52 SONGS

...the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life...

Monday, February 29, 2016

21. Monday Stress Haiku

That stack of papers:
     white edifice, solid and
unmoving--a weight.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

19. Leisure-time Discovery

With my head leaned against
the chairlift shaft, insulated by wool cap,
hair, and skin,
I made a discovery:

A skull is a resonator.
The engine pulling the lift
was a word my head read through
cable and frame as inner sound.

Friday, February 26, 2016

18. Ice on the Plain

Not enough snow again despite the snow that remains
up there on the Eastern Sierra we in the valley regard. 

We are too late to stop at Pizza Factory. We opt for Subway.
We opt for driving up the 395 four times a year.

I cannot tell Mt. Whitney from its nearby peaks. 
John Muir couldn't either, one time, hoping to summit it

in a day, ascending the wrong peak, unable to descend
in the dark, stamping and dancing all night to keep from

freezing. It is not freezing here now and hasn't been 
for weeks. It is February. It is Leap Year. My lips are dry.

From Muir I learned of snow banners blowing off 
the tops of the mountains in winter. He wrote well. 

I don't fear hell. I fear the fact the land he saw is not
coming back. We zoom along a seam in the valley.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

17. Basketball

The pass is trust. It is humility.
The pass is listening, in that

the person it's offered to is
by its witness freed to become

who they might be. It ignites
collective action. It bends

attention like gravity bends light.
It leads by sacrifice and points back

to the one who let the ball go.
It is angle stepping into flow.



Wednesday, February 24, 2016

16. Middle-aged white man vaguely remembers a time he was pulled over by cops

High school, 16 or 17,
I was driving my beige Toyota Tercel,
with three buddies, on a residential,
one-way street in Capo Beach,
two lanes wide.

At a red light I made a right turn.
A cop behind us threw on his lights.
Were we fleeing? I pulled over.
My friends joked about drugs
we needed to hide, the officer walked
to my rolled-down window.

He spoke something like, "Hey guys,
How are you all doing?"—it wasn’t
memorable—where we'd come from,
what we were up to. He’d gotten a call
about four boys in a beige compact car,
shooting out windows with a BB gun.
Fear. My parents. What next. I said,
It wasn't us. I swear. Search the car.
I can get out and pop the trunk
so you can see for yourself.

"No no," the cop said, with a half-laugh.
"I believe you. You boys can be

on your way. Keep out of trouble."
He may have said something else.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

15. Steady Roar

Steady roar of freeway traffic,
somehow louder at night, penetrates

all air, which holds and spreads it.
My son ascribes the sound to the tires

of cars, not their rumbly engines,
I assume because it's white noise.

This noise is the product of white men,
who penetrated the land with help

they ascribed out loud to destiny,
who grew tired

of going to and fro in it,
walking up and down in it, and

then made corridors to channel the wind,
so that it might be aimed.







Monday, February 22, 2016

13. Garden Variety Tanka

Basil, carrots, peas,
     cucumbers grow in
rows in the raised box.
          The pomegranate tree
          beside it is in new leaf.
         

Sunday, February 21, 2016

12. Rest


Nothing.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Interactive Bosch

Hours of unsettling fun.

11. Tanka

     Zoey's fur, yellow
when in doors, is as she lies
    under sunlight gold.
         On her side, on the driveway,
         her ribs shape it into waves.

Friday, February 19, 2016

10. Haiku

     The sidewalk's edge meets
the freshly cut grass's edge,
      a seam in the cloth.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

9. Small Story

Eli, tonight, on Vermont in L.A.:
"That car in the gas station has its gas tank open.

It's leaving the station with it open."
I looked in the direction his voice suggested.

I saw the car, but I didn't see its gas tank door.
I looked back to the light we were waiting for.

"Oh," he said, "someone walking by it
closed it just now for them. That was nice."

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

8. One week into Lent

One week into Lent, and the rain's come on
out of blue skies and a heat wave that broke all records.

It will be gone tomorrow,
the heat back by the weekend.

The radio said this.
The website I check weather at

said it, too. The weather has a voice,
one that kept me up last night, again.

It has gotten easier to hear,
the sound of a near thing, not a whisper,

but like the dim, discordant tone
from above ceiling panels in an office.



Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016

6. The bucket in the tub

's a catch for water
wasted warming up,

pre-shower, to be used
on the garden and grass,

& for the aquifer,
refreshable by a

method devised,
unmatched

in and by time.
Tiny leaves

on the lavender bush
and bees round

its tiny buds are
collateral curative.



Mainstream Subversion

KL's performance at the Grammys, of all places, is seriously as crazy and challenging a thing I've ever seen on commercial television. And I'm old.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

5. Rest

Nothing.

