Forest Fire

the

wind

slackens

the peeling pelt

of eucalyptus and

hurls pieces

of its flesh into the

swirling eddy

that envelopes the forest

remnants

a copse of corpses

sluggish the sun rises

over the cremation

and casts a red

eclipse from which the forest

shrinks away

repelled by the

recall of heat and loss

ashes

all is

ashes

trees unfold back to the earth

Clouds

We’ve grown older. We are now bindweed

tamed onto garden trellises

 

Back when it was always morning

we spread without ever touching anything

We unraveled our palms to take hold of the day

and made dense thickets of wastelands

 

Now we shield our faces from the light

 

Tragic this, how the dew stays on windows now

unmarked by sleeves to look out into morning

We’ve grown older

 

The unborn call to us from somewhere

close and faraway,

on the other side of walls

their voices sound like water

They are jays scolding from unseen branches

They will glower when they see us

wag their chubby fingers in disapproval

and write on chalk boards with rusty nails

 

And they will say:

the lost one became blind through herself

the clouds got trapped in her eyes

we were the sky on the other side

that she could not see

The Artist

I am the one who stacks on bleached logs

cairns of smooth pebbles

and leave, in my wake,

fleeting spirals in the sand

Footprints glimpsed for a moment

before the tide comes in

 

With a stick

I write

monotony

in the sand

and below that

ten other words

That mean the same

 

I watch the girl

long tan doe legs folded

hands burrowing the sand

And trace the contours of her shoulder blades,

the flecks of freckles across her back,

and shade each hollow

the vertical range of vertebrae

revealed in sharp definition beneath her top

And later that night on canvas

her last look,

smeared and abstract

 

Beautiful girl

I hold your heart

(in a jar on my desk)

Tokyo

His roommate calls him imo, the potato,

just another hick flailing

in the city, caged

in his tiny shithole apartment,

the unpacked boxes collecting dust.

 

He sleeps in the closet where

the futons are kept, at night

walking back from work,

he dodges careless elbows

on streets zebra-striped with crosswalks,

the herds

of bodies all color motion murmurs

over traffic.

 

He gapes at skyscrapers

looming steel walls all around him

and sees in them the mountains

of Toyama, its swells of pine,

sees the rice fields

swaying in the narrow streets

and turns to the murky night his blank face,

the city lights bright as the stars

in a quiet dark.

Wild Parrots

They darken the sky, a cloud of shrieking feathers.

It is said that years ago, when fire flew

through these hills, a woman released from steel and flame,

a frenzied flock that rose, screaming, to air, and stayed there.

Now every twilight sounds as wings turn

To the sunset fading fire behind the oak and eucalyptus groves,

wings that falter in the hazy light, at the incipient darkness,

as unknown and unkind as a cage.

Summer

We wade through thickets of Spanish mustard blossoms.

Scattered sunlight among weeds,

their forked limbs spread

like arms proffered to the sky.

A spatter of streaks and color,

the hill briefly rendered in pointillism.

 

Spring speaks green, but summer falls

abrupt and lethargic, gold, yellow hot,

among the grass husks and the cactus that slump

like tired crosses on these desert slopes.

 

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