Monday, December 19, 2016

Nowhere Near

I've never really listened to the
curvature of the earth which
comes & goes out here on the west
            further enhanced by a variable
compression rate that can only be offset by
learning to endure the kindness of strangers

& so to understand the relevance of monastic
palm trees standing outside the Kung-Fu Taqueria
requires the application of counterweights
along with enough saltwater tequila to strip the paint from
the walls of your soul
                                         or at least enough to skim the 
bliss off our inherent failure like mist 
                          sheering the pavement from the sky

& those trapeze clouds strung from morning 
to dusk with the cigarette girl caressing my indecision

There are other more expedient methods
I'm sure but
                   as for me I've
                                      always preferred the scenic route

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Trying to Parallel Park the Theory of Relativity

Behind  every dark night of the soul there's a
victimless crime with your name on it

As Su Tung-p'o might have said "The slow
train stops for no man"

     & even if you could find the
          haystack in a needle
               would it add a new & different
                    voice to the chorus?

Thinking of the
lungs of Sophocles & the powdery rust color of the
sky right now.

            Voices in the eucalyptus?

                                                              Of chorus not

& the shark tooth
I carried with me for good luck
inadvertently left on a beach somewhere between Santa Barbara
& Bolinas

            a dark beach with pale neon blinking in the mist

so that it was like Chinatown under water

                        I have stood on the street there with my
chow mein & notebook
              & a 24 oz. can of Modelo Especial
                                                     in a brown paper bag
as the weather swept up the coast from south of there
            coming in off the water
                                                         (driven it would seem
                                                          by sea creatures
                                                                       who resemble devatas
                                                               from an ancient sandstone carving
but with seaweed in their hair
                                                        & wearing damp sunglasses
to hide their incendiary eyes
                                                        from those like me who would
like to know

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tomorrow I'll Be Stranger

Late on Palm Sunday
in November?
in the slop & mire 
of the larger narrative

                                              a muscle memory

like the bleached blonde with liquid eyes shim-
mering as she occupies the southwest corner of my

                           & so across the wet
                                                concrete & iron
the hollow stone steps that
                                    lead to fog plumes & forgetfulness
dark overcast skies drill down
                                    a spit of drizzle
                                                  & the gulls fly backwards

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Inside the Sound of Waves

for JEK

Sensitivity Training
The tide rolls in all
            neon-lit & trimmed with
                        chrome & abalone shell
glittering beneath a heavy
sky that
                  leans up against your mind
like a bulldozer leaning against a feather of mist

Airplane Glue
What's "real" is not seen

the magic flash of light & deviant behavior

you'll need to pick & choose...

Otherwise yes I have
among any one of our selves

C  a  l  i  f  o  r  n  i  a

Just as said the darker of the two

rippling in the sunlight

but from there to know
the hand sees what the eyes grasp

if you're listening

November 19, 2016
The little golden Buddha sits next to
            Our Lady of Guadalupe
                        on the shelf above my desk
along with a hula girl,
                        a sand dollar,
                                    a switchblade
by Joanne Kyger

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Exile on Beach Street

Everything is as easy as it sounds
although it may result in liver disease

            If I could remember the combination to
            the tidepools at Agate Beach would it
            even the score?

Always the minute
detail as perhaps these palm
            trees instinctively predict the apocalypse
            (do you think?)

                     & though my gods are crooked and maimed
I'm certain they must hold the clue
                                    deep red, black, silver & blue

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Robinson Jeffers with a Surfboard & a Bad Case of Attention Deficit Disorder

The latest incoming via telepathy
like an outcrop of granite turning to sand

I guess I understand

         The sky a shadow that manifests itself in
                  liquid crystal
                           though knee deep in mud

Palm trees knocking together in the cypress grove
         gull wing propaganda
                  the rain was expecting something epic perhaps?

         He said "My favorite poet is Jerry Lee Lewis
         aka The Killer
         used to surf the Salton Sea on a feather of acetylene..."

& here in the surging rain the
waves rise up, crest, & fall
dark w/foam & the thunder of hooves
charging up from the vast plains of the ocean
floor & across the rippling gray 
pavement of the onrushing tide

(Do I have to say it?)

