Cruz

The light is endless but it doesn’t have anything
to do with us
wherever we walk
holding up our end of Eternity
“Not to be sold east of the San Andreas Fault”

& learning never to ask why
I sold the perfect stranger a dime bag of wet sand
& candlelight

& draining the ocean from my eyes
I might even reconvene the
Mexican stand-off scene from Reservoir Dogs

but in church latin to appease
the god that wears the tiki mask

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sand Buckets

I tossed the I Ching every day for 20 years
as if that might clear the clutter of choices
made & not made
              & even when the coins came up snake eyes
I still paddled out in my
                                                catholic boy wetsuit
              to charge one last mushy beach break
                              before the sun set & the world & you
                                                into darkness

The Chumash were one of the
few native nations to
bury their dead in a prone position
              A single grave would be used for
more than one body
over the years.
                              The bodies were separated by
layers of whale bone.

Reading Ecclesiastes backwards
if only to reinvent the central nervous system of
the ocean at dawn as a vast rippling
slab of cement you can hear rumbling
all the way to Jerusalem

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Feels like Cinemascope

Exiled on the PCH
with a black pajama death wish
sworn to the sticky radiance of
a shipwrecked resolve
looming like a twenty dollar bill at the beer store

I met my doppelgänger there but he had a moustache
& a favorite tune I didn’t recognize
along with a three day hangover that included the
death scene from Hamlet performed in blackface
by a Tahitian mime troupe

The ocean at my right
meant that I was heading south

The swell was not quite epic but close

& as the fog peeled off
                              another blue sky that
              no one’s ever seen before I said
“Come with me, Blanca,
              & I’ll show you the world on fire”

The sunlit haze that parked itself above the beach
was like love at first sight embalmed in kool-aid

Monday, September 5, 2011

September’s Song

Did you hear about the bust on the
eastside?   SWAT team & all
looked like ‘Nam, he said, but
I wouldn’t know…

He bummed a cigarette
& I watched him go

The fog was holding to the coast

The tide was due to rise an hour from now

There was a time I’d have known exactly
when to vault the fence
& hit the water before anyone knew
or cared & I struggled with that burden

to be the best that never was

& walking back across the sand
leaving no footprints or trace
that I’d ever been there at all

Sunday, September 4, 2011

The Long Goodbye

Last night I dreamed I was
drinking with Nettelbeck
he’s dead but can still hold his own against
a bottle of tequila

I kept calling him “Mr. Fred”
like the Indian dudes he used to
hang with in southern Oregon

I woke up to a morning threaded thru with
smoke & drizzle
had a bottle of Tecate
instead of a cup of coffee
& eventually made it down to the beach to talk it over
with the dark green shorebreak

When asked of their origins
the Chumash point to the west
out over the Pacific Ocean
as being the home of the First People
a place they call the Land of the Dead
where the Great Spirit lives
in a crystal cave
on the bottom of the sea

Saturday, September 3, 2011

It’s okay to laugh as long as you mean it

I didn’t know where I was going but
I figured I’d be there by noon
w/bells on & a big sombrero
made of smoke & concrete
like Eli Wallach channeling his inner vato
barefoot & doomed

You were already there
having read the movie & seen the book
but it took years before anyone realized
it meant driving around aimlessly
looking for a parking place

& now it’s me
standing face to face
with someone that looks like
the you
I never knew
but with the same grace-
ful disregard that
launched a thousand ships

Friday, September 2, 2011

WAIFS & STRAYS by Micah Ballard

There’s a clip in the documentary Poetry in Motion where Ted Berrigan talks about poetry being something like birds singing. “Yes” he says “I lift my head in song”.   I kept thinking of that while reading Waifs & Strays.