This is no Big Sur, Dingle
Peninsula, Wasque—
this is somewhere

in the middle. A river
that has starred
as the main character

in novels, caused cities to be
built, become a final stop
for the tormented

and despairing. It is a river
that should be frozen
by now. That only its fringes

cutting against its banks
are covered in a thin sheet
of ice is another story

that needs to be
told. And I’m no narrator
for the fresh or salt.

The Sighting

Cold trapped beneath
redwoods outside
the Henry Miller Memorial

Library doesn’t deter me
from standing against evening grain
to see you straight

ahead performing. I know that sound
of aching beauty won’t last. I only wish
those graceful branches could

the deep wails
from your blues harp the way

these trees, those mountains, the rocks, that ocean hold

steady. You pack up
your guitars and you’re gone
down Highway One. I don’t see you

drive away, but I know
I can feel the air stir
from notes dropping

around substantial roots.

Big Sur

How to memorize a place
like Big Sur
without becoming a thief
is a mystery no cabin

key with a plastic Holiday Inn
shaped tab can slide into, let alone
unlock. It hurts
to witness this dangerous

beauty’s power to break into
the securely fastened chamber
of emotion inside
me. It’s not the dilemma

of choosing to die by a roadside
snake bite or by becoming roadkill
under the wheels
of a musician who never was your lover’s van.

It’s not a choice. The white line will crop the shoulder
how it will at the most substantial curves
in the two lane highway. And I won’t remember
when they come—so busy trying to commit

the impossible reality
of rock and wave and height and crash
to a memory that cannot be
committed. And I could be
in my wobbly attempt.