Yellow Shoes
for Lawson Inada

When I had feet me shoes were yellow ah
yellow as pollen they were
bright as lemons
bright as me lad's smile
bold as his laugh
an oh how I danced in me shoes
all night
a swarm a bees
drunk from the flowers
sportin their yellow pants an boots
knew not as many turns as me lad an me
not haf as many

an when
in the slow river
a bare foot we went a wadin
me lad an me
an bare we were from toe to head
a hand an hand
me yellow shoes was glad to wait
all hodgepodge with his
for shoes has no need a feet
though feet has a need a them
but now
old as I be
I has no need a shoes
not yellow 
not brown
but glad I am
glad as I was when I was a lass
for I got me me lad
an I rather him than me feet.

Ashland, OR 1988



When I was a girl
and hungry for pleasure
with feathers in my hair
and bells on my feet
a wild unpruned thing
a child on the run
feasting on the sweets
and bitters of love
on the full gush of all things
in a swarm of musics
and carelessly carefree
rising and falling  
on each tide swimming
a slave to the moon
with a barefoot heart dancing
to the flute of my own god
I spilled blossom after blossom
to the wind with no regard
being full of my season
and the aphrodisiac perfumes
on which I fed
lips red   
voice thick from singing
eyes heavy from wooing
until I delivered the fruit of the union
until I became
with the pain and the growing
the reaping and sowing
a woman.

Ashland, OR 1984


Saturday Night

Saturday Night
for John Chance, June 9, 1934 - February 1, 1992

Before the final breath and night
swallowed the glow above the hill
and in the eye
before the bloodsplash of light
pulsing with unborn and terrifying thoughts
was stilled in the gently falling hush
world to world of the quietest breath
and the last petal of a most beautiful flower fell
into the quick black stream of death
fell down and forever from view
know this darkness that settled
this disappearing act forever playing out
within the world, this knife
around which the wound dried
was delivered by angels.

You were a splash of light
between two worlds grooving
ransacking visions till kingdom came
singing till you shattered
ravaged by innocence

You were a dying man
hungry for the company
of rain soaked pines
a downed bird whose fierce eye
grew dim in the cage by the door

Holy Mary, mother of god
you were a curly-headed boy
stealing to the lake for an evening swim

Pray for us sinner
stealing back to the lake for an evening swim
stealing back to lost summer

Pray for us now, at the hour of our death
as I kiss your wax brow
at the door that is always locked

Ashland, Oregon 1992


Augury for the Child

Augury for the Child
For my daughter

Even as a child I knew
I could possess nothing
so I renounced everything
but childhood itself

And as a child I knew
knowledge could not
be enough that only
a homing instinct
would be much use
after all

So abundant
are the moments of truth
diamond drops cupped
in the uncountable
small green hands
of morning
even now
I do not wish
to turn back from love

Knowing I will forget
again and again
how to laugh
and how to cry
and what you mean to me
and knowing
that each moment of love
finally presses its body in wet
fallen fragrant petals
against the stone to dry
I must welcome strangers
and imperfections

I have seen hope
like spring return again
and again
and the sleek and shiny
lights of rain
dancing everywhere

Even now
it is wise to trust.



After Death

After Death

As moon hidden by morning
as water enters earth
as the blossom’s beauty quivers
falling from the fruit within
as night   embrace    effaces   erases   light
and light
being diminished or absent
speaks in dream
I went to the river saying,
here are my voices.
Return them to the sea.

after death ..
I entered River’s mind
and River’s song
which fills the twilight
replaced the sun.

after death ..
seeing through River’s eye
knowing night by many names
I journeyed far to reach and kiss
the pulse of earth and sea.

returning ..
new mind
a spring rain
slowly descending black bark trees

returning ..
young among the old
new moon asleep on the sea.

returning ..
I moor my ship
upon the wind’s voice.

Little Butte Ranch - Oregon, 1981




the key sent forward
a little boat
disappearing into fog
in order to grow
we must shed certain assumptions

behind the green leaves that always
face the light
behind the tombstone
and its long, narrow shadow
(which is a road)
the ashes of my old life
spin in silence eddies

the footprints are also mine
from this spot
I dragged the bone boat
to water
I am tired of dying


Ashland Oregon, 1988


Music Theory

Music Theory

In the beginning was theory and the theory was made flesh so that we could find our way home. I walk slowly through the points of rain.

In the beginning was sound and it was everything, against all odds. In the meantime the bald bus driver has eaten his apple to the core and re-boarded the bus. His hand resting on the fare box, we start out again into traffic.

