Between Trellis and Glass
Cover design by Oberon
32 pp, hand-sewn
dPress 2006 Sebastopol
Trapped Between Trellis and Solarium Glass
frantic brown towhee
without an eraser
crazed exit seeker
no rhyme or reason
all bump and banging
a stooped little man beside the unhearing pillar
a white tea rose beside the black marble pillar
a bug-eyed child’s distended belly against the iced-white pillar
a voice of reason echoes off the density of pillar
a shard of moonlight snaps in half against the bonelike pillar
a tiny repulsive mongrel blithely pisses on the pillar
and still another warthog
and finally a warthog
War and Peace
Cupped in my hands
the house finch
rescued from a spider web.
Scooped up dead in my hand
the brown towhee that crashed
into the clean glass of our sliding door.
I must have blessed them
for each rose,
How euphoric I’d felt each time!
But this past Summer,
when rock dove pigeons,
gurgling with nestings and feces,
appeared to attack my home,
I ran out and bought a pellet rifle.
At first I tried
to scatter-scare them
Then one day,
knowing that I’d failed,
I found that these common birds,
they were discounting me.
what else could I have done?
Virtually anything other than
what I Poe-like then did.
this time, taking more careful aim,
I launched a leg-destroying missile.
The wounded pigeon ascended
to dislodge its body weight
from the agonized limb.
I’d become a maimer
soon to be a euthanist,
a killer unable to tolerate pain.
I shot once again and
the pigeon fluttered
helplessly hard onto the ground.
Violence and suffering beget
violence and more suffering.
I strode to the fat fallen pigeon,
observed it’s frightened beauty
silver with purple and green
hooding and banding.
We gaped each at the other terrified.
We knew what needed doing.
I reached down and girded
the thick throat with my clenched hand.
So inexpertly, I,
the savior of the finch in the spider’s web,
I, the blesser of the risen towhee,
I had reached that point from which
I never have returned.
I squeezed. I strangled.
Life throbbed hard in my clench.
The pigeon struggled and fluttered.
I swung it like a railroad lantern
in many rapid circles
until the bird expired
but not before it left its feathers
covering me there and then,
clinging to the very stubble on my face.
The Search for My Dog, Lady,
Who, Struck by a Car, Ran
Every shadowed rock or shrub is Lady.
Every acorn dropped on fallen leaves
Birds in bushes, jackrabbits springing.
The family of three deer swushing through
brush beneath the golf course hill
near where my dog Lady surely died,
make noises similar to those once made
by our own little family of three on a walk in the woods.
I stare from my office window hoping,
half-expecting her bright blackness
to saunter nonchalantly into view.
But she departed doing what she does best,
In a full-burst charge of mindless blazing glory.
We resume and end our search at sundown.
The eastern flame no more.
On our harmonica, I play my final “Taps” for Lady.
Holding onto that last note for as long as I possibly can.
Safari Park monkey walks like human.
—JERUSALEM POST, July 22, 2004
Israel zoo Macaque
a concept of sin?
ten new commandments?
Red assed monkey
The Holy Land
On its very first
World conquering tour.
From Twelve Month I Ching Poem
If we wish to compress something
we must first let it fully expand.
The stars appearing fixed
Collect this as it falls.
Do not rush to gather stars.
their gleaming sticky lint,
roll it about in your own hands
over and over;
watch a new small sun flame
oh, you wondrous creator, you!
My Black Dog’s Nose
Raskalnikov going mad inside the book
straitjacketing him upon my viral chest.
My son cooks in the kitchen below.
The dog has grown alert again
to my son cooking in the kitchen.
All of this is scored to whirring air
forced from a furnace chorus
relaying commercial sounds
from the television my cooking son is watching.
On her birthday my wife a nurse
healing those born other days
is gone from me and my winter bed.
Like my black dog’s nose
raised from my knee by alert,
my wife is a missing part of me.
A telephone gathers energy to itself
Its ringing changes everything I have written.
Tempering the Ferment
Queen of the cows
alfalfa-mottled, posing as
fly-speckled milk maiden
morosely mooing at and
mourning the new moon,
off-duty, milked out
in mufti and up to no good
delinquent cows of August's
humid balm, murmuring
marauders beyond dark
falling from the queen of cows
white as fire
frozen unseen or sought
baring her flesh-slashing
scythe of a smile,
tangy with steel,
Strange Rooster Noises
She says she is a warrior.
she comes at me like a bandy rooster.
She says I am a seer.
I try to see.
I see a bandy rooster
coming at me
its claws flailing with razor blades.
I am afraid.
this feels silly
to be afraid
of a woman who appears
to be a bandy cock
chanting warrior songs
like fierce Scottish highlanders
screeching their bagpipes
or legions of Zulus
beating their shields.
over my shoulder
why do I scare you,
did you shrink
from my kiss?”
Killing the Cat
Kathleen told me, now that they are moving, they cannot
keep the cat which has been with the family ten years.
