Saturday, December 16, 2017

Canvas 1,111

Canvas 1,111

December 16, 2017

My first thought was, “Christmas ornament.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

Thursday, December 14, 2017


above houses

left dark and unadorned

the stars the stars the stars the stars

and then I saw someone

quite up in years

at her open door

with the dim light behind her


and her house was a hill

and the frost on the ground

was glistening

Wednesday, December 13, 2017


There appeared on the cold winter road a butterfly,

Which came to rest on my cane.

The cane, feeling her weight, sprouted leaves,

And the butterfly closed and opened her wings.

Now, I have seen many strange things on the road,

But never this! — only to discover my cane

Had put down roots. Grateful, yet cold, and amazed,

I pushed down upon the curved handle,

To steady myself and press on . . .

Only to find, the road was gone!

I was alone in the snow!

I was old! And peace descended on my soul.

And my soul was an old shoe

From a chance-forgotten, half-remembered


Where to go?

Where more beautiful than this world?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Eucalyptus, sycamore, peach, plum

The other shoe — has it dropped yet? Or are you still waiting?

It’s a funny thing, sitting here in the early morning quiet, knowing full well the roofers will be pounding away again by eight. In a strange way, although it is a bit hard on the ears, I look forward to it. There are different kinds of storms. Because I also think of war, and dwellings crashing around those who made the tragic mistake of being born. We get a new roof and they get

Has it dropped yet? Or are you still waiting?

Twenty-four degrees this morning.

And I’m glad you’re here.

I remember moving wood onto the porch of my childhood home. From the door, it was a short direct line to the fireplace. Eucalyptus, sycamore, peach, plum. Words, sweet on the tongue.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Proud old men in a row

Twenty-six again this morning. I do like to look back at the weather records, probably because it’s something my father used to do, and partly too because memory is so unreliable when it comes to weather extremes. A couple of days ago, for instance, I noticed the record low was eight degrees, set in 2013. On yesterday’s date in 1972, it was minus-five. One forgets these things. Something one doesn’t forget, though, is the long hours spent pruning our vineyards and orchards during the winter months. We worked in the cold, we worked in the thick San Joaquin Valley fog, listening to the rhythm of our shears as their hum moved up through the handles and into our hands, every sound magnified, a sneeze or a laugh from the neighbor’s vineyard, the almost-sound of someone’s far-off transistor radio. All of December. All of January. Most or all of February. Sometimes even into March. The work changes you. The cold changes you. And everywhere you turn, frozen sculpture. Vine stumps revealed, looking like proud old men in a row. And you recognize them. Planted by your father. Planted by his father. Shaggy with bark. Like them. And what have you become? What are you now? Are you still fruitful? Do lizards and horned toads still congregate at your feet? Ha! You think I’m crazy, don’t you. Well, you would be too.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

The Poetical Works of Thomas Hood

Complete in Three Volumes

New York : G.P. Putnam and Sons


In light of

Twenty-six degrees this morning.

I wonder what I would do if I were a star? Shine like the rest of them, I suppose. And perhaps be gone by the time my light is seen in this faraway world.

Lantern is a word I love. I wonder how old I was when I first learned it.

A procession of candles. No one holding them. Just the candles themselves, moving along, at about the height they would usually be carried. And there is singing.

Where are the voices coming from?

You hear them, don’t you?

Is it the rocks that are singing? The trees? The mountainsides?

It might even be the cars parked alongside the curb. The neighbors’ garbage cans.

All these words need now is a hook to hang your hat from.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Just a few words

Just a few words to say I am alive — so the sun wrote the moon, and the moon passed it on,
and light filled the room, and the room called it dawn, and dawn called it love, and love called it home.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Canvas 1,109

Canvas 1,109

December 7, 2017

One thing I see in this gentle parade, is innocence.
As, who can be angry in the presence
of scattered blossoms and falling leaves?
And, live to tell about it?