03 January 2014


no binoculars, no camera.
but my bifocals
are on -
a set of lenses for the page
and another set
for the pewter bay.

teals and shovelers
at the close edge -
colors nearly visible
with these slight aids -
a flicker of green head,
a trace of rufous breast,
in this dry shroud of mist.

like years ago
into a stand of doug fir -
the surface
of my eye
as dividing as

and how it seems
one can slip
from the embodied world
as simply as a bird
dips beneath
the sea.

with relative ease the
rings of saturn can
be seen -
i've seen tahoe and the outer banks -
as clear as a map -
through the window of a plane -
the aurora borealis
and the copper queen mine.

    and the tide keeps coming in

the tide is coming in or the
the tide is going out and
you finally learn to see
through your own
set of

under this laurel
on the grassy shore - the bay
indistinct from sky,
teal's movement defines space
and where we are is alive.

13 December 2013

a sonnet for Manila, Calif.

13.12.2013 says dennis the small,
fist pumped, glorious, in regal repose.

these are the dreams of the fingers and the toes -
beards entangled in barbed wire fence.

it's not for lasting glory that we fix these leaks.
20 miles per gallon and all the juice you can drink.

herman melville, in a fatal leap,
makes it somehow safely to the other side.

each refusal keeps us warm -
each remnant's where we hang our cloak.

- a broken record's siren song.
- a box of staplers interrogated by a flood.

telephone call from invasive doves -
the surf's ceaseless roar, the nearer shore.

10 December 2013

This Poem is Titled 'Emily Dickinson's 183rd Birthday.'

Here's what you do - 
Take what you have -
make it kindling.  
Chop the table -
smash the chair. 
Split the trunk. 
Expose the heart. 
Build a fire -
stand within it. 
Wait for what flies.

We follow the gull along ocean drive.
Dreams colonize.

Every beast is driven by hunger - we with an
     instinct for god's own grief and a place in 
     our breast for beauty to abide -
     a pigeon smeared across pavement, 
     with lifted head, strains to rise.

Desire is the mold that longs for the model.
Desire is the model that dreams of the mold.
From the splintered remains of yesterday's axework, 
find in the wood grain a small bird's eye. 

14 October 2013

first few days of the new cycle (field report)

a week since our completion of the yearly circuit
and still we are finding these muddy flats
under the
generous bright paw filled and poised below
geese have their seams across sky and chuck.
let these few minutes stand for those.

we find our instruments are not key.
these largely un-moorable instants -
the calendar flows like honey and the cupboard is bare.
waiting for the next remittance.
allow extra time as a tax
on the poor.

in the air we have seen all manner of great things.
we find these waters fine, though bruised, and needing
further care.

our last entries are not final. if we take the temperature of
the sky we will find a layered delight and more.
every blackbird will find us - and still we
hear of gunned down pelicans and their allies.

we cannot speak this code much longer. please find this
under the leaves, under the weighted winter moon -
our plea is what any would consider - the lengthening day - the pearl blue corner of the set sun.

12 October 2013

the wild jersey cape -

an introduction

true, i was born in new jersey,

sandy soil, farmland, glass factories -

ten miles from the salt marshes and pebbled

beaches and horseshoe crabs of the delaware bay -

and the ocean a million years away -

necklaced in boardwalks, rollercoasters

now casinos and condominiums

boarded up motels and neon pizzerias

held two miles at bay from the mainland

and the trees by causeways of

falling down custard stands and

houses up to their knees

on the muddy banks of

the pavement and

bays that sometimes freeze -

and the ice rises and falls with the tides -

and now and again snow

knocks the common reeds,

what i thought we called winter wheat,

into the cracked and meandered sea -

one way of looking at it

i ran loose and free

in the oak and the sweetgum

and the hickory and

turned my eye plenty

toward the grey sky to

watch the turkey vultures ride

what thermals they could find.

i saw the difference

between pin oak and pine

and knew what i knew

from an unremembered dream -

i ran loose and free without a map

of the world and didn't learn

the names of things -

i marked the way by the

slant of the sun and the

sliding perspective seen

mostly from cars and

of course tv.

robins, blue jays, buzzards and crows -

gulls and sandpipers,

mallards and geese.


