The Piercing


My baby had the cutest little nose –
Unsuffocatable that button was
like every other infant’s; heaven knows
design for life, so heaven perfect does.

And as she grew, it stayed adorable –
She seemed to train it upward with her hand
by palming it whenever it felt full,
as if its adult shape were baby-planned.

I recollect a day in childhood
she stuck a raisin up that little nose.
But what impelled her now, what artful good
did she obtain from piercing it? What shows
from her decision, the only thing she got,
is ornament resembling silver snot.

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Stripey and the Yard Birds

Yard May 20

I saw two hummingbirds beneath the crows
that visited, the bold above the shy.
The corvids sat the looming tree, in rows
of roosting gossip, as trochilidae
sought nectar from the blossoms in the yard
(the nicotiniana over sage).
The crows resembled sentinels, on guard
against the neighbor’s cat that needs a cage.

He’s called a housecat, but he shits outside,
and never digs to cover up his turds.
He sneaks around what obstacles I’ve tried;
he’s fed from cans but toys with dying birds.
I never like to spot the gray-striped cat.
I wonder if the crows can help with that…

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I wish I had a lover with a plan
for something new we’d do with this weekend.
I wouldn’t mind attention from a man,
and company I’d welcome in a friend.
But I don’t long for anyone I’ve had
and I don’t yearn for anyone I’ve met.
The truth is, I’m not hurt and I’m not sad.
These may be clues that I’m not ready yet.

I guess I’ll rest and work around my home,
inhabiting this space where I belong.
I’ll dwell within the meter of a poem,
and patronize the bars of weekend song.
There’s wisdom in the rhythm of my verse,
suggesting life’s not bad. It could be worse.

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Wasted Worry

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH

I lived a half a year past 66
and called my age the number of the beast.
The digits made 18 (mathematic tricks),
and that’s the Chai denoting life, at least.
Numerical coincidence aside,
the fact is I’ve lived long enough to know
it isn’t what’s intended or what’s tried
that matters now. My conscience tells me so.

Henceforward I will not feel insecure,
regardless of the circumstance or mood.
I don’t say I’ll behave but to be sure,
I’ll love my shape and like my attitude.
I’ve wasted too much worry to this point,
and won’t waste more. I’ll nap after this joint.

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From the Molehill


A few years ago, the city of Berkeley installed a new variety of street crossing signals. On some busy corridors we now have the option of pressing a button for assistance. That will cause yellow lights to pulse for about half a minute, cautioning all vehicle drivers to slow down and look for pedestrians.

I consider the lights a challenge. I try not to push that button to cross the street. Even on Ashby or College there are gaps in the traffic sufficient to cross all the way without any cars, or to cause one or two drivers to tap their brakes. I consider it a sign of weakness if I have to avail myself of the blinking lights.

In my opinion, it would also be a sign of inconsideration. I really want to share the road. I walk for transportation, but I don’t consider drivers to be the enemy, and I don’t want to make them slow down unnecessarily. The fact is, the lights will blink long enough to let any but the most mobility-challenged cross the street, and then continue to blink and request drivers to slow even though the intersection is empty.

I know: it’s odd to have an opinion about such a minor matter. Or maybe it’s not odd to have it, but it is odd to express it?

Anyway, this morning I watched a young woman cross College Avenue. She looked to be about 20. She was Asian and probably a Cal student. Although there were no cars approaching from either direction, she pushed the blinking light button like it was a requirement. She observed that the lights were in fact pulsing. Then, without looking in either direction for cars, she began to cross the street. Her gait was slow, because her eyes were on her smart phone for the full crossing.

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Deep Desert


The morning air is tricky, with a haze
that to my coastal eyes appears as mist,
befogging distance for my sweeping gaze,
but air this low cannot be moisture-kissed.
It must be made from something I don’t know,
some flotsam gathered by the windy night,
but currents in the air appear to glow,
and motes of mystery bestreak the light.

And light this wonderful has strange effect:
it tricks the distances and rubs the tones.
Perspective moves the mountains to connect
and cast cascades of color from the stones,
and build a bowl about me everywhere,
with canyons shimmering in magic air.

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I’m never age appropriate. I’ve had
a wayward brain, eccentric attitude,
as long as I recall. I wasn’t bad
in deed or thought, but teachers called me rude
for asking natural questions, and my dad
admonished me for lack of common sense.
Frustrated early, often to a mad
extent, my childhood was tough and tense.

I didn’t get it right. Whatever gauge
my fellows have I’m missing. I can’t read
the signaling for how to act my age.
And though I won’t endeavor to mislead,
I’ll satisfy myself in word and look:
at 68 I’ll play by my own book.

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