SCENES FROM STREAM TRAIL

IMG_6440Redwood Creek, Elevation 685 ft., Population 4.3 million, Temperature 61

old needles and a few big arms
thrown down by last night’s midnight wind
cover the perfect messy floor
the price of being tall
nice contribution, group effort

all green and brown and redwood
except the bright blue plastic bag
full of dog shit
so frequent (one of 11), you’d think they too were native
but it’s likely they’re an invasive species

“Come on, boy, come on. Good boy!”

so a story goes
rainbow trout named here
from this very creek
now more bed than flow
(Stay on Defined Trail)
rock graveyard looking thirsty
in deep autumn

middle-aged woman tight yoga clothes
playing motown, trips on roots

“Did your dad quit drinking, or was it smoking?”
“I think he quit smoking.”

yet a flow finds its way further down
from a spring hidden like the
larvae of California newt
tricky toxic Taricha torosa
going through growing pains
also awaiting November rain
(a camper croaked from accidentally boiling one in his morning coffee)

heart appears among tree debris
floating on the water

jet engines roar (Alaska Airlines)
woosh of the large bird
elderly chinese man shoes so white playing music

eternal wrestling match
with silence
or is that just my conflict mind?

“You know, I think I saw something about that on her Facebook,
she was gonna hike the John Muir Trail by herself. Crazy.”

Ravens hopscotch on upper limbs
bounce from one bare branch to another
breaking them
can’t tell if they’re squacking from the fun of it
or fighting (also for the fun of it)
either way, tearing the forest down in the process

probably a good thing

Skinny wild-eye guy: “9-11 was an inside job”

poison oak brightest thing in the forest
burnt red rusty orange yellow green
like toxic newt skin, poison has its beauty

Purple-and-blue-extensions-among-black-braids-girl
smiles wide at me
I’m looking talking with a small round bird
hopping up the side of course bark
breaking bugs

“I was thinking about getting one of those…”

Sequoia sempervirens sighs
breathes cool into my blood
making it redder
lungs lighter
never take clean air for granted

Like a dog, creek birds tilt tiny heads
look at me like,
wuzup?

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Grandma’s Patterns

IMG_6459Pulling Grandma’s quilt around me
I perch on a rock
this cold October morning

Must have been in my late 20s
when she crafted this
there’s a picture somewhere

I try to count all the different fabrics designs
and lose track at 40
40!
Stripes and shades of blue
and red stars and greek torches
simple little squares from time to time
not to mention red lotus flowers in cosmic radiance

All held together by stitches
like rivers meandering through mountain valleys
(little pine trees, like those in the grove, where we ran wicked)

The thing about grandmas is they’ll love you so much
they’ll give you more than you’re supposed to have
like pickles and popsicles and gum
(background spring flowers)

enough toast and soup for everyone
(navy blue, cups of gold)
and christmas stockings stocked with
enough candy and peanuts
to last through Groundhog Day
(holly and diamonds)
though we did our level best to
get through it by midnight
(white skates and gloves)

enough pillows and beds
for all who ransacked her farm house
(red and white checkerboard)
boy, that must have been chaos!
(fireworks, blue on red, red on blue)

enough space to get hurt too
(bright red background)
Oh, how she must have been scared
when I fell through the window
and blood poured from my knee (dark red splotches)
collateral damage from fort-building with cousin Amy
(little bright circles)

Grandma took the couch
falling asleep to romance novels
(hearts, pulsating)
resting on her chest
pale yellow lamp light
(snow flakes)

but time enough the next night
to play cards
on the slick brown dining room table
(small spiral gold)

Nowadays, Grandma doesn’t remember as much
about making these patterns
(flowers–blue, gold, red)
nor sometimes for whom she made them
(red lines on white, like fences around the fields,
keeping some things in and some things out)

But I do
and they keep me warm
on crisp, October mornings
(little red hearts on stems)

Staredown at Cold Creek

IMG_6447I left you ten thousand years ago
yet here you are
staring back at me in broad daylight
broad as a mountain meadow, a Magellan cloud

asking things of me
which I’m not prepared to answer

have you been stalking me?

a wry, smile gives me a hint
some things never change
but your face betrays a longing
but that’s not your way
or is it?

I’m on to you
it wouldn’t kill you
to tell let them know
what you truly desire

But what do I know?
I can barely track a 🦌
let alone the secret footprints
written across the face of Maya

For now, I dip my feet in the cold creek
feeling the ancient afternoon on my cheek
flashing my own smile
from this big rock,
for whom the trees move so quickly

Wind Wakes Me

1280px-Van_Gogh_-_Starry_Night_-_Google_Art_ProjectIt’s the hour when even owls are silent
but a fierce wind
mimicking ocean waves
draws me out
to feel its invisible currents
from who knows where
But here, above me
branches break
full moon stands naked
stars like a cozy blanket—
People wouldn’t believe that the forest could be this clear and bright
in the middle of the night

Smoke on the Tongue of the Wind

smokeFor the California fire victims, wish I could do something more:

I taste smoke on the tongue of the wind
carrying word of fires in the north

eating up homes
of teachers and deer
and burning lungs
and livelihoods
Wicked Wind whipping
sharp as Kali’s tongue
licking her lips
hungry for more

Feels like all I can do sometimes
is worry in the morning sun (the other fire)
drifting behind pale hazy skies
and sip coffee with the jays
hoping that a world on fire
soon finds soothing blue skies