We're back

After the fire, houses in the chaparral
start up again like new shoots of poison oak.
The resilience of nature? The power
of habit? The shallows of the human mind?

We keep building on the flood plain,
kicking steps up the avalanche chute,
camping out on the crumbling
lip of the volcano.

Those hollow figures at Pompeii,
crouched in the admission of error,
became the casts for Rodin’s Thinker.
Think about it.

In Korea, there are a hundred different men
who claim to be returned messiahs
(not counting their messiah wives)—
and thousands who erect their faith upon this sand.

And here in the U.S. of A., cutting sagebrush
in my yard, the dry winds parting my lips,
I feel right at home with the rest,
making do, claiming ground.

God enters through the eye

Like a fish that sees the wobbling silver roof
That caps his world, dim, lit by flashes,
I look at Mono Lake, its sky and clouds
Silent in a mountain bowl, centered
In the rocky gateway of Tioga Pass.

God enters through the eye, a small, bright hook,
A thin floating line.     We blink.     He yanks.


My gift for his fiftieth birthday,
a Japanese maple, buds swollen
and ready to release first leaves.

After planting he digs a small
pool underneath, lines it
with cement edged with rocks.

This mirror, shaped like a uterus,
reflects the tree as it rises,
the soft green lace spreading

its wings. “Womb,” we whispered,
little girls in church singing
the word, that secret place which

under the bare branches of December,
holds the sun, moon, and stars.

Blood Moon

Beneath this April’s full moon,
an inch of snow fell, eclipsing

daffodils and tulips, their budding
genius. Cherry blossoms wear

white gowns now, shivering
as they somehow—is it possible?—

become more beautiful, as if the cold’s shock
rocks their simple, pink world,

spurring metamorphosis beyond
the binaries of winter-spring,

bleakness-promise, cocoon-
wing. They move into a third space

hospitable for another life
more rare, more raw.

Ewe to shepherd

And won’t you slow your pace, and let us look
at least upon your shadow as you move?
Your darkened form walks all too swiftly through
these thickets, and some rams among our flock
command me stay behind. They say my words
disrupt their meditations, and my feet
usurp the path that theirs would take. You need
me, so they say, to be unseen, unheard,
and let my sheepish silence be the sign
of my devotion. Bleating arguments,
we wait for you to turn; but until then
we trot as troubled stragglers in your line,

not knowing how to reconcile our aims,
or even if our shepherd is the same.