The Depot

A young man in a loud
print shirt, baggy shorts, flip

flops, makes
a balance beam
from a track rail. Records

a freight train’s flight
through the station
to replay and give false hope to future

passengers dodging bats
passing under the eaves. Lights
from boats on moonlight

excursions and the Harbor
Bar across the channel
on the island with no name

transform the river
into a stage. Others wait
to travel west:

White Fish, Montana,
Portland, Oregon,
Chico, California,

eventually. For me, the waiting
will be longer than the journey home.

Inherit This

“Soaked in the blood and black of thousands of dead bugs. We smelled our clothes deeply.”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

What color
is your blood, she asks
her grandmother instinctively.
The answer comes on strong

as a tall shot
of Polish vodka: black. Absence
or all wavelengths of light,
it’s so hard to tell

in this reflection against skin.


Suddenly evening crowds
the street—a quickened
into darkness cooling
and smiling upward—there
moon, there moon.

Shape Shift

Vital signs appear in all directions—here
the universal symbol
for no longer choking. The color blue

has turned green
as mature redwood leaves
modest in their fog shroud.

She remembers how
to read them only when she steals
a moment from leaf litter beds

to refocus her mind
on what her eyes have been fixing
all along—this figure eight.


I am that body. Sedated
to prevent convulsion
into permanent stillness. I am

all bodies in motion
and at unrest. I am
this living


where all fury and blame
are rubbed out. Fragile shell—
I am one too.

Do You Know

Perfect storm
of sadness perfect sky
perfect color apple perfect collapse

perfect moon
perfect agony perfect love perfect slow
suicide perfect rescue

perfect disease
perfect song perfect hell perfect
emotion—who’s to say when

it’s been reached.

Gets Away with It

This exquisite solitude
is my ambrosia, soma, cool
breeze coaxing a hammock
on a crest overlooking
a breaking ocean.

Acquired over years
of painful resistance,
even more gruesome
on a man—any man—this pleasure

dome is equipped with a retractable roof,
an observatory
for observing the hems

of gods. Some of them slightly torn.

Single File

Did I choose this narrow
path, or did it choose me? No
matter, here I am climbing

up and around
a bluff to reach a peak
or some plateau

with the better view
ascending. Clusters
of visitors come tumbling

down—I can open my mouth
to greet them, can make room
for their passage without spilling

the ledge.
Or not.

Summer heat has reduced the surface
to sand dust. I imagine mud
and dank air

on another day. This panic when looking
down is my descent into anxiety
of loneliness or my anxiety
of influence. I can’t tell

the difference. Will it tell
on me?

On California Crates

“I made love to her under the tarantula.”
—Jack Kerouac, On the Road

Beams and beliefs
before the bottom
fell out

and I became just
another casualty.
It’s not the fur—it’s the dander.

Erasure for a River Ballad

You could play guitar inside
a carved out amphitheater
within a grain silo. The notes

that get trapped inside
honeycomb pockets
would resonate all the truer

a roots sound with the memory
of wheat protecting them.
I would stand

a perpetual ovation
in my red steel balcony—an intervention
that gets results.