Out of the Fog  

At night when only sirens whine

and stoplights change for no one

walking, no cars, joggers, no dogs

just cats bored with the bushes

tails high on patrol,

the glittering lace of the bridge dims.

We blink to see it’s true

and I say, “Look!”

Low clouds from out on the ocean

breathe heavy over the city

over the bay into Oakland

swallowing the waterfront

its tips of red flash

and sink into darkness

the freeway drowns

neon dims out

windows sift shut

buildings fade in the creep

up Piedmont Avenue where the edge

of our neighborhood shadows

and disappears.

The glowing street globes above Brandon

swell with waves of whirling mist

billowing through the wash.

“We’re above it.”

But of course we aren’t,

snuggled side by side

in your plaid wool blanket.

The swirl of each word drifts.

“It’s for us,” you say

as you take my hand

into your pocket.


for David


at home on the balcony


Transmission ~ for Lawrence Ferlinghetti

From some gone world

these wise jewels

soul sparks

catch and light

at the door of knowing

nectar, pearls dropped like dew–

when one wakes

to their brilliant forms

love breathes through

the mysterious nimbus

of the poem–

this gift of wild pure stars

falls to open hands,



facets with mirrors

where we look into ourselves

as the poet disappears

revealing the heart

absolutely touched.


This wired culture’s

chaos of devices–

the life of the poem

misplaced in the shelves

of the entertainments

stuffed into cracks

between station breaks

bloodshot eyes

water on the screen

cut short by texting

still in the web’s thick weave

sobered in somber cafes

where click of keyboards

drowns out gossip

a low of hum in bookstores

behind the self-help books–

found missing

but holding true

beyond spotlights

at the heart of things.


In the long wait

to be known

the raw individual

bears a heart

starved for contact,

hungry for some perfect shock

to crack mind’s wall–

shadow of a box

tight around

the fat wants

that eat us alive–

to find someplace where the naked

live to lie down

in a field of true sounds

gathered like a tribe

of original beings

mouths open for rain

to drink elixir’s song

through a deep channel

from far gone.








Back Porch Muse

Why write at dusk in tingling

mist, on sidewalk jewels

near hydrant pearls, asphalt sequins

sizzling clear in streetlight blaze

caught in tips of drops

tiny clear globes

everywhere I look?


Word hermits

will go anywhere

to get away

will sit unmoving

for hours, all but the hand.

Even forgetting to eat.


Though the chill has settled

the thrill is a furnace turned up

like that old metal box

on the back porch

creaking with heat.

When once it broke

our parents fought

it cost too much to fix


but a seasoned heater man

a muse of sorts, crouched

with his pants half off his ass

and holding worthy tools

wooed that blast of heat

back to us. He made his notes

like these, mapped the route he took

and left.


It seemed a miracle

the house like toast.

One should lift a glass

to such grace

or a pen, like this.


for my sister Sal on her birthday!


Café du Soleil, SF


The Song of the World 

We cannot bear the suffering of the world

and it is in us. Our hunger is the same,

rooted in pain and we want to stop hurting.

We try to stop knowing so it will go away,

so we freeze. Do not feel. Do not show yourself.

We do not want to be seen in pain so we hide

from it, from ourselves, a sort of voluntary blindness.

We cannot move we cannot see we do not want

to be true. Paralyzed, the heart becomes numb

but sings inside without words, because words

from the heart must tell the truth and we don’t

want to hear it. Tell me I will not die, that I

will not suffer, and I will listen. Tell me I must accept

this tenderness and I will hide. In that deep secret place, pain

is the consuming darkness but we mistake it for safety because

it is familiar, because it is real. When I open my eyes there,

I am surrounded by the world. I will say this even if

no one listens. I say it because truth is. When will we

listen? Until then, we cannot hear the singing.

It is as though we are all asleep together.

As we stir, the song will be everywhere.

It will wake us.            


Room for Truth

All night the nightlights flick their bulbs, silent

like small dogs watching, protecting the children

on their perfect quilted beds in safe rooms

on the top story, quiet in the dark

of this storybook town, this home town

where the clean white kids blow their noses with Kleenex

and practice gymnastics, cutting the labels from outfits

because they itch. Their parents love them so much. 

A land of husbands and parlors of wives

who feel secure in their permanence. 

I don't know these women, my finger is ringless,

I've never owned my own home.

My daughter wears the name of a man

who left her and passed from my life like a dream. 

I shed that "boyfriend" with my concept of sin

but my baby can't let go of him.

On a school record I marked the box `absent’

and went on with my life. I was never his wife,

I am a woman. My progress has been alone.

I have grown with my singular name framed

in the plastic windows of my power bills

and moved to a world with room for myself,

mumbling  prayers for a love beyond my understanding. 

I ask for truth. My proof is with the children

as they look me in the eye, watching.  My daughter sees

me weep; the promise of feeling helps her to speak.

She still cries Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!

and throws her books at me.

I have heard her best dolls thud against the slammed door. 

That perfect rage has challenged the nightmares

and she sleeps, quiet, with Kleenex

wadded in small hills under the tight sheets,

safe in a world with room for truth. We need

to make firm the word that life pretends to keep.

Cutting the labels, our children look us in the eye,


Ashland, Oregon 1991