The roan stallion was a seahorse

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Automated Liner Notes

Tidewater Intrigue Among the Submersibles
I drove 500 miles
just for the chance to
leap from the edge of your
pure white bliss
into a spoonful of
broken concrete

Buy One Get One Free
The morning sun ignites the
sky as scattered clouds drifting in
off the ocean go from silver to
crimson & back again like it
never even happened

Tapping on the Pavement w/a Spoon
Putting the blue sky on hold for a moment a sideways glance
allows you to see a little less than you saw first time around
all of it drenched in radiance & apprehension

Steel Pier Freeze-Out
Broken waves displace the tide
            & the sun tightens up like a fist
say whatever you want it's all true
                                          even when it's not
                              & there's 20 miles between you & your
                        mind (a distance
                                          you'll probably not cover today

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Return of the Native

All things must find their proper time,
So why is it that you have come so late?
                                                      - Mi Fu

The day rides in on hydroponic murmurings
             adrift expendable, teeming
                      w/a little rust discoloration around the edges
                               lit up in Chinese neon
& whatever else it takes to download the shop manual
under ideal conditions
             ever adrift in the commerce of light & shadow

I was thinking of reinventing
the Mariana Trench while strumming the
latitude & longitude of a crooked smile
             as though it might cure the common
yearning love leaves in its wake
                      as we're still learning the shape the sky
             takes inside jagged cumulus smoke rings of
haze & broken shadow wings that
rake the sand
                      testing the pulse of Spanish guitars
                               that sleep in the palm trees

I never but momentarily retain 
             a pretense of having walked this far
resisting like orchids in the rain
                       these defining moments
         gone as soon & trembling frail
                       beneath a pale blue-green silver
                                     eye-of-albacore sky

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Dividing Now From Forever

You have the choice to 
double up or double back

living inside a comic book
version of The Odyssey

with lots of CRASH, THUD, KA-BOOMs
& dialog balloons stuffed with those

dactylic hexameters that still ring like
stones in the sun

but outsourced to California 
where the shoreline has a memory that's 

always going to be deeper than
the history book you lost in high school

or that dry dive into the abyss
when no one's looking

Thursday, September 1, 2016

West Coast Slide

The pale gray & blue sky opens just a little by noon

Remember to pay attention

Breathe in & breathe out                   okay
then what?

                        Try some new yoga poses:
                                    the Binge-Watcher
                                    the One-Legged Seagull
                                    the Chainsmoker

although I'd rather spend my time running tropical interference
while wearing a ceremonial lifejacket & a snorkel

                        retracing the steps of a last tango...

& I told her

            You can bury my body
                                    down by the oceanside
            so my old evil spirit
                        can catch the next wave & ride

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Boxing the Compass

I saw the reflection & heard the echo

            put one word next to another & so on

Rebel Rebel meets Louie Louie
midway thru The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

Blue slab of sky tilted above & somewhat
behind the tortured Asian pear tree

            how so gently applied

                        cooking time 60 to 70 minutes
                        depending on your point of view

Accordions in the cypress
by way of a sonic investment

& those cold blue flames under the sea
like a crash course in Taoist alchemy

Monday, August 1, 2016

Sailing to Tonga on a Wire Frame Mattress

The bronze sky tips down into the
swarming turquoise sea
         & you're prying your shadow off the sidewalk
                  or speaking in tongues like a seagull
                  in a trance

it's just what some call love

         & the wind machine in the eucalyptus has a
                  blown gasket & is burning oil

                           like my heart I guess

         Maybe if you could turn the torch aloe inside out
                  you'd have a better idea where all this is going

& dragging the kodachrome sunset behind you
you sew it all up with silver thread
         as the mile-long shadows stretch out for that
                                                                long haul into night

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Did you hear the one about the owl who married a goat

e  a  r  t  h  q  u  a  k  e
                                           "Did you feel that?"
            a blip on the Richter scale
                                                             tectonic shift
an interglacial hiccup prompting a tsunami warning
bearing down on a
                                         Bikini collision course

