Early this morning the first thing on my commute through the forest was a chirpy herd of quail. I then heard and saw warblers, jays, ravens and robins, and countless other birds I don’t yet know. I’m got most excited about the thrushes, who have returned, and whose enchanting melody fills me with peace and joy.

I say this all because it was from my mom that I got a model for meeting the morning and its many gathering things with presence. I inherit much of my love and observation of nature from my mom, who is a photographer, naturalist, artist, and craftswoman. She also got me started on the blessing that is gardening. She’s not afraid of the dirt or to see things from a unique perspective. These are gifts that can’t be repaid, only received with gratitude and wonder. Thanks mom!

This poem is for her.

Those were the days I slept in.
Past when the day had swept in
and grinned. But then
I found what had commenced and gone,
past retrieval, past the dawn.

The many-gathering things had fled
while still I slept in my bed, but

The image of her sitting sits
in my bones and sitting yet–
the woman from whom I came
at door of dawn and garden met.

Not doing, but the resting in the being with beings best
at day break bring their
radiant zest

First dew before warmth fell in
the inchèd crawl of light begins
the lavender, approaching thin
tumbled through distant cloud, now became
persimmon, pink, and rose-filled same

Among the marvels I had missed, she said
amidst the meandered mist, ahead

were many feathered friends in flight
or simply perched to sing the light
ten and five by her own eyes
different types, from land and skies:

Robin, warbler, cardinal, jay,
hummingbird, thrush, bushbird greys,
common corvid, hawk, and owl,
woodpecker, wren, and water fowl
but one that brought such joy to soul,
the black and orangèd Oriole

She penned them in her notebook list
that in which she keeps them all
gathered in as dreams persist
that might be lost, not seen at all
unless one sits and in sitting gets
the blessings of the morning met

Those were the days I slept in.
and missed the things that dawn had sent.

But now I greet the light and flight
and fog and song and scent and sight
and have within that image bold
of her awake in morning’s fold

inviting all the sounds that sing,
the rhythms of the bells that ring,
with the light that brings
the many-gathering things.


Before I arrived,
flint ax and fire
fences and fine fishing wire

Long canals and solid streets
Mathematical proofs,
monumental feats

Towers upon cathedrals
upon burial mounds
giant gears with steely sounds
more dead empires
than can be found

All of it sacred, perhaps
to those whose hearts murmur
our patria and oh almighty lord of light
blessed be the maze of mind
and the dearly departed

But mine soars more
with the simple avian bells
of dawn

When Wild Mustard’s a monument
Teasel’s a temple

and Egret,
gentling her paintbrush wings
over cattail guardians
of still waters,
is called great for a reason

Nothing I build can be so right


BF023298-E638-4D0D-BD69-D4F196FAC58CThose birds I still hear?
Those birds are no longer here

We’ve taken all their homes, I fear

(Feathered songs for which I long
Each day one more gone)

Those stars we no longer see?

They too have disappeared by degrees
behind our screens of light they flee

(Fire songs, for which I long
Each day one more gone)

Vast silences no longer heard
They’ve gone with all the birds
Replaced by all the noise and words

(Quiet songs for which I long
Each day one more gone…


E3E975F4-4E37-41AC-8E35-C86E1ED8EFF5Did you grow a new bird, forest?

Or you bird, did you sprout a new song

Throwing spring melodies into the late winter day?

Are you a message from that savior, Change, or a ringing
from my dreaming blood?

The birds and first bees cast their innocent and dangerous invitation:

Come and play, track
your labyrinthine questions
through the lambent turn of the season.

Alliterate your arriving with your own alluring lure.


433C3A84-97D4-4644-8329-7CC2D1D5F465I can show you where the old oak lives
but not what dialect is spoken there.

For that, you must sit
and be a friend.

The canyon I fell into
and climbed back out of
is mine, not yours.

The up and the down of it
are well-earned creases
in my palms and around my eyes
like companions on the pilgrimage.

But they are not your ups
and downs.
Your canyon sings different songs.

Don’t follow me. Don’t
follow me into the silent cave
or over green valleys with falcon eyes.

Follow your own bird in your own sky.
Carve your own cave and grab your ears.

Do you think I alone know the sharp cry
from its beak, or how it flies
with that great soft stretch of wing?

Do you think I know better than you?

If today is not the day
to trust your ancient whispers,
when is?


078423B7-B365-4E70-B78B-3931A5746861Here you can laugh in February
the unexpected is to be expected—
a midnight creature leaves
bay nuts for you
and the creek is singing for its supper

woodpeckers and owls
tell you what time it is
but what about the new birds
that weren’t here in dark December?

You might think that February
is dreaming spring,
the equinox on her mind.

It’s easy enough to do
but not to get ahead of ourselves
is a good morning task—
February is dreaming February.

The season is laughing
stinging nettles
and coughing up hail

The month is grinning meadow flowers as pink ox eyes at dawn

and yes, a yellow saluting
affirmation of the still slanting sun
inching higher in the sky
day by day by day
like a toddler learning to stand

urging the arroyo willow
and wild currants
to see who can bud best
by the end of the month.

No, I’m not opposed to opening
my sun-starved belly to it all
skin smiling wildly
with mild stone fruit
freely singing its scent
into the canyon breeze

like only this season can

so see it while you can:

a one-tree performance
of Pink Petal Extravaganza
as the western wind applauds
and kicks his heels up
to play the eucalyptus
like a harp
and runs his fingers through
Cedar’s long hair
when he really gets aroused

and they seem to like being tickled in that way
letting out a moan
now and again
as if stretching for the first time.

It gives one ideas
on a February morning
here in the Nearby Faraway
which is not unlike a thousand
other mornings
that have come before
and will come after.

But it is.