This Life As We Have Lived It

The lake was closed for the winter, 
the first snow was closing in fast,
and the Noble Pine that stood tallest 
near the water slides at the man-made beach 
had already been slung with Christmas lights. 

The three-mile footpath that circled the shore 
was covered with fallen maple leaves; 

the trees themselves were stripped bare.
I followed the slow circumference of the path
and counted the offerings left by the tourists—
empty cans, fast food wrappers, and other 
tithes to the religion of progress—

then I remembered that the lake wasn’t a river;
it couldn’t flow southward to cleanse itself.
Crestline, California, November 2006
Advertisements

Abandoned Sonnet

   If a quiet longing were tricked into speaking,
     snared by the betrayal of an anxious breath,
then lend me your love for a moment less fleeting
than this glimpse of the last of my reason retreating,
as my lips, put to yours, are put to a sweet death
  …

– for Holly

Population: 5

There’s an oily smudge 

                               on the rear view mirror

             and the driver of our bus 

is trying to ignore it—

                               and his passengers 

             are still trying

to wipe away the smudge 

                               stained into our memory 

             of a town where we stopped 

about 70 miles back:      shotgunned signs, 

                               mine-shafted hills,

              and five souls 

in a swamp-cooled tavern

                               who were very old

              and sat very still

at the untended bar

                               with their backs toward us

              as if we were never there,

and all of them humming

                               to “The Days of Forty-Nine”

              that played on the juke box

that sat in a dark corner 

                               under generations of dust

              with its power cord severed.

Our New T.V.

                                                                                  dad signed the contract threw
the thing in the back seat and pushing the accelerator through stop
signs picket lines pedestrians and fruit stands brought it home our 
     brand new fully programmable best friend now we can see the
commercials more clearly than ever not to mention the incidental
                                space 
     in between and everyone is happy
                                                                                  really so happy
A version of this poem originally appeared in the Fall 1992 edition of MUSE 
published by the English Dept. of Riverside City College.

Should A God Fall Out Of The American Sky

Should a god fall out of the American sky
    like a faded leaf, I’ll run to you.

Should the parchments burn, the columns buckle
    and the monuments collapse, I’ll run to you.

And should the last captain abandon ship 
    in a sea of panic, I’ll run to you

    and (laughing) kiss you

like a kid running through an autumn forest,
    crushing the faded leaves.