          (not the two-piece bathing suit
          but the atoll in the Marshall Islands where
          the United States detonated 23 nuclear devices
          between 1946 & 1958 imagine
          what kind of surf that must have generated)

Nothing out of the ordinary
                                                       Rocking the boat
High seas at low tide
                                                              Calling down the thunder

Friday, July 8, 2016

Mumbo Jumbo

It was a 20,000 Leagues Under the
Sea meets Sailing to Byzantium situation
seen through a Ziggy Starfish prism
on Topanga Beach

Footprints in wet sand

The sound of waves in a bottle cap

but like all the hydraulic lifts & power tools it takes to
fully equip a karma repair shop
& the Dalai Lama drops by to have a beer at closing time
all the angels, demons, hungry ghosts & sad-eyed buddhas
slip out the back door into the lemon light of a midsummer sun-
set filtering down through the abracadabra palm trees that
bow & sway in the parking lot

& you were there pretending you weren't
as the sky tipped back like a bottomless cup of kool-aid
& I almost forgot to breathe

Friday, July 1, 2016

Shiva's Little Grind

Silver-green eucalyptus leaves
shimmering in the wind
like a school of sardines in the shallows

         Another day it might be like the way it felt to
         read Confessions of an English Opium Eater
         in 1822
                              the fog rolling in from the beach
the sun an opaque disk of tarnished 
silver nailed to the sky

         & maybe she walks in beneath it
                  as I reach out to her
                           with two or more hands

Her eyes like dark stretches of intertidal static
raking the dust of Darwinian succession
in blue suede huaraches

Saturday, June 25, 2016


Stepping It Back
Satin & lace.  Seaweed
& foam.  Ripple.  Drip.  Drizzle.  Splash.
Like Venus on a half shell.
Walking tiptoe across the sand.

Behind Closed Doors
A coastal docudrama starring
Odysseus, Ishmael, 27 dancing mermaids
& an octopus named Louie Louie.

Shoes for Industry
You'll be there like water beneath the sea
like a shadow in the shade
like the word "like"
whispered into the wind

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Bleached Chrome

Tropical vines, bamboo palms, Bird
of Paradise

                  big kelp blossoms rocking with the tide

         alongside (parenthetically) Medieval French Verses
                                    & The Principal Upanishads

You were bedazzled by the lurid
                                                             smile of the invalid
& I was wondering who was going to
                           do all of the heavy lifting

The light changes I have my doubts about Western Civilization
high tide, 2.3 ft. at 5:47 a.m., winds light & variable

         burning out a few neurotransmitters

Knossos, Honolua, Oxnard Shores

B  R  E  A  T  H  E  

                           (a great swoosh of palm leaves, pine
                           needles, eucalyptus leaves
                           filling in gaps in the diatonic scale
                           seagulls carving up the fog mist)

Let's wait here a minute
right smack between where we're going
& where we've been
watching iron pipes curling in over the reef

         reflecting the end of not this world
         but the next

                  like a soundproof Malibu
                           in the cradle of Nowhere

or the eucalyptus alleyway
         & the steps to the beach below

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


It's morning & the beach is dark
though the sky is all lit up in
drugstore neon

         VISTA POINT
         The streets awash in a shady gray radiance
                  & damp at first light
                           you weren't the only one to see it

I had a stereophonic reason for being there
spilling the last of the wine
telling you it's in honor of the dead but really just
being clumsy

         The brooding bells of the tinsel mind
                  rhyme with the purloined guitar
                           that was left untuned

( d r u m r o l l )


       1. Ocean dark & swarming

       2. Whisper of sea foam over sand
            between tides

Friday, May 20, 2016

A Different Dynamic

11 heads
2 arms
1 head
1000 arms                   & a mustache
1 head
8 arms
                                                     - Philip Whalen

         "We need something to replace the old gods"
                  she said & I suggested a package of Gauloises

by Kevin Obstacle
         Her faraway eyes haunt my tidewater reckoning

         I was burying sunlight in the wet sand
                  while she performed a suicide tango
                           swaying like a palm tree in the wind

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tell Tale Signs

MOOD INDIGO (somewhere between
blue & violet
in the visible spectrum
as orchestrated by Duke Ellington)

         Correspondence.  Light & shadow.
         Amalgamated blonde on blonde ambience.

