One Country Before Sleep

Here, the rivers flow so slow
the sea is not yet filled.

Trees grow ten thousand years
and then fall quietly, forever.

No one is ever late; everything
begins for days and does not end.

The biology class watched a flower
the entire spring semester
and then went home for lunch.

Cats nap for weeks and dogs bark
at strangers who approach so slow
they arrive as friends.

Here, all the animals still roam
in the woods and the first spear
is always on its way through the air.

Hawks linger so long in the sky
their wings turn almost to weather.

And when it rains, the women
decide which drops they want,

stroll outside, get their bowls
from the dusty shelves, and
sit down in the sun to wait.

The rain does not splash; it
pours into their bowls like syrup,

and the women are still
preparing breakfast.

Spoons, An Appreciation

Ah, the romance of spoons. Their goodness.
How they fit together, how they lie together, hip to hip,
spooning comfortably in that slender bed, the drawer.
I believe in spoons, their essential good nature.
They are the gentlest of the utensils.
Knives cut; forks jab, but spoons cradle.
The knife slices meat. The fork skewers it.
But the spoon is oval and holds sips.
It is the utensil of moderation, of cure,
spoonfuls of medicine, spoons full of care.
A spoon will never hurt you, never jab nor cut you.
There is no blood in the history of the spoon.

Spoons are the sexiest of the utensils,
feminine and rounded, all curve and camber.
Knives are phallic and forks are aggressive, toothy,
but spoons are the shapes of breasts and buttocks.
To knife is to pierce, to fork is to branch out,
but to spoon is to make love, cuddle together.
The gentle spoon, to be spoon fed like a child.
Spoons are the utensils of babies.
The spoon conserves, contains, mothers.


When the wind falls asleep in the oak
and the moon is almost lost in heaven
and the sea tosses in its dark sheets
and stars smolder in the smoky night

my mother stands up in her spirit
and looks down on the garden
of Star Hill farm that is now
the lawn of someone who sometimes
weeps in the bay window.  I
don't know why.

Because she is dead and ashes and blind
to time, my mother thinks she is again
at that window waiting for Sandalio
to drive out of the redwoods
into her arms.  How she wrapped
my father's absence in Sandalio's arms.

She sees herself in the garden in summer,
time turned to flowers and sheep grazing
the gold hills above Half Moon Bay.
Her breath is shaped like the pure dark
the weeds rise from as she pulls them again
from around the roses and thinks of Spain.

It doesn't matter how many noble hearts
are willing to die if their guns are empty,
and Sandalio fled the dark war into the arms
of one who promised my brother and me
that someday there would be no enemy.


Academic Reason

"Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers,"
my students write at the end of their papers.

This is excellent advice, but I wonder
which flowers they mean. Every flower?

Once again, the specifics are lacking.
Some flowers do not smell and a few

smell bad. Stinkweed, for example, or Marigold.
Once again, generalities have misled them.

Have you ever smelled Queen Anne's Lace?
It smells, I induce, like dust.

I know what they mean, "Take it easy,
relax."  I agree and stop

at the daffodils beside the concrete stairs
to the library. Their yellow blooms

tilt like trumpets at a coronation,
but they don't smell of much.

They do, though, have something
specifically yellow to say

that seems seductively true.