Sunday, November 27, 2016


Jonas Jordan, Army Corps of Engineers,
"An oilfield on fire," uploaded 2007

A soft metallic sky, the color of magnesium;
the fire-starter I once carried in my pocket.

A sharp ridge on Wy’east pares a curl from a
low cloud scudding by, then scrapes another.
Will they pile up and catch, I wonder. It’s dry
to the east; they just need one spark to flare.

Deep deep down, below the green skin on which
everything that we love lives, there’s a lake made
of fire. A crack in its surface, and we burn too. On
that day, a nacreous sky will weep soot made from
calcined bones, from alder ash and fir char, from
all our arguments and our leave-takings, our hate.

Something new will swim up from dark ponds, after.
Will it glisten in the sunlight, as you, my love, did?

Saturday, November 26, 2016


John J. Audubon, "Birds of America:
American Crow
," 1827

They look for me, now, gathering one
by one, backing away when I call them
as if my voice were a wave, lapping, as
if they were shorebirds. Each a person
in their own right—feigning disinterest
or avid and impatient, as I fumble the
first toss—each assessing the odds for
a fast grab, before a car skitters down
the street, before the bounty becomes
a trap. Presence, in that moment, is a
construct—presence of mind, moment
to moment. The story of how close we
come to death, how far we’ll go to live.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


John James Audubon, "Yellow-billed Magpie, Steller’s Jay,
Western Scrub-Jay, and Clark’s Nutcracker," 1836–37

It’s as if I’m blindfolded in this life, nothing
but the south wind and its fat raindrops to
tell me “you’re getting warmer…warmer…
colder…warmer,” as I make my way, arms
outstretched. A jay, outside our front door.
A small dog wedged up against my hip. Can
I track what matters the way they do, scent
threading a path on the wet cold wind, full
promise of food or love over a hill, down a
trail I can’t yet see?
I put bread out on the
porch. Me, that jay—both getting warmer.

Monday, November 21, 2016


Kai Schreiber, "red blood cells," from
tiles in the Long Line group pool, 2005

Fast transit through my rust-red and
dusky-blue underground, I’m all wet
salt and metal as cells jostle around
a bend, drop their packages of sugar,
their oxygen tanks right at the front
door of every fibril. No knock; every-
one knows who it is, what soft clock-
work brings in the groceries and sets
the table, as I, heedless, run up a hill.

Saturday, November 12, 2016


William Holbrook Beard, "The Lost Balloon,"
1882, Smithsonian American Art Museum

All the color drains out of the landscape below. Ice in
the atmosphere throws sundogs, here where the air’s
too thin to breathe. Unreal place—gunmetal shadows
and ormolu light on the fissured crust, green foothills
washed out, weak, nothing’s stored up. Our pale dead
call for warmth from their limbo in the sky, and there’s
not any, here where I sit, at 23,000 ft. and descending.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

November 9th

Henry Lewis, "Prairie on fire," 1854-1858

Arundo donax, that invasive giant, waves
to us this morning with the wind, breathing
our breath. It’s an immigrant to the muddy
sloughs of Texas, must be split then bound
to sing Handel or Bach or Strauss: migrants
cut down, split then bound, for a European
music. Love, I’d rather the music was lost to
memory, the invaders kept intact and green
for frog-song and bird-song, but it’s late for
that wish: all our wetlands burning, all songs
turning to ashes. Only after our heartache’s
planted will cracked mud smile a new reed.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Nickay3111, "Lincoln City Tidepools, Oregon," 2014

I crouch down at the edge of the brine-bower,
hold still as I can, watch as those small jeweled
things go about their business. I’m ignorant of
their names, how their lives entwine, although
the shape of their scour is familiar. But it’s no
fugitive tinaja, eggs locked up tight til the rains
come. This is where moon and sun swell every
belly, pull tangleweed and sea lettuce into the
hole where crabs no bigger than my thumbnail
gather for salad and sex. At this far edge of the
West, the pulse beneath my skin is also a tide;
here, where Poseidon-by-other-names watches
his billion sea-foam children, and watches me.