They’ll either take it back to the fairgrounds
where it came from or to the vet, but if to the vet,
he’ll probably have to kill Jackie, because of the way
she is, once they see her. But if they take her
to the fairgrounds, maybe she’ll meet some of her old friends.
Oh how I wish things worked like that for this kitten
born of discards rousting during hissing
winter rains, scratching for the scraps,
shredding a rat bone, dreaming of juicier
innards – its day to come did not.
Domesticated, fed from cans then boxes,
no praise for trophy birds, this Jackie,
taken into rainless winter warmth, she
searched the house for other tabbies,
failed, but found the smallest creature,
the toddling Kathleen who pulled her tail,
cried and ran whenever Jackie played
fairground games with her. For years
Kathleen was blamed for Jackie’s angry ways,
and the cat for hurting her, though in the end,
it was Kathleen, confused and terrified
who straight on faced me,
“We can’t keep her, but where will she go?
Maybe she’ll have friends back at the fairgrounds,
but who’ll give her food?” How do you kill a cat”
It begins when you offer it warmth and then drive
it out of the house, when ants forage in dishes
unwashed on the floors, when dry food is tossed
into pie pans on porches, when car bottoms
replace couches as warm resting places.
What can I tell you, Kathleen?
Your mother and sister don’t want Jackie.
I left home quite some time ago,
There’s nothing I can do.
Too much trouble, she’s going to be thrown away.
They’re going to try to lose her,
But perhaps she’ll come strutting home
grinning like some creature out of Poe.
Home and home and home and home;
They’d do better with the vet.
Much More than Roadkill
One small animal hurled
brainless to the pavement
is dubbed “roadkill,”
but two instead turn into a poem
about brother and sister or
father and daughter or
husband and wife or
mother and son or
daughter and mother or
son and father with
one’s head on the center divide
facing the other’s on the shoulder
ten feet apart each from the other.
With only one, it’s simply “roadkill.”
How very different though when there are two.
I later watched a crow in all it’s onyx glory
amble from the shining silver scarlet
carcass of a disemboweled squirrel in the street
much the same way that a CPA stuporously
returns to the office after lunchtime’s over.
Somehow this was much more terrible to me
than witnessing the scene in reverse:
a crow to a corpse,
a crow gorging,
for something full
from cherries bursted.
Like filly or foal
flicking flies from my forehead,
I find on the wall in front of me
two flies fucking, and it finally follows,
"Fuckin' flies fuck!"
I feel better about flies
and a preference
for fucking flies:
"Fuck, flies, fuck!"
4 window world cells
admire our young
watch the hawk
I've yet to see
hatch a nut
surely also be
Coyote In The Neighborhood
When only fifteen miles from San Francisco,
your two grandchildren are awakened
by what sounds like the hissing and spitting
of a cat fight and just as suddenly the tumult
stops and a dog’s tenor howl replaces the screaming,
but the triumphant song proves not to issue from
any common neighbor’s pet but rather, when the kids
awaken in the morning and find their kitty in shreds,
the source of the moonlight trumpeting leers,
reflected in the entrails of a beloved house pet
by two children who don’t even know the word entrails
and certainly have never before seen what it describes.
Days become months
a boy and a girl sleeping
each with a stuffed toy,
one with a puppy,
the other a homemade doll,
but neither with a kitty
except as a horrid nightmare
about how, like a bogeyman or
a monster, this strange ferocious
predatory visitor to suburbia
tears apart forever
all illusions of their safety.
Just a Bee-Stung Old Farmer
It surely got to me and my attention good!
That time I was knocked off my tractor
by something very small.
I ended up all broken
up and down
my scrawny thirsty carcass.
Maybe it's something like what
the point of a bolt of lightning does
when it hits you like God was a doctor
giving you the needle
shooting you up with scalding honey
or something else like that.
Form Follows Function
When trout fishing,
some, lying, say
they don't care
if they catch any;
"It's the beauty
of being there."
I do care.
If I'm fishing,
I'm wanting trout
The Redheaded Paradise Finch
The redheaded paradise finch
came to my fountain to drink.
I put on my glasses
to see more clearly
the redheaded paradise finch that
had come to my fountain to drink,
lingered a moment
then flew away.
I watched fountain waters bubble
beneath the sky, cloudless blue.
I willed the paradise finch to return
It did not.
If god is in me
god does not want
the paradise finch to return.
To want the paradise finch
to return, to god, is
neither here nor there.
To End With Writing of a Bird Betrayed
flattened yellow trees,
I, once-betrayed, write
epitaphs not elegies,
warnings not proclamations—
knife-slashed by dagger shards
sprayed from mirrors
released like fallen dreams
splattered on the concrete,
or dead prey of clumsy eagles
confounded by sheets of lightening—
Soliloquy, not dialogue:
“Beware the lark believing well.
Beneath the chapel lies its trust.
To live or die, the difference just
Rings like the clash of bird and bell.”