So I Keep On Writing

Mary Oliver writes of
flowers and she does it
very well, as I just stare
at words, wishing that
goldenrod could mean

as much to me, stuck in
this urban world, nature
on the fringe, everything
I cannot see, because in
the car I move too fast

to even smell the air,
but excuses will never
win, nor are they really
true, so I keep on writing,
this much I know to do

Mount Tamalpais

we talk about life
stumbling upward toward East
Peak, the fog slowly
disappearing into blue sky
day on this mountain

where we remember thirty
that age when last
here, ascending together as
if time remains still
but no, five kids

between us, balding heads
failing vision, and all
the rest of middle
age, to think in
another fourteen we will

be sixty, how long
will the mountain remain
ours, before it nudges
us off fire roads, away
from crow filled branches

we look down on
Lake Lagunitas, that water
holding minutes like a
Jim Croce song that
lasts forever, then stops

Higher Power

we rarely speak
of God that
him her force
lives in heaven
forests oceans everywhere

we pray to
be always in
good stead with
each moment where
light is ours

this karma knowing
watching to see
if we are
truly in his
image like clouds

floating peace through
sky we try
meditating while walking
the quiet path
of constant love

and one day
may we arrive
wherever there is
union with all
that ever was

Anonymous

no one knows who
i am, no photos
of me on a
screen, where i might
look wealthy or important
wearing a suit, standing
serious, ready to buy

or sell something, or
convince you that i
am indeed successful,
i walk, don’t drive
a tesla, or anything,
and therefore you might
not know me and

how i sometimes just
stare at trees and
how that is just
fine, good enough to
breathe and watch you
in wonder, trying so
hard to be somebody

Stand by Me

We wanted to follow
railroad tracks and sleep
under stars, maybe cook
up hot dogs without
a strict parent seeing
us wipe the grease
on our jeans. This
was 1986 when Polo
shirts were everything, not
following dreams or watching
morning deer, or thinking
about writing, or what
friendship could mean. But
Stand by Me let
in a little light
so we could remember
who we really are.

Tree Talks About Dancing

They worry about me in pounding wind,
that I might collapse, my weight crushing
fence, roof, windshield. It never crosses
their mind that I might be dancing, green
leaves, trunk, thump-shaking, swaying.
That this is my journey song, while roots
hold tight. Air my music, feel it move, groove,
and yes, one day I will topple this glory.

Paraguayan Heaven

Sitting shotgun in a truck, 3 of us squeezed in the front (Cayo, Ernesto, Me), no seat belts, sipping yerba mate. I’m speaking Spanish, asking questions about recycling plastic and filtering water with chlorine. Cayo drives, points his finger up at the windshield, motioning to each vehicle we pass on the two lane Caazapa highway. Yvaga, he says, cielo, heaven. That’s where you will go when you die, his finger silently communicates. Watching this ritual I see the other drivers smiling at us, their fingers also pointing upward, telling us the same thing.

Cayo asks me about California. The Paraguayan campo has no cable TV, no CNN, no movie theaters. He doesn’t question me about celebrities or our president, he asks about the land, trees, animals, what the air smells like, feels like. I tell him about non-native eucalyptus trees, how they suck water out of the earth, take nourishment away from other plants. He understands. The conversation is easy, like the cumulus clouds that float like cotton above us.

Ernesto speaks and at first I think I comprehend, the cadence sounds the same, but then I’m lost in a time before Spanish, before South American roads. I close my eyes for a few seconds, a lightness takes over. I’m hearing a Guarani language not of an evangelizing church or of plundering capitalism, but of a people, a community. A few minutes later we slow down, pick up a hitchhiker, normal in this part of Paraguay. I see the guy sitting in the truck bed, a large heavy sack between his legs. A man on a journey, we both watch the road, I look out the front, he looks out the back.

When the Roses at 7-Eleven Spoke

We sit in this white bucket, usually once a year to
rest on the counter near lottery tickets and cash
register. In warm water, spayed, our thorns are gone,
left somewhere in Ecuador, swept off the floor,
before they packed us tight to fly far away, then taken
in trucks all over paved roads into rectangular buildings
where fluorescent lights are always on. We watch them
buy beer, cigarettes, some stare at us in wonder that we
have petals, red color, were once alive. They touch,
fondle, rustle our leaves, remembering a moment
with us, that wasn’t us. Others grab us, a dozen at a time,
the number of true love, when money doesn’t matter at all.
Days go by and we start to droop, no one smiles anymore,
wilted, jilted, until one day, they just throw us away.