“Never was there a time you and I did not exist, Arjuna.” I am a ball of wings rolling toward you. Theory become flesh. The music is in the gaps.

I enter the lobby. "I have come to see my uncle John Chance," I say. "Where will you be waiting?" queries the lady from the glass cage. "The waiting room", I reply. She will not meet my eye. I am announced through the seven miles of hallways.

He appears, hollow and weary on his cane. It is not a walking stick to navigate the world of the living. It is his handrail to the grave.

He is an unanswered question. We step out into the mist and stop. I watch him openly, as one watches a child, the insane, or the dead. “Listen to the trees,” he says, rolling his eyes up and back. “It is good to be alive; to share a little company now and then.”

Nevada, August 2005


Road's Eye View

Road’s Eye View

And her dog replied
let us begin with death
and the possibility of death
for this is the humid season of atrocity
and wonder and the starting point
is fear and desire
twisted together
inseparable vines
the assailable heart
and the available flesh
lashed to a skeleton raft
survivors from the carbon sea
shipwrecked in a stinking swamp
ten thousand tiny concertinas squeak
in the buzzing, clicking, humming dark

Who are you?

Here I am.

Here I am.

Who are you?

Where are you?

Here I am.

Here I am.

Where are you?

I will feed your daily flesh.

Who are you?

I cannot sleep. 

Peel back my skin and eat.

Pacific Coast - Mexico, 2003
excerpt from Book of Images 


Contact Language

Contact Language

the inky   
spindly cities
are in ruins
alphabets adrift
reconstruction impossible
the land is without refuge
a diameter without dimension
echo answering echo
emptiness consoling emptiness

I am writing you
from a crumbling church
where in its thick-rooted dark
I found a few others
by their heavy breath
snorts, sighs and whispered speech
and one by the drifting refrains
of her off-key devotions

otherwise only the rain
is true to itself

it has also taken shelter here
just inside the door

where an old man
hesitates between worlds
gulping like a fish


on the brown-frocked monk
watching us both
rebar poking through
his scotch-taped hand.

Oaxaca, Mexico 2005
excerpt from Book of Images




There is a sadness
standing before light
clouds know it
stepping out into the air

and great storms
born of upper, unseen winds
know it
banished to the edge of light

and for all its wonder
stone like
is still
an uncored flute
through which the disturbing
winds of heaven
cannot blow.

There is a gap
nothing can fill
born of what can never be.

There is a yearning
stepping out into mystery
lovers know it
calling one to the other
the Unknowable answers back
breaking their hearts
with unthinkable melodies.

(Written for Actor's Theatre, Ashland Oregon 1988)


Blue Period

Blue Period

I painted a moon to look at
and gave it a wild sky to rule
and I sat down listening
to the night blooming flowers open
rhythm upon rhythm

I painted a blackness to sleep in
and forgot myself
among the
layers of easy paint

I painted an empty room for clouds to fly over
I painted a silence and fell to dreaming....

Ashland, Oregon 1987




    By the sun I know the stairs from the street
    face north. I go up, mote rising through slanted
    light, through the door that locks the City out
    into the darksome hush. I do not disturb the pods
    each tethered to their different zero points. I go up

    one flight, then two. Here the path turns east
    then south again from the old Hasidic fellow's
    room with blackout curtains who sits, white beard
    guarding his chest, at his table reading scripture
    by candlelight in the afternoon; past the bath,

    toward the kitchen at the end of the hall. Then
    halfway down I stop, turn west, insert a key into
    the lock and open the door to my room. Window
    facing North Dakota a hundred years ago. Single
    bed in the south and east corner. Table and chair at

    the foot. I sit to write then instead lower my head
    and stretch across the cool green formica. In the
    whereabouts, bed spring frenzy thumps and growls,
    startle then succumb again to silence. One hand
    makes its way over to smooth the hair from my face.

    The other remains on the edge, absorbing the petulant
    reds. We are bound by a mutual debt, these hands
    and I. They are here with me now, inexplicable portend,
    old friends tracing the cyan forms hovering between
    us, past and future working out the difference.

    New York City, 1962


Los Viajeros

Los Viajeros

La ruta es larga.
El dia es corto.
La noche es
ruidosa y calor.
Estoy afuera
con la luna.
La ruta es angosta.
El cielo es ancho.


The Travelers

The road is long.
The day is short.
The night is
noisy and hot.
I am outside
with the moon.
The road is narrow.
The sky is wide.