4. When I Was Late

When I was late, I said,
May I have more time, please?

When you asked how much I needed,
I told you just a few days,

and you said yes and received
my thank-yous.

When two weeks had passed,
you gently reminded me

of my commitment.
I said, oh, right,

thanks for the reminder,
I'm on it. I wasn't.

When it began to fade
in urgency, it was mostly

forgotten, except sometimes,
when I'd think I can't contact

you, for I'd let you down,
and time somehow made it

worse. Whenever we'd
happen to meet, we'd know.

Our friendship was, therefore,
changed. When years later,

over a drink I said I can't still
shake having let you down,

you said, Think nothing of it:
I barely remember it.

Friday, February 12, 2016

3. With my more recent, blurrier vision

With my more recent, blurrier vision,
driving at night makes the red lights
of the cars before me seem nearly

stable, not hurtling at seventy plus
down the 405, but like eyes in the dark
in a cartoon saying danger to

the hapless hero. They hover and shift
within a limited span. Their size
does not decrease. The lanes scrolling out

behind them are more felt than looked at.
Something's rolling in the trunk.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

2. Vast

Vast, says the hiker, on the crest of the pass,
looking below into the John Muir Wilderness,
westward, where a thread of a trail between
small lakes makes its way deep into the vast
interior of the Central Sierra Nevada.

A pair of women have ascended from there
and meet the hiker at the summit, passing by him,
bear whistles in their shoulder straps with each step
clicking, wearing wide-brimmed hats, one
in shorts with cargo pockets, both in boots.

The hiker is with his son and carries in his pack
both his and his son's gear. His son wears a hat
and carries a water bottle. The son is young
enough to ask what vast means. That, says
his father, gesturing. Big. Beautiful. Something

that makes us seem small from a distance.
Where those women came from? the boy asks.
Is that where we're going? Not today, I said.
The hiker was me, a version of me. You'd asked
for a story. The son is you. Was you. Is.

Super Bowl Workers

"One day in late November, I talked with another temp, Dorothy Wilson, as she prepared to close up her beer stand on the upper concourse. She worked for a temp firm called Acrobat Outsourcing, earning $11 an hour and told me she was struggling to get enough hours to afford an apartment. For the moment, she was living in a storage unit in a San Jose trailer park. “I’m trying hard to take any job,” she said. She’d worked many stadium events for Acrobat, and accepted assignments no matter how far afield—Concord, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay."
[from]

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Golden Fang!

1.Surfing Catalina,

with scrub on the hills behind me, 
hammerheads, rumored, around me, 
San Nicolas a day's kayak away, 
if the book's to be believed. I dodged no buffalo 
as I drove to the line-up in my friend's new car. 

He waited nine years to get it. He lives alone.
Almost all the land on the island is a preserve.
The state fish is the garibaldi, on the island's
leeward-side a friend to tourists carrying bread.
They pass through liquid toward a goal,

as I do when I paddle, as a baby does 
pre-first-swaddle, like a pathogen in the water
in the glass from the tap. A surfacing whale.
Its wet eye's gaze when up close by a castaway
is taken for kinship. Oh that it might be.

Friday, February 5, 2016

California

Today while surfing, I had the profile of Catalina on the horizon in front of me, the snow-covered San Gabriels behind me, a crisply outlined downtown Long Beach to my right (with the cougar-inhabited Santa Monica Mtns faintly outlined behind it), the Palos Verdes Peninsula to its left, terns dive bombing hither and thither for little fish, a sailboat thataway, HB pier to my left a couple of miles east, and the wind coming offshore, reversing the approach patterns of planes landing at LB Airport. Life can be all right.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

You pull a missing size-43 boot from under a pile of 100 other shoes. Then you try to mix baby formula in the most hygienic way you can, given the conditions. Eight hundred refugees have to be squeezed into a space fit for only 450. 
Though the camp falls officially under the purview of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, it is actually managed daily by hardworking volunteers. I counted eight nonprofit groups that don’t integrate smoothly, nor communicate effectively. So camp life is an accurate simile for the larger forces at work, with kindness competing against organizational self-interest. 
That said, it is solely by the good grace of individual volunteers that these camps continue running. This is the bright spot in a crisis dominated by bureaucratic maneuvering in Brussels and barbed wire fences on the EU’s eastern borders. The camp is neither sanitary, nor comfortable, but it is vibrant.

[from

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Bonanza

Weird thing when you discover things you knew existed but only encounter them directly later in life and are grateful for it.

Raw Power
Faust IV
Another Green World
Crazy Rhythms