I know little about Eliza, except that she was my mother’s mother’s mother, and that her husband, Henry, who was born in 1835 and much older, died after a fall from a horse. This picture of her was taken when she was sixteen, around 1880 or a little before. My guess is that it was done somewhere in the East, before she and Henry settled in California’s gold country. After […]
Archive for September 2018
The arrival of fall has me thinking about our closets again. The urge to dismantle the stacks of crated material, and to throw most of it away, has returned. Some of it, though, I have to keep: the old music books and sheet music from my piano-lesson days, for instance, and drawings our kids made. But the refuse of my writing life is another matter — the old redundant notebooks […]
We waited a lifetime, as I recall. And as I know now, the rich tragedies I’ve imagined for others have really been my own. Early Morning, Waiting for a Train A year ago I turned the page, ripe it was, a field of poor man’s cotton marred by weak spots short of meaning, nut grass, gopher mounds, and swales, tire tracks on the boundary trail made in last year’s […]
Those bright-white buttons in green grass that remind you of a clown’s shirt and the way everyone laughs at his sadness except an old poet in the back row who swallows hard and says that’s fall for you and that kid in the long yellow bus on his way to love and loss and the moon And when the neighbor told me he’d scattered some grass seed where the […]
Fifteen words, seventeen syllables — this is one of several “yellow poems” I’ve found while looking through Poems, Slightly Used. It was written October 21, 2009, a bit further into autumn than we are now. But this year it seems the switch to fall has already been thrown. And if you happen upon this note in some other season, I hope love is all you know. Birches She laughs […]
Reading this poem now, more than thirteen years after it was written, it seems to reveal as much about the process of writing as it does about the little city that has been my home since 1987. I include it here for both reasons. I also include it because I’m a sentimental old fool who loves his poetic children for all they have taught him, and who is exceedingly grateful […]
Written very early in the dark on a Wednesday morning, the following lines seem more suitable for a Sunday — with the quiet half-understanding, of course, that there is really, and has only ever been, one day, and that that day has no need of a name. What happens is this: I hitch a ride, and for a while it carries me down the road. I smile when the driver […]
This is another of my favorites from Primitive, although it would be hard to explain why.
Is it, perhaps, because the shoulder of one is the mouth of the other? Possibly.
But then there are the eyes, which, for half a day yesterday,
Followed me around the room. “My card, sir.”
#2 Pencil on Index Card
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Imagine a hard-working composer paging through his music,
relieved and thinking he is done, coming upon this in his score.
“Dear Lord. What am I writing for?”
“The high notes and low notes, of course.”
“And which, pray tell, are you?”
“We? We are the many. We are the few. We are you.”
#2 Pencil on 4 x 6 Index Card
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