Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sea Dreams


I gnawed at the line
Attempting to get it loose
From the cleat and let
The mainsail go.
My rigging knife had
Gone in the last gust
Along with the mast

Held now by just this line.
The mainsail was in the sea
Filling, pulling me down.
I darted below and grabbed
The old boarding axe, held
On the cabin bulkhead
As decoration, used

Perhaps during chancier
Times than this.  I hacked
The line loose with a single
Swing and watched it snake
Over the side after the main
Sail and mast, with the hope
I had of a speedy trip.

Using an oar, I rigged the
Jib with as much wind as
It would take.  I was miles
From my destination
With no means of calling
For aid.  The wind lessened
On the next day.  I was

Able to get into dry clothes
And eat something from my
Dwindling store.  I looked
In the sea and set out a
Line.  I’d need something
More if I would survive.
The sea buffeted me from the

North West.  I kept my compass
Heading with difficulty but also
Care fearing I’d miss the
Island and sail on forever
Or as near as I would come.
After the storm, the sea was
Left to calm itself.  The wind

Died and the boat rocked in
A hot sun.  I hooked a big
Eyed Scad in the night and
Then another, but lacked the
Will to cook.  I rigged the
Storm jib as an awning not
Wishing to go below, for

Unless the seas are heavy
It is best up here waiting
For a breeze, hoping to make
Some seaway, and dreaming;
For all that can be done
Has been.  I can wait,
Watch the clouds and

Look for rain,
However long it takes,
Care for all
I’ve held here   
And in the end
Hope for whatever
Lies beyond.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Something in the night


The light flickered through the trees,
Something behind them, a Jeep up
On the knoll, someone getting ready
To do something in the night.  While we
Watched and waited, something swept
By us from behind.  I didn’t know it
Then and Ben and Duffy didn’t hear

But perhaps they sensed a tiny bit.  Duffy
Growled.  We turned and looked back
The way we had come.  It was much
Darker then, the sundown red
Had turned to gray.  The day had
Ended.  Ben growled as well.
After countless hikes with nothing

More threatening than coyotes
I had stopped carrying a gun.  I had
My Marine Corps’ Ka-Bar and a hiking
Stick.  I fished about in my pocket for
The flash and turned it on.  No glistening
Eyes shined out of the darkness, but
Something plodded closer.  We could

Hear its steps.  Duffy barked and I
Searched with the light.  I saw
Ben’s hackles.  “Let’s keep going,”
I told them, and we moved out
Onto the river sand away from the
Brush.  Something whined, not
A coyote but deeper, more

Like a large dog or wolf.  We kept on
Down the center , Duffy on my left,
Ben on my right.  Whatever followed
Wasn’t closing the distance.  When
We got to the Jeep, I opened the doors.
Duffy jumped in the front and Ben in
The back.  As quickly as I could I took

My knapsack off, got in and closed the
Doors.  We sat there for a moment
Listening.  The night had become
Windy.  A tumble-weed climbed up on
Our hood and sailed over the top.
I started the engine and eased out,
Using both sets of headlights.  I could

Then see its shadow standing there
Watching, bigger than Ben,
Eyes glistening, dark intelligence
evaluating the night and us.  Duffy
Stood on the center console growling
Ben positioned between the seats
Whimpered in agitation.  I pulled

The Jeep ahead and turned left up
Toward the road.  Ben whirled on
The seat to watch it through the rear
Window.  Later in the night we slept
Fitfully in my study.  The wind’s
Howling waking us from time to time.
In the morning we drove back, but

The wind had wiped clean most of the
Tracks.  We found two that seemed
Marginally larger than Ben’s, but
Perhaps the wind had spread the lines
And they were merely his. I thought
About what it was, a large dog most
Likely, perhaps a deerhound or maybe

The wolfhound I saw someone walking
Last year.  Perhaps it sought company
As we fled before the wind.  Perhaps it
Was back there in the brush with coyotes
Fore and aft waiting for it to leave.  Ben
Lifted his head and howled.  From a
Mile away we heard an answer, perhaps

A howl, but it could have been some
Trucker’s air horn or a siren, but it seemed
Howl-like and we listened for more. 
Perhaps I imagine things that aren’t here,
But does Ben have the same imagination?
Perhaps I imagine someone who was here
But is no longer, someone I would have

Told about the wolf or giant dog which
We saw only in shadow and not nearby.
But it didn’t confront us nor we it.  There
Was the wind.  I would have mentioned
That, blowing the sand and weeds, obscuring
What might be back there when a night
Is dark and only the shadows can listen.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

In the air


Life is tenuous in San Jacinto.
We passed several makeshift
Living spaces in bushes near
Enough to the road so these squatters
Can walk to the store, perhaps
Redeem a sack full of bottles,
Perhaps cash a check at the bank.

