Monday, November 24, 2014

After Visiting Jack London’s Grave on the Day of his Death, November 22, 2014

For this week's prompt, we were to write off of Mary Oliver's poem "August".  I had the incredible experience this past weekend of getting to read one of my poems at Jack London's grave at a ceremony remembering his death.  It was an incredibly moving experience.  This poem is written in response to that experience and Mary Oliver's poem.  It's only a draft, but it is a step toward my new project: writing a book of poetry about Jack London. 

After Visiting Jack London’s Grave on the Day of his Death, November 22, 2014
There are gates, once redwood strong, we have left to rot as evidence of our departure and return.

There is the way the wind roars in the trees like a ravenous sea when we speak, shipwrecked from the dead.
There is the weight of the urn Charmian carried the day of his funeral.  How it became heavier with silence every step she took closer to the wagon. 
There is the first stone barn lost to our eyes that is folding back into itself.
There is what remains inside.  What remains unclaimed in darkness: a lost wagon, perhaps?  The rotting hull of the Snark?
There are the voices of strangers we sew together in order to find the story we can’t feel with our hands in this dark.
There is the seam where what we know welds smoothly into what we feel.  A new, steel gate that will not rot.
There are the phone numbers to the dead written on a cedar plank wall in a closet now empty of a phone. 
There is the desire that opens up like a mountain view that was lost to nearly a century of brush.
There is what opens up when we finally see into it:

A valley of murmurous air.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Draft of There's a Ghost of This Machine of Air is complete!

Last weekend, for some reason a pocket of time opened up and I finished my draft of my next book, There's a Ghost in this Machine of Air.  The manuscript is most likely not as done as I think it is, but the fact that it is written and organized in a manner I think is working right now is a huge reason to celebrate (in my opinion).  This does mean that I won't be writing more poems about the Laguna de Santa Rosa (for the time being!)  Moving on from a project of that magnitude is always difficult for me.  Since I am a poet who is project driven, being project-less, or not focused on completing a project makes it hard for me to write.  Here is my attempt to move on this week.  We were asked to write a poem where we talk about why we are dissatisfied with what we've got.  Here's my attempt at a draft:


Thankful for the gates we pass under:

braided galaxies of swallows

netted against grey combed skies.

This time of year earth’s desire—

lace of steam that rises to meet

dawn’s chorus is nothing to be netted.

What shadows have escaped our watch in the night?

The last remaining green grasses bent by dew.

Light warming, slowly; letting that weight go.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Polaroid Cape May, 1996

For this week's poem, we wrote a poem in remembrance of a great poet.  Here is my small tribute to Galway Kinnell.

Polaroid Cape May, 1996

Soft continuous clicks
spill from a manual
typewriter against walls
thin and delicate as shells;

early morning sea air
still thick with fog
covers and uncovers
the pilings with
the iron breath of sea

like the memory of a poem
carefully carved out
so that every experience after
washes against it

and comes back changed.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Laguna Continued - Finding Ballard Lake

For this week's prompt, we were to write off of this amazing poem "Troubled Asset Relief" by Robert Ostrum which offered us a fractured question and response model to dive into.  I am still in the process if completing my Laguna poems, so my questions and answers (or attempts at answers) circled around a lost lake from the Laguna that was previously called Grays Lake or Ballard Lake depending on the time period.  Here is my attempt at a draft for this week:

Finding Ballard Lake
What you said was we ruined the water
not we rewrote the land with dynamite
and the pulsing, yellow jaws of backhoes.

When I said rev up your mind, what I asked
was for you to contain a lake--call it
Gray's or Ballard.  Let it spill forth

over half a mile.  Let it straddle
a hundred yards of earth.  Cover its banks
with exclamations of ash and oak and willow.

Dig it deep enough that catfish and bass
linger in the shadows.  Then let doubt
fill you like a balloon.  Go belly up.

Try to recall the blue bloom of sky seen
from this angle.  Dark, cold water pressing
no holding you up; warm sun on your face.
Know that to know is to dive deep into
the sediment of what isn't possible to find.

Wait at the closest train station: Mt. Olivet
for someone who has a memory made from
spun-sugar clouds whose footsteps can stitch

back the lost route of Mark West Creek
whose sediment was used to fill in the lake,
the acres of low spots on the ranch.

So that when they ask you who ruined this place
you can answer with a tongue made of peach peels
and a mouth full of sewage.  With eyes backlit
with dynamite and the smooth shine of dirt.