Thursday, June 24, 2010

Hunter Hill

Above Columbus Parkway
it rises to the east,
creased with oak
and dry grass,
grazing cattle, bored,
loitering horses,
and the gliding hawk hunting
in the rough granite
and withered timber.

But hidden by high, jagged peaks,
the mute Miwok headman observes
the cattle and the hawk,
and the swift automobile
down the smooth, black road
Hunter Hill.

Author's Note:
the Miwok were the indigenous people of the nothern part of the San Francisco Bay Area. They were nearly wiped out in the 19th century by diseases (mainly small pox) brought by the European settlers. Miwok descendents still live in this area, though.

My Miwok would be a ghost.
(image of "Miwok Headman" from

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Confrontation

The angry sparrow, narrow and light
fiercely pursued the thieving crow
slender beak stabbing
smooth black feathers,
rising and diving,
rolling and turning,
a vicious top-gun

Then the crow, tired of torment,
set heavily down on the high lamp post
as the small bird circled, crying invective,
taunting the crow to rise again and fight!

but the old crow, patient and wise
settled comfortably for this shrill siege
and calmly waited for the air-show to end.

Finally, exhausted,
the sparrow gave up,
but claiming victory,
like Odysseus
nearly home
at last,

became Homer,
and composed his own
epic poem
of the fierce
midnight raven,
wrought low,
driven down
into death’s
bitter dust,

which, of course, he sang
in heroic,
avian meter
to his faithful,

Friday, June 18, 2010

From this High Window

From this high window
the invisible wind
moves silent trees:
motion without sound,
dance without song.

Behind painted walls
and heavy curtains,
I cannot not hear
the tumult,

but opening the heavy door,
at last I hear the trees sing,
stirred to passion
by unseen hands
waving branches
swept up
by the compelling wind

and drawn outside,
exposed and complete,
finally I face the clear maelstrom,
my own hair flying free,

and gaze at the trees,
wild men
dancing as they chant
savage hymns
to their howling god.