I urged Ben on.  They might have
Guns and Ben is huge to
Someone waking up to us
Approaching at dawn.  Ben
Heeds almost everything I
Say now and stayed near my
Elbow.  There is an underground

Of death here we only hear of when
Someone we need dies.  They are
Whisked away before the neighbors
know, quietly, wrapped in a curtain
Of white very like someone on the
Way to ER, very like someone still   
Living her seventy years weak but

Not necessarily dead.  It is as though
She might go and then come back,
But at the river there is a smell that can’t
Be hidden.  Ben and Duffy want to
Investigate and it is difficult to get
Them to come away.  I pass these
Bushy places like them sniffing the air.

Friday, July 24, 2015

TV, Fiction


They’ve written Juliette
Out of the series.  She won’t
Be in Season five.  Perhaps she’s
Gotten a movie deal or perhaps
She’s simply tired; which meant
That she dies at the end of Season
Four, and in Night Prey Meagan,

Dying of cancer is obsessed
With catching a killer and
Pulls him off the balcony with
Her as her partner screamed
Her name.  Later he believed this
Was better than dying of cancer;
Then he stopped believing.

She had looked up at him
As she fell.  He could see
Her eyes I know.  I can
Still hear Susan singing,
And don’t believe she
Wanted that.  It all happened
So fast and I watched her fall.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Dissonance II


Which is of course irrational,
But rationality is playing with
Objects already on the ground
And all these were beyond it
With the barest chance someone
Might intervene.  No one ever
Did though, nor would.  She

Thought he could but being
Sinful as the pastor said thought
He wouldn’t.  Moving toward
A denouement with God which I
Didn’t enter into wholeheartedly
Could I believe and reject everything
At the same time?  Did Job rebel

Or was he justified in God’s
Eyes?  Am I justified in anyone’s?
Maybe not, or maybe in a small way,
Waiting patiently at Gethsemane,
Sleeping a little perhaps but waking
At every sound, not sleeping so much
She would ever reproached me for it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015



Between choosing to
Satisfy rules or being
Gentle with Susan I
Chose the latter, but I’ve
Always done that, leaving
The Corps as much because
Of rules as a desire for

Something more: not wanting
To rake gravel or risk penalties
For other absurdities. Later in
Engineering I was praised
For doing the work but
Criticized for ignoring
Rules.  Susan dragged

Her wobbly feet following as
Best she could the words they used.
They experimented and taxed
Her in accordance with them.
I lay by her bed all night while
She sang. I was impeded
By my dissonant thoughts.

I slept on the floor feeling
The goodness leaving,
Feeling the emptiness drawing
Close, not yet feeling the utter
Loss.  I felt her song wash over
Me and fade, all the while I
Remained myself, unable to sing.

The sky is a persistent gray
And I’m awash in it.  Unable
To spare the time for headaches
These past few months I’ve plenty
Of time for them now.  This doesn’t
Seem like mourning, rather a
Rejection of the world as I see it now.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer rain


The branches were bent by
Heavy leaves and the rain
Bending them further.  I looked
Down to see their path:
The ground wet, the grass
Sparse from a desiccated
Year, and there was even

Less to see if one looked
Up, the sky being heavily
Burdened with rain.  I should
Have seen this coming, and did
In a hypothetical way, not
Just the being borne down
But the needing to see

Matters yet to be explored.
The rain will become lighter,
The darkness lift.  It is
Counter-intuitive to strive
Against the sun.  Scorching will 
Come despite my resistance. 
My days will all be dry.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Old Things


There was a palpable change
In the air.  I sneezed as I
Looked about, sneezed again.
Someone had been down
Here not so long ago
Stirring up old things, dust
And rusty knobs, canes

And cans and cans of
Old food past the written
Code.  I was old before
It started.  What difference
Could it possibly make now?
One loses his wife or dies
And leaves her bereft

If one after all this still
Remembers.  Many don’t,
And its enough for them
If someone takes them food;
Anything else, poetry,
Philosophy is lost.  They
Still hum though and sing.

I shined a light on the stacks
Of boxes, books mostly.  One
Can’t read them all again. The
Faint cry of a siren sounds:
Someone’s wife is going to
ER; someone’s husband is
Following in an old Jeep.

