lightning flashes

lightning flashes

far off

near enough

to light the sky

and fill it with a sharp crack

and rumble

like a train

striking a car

stalled at a crossing


frightened children

cry and howl

joining the dogs chorus

around the neighborhood

in the dark

their tears

catch and reflect

bits of light.

the air is quiet

except near trees or shrubs

where wind hisses

through twigs and leaves


no rain falls

but another bright flash

and long rumble

pushing away the loud

slap in the sky

Litter on the Beach

As the sun appears to kiss the distant horizon, its warm rays begin to fall short. Subtly bright gold shifts to red. Sunlight soon brushes pastel the sand, the pier, and people walking, watching the fiery end of the day. Their awe rises like mist to join the broad washes of color upon distant clouds. A cool sigh rolls over our junction of land and sea, of day and night. When the sun flattens ruddy against the sea, the air becomes still as if the world holds its breath. A single flare rises then quickly disappears. A collective sigh marks the passing of the sun, the onset of night. A subconscious prayer rises, but leaves us each alone in our skins as our transcendental bond drifts like pale ash across shore and sea. Like luminous words in the growing darkness riding the faces of breaking waves, roiling in our dreams, churning emotion laps against sandy memories deposited by retreating surf, giving voice to body and soul.

Rhythm Rises

Errant thoughts glisten like
thick frost that appears long
before the clear indigo sky pales.
Icy air seeps through miniscule
gaps between window and sill,
cascading down the wall, slowly
splashing on and across the floor.
From the churning confluence,
images drift like mist above a
waterfall . He deflects. Reading,
searching, as if scripture
could shield him, could divert
the flood. He needs more than
an echo of his thoughts. More
than a crude, soulless golem,
or a shadowy doppelganger. He
needs essence: common, tangled,
roots that nourish and inspire, to
ground him in time and place.

Long sleepless nights like
this freeze time. Imagination
grips his heart, squeezing
until his chest pounds.
Singers accompany
his drumming heart.
If he looked out the window
he would see steam rising
from the vent as his clothes
tumble dry, as the dryer exhales
moist, hot air. Instead he sees
the breath of singers rising,
matching the rhythm spiraling
from the drum, accompanied by the
thunderous dances of buffalo and
holy chants of Yei-Be-Chai.
Rhythm fills the night.
It rises from his heart.

Night wraps him like
a second skin, a twisting
and pulling wave
charging a sandy beach.
Above thunderous surf
a voice wafts, riding the soft
mist haloing turbulent water
stampeding all around.
His spirit rises. In the powerful
grip of an undertow, his body cannot.
Near the sparkling surface
memory breaks free, breaches,
arching high in the air.
His first death. Murdered
by loving parents. Water
boarded before the CIA
had a name for it. Then a
second. Abandoned, he felt
the suffocation of banishment.
And a third, a forth.
No beacon to the other side.
He lingers.
He follows
the calming voice.

Opaque water undulate as
swells pass beneath the rippled
surface, reflecting the faint light
of stars, scattering the argent
glow spilled by a full moon.
Polaris faintly glimmers and
winks, showing a way,
he breaks the tension
separating ocean from air.
He sees man-shaped kelp
kissing the salty surface,
returning the indifferent
ocean’s kiss of life.

The rise and fall
has no rhythm.
His drum beats.
His blood dances.
The rhythm rises
from his heart.

Ghosts Follow

Traveling at night within
a chrysalis of light, I rush
through a soft world, indistinct
except in brightly illuminated
pools at intersections and towns.
Few distractions, no landmarks other
than road signs, mileage markers. Quiet
melodies drift through the car,
reminding me of love unrequited and
love that washed through my heart like
a flood that no banks could hold.
When I reach my destination I sleep.

Those starry mornings I leave early,
the chrysalis dissolves as the
sun meets the horizon then climbs,
slowly at first, changing night skies
from indigo to dark, then pale, blue.
Platinum light emanates from the
morning sun. The world comes
alive with forests and pastures, with
rivers and towns, with farmers and
livestock. I see them. I watch them fly
past as the car cuts the air in its headlong
journey. Among the trees and landscapes
that drift in and out of my periphery
I think I see other things. Ghosts.
Her ghost, a trailing scent like
perfume mingled with sweet sweat.
Wafting, swirling and clinging as she
rises, billowing from memory and loss.
I drive the highways and streets through
dynamic landscapes that never look the
same and seldom seem to change. Like
the memories that suddenly appear and
run along the roadsides, that reach out to
embrace me as I drive. Are they
echoes? Maybe after-images of a
person who passed through years ago? Of
thoughts or dreams that flew out an open
window to settle in the old eucalyptus
trees and hedgerows growing along the
roadside, even among the frame of an old
bridge over the dusty riverbed and quiet,
abandoned buildings? She waits vague and
vaporous to reunite us for fleeting, vivid
minutes, to linger as sigh, a smile and a
chill of recognition.