August 31

The mornings are cooler now,
the coyote’s returned
or probably a new one, 
it seemed a little smaller.

And that wraps up summer–
a boat has cut its engine 
and sits on the still lake.
Knowing the ending,
now we wait.

The finches rehearse
their southern migration,
chatter excitedly
about their upcoming trip.

We who are staying
start to grow a thicker coat,
to keep us warm, 
hide our leanness 
in the coming gaunt months.

The morning tries to burn off 
these sorts of thoughts,
the boat moves on,  
sun-stupid quails bleat
in the yellow hills behind.

But in any sink or shadow
or hollow a chill remains,
and this isn’t the first time
we’ve been left behind. 

 

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August 30

Last night the wind whipped
flagwires in the valley against 
their poles, with closed eyes
it could have been sailboats 
worried in their moorings 
at a freshening breeze.

A goldfinch landed on the rail,
electric against the lowering sky,
then startled away, and all
this time I’ve thought harbingers
were meant to be frightening,
not frightened.

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August 29

Sky, hill, pewter, rust
brighter this side

of the mountains but still
subdued, the radio

finally finds and settles
on a station, I try to

pick out words, catch glimpses
of mylar ribbon strewn 

through trees like tinsel from
a cherry harvest long over

a song comes on slow so
I understand it 

estás siempre en mi mente,
a nostalgic proclamation  

of horns and strings and chimes–
the credits should roll now

as I shoot down this road
splitting foothills washed 

in dust haze and gold–
of course they don’t  but for

just one moment the internal
and external are perfectly

aligned and the man’s at peace
with all he carries just listen to

his voice and not the words 
siempre tú tú tú 

the sky too dreamy, on any
other day I would fault it

but at this exact moment all melts
into kindness, that is to say, 

we’ve come far enough,
well past forgetting.

 

 

 

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August 28

It is almost the end
of summer’s
high cathedral days

this ground is airy
storing years
in its loam

a downed branch
genuflects
as I step on its edge

robed in velvety moss
that dampens
the sound, still

small birds dart
seeking safety
in the open, shelter

without closing,
a very present refuge—
oh how these words

have stuck,
and no bird sings
its songs by rote

but no song is either
entirely our own
and there’s still

a comfort hidden
somewhere
in these sounds

among the disquiet
of long-learned
words, a fluency– 

still they startle 
me, and I too
take to flight.

 

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August 27

The first rays of sun
are honey

on the leaves
the back-lit maples

a singing sort of green
but already slipping

into something
more sensible

the beginning’s ending
the first of many

In envy I watch them
palm the breeze

not obliged to leave
not turning away

from the morning’s
kindness

distilling
this suffusion

into sweet
sweet sap

but I have no
alembic

of trunk and leaf
just a few

harried words
and somewhere to be.

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August 26

At the body shop they said 
they could hammer out 
the dents, could stretch
and scrape, apply clear coat,
and no one would know
there was ever a wreck. 
On one hand it seems
that growing harder
makes breaks easier 
to fix, each new hit
an opportunity to
practice gutting 
and replacement. 
But getting softer, 
blows are absorbed 
with no resistance,
all giving wholly–
still it seems easier
to learn one’s own
mechanics than 
to give an inch,
let alone all, 
even if it means
some hidden 
damage, and 
supplemental 
costs.

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August 25

fog

 

We walk in our own world.
Fog opens before us,
fog closes behind us
and sometimes we see
shadowy figures,
sometimes the animist glow
of a truck’s headlights
as it spins an empty
circle on hard-packed sand.

We all leave our mark
here, relative to weight,
this ground is laced
with pulverized shells
and rock crab slaughter,
but the tide is going out now,
now innocuous.

A solo seagull tucks into
itself to sleep, mistaking
poor visibility for safety;
what’s most dangerous
is what might be.
A dog appears,
fighting to free a Frisbee
from the suction of the sand,
somewhere, something
is shrieking, bird or child,
and somewhere off
to the right is water,
it must be.

This, our margin
of safety, despite
the curl of its teeth,
the line by which
we guide ourselves
back through an
opaque morass,
even after it erases
our tracks, again,
again a reminder
that there’s often
very little choice
in what we have
to trust.

 

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August 22

One AM and the night
and the fog and the motel
marquees render the sky
in a liver color.
I would have said purple
but someone’s fighting ugly
in a parking lot nearby,
with a puce sort
of sentimentality.
Sound carries here,
the ocean beyond
the trees coming to rest
beneath the balcony.
No, it’s restless too.
In enough sea haze
we’re all an island
unto ourselves,
the neighbor’s
porchlight barely
dents this brume.
This wine is frankly
a little rough,
or probably it’s me,
come to the coast
with work and not
abandon.
It’s still above 60
but I find myself
quite alone, out here,
wiping moisture from
my screen.
No bells are tolling,
thankfully, just
the thunderous
surf and the runny sky,
drenching the sign
of a Best Western
at least a mile down
the beach until it passes
for a moonrise.

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August 21

Sadness is thick
but more precisely
it is dense.

I do sense danger
in the sea’s laughter,
but also fairness.

Why do I return
to the indifference
of the ocean?

It gives as much as it gets,
doesn’t boast of its
limitlessness.

You wrote a book
of questions, but what
of the ones you didn’t ask?

I have a few I can’t
even bring myself to speak,
instead writing some lines

like you, like this–

Is a sinking feeling 
more acceptable in sand?

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