Night is like that:
The business of sick
And dying, the waiting
That one must wait
Because there is no place
Else to be.  Hang onto her
Or you’ll wear her blood

And be left with nothing
That means anything: the
Glasses, hats, sweaters,
Dresses, Socks and coats. 
None of those will fit
You.  She’ll take everything
When she goes.  The phone

Rings in the hall.  Someone
Asks you if you’ll approve
A procedure you won’t
Understand and make you
Complicit if she dies.  You
May not notice the lizard
Outside your window watching.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Time Enough


I was downstairs in the
Darkness.  There wasn’t
much in the kitchen since
Susan moved out, died
Actually, unless this was
A dream.  Someone was
In the house which was

Alarming since neither Ben
Nor Duffy barked which
Inclined me toward the dream
Hypothesis.  I switched on the
Lights.  I had a gun I didn’t
Remember taking.  “Come out
Come out, whoever you are,”

I called toward the darkness
Down the hall.  There was a
Rustling in the curtain by the
Patio door.  I walked closer.
The door was open so I switched
On the lights and looked
Out.  There was a rustling

In the trees among the leaves.
“Who are you,” I called upward
Not expecting an answer?  “Your
Best chance is to move on,” a
Voice I used to know spoke down.
“Come down.  Let’s talk.  I won’t
Shoot you.”  At that a lithe form

Dropped lightly to the ground
Bearing a startling resemblance
To Susan as she looked when
I first knew her.  “Who are you,”
I demanded?” “Don’t you know?”
“You can’t be as you seem.”
“You can’t be,” she countered

“The man I loved was as young
As I am now.  Who are you?”
“Someone dreaming, I suppose,”
I sighed, laying my gun on
The patio table and sitting down.
“Why have you come,” I asked,
Half knowing the answer? 

“Not something I chose.  I was
In your eyes as you see.  You
Can’t come back to me and if
I try as I did to come here to be
With you, I fade.  I haven’t the
Strength to last this long.  There’s
An owl up there,” she gestured.

“A large one.  Don’t let Duffy out
Until its gone.”  “And will you go
As well,’ I asked?  “It’s all a jumble,
Being as I was instead of who I became.
You did enough.  You can let me go.
It’s all as it should be, even the
Sorrow.  I didn’t need it to know

What you felt all those years.
It was clear. Look at all these
Weeds,” she said gesturing about
“Don’t let everything go.”  I
Looked back and saw Duffy and Ben
At the open door, Ben watching me,
Duffy her.  Later on we slept.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Everything here


Then in a dream
She called my name,
“What, what do
You need,”
I asked? 
She sighed,
“Just to be

Sure you were
Still here.”
She went back
To sleep or I did.
Where else would I be?
Everything is here,
Or at least it was.

I crack a window,
Look out
At the lightening
Sky.  A mourning
Dove cries.
Thinking about
It, so do I.

Nothing here


The pathway was wet.
We crunched through
The thicket’s morning 
Ignoring its substance and
However much it had grown
During the brief rains and
Sultry mists that hung

Above until wiped away
By the sun.  A rabbit darted
Past.  I looked back at Ben
And Duffy looking the wrong
Way.  Rabbits know how to
Time them. Something like
A train-whistle bellowed,

Some trucker from the main
Road was anxious too intrude into
As much as he could.  Who
Was it who would not hear him?
Is that enough I wonder, hearing?
Seeing isn’t enough if rabbits
Can pass through with impunity.

And what of this can be truly concealed?
The thicket hid the trail but we found
It.  Coyotes waited in the brush beneath
The trees but Ben knew and watching
Him I knew too and bade him
“Leave them be. There is nothing
Here for us.  Let’s walk on by.”

Friday, July 10, 2015



Meaningless, everything, said
Qoheleth thinking everyone
Would know what he meant
And no one did, or rather
His critics added interpretations
To make him make sense
According to whatever was current.

Even those now wanting to let
Him mean what he meant
Don’t ask to whom or what
This all is believed to mean
Something for.  Is it solipsistic
To let someone mean everything
To me?  Perhaps he limited

Meaning by time.  That would be
Meaningless to me existing
Here alone now rummaging
Through old books not looking
For meaning but believing
Though it may be missing
It once was everything.



I’m willing to travel
If the reason and goal
Are pressing.  I did
Buy a car just to
Take her to Indio
To see her dad,
And later in the same

Car drove her to Marfa
To see her sister,
But driving now?  Where
Would I go and what
Would be my purpose?
I’d have to sell my Jeep
And buy something new.

