Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Piers Plowman

Traffic grows heavy
as days thin to their core.
A candidate promises
she'll do everything except change history--

I sit in front of a computer

dressed in a nightgown of reversible darkness

that slides across my shoulder,
watch you sweat pixels 

transported across a browser,
reassembled on my home page.

Listen to pine needles stir up the morning,
see fog outline the coast--
Still no state budget.
Emptiness catches me by its hand.
Canada geese plow trees overhead.

Lilac, periwinkle, and violet
with shades of ash. When I stare
at cactus on the patio,
color shifts from green
to a crinoline.

Outside I hear a cathedral
gone mad, bangles
on a woman's skull
like a torn shopping bag
stuffed with a mall.

I watch a leaf on a linden tree
loosen its grip.
File for unemployment.
Send an application online,
someone answer me.

Monday, August 9, 2010

George II Mahogany Wing Chair

"There's no life without furniture."
Joseph Brodsky

She scouted the resale shop, picked up embroidered tablecloths,
silverware needing a shine, caved leather boots,
a white linen outfit crisp in the Bay Area heat. In the back, a lady

who had tied her ponytail with a plastic flower, stacked National Geographics
rescued from bathrooms and T.V. caddies. Then there was the chair.
Feet that could hitch a ride sticking out over the curb of a street corner.

All curves. She fell into its green silk upholstery and leaned her head
against its flank. One hundred dollars divided into four payments.
Once she loaded the chair into the trunk of the Toyota,

the ponytail lady raised a hand to her throat and watched it go.
She stationed the chair on the parquet next to the heater, but out of range.
No toasting in the dining room allowed.

Cared for the chair the way she did her family, dusted its wood,
turned over its seat cushion, ran her finger around the chartreuse
piping like a runway for fingerprints.

She felt rich, the way her body came together in one piece,
arms on wings, head pressed against its fluted back.
In the lap of others especially on evenings

when her husband remained in his bedroom, the chair 
held her close, a friend willing to be more if she needed.
Not things, although she continued to go to the resale shop,

a rotary egg beater, the kind her mother used, a pewter bread tray
crusted on the levee of other hands, 
objects with their own pyramid of touch,

a safety net for disparate thoughts
from a day of check-off lists, 
to a night of silence and closed doors.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Oakland Twisted Revisited

Oakland parts company and grabs your collar.
Oakland drives people to live some where else.
Oakland thinks trees are dust mops for buildings.

Oakland hides the sky as if blue were a gang color,
Strokes its hills with purple thistle and jealousy.
Oakland parts company and grabs your collar.

Oakland can eat you like a Pop-Tart for dinner.
She can move to a groove, but don’t fool yourself.
Oakland thinks trees are dust mops for buildings.

Oakland smokes in a corner and asks for blood donors,
Gives free advice, doles out soap and celery.
Oakland parts company and grabs your collar.

Oakland is star spangled with glass, a girl
at the Paramount  acting out of impulse.  
Oakland thinks trees are dust mops for buildings.

Oakland catches me in her windowpane like a daughter
Wearing purple dreads that look falsetto.
Oakland thinks trees are dust mops for buildings.
Oakland parts company and grabs your collar.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tap Dancing on the Silverado Trail

Vineyards reach as far as a BART train 
for several stations down a two-lane highway 
stretching into night and hugging the ground 
where love walked away grabbing her hand.  

In a hybrid car she told her mother 
how a man cleaned her out with a dab of his finger,
traced her lips, the crows feet in her eyes 
then called her name to the stars in disguise.  

Together they altered weather patterns,  
changed a winter storm into a summer caftan. 
Those first few months from couch to car,  
they stirred clockwise into each other  

tap dancing on the highlights of dawn 
in rivulets, torrents, up-side-down
guitar strings stretched for several octaves  
along a fault and into mountain ranges  

leaving the bones of her smashed life set,  
injury into dust disintegrated.  
Listening, her mother understood how love   
shakes a woman down for everything she’s worth.    

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Report Drunk Drivers

He gathers empty boxes from Lucky’s parking lot to stay busy.
Across town, I read an article to stay busy.

Along the road, I see a sign to Report Drunk Drivers.
A retired engineer grows artichokes and red lentils to stay busy.

I rub lavender pellets between my fingers and release the scent to the ground.
From his window, he watches a two-year old boy chase squirrels to stay busy.

Grapevines, more green than his eyes, grow in never-ending rows.
He locks the front door and starts the Harley, cycles to stay busy.

I buy a white glass with a decal of olives and a bottle of Merlot. Go home.
Crossing my arms against the ocean, I study a seagull to stay busy.