The room filled with quiet.
The room with the cat sleeping
On the sofa. One paw draped
Off the edge of the cushion.
The light through pull-down
Window blinds in the house
Across the street.
Easy wind threading its way
Through the oak trees
At the back of the garden.
The fireplace throwing shadows
Across the living room when the
Lights are out.
THE CLIFF CAMPS:
AN ATTEMPT AT A DESCRIPTION
for Mikey West
At the edge of our cliff camp,
Facing the edge of the world
Was a large gate that Ramon said
Was the "Gate Of Where".
In a semi-circle around the gate
Were twelve wells that went deep
Into the earth. So deep
One could not hear a stone
Strike the water below. There
Was water below but it was not
For us to drink.
“One must go to the water or pass
Through the ‘Gate Of Where’
When certain signs are made
Clear,” so Ramon said.
He had been through the "Gate Of Where" a number
Of times and had descended three
Of the twelve wells on previous occasions.
The rain falls constantly into two of the wells.
It can happen much as it does in the place
Where you are now.
“This place has something to do
With the distance that separates us
From everything and everybody.
One day we will know.”
I stood at the wells as if I could
Invent something about each river,
Each throne, what power might do.
I was there a very long time.
I could feel the kiss.
I knew the words of light.
I could nearly read the ledgers of despair.
The water flowers about me.
I knew then we lived in the same womb.
And what of those who cannot speak?
And what of those taken by one god
Or another? Sleep, baby, sleep.
Sometimes there are shadows within
The arch of the gate.
Sometimes the place is muddy.
Sometimes it is bright green grass.
“You will know when it is time,” says Ramon.
“You will know for certain."
DO YOU KNOW THE BREATH?
The ease of a May morning tripping
Across the lawns, full of the mouth
Of Spring, breathing flowers.
Morning dismisses night, realizing
That scene by scene the sky
Has gotten lighter and lighter.
The trees segue to the next frame.
We are gathered 'round the bedside
Listening to the words whispered
To the room. It is as if we can hear
Eternity on the other side of the breath.
In the arroyo the green owls glide
Through the dusk. We can hear their
Breathing. How is this possible?
The Santos are pulled down the streets.
We can hear the labored breath
Of those pulling the carts as the breath
Is sucked from their lungs. Singing.
We walk across the earth, through
Cemeteries and battlefields, through
Factories and burnt-out villages.
Everywhere, do you know the breath?...
An idea that has run out
And finds itself stranded
Between the fence and the edge
Of a deep ravine, unable to move,
Afraid it might be noticed and pointed
Out as something that wears the sweat
Of failure or contains merely noise
And a sad string of flashing lights,
A couple of photographs of performing
Bears balancing large red balls on
Their noses as they stand on hind legs.
This is not the place to be. It
Interrupts sleeping, drives one from
The bed to a small room where it
Can be seen as something extraordinary,
Rather than an anxiety of restlessness
Belonging to a night without a
Moon, clouded over so no stars show
As time drives its mad car up
And down the spine, making noises
With its most colorful mouth.
THE OTHER RELIGION
for Robert L. Wagner
Forty-four coats of Coronado Red,
Rubbing each coat out in-between.
Smoother than lipstick and butter
To look at, gleam in the night when
The garage door is popped open.
The air is a cloud of lacquer spray.
There must be no wind. Nothing
But air gonna touch this car. My,
My, my, how it shines. Only thing
Better is a Fender guitar lying in
Its case. Only thing sweeter is
Everyone just standing around
Waiting on Summer midnight,
Smoking cigarettes and looking
Deep into the paint, seeing their
Lives in there, reflecting back.
So many of them could never get
Over how it was being there,
How it felt, how everything looked.
So that stayed. For more than thirty
Years they continued to talk, to smoke,
To paint the cars, work on them, transform
Them so that they matched a single moment.
IT’S ALWAYS THE WONDER
It’s always the wonder, the mist
Above the morning river, the shimmering
Horses seen through Summer heat on the desert,
The changing of the seasons with their gifts,
The way dreams crowd themselves in our waking.
Waiting along the sides of the road, we see
Butterflies of a most remarkable color rise
From a single bush full of the jewel's wisdom
It creates when it walks among us with a human
Voice. And there, such a lovely woman waves
Toward our rag-tag bunch of wanderers and
Calls to us to come for lunch, right about now.
Brooms that stand straight up, almost a forest,
Nod their corn straw heads. A waterfall
Grows from the heart of the forest, planting
Rainbows on your skin. We turn colors,
Surprising one another constantly.
I guess I must have looked surprised when
I got here. I didn’t expect it would be like this. It’s
Always wonder that carries the meanings in its
Coat pockets, talks across the whole country,
Allows us to return time and time again to continue
Through tears and heartbreak, murder and confusion.
I’m all for it, will get up and walk right up to it.
I’ll take all you’ve got, angels in the windows laughing.
Lightning eats the sweetest things,
The trees, the seas,
And when they’ve touched
And burned the core,
It strikes again
And asks for more.