El Porto at Night

Out of ocean back to sun
slow purple tide drifts down
darkness like a tidal wave
floods and a dark fog falls.

Strand partygoers barefoot
swimsuit prance in sandals
streets car-lined seldom trees
dwellings cliche toe crammed.

Sleep cans built on sand hills
swept of seawrack the breeze
the moon in her habit prays
and down rains grace gently.

Each drop 15% ABV the lifeguard
says and turns on your nightlight
what a concept and flies away
into south Santa Monica Bay.

In the distance the bass bob bloom
of close-in closed out hollow waves
like artillery shells down the line
hear water mewling through shingle.

In the morning late for the school
bus stops for you up on Highland
you forget now why all those tears
on a lovely morning such as this.

Before the Mast

I am all wet
wet is what I do to you
with blue and green oils
I fill your valley and canyon
play host to millions of minions
swamp your mountain up
to it its bald peak cooling
your outrages.

I am atmospheric host
to my children who swim
on my skin and burrow
deep below
when one leaves
I cry.

I rise up
and hug the dry bones
and slide away.

I bay and bawl but
I’m not angry but I yowl
and roar and spit
up splash into the sky
drown your bounced boats
I am wet noise.

I know when you come near
and when you go in
as you say
I spread my molecules
and envelop you.

You dive down in me
your bloated body floating
cured with salt
draped in seaweed
and that silly snorkel
you look just like
another funny fish.

I am mostly all body
a bowl of jelly
I won’t lie still
I love my sailing curves.

You can’t walk on me
you talk over me
all your rocks sink
I answer only to the moon.

Closed

The sign on the door read closed
simply and clearly defied to be
misunderstood though cryptically
short did not attempt explanation
explication or anything of the sort
as an action word as still as ice
and as a modifier most unhelpful.

The door was obviously closed
yet several skeptical browsers
rattled the handle the better
to check and be sure the door
was not only closed but locked.

A few others cupped their eyes
peering through the windows
research for more information
the shelves are full they said
well lit by well placed lights.

A few loitered outside the shop
it looked warm inside friendly
somehow a coffee pot sat
at the end of a clean counter
a colorful display with creative
text menu wide aisles sparkling
linoleum floors booths of fat
Naugahyde benches a place
to dwell and tell and repeat
stories but Closed it read.

A Tree Thinks Knot

A tree thinks knot
like we think kneel.
Falling leaf sneeze
and the old oak hip

turns in the midnight
breeze below zero
lights out beneath
full down comforter.

We hurly-burly reach
out akimbo with hug
be underground root
dew moist sensation.

The tree sheds sorrow
and we take a shit
no shave no shower
ready for near wind

’twill blow us off face
of our ease no stress
as we paddle out
absurdly, wildly.

Out about and look back
the trees up on the beach
waving hysterically our
free roots touching salt.

Out of Mind

I think therefor I am
not yet done with it
this out of mind business.

And what of the tree
who thinks knot
the tree is nought?

In a rush to see what mind
is all about I slipped
on the perverted banana
peel and fell head over
heal I fell amongst
the fallen hilarious
it was that one time
out of my mind was I?

Go out of your mind
rush to the sea
there you will find
the blue green anemone
whose lovely
tentacles wave hello
and like us does
everything thru
its nose.

What is out of sight
is best viewed in mind
the drifting dunes
like our minds
slowly change shape.

Garage Sale

The garage sale of my mind was well advertised
signs on telephone poles and online postings
but no one thought to see what they might find.

The mind is a dump full of toxic stuff
tossed flowers blues and greens faded to drab
food scraps bald birds pick at and hot rats scatter
as trash trucks dump squandered load after load
junk heaps smoldering bent metal smashed glass
furniture akimbo wood and styrofoam blocks
book pages torn dogeared magazines ripped
warped vinyl toasted surfboards jelled banners
all absurd plans unrolled blueprint messes
colossal architectural collapse
reductio ad absurdum that’s what
all effort reduced to brood swat and tricks
flood the roads in and out the ear brain zaps
of a blog heap pile to pile one subscribes
lost in here with no purpose no safe pass
age strength twisted steel shafts up and down
leaning precipitously toward the trash
piles of concrete slush crushed and composted
the worms finished their work years ago
today the skies clear ceiling drawn up
don’t let it drag us under these words
will all grow back come spring in new jangles
bright new jungles of fresh piles of junk.

In the Cold

In the still of the cold
when you feel so old
you reach for the one
who’s left you alone.

Your frosty glass rim
shows one pair of lips
another took a powder
now lost in the snow.

No storms rage
if no boats out
no parade today
no lovely waves.

This bitter cold blown
down from the north
now covers our town
white toothed frown.

The mood inside is
frightful the cold
outside delightful
let’s not get buried

in snow
let it go
let it go
let it go.

Solstice

We decline down the stairs
amid icy stares underground
stay warm huddled with others.

We refuse the cold’s summit
but around noon note a bit of
the bump and we stand still.

