Friday, June 24, 2011


i count the hours like petals
falling from the songs of doves,
waiting for your laughter
to take away my tears

send me your gentleness,
the soft touch of your fingertips
and some good news from the world,
tell me the earth will forgive us

i count the minutes because
life is wanting my attention
all of us, beating against the panes
until the there is only now

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


dreaming comes close
to the eye that sees inside me,
a warrior wanting to right the world,
making the freedom fighters light
with wings and songs
to break your heart

no man can know
what burns in my belly,
pay no attention to the evidence
that detracts you
from your own dream,
go on, go on and dream it

what sad days will follow
if you never try, forget the critics
and aim high - set the bar
meant for you, stretch your
worldly bones, go where
you fear and sit awhile

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Mortal Fathers

In the gorge of Twenty Mile Creek
firs slouched of midnight snow,
entombed like the ancient dead
where my brother and I heaved
our skinny legs into the blue trough
of his striding

Stranger in a red mackinaw,
his rifle shoulder slung
and plumb to the world,
the mystery of whiskered men
spitting a shine into the grip
of walnut checkering,
something seductive glinting there

A father remote and reticent,
sworn to the reproach of surly mouths
turned to us when the shrill and chatter
gave up our place in the woods,
stopped to strike a match
against his jutting chin and said,
fucking squirrels, then lit his cigar
and watched us giggle and squirm
sucking up his sweet smoke

I wondered how a word
could diminish our fear of him
and replace it with adoration,
ominipotence undone,
a mere human after all,
just a man, not so perfect,
not so stiff and absolute,
a man brought to distraction
by small beasts

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pilgrim's Boy

I am a rover
ranging the arid hills
of my father, a seeker
of what I cannot see

I hold his stories
deep in my bones
and they ache
for remembrance

But it is my eye that reaches
for the unreachable moments
that cannot be found
in the haste of a poem

For all that belongs to him
belongs to him

And if I die
with my own stories rotting
in the belly of experience,
who will see my footsteps?

It is not the earth that decides
what is up and what is down,
but the ascension of the heart
beating to be free

For the journey that belongs to me
belongs to me

And he will smile at the prickly pear
pinned to my foot, a boy
and a man walking the path
one summer day

Friday, June 10, 2011


Come to the margins
of rock and ruin,
stubbled and beaten
like dried parchment
coiled to a fine scrap,
a willful life swelling
from May rain
Out in the desert
something happens
that will steal your
breath, put you down on
your scabby knees old friend,
the petals unfurling at noon
just for you, along the hillsides
and benches above
the deep lakes
Now the tributes
are coming in
from the anointed ones
who know what to look for,
bitterroot showing the world
what can be done from nothing,
how life redeems itself
from yesterday’s loss

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Old Wood

I remember how the logs fit
by some hand from long ago,
skilled beyond what my tender
paws could mete out
Sturdy for the winters, a home,
some place in the woods
where martens grin down
on you from the lofty pines
I would not say they were built to last,
not an architect among them really,
but brawny men mucking out their existence
before codes and bureaucrats,
a time when you could work the sun down
to build a life of your own and die
for no other reason than you tried

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Scarlet Gilia

An excerpt from my novel Lady With Flowers

And after a moment Henry smiled when Jesse turned up to him with a question. “Only looking,” he said. “Look without thinking, without labels, without judgement, without the interference of your mind. Be alert. See the long tubes like trumpets. See how they flare into five petals. And the colour that has been said barbaric in its intensity. Rest in that colour that is red and know that it is only a word. If someone from another planet came and asked about colours and wanted to know what is red, we would say, Ah, Scarlet Gilia, of course. Gilia Aggregata. See the tiny white marks like a sprinkling of icing sugar. Listen to me without thinking. Look into the long tubes and see the filaments and anthers, the grains of pollen. Bring the lens in as close as you can. Now imagine that world of colour.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Tree

my favourite tree, the aspen
even the sound of it comes
clean off the tongue
and the fluttering,
trembling like a tadpole
in your hand
a fresh splash in the woods
those little hearts and flattened stems
how the breezes make love to them,
a blushing green in the gullies
and along rivers and streams
clones they say, the largest
organism in the world
but a fine tree for me
when all I want is to touch
a living thing