Turning my chair toward
The wall there are
All those books to visit --
As involving as anything
I might find on a road,
More so if I select wisely.
I’ve read of Childe Harold,

Not held in high regard
By most.  Perhaps I’ll
Read Don Juan, and if
I’ve been there before, no
Matter.  I’ve been most
Places.  My Jeep is precious
And I’m not easily bored.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Pilgrimage


What I need is a pilgrimage,
Something away from
Alienation and toward
A shining good (unless away
From the absent good
And toward a misanthropic
Seclusion).  I’m letting

Go the accumulation
Of years, things I
Will never use again.
Perhaps I’ll get a trailer,
Hook it to my Jeep
And go see Utah,
Idaho and Colorado.

Maybe I’ll take Ben and
Duffy and go through all
Those places seeing what I
Can find – It would be
Waste of time I chide
Myself – She
Won’t be there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015



The trembling lady of
The mortuary shuffled
The papers again and again.
Most people nowadays preferred
To be burned.  Direct burial
Was a confusion.  The rows
Of urns on the wall

Were her selection.  She
Apologized for the lack of
Light, wanting me to see
Them in their full glory
So I would understand
Perhaps why people would
Rather be in one of those

Than in the earth where
Embalming was no longer
Being required.  She and the
Director seemed in fragile
Health, likely to enjoy two
Of their beauteous urns before
I join Susan in the ground.

Monday, July 6, 2015

On Keeping Her


After the driving to odd
Places, each with its own
Rules, after the tests to
Demonstrate she was well
Enough for the transplant,
After procedures to reassure
The Team that she was as

She seemed fit to be on
The List she was finally
Accepted.  Then she fell,
And the whole procedure
Went to Hell.  She opted
Not to go down further.
I had suspended my

Disbelief but was aghast
At how this went.  “Trust
“Us.  We know what
We’re doing,” and she almost
Did.  I waited and watched.
“We have her and will keep
Her safe.”  I almost believed

They would.  Then they
And she gave it up and
They gave her back
And I knew I couldn’t keep
Her safe.  She hummed her songs
Each night but then she stopped
And I couldn’t keep her.

Sunday, July 5, 2015



My mind seems in
A defensive mode,
Shying away from
Thinking, looking for
Something to do, but
When I reach for anything
I touch something of hers.

Picking up a book,
I find beneath a note
About her, or when
About to do a thing
I wonder what she
Will think and briefly
Worry then realize

I won’t need to worry
Again, but then I’ll
Wonder.  I know so
Well what she would
Think having her near
For such a long time
I may worry forever.

Saturday, July 4, 2015



Each change in her
Condition and I would
Rearrange my life.  Getting
To the store and back would
Take some planning I could
Rush through and dash back.
Also the lady who bathes

Her would have to come on
Fridays instead of Thursdays.
I never did learn how to change
Her sheets.  She wasn’t drinking
And would hold the water in her
Mouth.  She wouldn’t swallow
And would hum perhaps some

Songs in her sleep.  She
Couldn’t talk and  tell
Me about her pain. I’d watch
Her face and if I saw it contort
I’d give her the morphine.
My life will change again 
Now that she’s gone.

The Oil Derrick Pump


There were disturbances today,
Distractions; so I spent time
Dwelling on other things.  Her
Breathing in and breathing out
Were like the oil derrick pump
In a nearby field when I
Was a boy.  I loved

The derrick, climbing high
Above the pump and from
The top could see the whole
Of Wilmington or so it seemed.
Then, while climbing down
The pump would grow louder
And louder.  I was more afraid

Of its horse’s head than the
Derrick’s height.  Years later
Showing off I did a handstand
At the top.  The pump meanwhile
Drew its oil up, I suppose. I never
Saw it idle.  Up and down or in
And out in hope of another day

Thursday, July 2, 2015



Every breath is a sigh.
Will she last until tomorrow?
She saw me adjust her
Oxygen, with eyes following
Briefly as she understood,
But not fully, vaguely;
Then she drifted back to sleep.

I put the nozzles back
In her nostrils, and heard
Her sigh more clearly than
The music from the next room.
This is wholesome I thought,
This sighing, It isn’t groaning
Nor saying good bye.

There is little now beyond
Watching.  I listen to her
Sighs, give her water,
Adjust her blanket and sheets.
Does she still know me?  She
Seems to, looking up now and
Then to watch me watching.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015



Some come, bend down
And fill her ears with
Complex messages of love
And understanding, wishes
For wonders in her
Afterlife.  I sit across
The room worried that

I won’t be able to get her
To give her water once they leave.
She will not suck from the straw,
But clamps her teeth upon it.
And when I hold an open
Cup she lets it dribble

Down her shirt.  I think
As her friend rises with
A beatific smile, I’ll try again. 
I’m growing weary.  She has
No doubt absorbed all that she
Heard, but how can I get her to
Understand that she must drink?