i can't think of another kind of bird

i knew as a kid.

ducks paddled by the shore of the lake where i swam.

i knew the big dipper, the little dipper

and that's about it.

pigeons, i guess.

i was thirty-five years old

and on another coast

before i learned

the path of the moon,

from my place on earth -

not a diagram or a description

in a classroom


two more ways of looking at it

you can take jake's

      landing road off

           delsea drive

past the hundred year old pines

      planted perfectly in

           rows and grown over -

to the edge of the marsh

      and follow the leads

to the bay.

there are too many kinds

of memory to count.

now i can stand under

the night sky on fire

and whirling.

the galaxies,

           it is proven,
     are spread.

           i can walk

through the

moonlit woods.

i am anxious to

           sail on my own

      taut wings -

now and again a

      long fingered feather


a frothy wave

i can tell you

there are hollies with sharp dead leaves

dense at their base and berries

no kid

ever eats twice.

three directions short a world

in 1986

we sit

around the table,

the four of us.

jessica sleeps in her bed.

the dogs

are nosing

the kerosene heater -

the cat is alert with

eyes closed on the back

of the couch.

the weather slants hard against

the east windows.

trees, marshes,

toll bridges, hotels,

motels, beach houses,

fishing piers and spidery

amusement rides

separate the dining room

from the surf.

it is easy to imagine

a boat in trouble -

some pair of eyes

that prayerfully watch

the lights of the cape

grow brighter.

but here it merely

winds and rains

while we listen to

joan armatrading and

smoke the joints flavia has rolled.

rosanne drinks red wine.


i watch catherine,

her brown skin,

smooth and timeless,

her hair cropped close to her head.

she laughs when

something is funny.

flavia laughs

when something is


talking, we talk.

i watch them mouth the words.

rosanne is silent.

and the wind and the rain

whistle and hiss

and sometimes rise to

a dull roar

and our bottles clank

and the songs behind it,

like the covered moon,

swing by

as fascists fight

for scraps in a world 
that is strictly junk.

four men three of whom are dead

sometimes it snows

sometimes the long legs of a frosted wind 
just coat the whole damn place in ice

its a time of seething automotive violence and 
maybe getting one's skull knocked against one of those

rare big cedars

or maybe its just a mother's fist well aimed

its hard to tell

once the storm was howling across

the delaware bay and i sat with chuck and eric 
looking at tea stains on rice paper 
in his little wood shack

on sunset beach -

the concrete ship sunk and battered

and now getting battered some more -

for years i carted a

tape recording made that night -

i don't know where it is -

chucks handwriting on the label -

      "conference at swept away bay"

that was in march

of 1986

chuck now dead - as well as his

old pal bill -

and eric's a carpenter the last i heard

somewhere in south jersey -

no one i know is sure.

and you think of the good

that can come from just about anything -

although death is still death

and won't come to any other name.

20 September 2013


it's not the comforting heat
of the hot sheet metal
of the car door
under an arm propped
out the open window -
the panamints on the right -
speeding toward
stovepipe wells.

    - a self-shattering dream. you
know what i mean.

the unease is palpable in the
weight we all carry.

our collective breath: where does it lead?

yellow eyes -
tongue lolling,
as they say -

a fish in the sea
pursued for his life
by a bird who will
fly beneath waves.

these naked clouds that cover the

now is a good time to love
bare rock - the skeleton.

the feather pressed in amber
we are real.

15 May 2013

15 May 2013

the actual world is not an imaginary friend.
the moon in the sky is farther out than we can conceive
but we can imagine what we imagine
without end.

we can walk to the foamy line where the surf
runs up the sand and see the curve of our
mother's side - the old wine-dark sea.

and then after swimming in
rosario strait - the taste of salt on her skin -
her salt-dried hair: these mysterious traces.
i could show you a photo of the day.

still we have a heavy heart - our errors and
arrogance that cost lives - this empire of
small shovels and pails.

wind through leaves or my grandmother's
bones - the ache is real. who doesn't
dread the piercing wound - gutshot and
too strong to be found?

hunter says you walk following blood.
says eat when you can. with teeth and talons
on painted barn doors, writes free them.