Solstice

The soul rises from the south
searching for the sea
falls into the ice
burning, too late to turn

back, the days stay
long, the soul no
more may sleep
in its own heat

and stands still
at this very moment
9:14 am
on a Tuesday overcast

morning, the soul
invisible behind
its clouds
this year

the soul loiters
in no hurry
hesitates
hot and heavy

as if it just
ran a marathon
or swam in a surf session
there on the beach

under a prismatic
eye-catching umbrella
people from miles around
gather in its shade.

Father’s Day

Mornings, like me, enjoyed
up with a cup of coffee,
the first sip a prayer,
an offering, for Patty
and the kids before work,
primed the pump,
but I don’t think he ever
worked on his bio,
and I’m sure he did not
know a pronoun
from a down dulcet.

All day long he stayed
disappeared in the galvanized
wooden shells,
from ground breaking
to the pipes out the roof,
returned with the turning
of the tide and said,
“Get Dad a beer,
will ya Joe,” each
from which I took a sip
until one day I took
too much out of us
and things were never
the same again
but in the mornings
before work,
quiet over a cup of coffee,

maybe I was up early
to go surfing or ride
my bike to school times
my car was broke down
usually a Bug in the shop
at Jim & Jack’s,
two Iranian brothers
down on the corner of Grand
and Sepulveda,
but that’s another story.

Dad was no good with cars,
couldn’t hear the engines,
always “feels like it ain’t
gettin’ no gas,” he’d say.
That’s one way it was just
outside LA city in the industrial
beach town on the edge between
the cool water and the heat
some mornings sunup
with a cup of coffee
and few words, maybe
enough for a haiku:

damp carob odor
as three trees drop chocolate
pods crushed on the walk.

Three Soldiers at Ease

We do not know
what comes next
peace of snow
or a three day blow
of more man made smoke.

Today’s maybe the day
the sun don’t set
we’ll grow cold
in a gold casket
the widow in debt must pay.

But perhaps a parade
truce hugs and kisses
prams and hand carved canes
heads bandaged with
white cotton underwear.

Day after Day the Weather Rather

“Day after day that August, the weather stayed hot and dry. These days we call it real holiday weather but, then, only the well-to-do in those parts went far afield and even a week at Scarborough was remarkable. Folk stayed at home and took their pleasure from an agricultural show, a traveling fair, a Sunday-school outing or, if they had social pretentions, a tennis party with cucumber sandwiches. Most country people had a deep-rooted disinclination to sleep away from home and a belief that, like as not, to sojourn amongst strangers was to fall among thieves. It was the way they always had lived and, like their forefathers, they traveled no further than a horse or their own legs could carry them there and back in a day.”

A Month in the Country,” J. L. Carr [Bob Carr 1980], nyrb 2000, p 82.

And these days the weather
rather like some older person
no longer relevant
fluous, superfluous
your personal covenant
(within a place of your own
family and knickknack
weekends yard games
reprieve from work
a bit of a book
a work of art
music hot dogs
pizza and beer)
the seal broken
by those expensive wingtips
these days full of closet dust
expansive neckties the colors
of ecclesiastical vestments
no one in the office guessed
how much trouble caused
from the either or fallacious
suits
and no longer personally
responsible for the ugliness
of the world
find beauty reflected
in all the broken pieces.

No quotes suffice nor even
allowed the etiquette of now
of an equality unshared in the
shadows of human conditions
the tics of post traumatic
stress disorder
not to mention
the tics of now
living in the moment
cursed with mindfulness.

Anyway, we were on the radio
a dinner party was playing
and we lined up to go through
the food line
like at an automatic car wash
noises on soaps flooding
and after walking down the line
feet locked into the tracks
nude through the car wash
slapped to and fro back and forth
by the wet washing cloths and huge
spinning wheels and sprays
we dried and redressed
and vowed next time
we’d be better rehearsed.

The only thing left
for us is the weather
to go
out in it
to get wet
and dry
wet and
dry
again
and again
day
after day.

Three Men in the Breeze

Pinned to Ted’s chest a list of opinions
changed daily like a tie or underwear
and on his forearms his feelings tattooed
in secret for most days he felt nothing
unless he rolled up his sleeves

which he often did when Jocko came in
stinking of the couch where he put all
his cards into watching sports on TV
exercising his extensive vocabulary
culled from an encyclopedia of games

while story after story after story came
from the very vocal pen of one high
falutin bird dogging Mitch whose body
still twitched from his days in the ditch
of public service (“The buck stoppeth
here,” he liked to say, “safely in my
pocket. I did my time, it’s your round
to buy.”)

Mr. Moneybone knew all about finance
and happily pulled out a wad and spat
into a gold spittoon declaring one
on him for the whole house

though only Agnes in her corner chair
sipping rye correcting papers and
doubting Tom at the end of the bar
where the petrified wood curved
all the way into Montana and now

all their words gone to seed
mixed on the sawdust floor
with that tracked in from the road
in the Breeze a one draft pub
they considered their last deed.


Comma Toes

Where to step a comma , 
to tiptoe haltingly ,
without readers tripping over it ,
losing their way.

A comma pirate drops his
offshore ,
as if it had a special purpose ,
a bouncing buoy ringing a bell ,
a porpoise out all alone.

The comma critic , well-versed
in elementary particularity ,
vacuums up all the fallen commas ,
the mote dust off a linoleum floor.

The exclamation point shouts ,
a telephone pole poised atop
a bowling ball !

While the ear shaped question
mark asks the obvious ,
ad nauseam ,
comatose.
“Why all the questions!” “Why are you always shouting?”

Kitchen

At work in the kitchen
on a new concoction
elbows sharp and beans red
green apron and blue jeans
and barefoot of course
happy is as close as does.

Out of sugar but still
things for better or for
worse she intones and plays
old radio oldies
oh to be home where work
and play equal parlay.

A bit of this for spice
a bit of that for crunch
just a pinch of garlic
an inch of perhaps the
recipe calls for some
extra special bitter.

Pastoral

Past the railroad tracks
around the tents, tarps
bags closed to noses
metal poles drip wet
gravel tar oiled wood
fences chain-link flowered
concertina wire dancing
waltzing in the dust
barbed hooks, tons
of massive steel box cars
ringing of crossing bells
corner of Woody Road
and Bob Boulevard
tall walls with no windows
crows coming down for the night.

Waterbeds for the dead heads
smoke on and rhyme on a dime
ocean lapping at the door
under trestle down to the beach
creature returns to the shore
from the fires the smoky land
strongest survive in water
adapt quickly or not at all
the tortoise and the trickster.

When spirit wants loose
fury shoots craps with angel
for scraps of your soul
passing over buried treasure
the X intersection of forward
and backward slashes
of dashes you can’t recall
the night spent in blackout
in a swell that’s travelled
a long ways to this wave.

The Thing with an Idea

All these things, strewn about
some silent, still insistent
others vociferous, pushy
every thing its own idea.

Are there things elsewhere
in the universe, like here?
Every thing in its spot,
and a spot for every thing.

Locomotion has every thing
a universal movement
a sound, the steel rail
humming when the evening

sun goes down to its spot
giving rest to every thing but
at night things come out too
to catch and release ideas.