That slight tremor in your hands may mean that you've
had more than your share

         It all depends on who the poet is talking to

Sunlight drifts down thru the Merovingian cloud cover
& an onshore breeze that tastes like sea water
worries the dusty palm trees on Beach Street

         This is springtime on the coast
                  spilling shadows across the pavement

                           Darker when seen from the inside

& I'm following the radiant energy 
         where it goes as the sky shifts from smoked
                  glass to morning glory
                           & the streets plunge into the sea

Descending the broken
         concrete steps I could see drift-
wood & seaweed all tangled in
                  clumps, sand streaked with 
tar & the shorebreak churning
dirty white foam
         as in a lost Homeric hymn
                  found again at low tide
                           & with a drizzle of misdirection
                                    paddling out into the
                                             lo & behold
bending light into colors
         blue, green, orange, red,
                  chrome & turquoise

but with a menthol filter

         streaming neural movies
         that were a hit
         back in the Pleistocene

Monday, May 9, 2016

3,000 Crooked Miles to Honolulu

Invoking the pink & green
gods responsible for this pale
sunlight I could envision a future where
spilling the ritual Santeria beads & talking
trash with a Peruvian beauty
queen who teaches Esperanto
would be my ticket to the wisdom, detachment &
compassion that would come to define my later years

I used to think so

& remember the way the late afternoon light falls thru the
eucalyptus trees on the bluff above the beach
& those pragmatic butterflies

I keep retracing the steps I should have taken
my saltwater credentials tripping the ghost
carefully placing puddles of sand 
in place of memory my rose-colored binoculars wet with rain
& every tree fern seashell morning glory (conspicuously)
from here to the Himalayan orchid you never saw but
once in a dream

Sunday, May 1, 2016

“In Elementary Music the Relation of Earth to the Sphere of Water is 4 to 3”


Toshiro Mifune

way out at the drop edge of ocean stream (Okeanos Potamos)
Dance of the Boneless Chicken
& a couple of old shape shifters out for a stroll


                     Los Oxidados awash in ocean haze

Some of us will ride that demon all the way to the end of the line
as it was given us to do
driving blindfolded on St. Samurai's Day

       Forgiveness wasn't in the cards although
       any road that crowded with shadows
       had to be good for something

murky & indistinct all decked out in dayglo neon

so tell me one more time
what's my name

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Payable Upon Receipt

Spoiler Alert
A pale blue sky was penciled in for Wednesday
locked away in a corner of my heart
along with you & the way your colors bleed

The Navigator
Mombasa, Cancun, Papua New Guinea
          (A brief psychedelic cartoon flashback)
Calcutta, Shanghai, Twentynine Palms
          (One size fits all, never needs ironing)
Krakatoa, east of Java
          (Apartment 3B)

Rolling Thunder
As in a biblical remix
her green lipstick & deep
burgundy nail polish

The Miracle of the Rose
We had to take every wrong turn to get here
drenched in radiance & apprehension
both of us doing our best to ensure that the last word
was never spoken

Friday, April 15, 2016

Eye in the Sky

What's evident is
not unknowingly La Providencia
          as the new normal continually falls short of
& the ancillary bikini doll confirms
Love's transcendence as well as the bitter after
taste in the classic sense
                    repeated in the windswept cypress
                    & wet sand when the tide is almost full
although her damp footprints evaporating on the sidewalk
tell a slightly different story
                              & almost translucent
                              in the rusty blue-white haze
is what the Ocean says

Thursday, April 7, 2016

How to Steal a Submarine

Beach Street
You hand me a string of pearls
& a Buddhist road map
"I prefer the scenic route"
seaweed cigarettes at dawn
Bela Lugosi in Island of Lost Souls
Morphine Like Swimming
& the cracked pavement of my native land

Preview of Coming Attractions
Later in the morning the rocks north of
the cove will be under water
& a clean right-break will peel in around the point

The Day is Trimmed in Rust & Mexican Turquoise
& a heart-shaped moment later you
lift your head & ask "What did you just say?"