We see ourselves as heavenly
in the arc of the sun and crouch
of a close moon and our bodies

rotate out of hibernal touch
not to create a paradox
but the point is opposite

apogee if that makes you feel
any warmer the closer you get
the freeze-dry blue eyes.

Back in August when we slept
in the basement to keep cool
you worried about spiders.

All fragments yet perfectly
balanced along hot and cold
lines our lukewarm garbage

sustains us through this
our winter solstice
when even time stops.

Notes on the poem “Summer and Winter”

Yesterday’s poem, titled “Summer and Winter,” might have reminded readers of a couple of famous poems: Gerard Manly Hopkins, “Spring and Fall” (written in 1880 but not published until 1918), and William Carlos Williams, “Spring and All” (the title of a book of poems published in 1923).

The first poem in “Spring and All” (the poems are numbered, not titled) begins: “By the road to the contagious hospital.” Williams was a doctor (Hopkins was a Jesuit priest). Williams’s poem seems so much more modern than the Hopkins. Note how he has copied his title from Hopkins but has dropped the F – Fall becomes All. For Williams, the fall of man is countered, or balanced, by his ability to visit the sick, while for Hopkins, fall is “the blight man was born for.” Hopkins, of course, concerned with spiritual fall, and Williams with physical fall.

Williams maintains the serious theme, but somehow manages to forge a more positive, if not hopeful outlook. On the contrary, “Sorrow’s springs are the same,” Hopkins says. That we can’t hold to a present (Hopkins wrote his poem “to a young child”) – it hides a seed of despair even as the happy feeling of spring stirs us to song. We can’t seem to completely enjoy something we know isn’t going to last. One reason the Williams poem might seem so modern is its reminder today of how contagious contagions remain. The Williams poem came from his experience doctoring those sick with the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918-1920.

Weather is an outcome of the season (to put it in business plan terms). And we are today reminded of the weather and the season absurdly often, via weather apps, news breaks and warnings, prolific pics of the most recent storm catastrophe. It’s hard to take it easy, roll with the breezes, feel the cold as it feels good to remember just three or four months ago we were crazily cranking the AC units to high modes and the fans in the house sounded like jet airplane engines.

And the extreme weather conditions are often today attributed to the global warming crisis, about which some say we are now too late to do anything about reversing the trends. No wonder, like Hopkins, we feel the fall so hard and desperate, and, like Williams, we feel infected by the weather, sickened by it, rather than feeling invigorated or simply challenged to meet it head on:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples, drown’d the cocks!
You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,
Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thun-der,
Smite flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” Act 3, Scene 2.

Wouldn’t it be something to hear your nightly television news weather person to wax similarly throughout the forecast.

What we might often feel, whatever the season, happily warm or shaking cold, is the impermanence of it all. That feeling creates impatience, anxiety and worry, and even depression. Though to stop, to hold still, can mean only one thing. It’s the constant motion we might enjoy, knowing otherwise can only mean to be becalmed, rendered motionless, on the open sea – now that would be cause to feel misery.

And we do find resilience, hardiness, in every season, and within ourselves, the coping thermostat self-modulates. But we need to recognize the symptoms. Then we know how to dress, how to handle, the cold, the heat, the blowing winds. All around the world we see evidence of our ability to withstand, to make it through, to celebrate the season. The signs of depression, like the signs of impending doom of a gloomy weather forecast, can be met with Lear’s mad outcry – it’s ironic, isn’t it? In any event, if we can sense and identify, we can control and change the temperature of our close environment.

Summer and Winter

the freezing leaves and all this grieving
since we left and lost the sea the blues
so far from home why we did roam
the roses frozen now the pipes broken

the hats and coats gloves and galoshes
umbrellas tire chains space heaters
and as our hearts grow colder winter
comes a tidal wave of muddy gloop

wanwood and wormwood show the lies
we strive to live by never mind spring
who lives through the endless summer
cares not when the sun comes or goes

the sun rises not for us nor sets just
past our roof where the real mingles
with mindful reveries of delirious
waves of unknown origin washing

we danced across sand dunes
drifted past coastal goldenbush
sea dahlias and evening primrose
and slept in beds of sober poppy

not to worry not when now my love
we will come again to this summer
this cold for now allows us a deep
sleep a slow dive for full seashells

so we hear in winter the blue sounds
of the sea green vibrations upshore
we grow old and leave behind us
only one place to have summer fun

Out of the Heart

Out of the heart they climb in trunks
into cold sweeps of wind and ocean
rain waves hearing for the first time
trains pausing at the rotting depot.

The silence catches our attention
creates expectation who will get
off who will go away who has come
home to stay surfboard on hip.

Some succulent and juicy tales
and coffee of the road cafes
the strands swept with sand
the cold duffle bags for beds.

Nothing much at home has changed
the cat has slowed to a crying crawl
Mom wears her frayed shawl all day
long and Dad looks like he hears

a screaming coming across the sky
the strain of the streets texted
into the ether a cartoon masks
his bowl of nuts cracked shells.

His heart opens like a walnut
two halves and one have not
together all three squirrels come
to rest and stay the cold season.