I want heaven above shattered. 
 I want its silver splinters 
 picking my skin like leaves of grass 
 among clumps of green clover.
 Give me a taste of salt-in-the-wound sweetness.
 I want hell’s madness searing my soles 
 like summer dunes above the bay. 
 Bring the cool burn of gin, 
 kiss my sunburned skin.
 I want to know 
 what I’ll be missing.

The Passing of a Poet

Mourning the Passing of a Poet

You distilled life to a poem
Knew what to hold
What to let go.
Like a poet only you knew
Each word you left out.

Absence carves niches in my heart
For the absent.
Memories cast light
On what I cannot see.
I mark your passing as I write.

I read back lyrics
Milled from memories
By my split heart.
I grieve with and without words.


Remember, echo is to laughter 
as bronze is to sculptor,
reflection can only recall a face.

Remember the echo grows mute,
all traces erased in time.
Unlike sun full gold upon your face
memory of sun leaves you cold.

I remember: A memory drawn
from grey matter
like ink up a quill, wicking
up neurons, seeping down limbs,
leaping pen’s synapse with paper,
becoming this poem.

So much in time
is remembered far too little
and too late in time.



These days are not grey
as I will remember.
Days of low fresco skies
watercolor apples
life, still life.

These nights not empty
as I will remember
of silver moons
cinnamon leaf-light.

So much depends on forgetting.
But one promise
I will remember
every day
each jewel of light
grinds down to cool darkness.



Ghazal: A Life

Ghazal: A Life

Name one life not filled with light.
Even a cold heart melts in light.

Fog no longer blankets the canyon.
Hear the warbling wren in flight.

Recall the lessons November taught.
After summer fades, fill its void with light.

Hear the day’s internal rhyme.
A soft chorus calls twilight.

This life is not the final draft.
No life is cursed with delight.

Restore stars and the sun to your heart.
My friend, let there live lyric and light.

The Old Man

The Old Man

The old man paused on the bridge
a favorite stop
upstream of the lazy oxbow

where a boy once watched
the milky gold
of evening sunlight

spill through the alders
into empty space
over still water

its silent weight
filled the air

suspended dragonflies
patrolling the cattails


as if they knew
the lateness of the hour.


In the end we left things undone.
The piano player drove slowly home.

We did not sing the final refrain.
We did not read one last poem

to the ring of guitar strings.
So many threads

bound one heart to many.
In the end we were practical.

How can you bury a life
and be home before suppertime?

Photo Lissa Arroyo
Final line borrowed from the novel “The House of Broken Angels” by Luis Alberto Urrea




When I say wooden -
I mean cedar chests, hemlock crates,
hickory axe handles, oak masts -
when I say wooden
can you feel your hand
brush an unfinished pine shelf,
silky, a patch of amber resin
catching your fingertips?
Once living, still fulfilling
duties as assigned
until one day, repairs failing,
recommissioned first
a child’s bird house,
then kindling, finally,
festive home
for carpenter ants fungi.

I mean neither façade
nor empty expression;
I mean, like wood,
not living and not dead –
a life owing its persistence
to its essence.

By essence
I do not mean something left
in sawdust incense,
on the dull edges
of files and blades,
on worn sandpaper
and calloused hands:
Essence is not a life's residue.
When I say essence
I mean a life's means and mode:
I mean the grit that dulls the blade
to be remade
to live another way
to live another day.

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

We’re not to blame if we forget
how nearly everything
looks like our dark night sky,
a vast blue-black pool,
color-drained darkness,
save the familiar silver disc afloat
in our light-blushed river,
pin-pricks and smudges,
luminous creatures of our night.
We creatures of day are easily fooled.
No wonder: even in darkest night
we dream color-stained dreams
until we are brushed awake
by the soft light of dawn.