Standing By the Gate That Once Betrayed a
Husk of Roses in the Evening Fog
A poem has many moving parts

Friday, April 1, 2016

Same Difference

Sacred relics that glow in the dark
         adorned w/rust & beach tar
rolling around beneath the seat of a
faded green El Camino
         heading south on the PCH
                  w/pomp & circumstantial evidence

Every time I check under the hood I'm surprised that the
engine is still there
         a marvelous contraption streaked with
         red & green paint,
                  oil & grease,
                           the metal ticking as it cools

The road hums inside a cloak of sea mist that
thins out as the sun climbs into a flat blue sky
as though it was a litmus test gone terribly wrong...

Some folks keep track of the seasons by
watching trees & plants
         I just look at the way the light plays on the
                  surface of the ocean

         listening to seagulls riffing on something
                  Fats Navarro played in 1950
                           recorded a week before he died

& the wind shifts offshore to hollow out the waves
that Spring morning at Playa San Pedrito
as I drained the last of the tequila & w/numb fingers
unlaced my sneakers

Some things are given to you
while other things are taken away

                                                                     Fool's Day 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D vs The Belairs Mr. Moto (not in comparison but under perfect conditions)


Bali Ha'i

A bird, a fish, a pope
on horseback
                           Dragonfly visiting the
                           torch aloe prickly pear cactus
                           blue agave corner of the beach

or the Garden of Epicurus
is my seashell

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Long Story Short

A lovely accident waiting to happen
meets the scenic cruise we never shared

         & just as I assume that God must
                  always carry a dictionary
                           a little misdirection can go a long way

To learn why the gulls prefer one side of the
beach to the other requires the application of
geometric logic & prophetic dreams

         It seems I was reading Ecclesiastes
         thru the wrong end of a telescope

                  missing a step while trying to cut my losses

                           which is something that is better left to
                           rust in the Elkhorn Slough
                                             beneath a broken seashell

Sunlight streams in thru the cypress
& when the road bends so do you

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Read This Poem & Win a New Surfboard

I spent the dark before dawn dealing with a
case of industrial-strength paranoia that wasn't mine
"Leave it alone"  "Don't fuck with it"  Etc.
approximating the speed dreams of the tortoise

The small print contradicted all claims thereby
reenacting the Fall of Saigon on the beach at Topanga
w/sunlight igniting the haze that hung like a fine silk
veil between you & a water-logged version of Eternity

as if to say "I'm always here even when I'm not" & the sand
drifts across the pavement as deliberate as the
phrasing of an unspoken prayer only half-remembered
Incense, candles & cheap tequila left as offerings at

a makeshift shrine to one of the lesser gods
& though I no longer subscribe to that mythology
I receive subliminal updates on a regular basis

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

What's in Your Wallet?

Way down in the hole.  Climb back out
& start over.

Couldn't say if I was feeling exalted or exhausted
"Is there a difference?"

There are a few things that we can be 
grateful for if we look hard enough
            sidestepping disbelief for a moment
or two

                        a Persian rug
                        a piccolo solo

                                           ( c r e s c e n d o )

1. The wet sand in your hair
            2. (pink) Geraniums
                        3. A full set of half-moon chrome hubcaps

(A no color gray day of rainy mist & dark
TV noises instill a subliminal layer of urgency
though there's no real reason for it
all abstract with empty thought bubbles
hovering just inches above our heads

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Thursday's Number One Drama

Feeling irresistibly restless.
I should move back to southern
California.  There's no reason for the
turquoise stain on my
left index finger.

An Escape Plan:
         Maybe a small portable Tahiti
                  that you carry around with you 
                           wherever you go.

I never think about where you've been
although I often wonder where you are.

                  Some things just can't be explained
                  others absolutely shouldn't be explained at all.

                  Don't even try.

There are times when one must answer to a higher authority
                                                      (a quarter-pounder w/cheese).

The trees are thinking leafy thoughts
disrupted by the faintest breeze.

         Hombre Secreto (by The Plugz)
         blasting from the radio of a murdered-out '64 Malibu.

Three days later I'm still here 
trying to find out what connects a leaky fountain pen 
to an extended vacation
in the sun.