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Posts Tagged ‘creative writing’

From waterfront to high market
the climb wends upward through the city’s memories,
from old brick painted with faded names
to new concrete laid at the feet of giants.

Gulls cry below, scudding along the shore’s hungry limit,
wings suspended on the taste of salt and kelp,
while above, the rumble of metal and power
and the chatter of caffeinated urbanites.

My breath rasps with each tread
as I climb the twisting caverns,
Orpheus returning to the light
through tunnels rank with piss and sorrow.

From beyond the turning, a note sounds,
pulled, tightened, anxious, lonely,
until another twangs in, rising too,
birthing tentative harmony.

The notes repeat, nearer as I climb,
others come to shimmering life,
intervals congealing out of tortured dissonance
as sympathetic strings pull into focus.

At stairs’ end, a cavern of poured stone;
a sunbeam paints harsh shadows of two men,
one seated, one who steps close,
beckoning, wide-eyed, his smile broad.

The seated man shifts,
and his guitar catches the light,
its varnish a Renaissance craquelure,
its strings twelve lines of fire.

I draw closer to the player, unsure;
his companion encourages me
and with beatific confidence instructs,
“Listen, and believe.”

When the chord is struck,
the world retreats, sirens stop,
pistons grow still, the machined ostinato
becomes a heartbeat bass.

We three form a tableau,
the creator, the disciple, and the skeptic,
as the divine is released by dirty fingers
and earthen hearts are lifted.

 

 

 

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just put up a poem

she said

when I complained

of having no ideas

as if it was

the easiest thing

to do

and so

I did

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———

our eyes spill
waves of notion
across the eternal void
into the depths of time
seeking

intention precedes our questions
of who we are and why and how
but the answers received
are not answers
any more than
we are we

the aeons stare back
drop clues
of intricate detail
tantalizing the ape-minds
that think themselves gods

———

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lazy bumblebees 
ride from bloom to fragrant bloom 
in yellow jodhpurs

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sure we are like gods
we created a machine 
that fears its own death

(more…)

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in the passenger seat,
on a narrow country road,
my window rolled down,
the scent of warm grass thickens the air

beyond a low fence,
a gathering in black wool,
silent but for ritual words,
meaningless intonations of finality

as we draw near,
time congeals like aspic,
heat rises in dreamlike waves,
flowers wilt in reverent clumps

the surrounding faces
are strangers whom I know,
fugitives on the same path,
dogged by the same relentless pursuers

pain, sharp-edged,
a new reality that dawns
as the loved one stolen
is set into the receiving earth

near the center
one mourner stands,
brow blank, eyes questioning:
Who am I, without you?

as we pass
time releases us,
our hearts resume their muffled beat,
and we yearn for the peace of simple things

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For six decades, my feet have touched the earth. This did not seem a consequential thing before, but I have learned otherwise.

I grew up on the shores of San Pablo Bay. While, behind me, the dark oases of live oaks studded the rolling golden hills, I walked unshod down the shingled shore, the smooth curves of wave-worn pebbles pressing upward into the flesh of my bare feet. I would gather kelp vines to use as bullwhips, challenge fiddler crabs to duels, and with a poked finger annoy the anemones until they spat. My bare toes gripped the ragged rim of a tidepool’s edge, and my arches provided stability as I balanced on weather-beaten logs. To my bare feet, the cool water and the hot stones were as natural as the salt air and the scent of baking seaweed were to my lungs.

Then, with shoelaces tied together and draped over my neck, I kept my shoes dry as I crossed the tidal marsh that lay between shore and home,. Navigating past clumps of reeds, gently pushing aside the serrated blades of pampas grass, I let my feet breach the brackish water, sink into the yellow mud, continue down through muck the color of rust, until they hit the underlayment of fetid black peat, the foul and oily rot squishing upward between my toes. Here, shoes were worthless, destined (if used) to be left behind in a muddy grave or, worse, to survive for a few brief and redolent hours on the front stoop before my mother gave up and threw their ruined stink into the trash.

When school let out for summer, my friends and I tossed our tattered Keds aside and headed up into the sun-bleached hills behind our homes. We followed creekbeds and ridgelines, slid on the fragrant mat beneath the eucalyptus trees, and winced as spiny oak leaves pierced our callused feet. Come late August, with back-to-school sales shouting from every newspaper and TV ad, I’d be given new shoes, along with my mother’s admonition to take care of them this time because she wouldn’t be buying me any replacements.

To be safe, I rarely wore them outside of school.

In the time between those days and now, I maintained my contact with the earth, barefooting my way through the years. Working in my gardens, shaded by their canopy of spruce and fir and maple, I felt with each step the sun-warmed grass, the cushioned mat of russet needles, the crunch of pinecones, the coolth of upturned soil, and always I reveled in the chthonic energy that flowed upward from earth to sole to crown. My feet are still callused, though now mostly from walking on pavement than traipsing across youthful hills, but lately, age has begun to make its effects known.

An injured ligament across the left arch and instep has required support beyond what my bare feet can provide, for which I resorted to an ankle brace and bindings. The foot has improved, albeit with glacial speed, to the point where the tight grip of the bindings is not always required, but sadly, the foot is not yet able to go it alone, and so a shoe (with arch support) is needed.

The practice of walking shod was melted out of my DNA by the sun of many summers and so, even though it lessens the pain, wearing shoes around the house feels alien and unnatural. I feel as if I’m just passing through my own home, on my way to somewhere else, some place where bare feet are a faux pas.

My heart holds tight the hope that this is a temporary condition and not the first step down some inexorable decline, and that by the solstice I will once again be able to feel the ground beneath my feet, but there is no guarantee. Meanwhile, I will practice patience; but do not be surprised if, now and again, I leave my shoes on the bottom step and walk out to spend a few minutes standing barefoot beneath the garden’s green-leafed roof.

k

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