My coffee is always in a hand-thrown mug
Time and place never matter

I’ve been pressed about this and all I can say
Is I’ve been this way a long time, friends
Which hits me as something a little deeper
Than just  how I take my cup


NaPoWriMo Prompt: Constellations

I always liked that Great Southern Dog
Not because he’s fighting the bull with Orion
As so many stories tell.

No, I always thought he was waiting,
Watching the hunter’s back, just in case
And perhaps thinking
“Go for it, Orion.  I’ll never understand
But I’ll be here in case he tries to put one in your flank.”

Sometimes, the dog is the sage
And man the student


Daily writing prompt for National Poetry Writers Month:  Constellations.

Clouds, Satin, Lace

Full moon in a navy blue sky,

bright and dauntless, centered in the east.

A thin trace of clouds hangs there

lined in silver.

No occlusion, just a wisp

hardly covering that brave moon.

Like a sheer slip of satin and lace

over a breast so bold and unashamed.

Even with permission

I couldn’t reach out  and trace it’s form

with trembling fingertips.

Some times

some things

are simply too sacred.


On the river: A coup of the mind


It’s a delicate ruse
Planned out in wire and feather
A bit of thread
Bit by intricate bit laid well in advance
By straining eyes and fingers steadied as best I can
Though not as steady as they should be
And there’s the reason after all

And one afternoon when the sun hits the water
And rising princes break the surface
I’ll uncurl a bit of line
Send my best adrift
And wait
Thinking of what it is that brings me there
Perhaps feeling a bit of the old me returning

Thoreau said it isn’t the fish I’m after
And we all know that’s true
It’s the song of the river
Sparkle of the sun on a riffle
Silence. Solitude. Time.
Breath on crisp winter air
And a chance to forget
Or perhaps remember
I can’t tell the difference, and maybe I don’t care.
I’m not fooling anyone anyway
The trout know better. I know better
We’ll both just wait here as I think it through
Until it all becomes clear or the sun goes down
It’s a coup of the mind after all

He sends Dark Angels…

I saw the Old Man once as I parked by a river at midnight. I sat there on the hood, as I do, with my boots on the bumper and leather keeping the chill at bay. It was quiet and so was He. I looked over and He was there, looking at me. His words came to me on a breeze in the fall leaves. An owl called on the ridge above.

You’ve done pretty good, kid. Better than you think. I know you’ve felt alone, but you weren’t. I’ve sent angels. They’ve had your back. To some I send bright envoys with golden wings and brilliant robes, but you don’t need those, do you? You wouldn’t trust them if I had. No. You get the dark ones with grim eyes and knowing grins. My best for dark nights and stayed dawns. Hands dirtied, like yours have been, on missions that don’t always turn out. I think that’s what you’ve needed. You’ve even seen them if you’ll think back. You’ve felt them pushing you.

“You’re going to be okay. And I’m going to keep sending them. It suits you.

And with that He slapped me on the back of the head, knocking my ratty old ball cap askew. When I looked up He was gone. That same owl sounded again, and the breeze was still.


The Cold

February sky
Crystalline. Cold.
Great Bear wandering the north sky
And the Hound coursing the south
Twenty-eight degrees at 1 a.m.
Boots dangling from the hood of an old truck
Watching my breath float skyward
Tumbler of cab in one hand
The other in my pocket
Head quiet, heart beating loudly

It’s my way.
Vest loosely zipped
Flannel sleeves rolled up past my elbows
I need the cold. Need to feel it.
Like a bit of the old heartache deep inside.
It tells me I’m alive. That I have a heart left.
And maybe…
Just maybe…
Something worthwhile to offer
To someone who would have it.


We Were Animals Then

It’s time to put this one out there…

dance night dig

We came from the mountains, the coast, the plains.
Mostly young men reveling in the strength and confidence of youth,
With something to prove, nothing to lose, and hoping for adventure and a few dollars.
Families left behind for half a year, staring at phones, knees bent in prayer
While we questioned ourselves, the job ahead, but knowing we would rather be nowhere else.

Nearly twice the age of some, I came my with war beard greying and dipping my toes into the shallows of middle-age.
My heart broken, searching for meaning, and hoping I had what it took.
Aching to lose parts of me, or kill them and bury them in charred dirt and ashes,
To find myself in the dark recesses of my heart,
Praying something would be left to offer up as remains when the smoke cleared.

When the fires came we were ready. We were family, bound together out of necessity and toil.
We were grim and focused, bodies hardened by work and quenched in sweat and blood.
Senses and determination converged to razor-sharp acuity like the edges of our tools and the edges of our minds.
Our faces softened by ash and the bond that only brothers and sisters in the wild can know.
We were looking for dragons to slay in those mountains and for some, in ourselves, and we found them.

In the middle of the night on a mountainside nearly vertical,
With logs and boulders crashing down around us and fires on the horizon we found our rhythm.
I reached inside and they heard my battle cry, loud and feral, with cheer and anger in harmony.
That barbarian’s howl, cursing and blessing myself, my past, my future, God.
Purging my heart and crying for more.
I would not stop, could not stop, and they saw me.
Their jaws and eyes wide, knowing grins on their faces.
I tore through oak and manzanita, dirt and rock, scattering it all over the edge with vengeance.
That fierce heat rising inside me, anger and pain pouring out in rivers of sweat down my back.
Heartache and self doubt sacrificed in the fires that burned the Six Rivers.

The man I met in those mountains was baptized in fire,
Filled with rage and rawness and honesty, collecting stories and living a new one of his own.
I sought the simplicity of hard and dangerous labor and 6 months living on the slopes of the West.
I shed all I could. Counting on my heart, my brothers and sisters there and little more,
And carried heartache on my back next to spare bootlaces and bar oil.

Comforts were few, but we lived that way – on and of the earth.
Nights were quiet and cold and marked by starlight, bringing the curse of time for thought.
Retreating to a bedroll and dreaming of those who held our hearts.
Wondering when fall rains would send us into the arms of lovers a world away,
Or dreaming that one day we would find our own, find someone new, and start afresh

They were a rare breed. Born of granite and timber and crystalline rivers.
Some are still there, and my heart is with them.
You can lose yourself or find yourself. For better or worse, I managed both.
No mountain or element could stop us, and I was one of them.
And we were animals then.