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(tomorrow Allen would have turned 71)

Funny how we keep old habits
long after
we really need to turn
them lose.
Think the same
thoughts
over time
even
when they need to think us…..

But there’s one secret
game
I play
here in these mountains
every star glittered night,
staring up at the night sky
till my neck aches –
The dog
following me out
into the chill
of the porch,
long after all sleep,
I lift my gaze
to kiss
the first falling star
and whisper
your name.

You are my night -visitor
and as many years
as the Madison river
has carried your
memory
past all
the echoes of my tears,
past the joy
of fishermen
who catch trout
by your plaque –
simple reminder
that you were
“a lover of this river.”
The mountains hold
our secret
deep in shadow
all seasons
forever
and will,
when I too,
turn to ash.

Then after we are long forgotten
children,
here on this spot
will gaze
toward
the night sky,
star kisses
blessing
their innocence
and in the valley
coyotes
will sing
our song.

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The morning mist
clings to the riverIMG_1585
draping the Madison range,
and muting the sunrise.
I rise
to the shrill
warning
whistle
of a ground squirrel :
I stumble to
the open window –
she’s standing
atop her mound
on guard
in the frigid
morning air,
a harrier hawk
skims the sage,
coyotes
yip
near the valley
and
the dog bounds
out the door.
Now she has
even more
to worry about.

Another MontanaIMG_1572
dawn
where time
stands
clear
crisp
and
still.
I venture out
arms
wrapped around
my chest
and
from the porch
scan my world,
deer often
graze
on our long grass,
among the wildflowers:
striding
lightly
searching out
tender arrowleaf shoots,
or delicateIMG_3081
mountain bluebells.
The ground squirrels
dart from mound to mound
filling their cheeks
with fresh
grass seed
and tender shoots.
The mountain wren
who’s nested
under the metal
porch roof,
alights
on the railing
opening
her tiny throat
to sing
operatic
sized
songs
trilling
in open ecstasy.
The Madison river
pounds
staccato
in the valley,
its melody
rebounding
against
these
snow peaked
mountains.

Everyday brings
a new gift,
an unseen sight:
a fawn sleeping
in aspen,
red tail hawk
gliding over
prairie
where deer mice
scatter
into the
waiting
jaws of weasels,
antelope
darting
through the ravine
scrambling
to safety
in the boulders
running
from a bear sow
2 cubs in tow,
while a gray wolf
eyes
the young bait…..
Un seen, but ever present
and sometimes
on lucky days
revealed.

I walk,
as always
in search
of gifts,
of magical
sightings
that give
my day meaning.
Rarely am I disappointed.
I gather these
moments
in my mind’s eye13335786_10157167229000413_2359454396368586780_n
to unwrap
in the dead of winter
when the city
buries my soul
in its
opaque skies
and
relentless rain.
And if quiet
descends
and blesses me
I find my words
once again
and
like the raven
who haunts
my days
collecting,
plotting
for the perfect moment –
write.
*title comes from a James Wright poem
and those very words haunt all of us poets

“The world cup
will be held in the US
in 2028,” my son announces
and I shudder
to think
I’ll be 77 –
The polar ice caps
are melting at twice
the rate predicted,
adult suicide
rate has sky rocketed,
smart phones
stoop our shoulders
making us
slaves
and leaving
children
hungry for
our attention.
Not to mention
the raging wars,
famine
plastic in the seas
and complete
devastation
of our earth.
That’s the morning –
but as I fall
into the abyss
I find
my sweet
life line:
his curly hair
recently shorn
framing
deep brown eyes,
his skin,
the color
of milk
and coffee.
He smiles
so wide
at the day,
pure
in his love
of life.
Every mundane
act:
a worthy ritual,
such joy
in discovering
the same basket
of toys
week after week:
cherished treasure.
He squeals
in a secret
language
as he pulls
one trinket
after another
sharing his finds
with his universe:
the tired dog,
busy squirrels
collecting peanuts
on the fence,
in plain sight
through the window
that seals us in
to our four walls.
He can
point to
crows winging
up to the roof,
or bluejays
screeching
from the walnut
tree’s lush branches
which frame the view.

It’s a small
and cozy
world
these walls
where
anything is possible,
everything is new
and time
is in each cherished
moment.
In this place
there is no past
no future
no regrets
no desires
no enemies
here
all is as is
precious
valued
and above all
perfect
as it is.

I am grateful
for
my gentle
teacher,
take him in
my arms
to savor
his sweet scent
and feel
my heart
beating
against
his warm
frame,
I squeeze
him
tight
to gather
in every drop
of light
to fill
my darkest place.

The crow began
calling
at dawn:
guttural notes
bouncing off
the lush
verdant
black walnut
tree’s
wide leaves:
the same
“garbage” tree
we trimmed
down
to barely
a shriveled branch
after the winter storm.
I love this “worthless”
tree
whose shaded
this 100 year
house
summer
after summer.
From my picture
window
I muse at its
grace –
long limbs
reaching toward the earth
dotted
with
walnut buds
so cherished
by the squirrels –
they pluck them
daintily
long before
the nut shells
harden
and sit on the
fence
savoring the sweet
nectar
of young fruit.

This crow
knows
me by sight.
It’s me
who leaves
old cracker
crumbs
peanuts
crusty
bread
old
cold
cooked
rice –
gifts
for
a winged prankster
on this cool
summer morn.
I’m an easy
target –
violet slash
in my hair
slow
sleepy
gait.

From the edge
of the fence
he cackles
as if to hurry me,
and begins
his bounce
of a walk
toward
his
fresh bounty.
Keeping
one dark
eye
fixed
on
the dog,
he comes
dangerously close,
as if to dare:
darts
down,
now
side stepping
on the morning dew.
The dog
knows better,
and meanders
ahead toward
the scent
of marauding cats,
leaving me
to laugh
deep
from the heart
at my cloaked
friend.

Sometimes
in the light
of sunset,
I look out
my bedroom window
and there
in the deep
summer
foliage
on the highest
branch
of my protector tree,
I see him
quiet
but ever vigilant
preparing to roost.
He lets out
an almost melodic
sound,
slips
and
slides
from branch to branch
then back again
to the perfect vantage point,
satisfied
satiated
finally
still
makes one last
cock of the head,
and falls silent.

His ritual
signals
night fall :
I follow suit
curl up
book in hand
dog at bay
grateful
for
another day.

Now is the gentlest time
of all:
spring sun
breezes
swaying
wind chimes,
porch shaded
squirrels
young
fresh
wide eyed
perched
on the fence
enjoying
peanuts
we’ve
strategically placed
for you to watch
the feasting,
dancing
jubilant
chanting
in your own
secret language.
They are as young
as you,
their fur still bright
and clean,
paws small
and jaws
so tender
they struggle
fiercely
to shed
the peanuts’
coarse skin,
all the while
a mischievous eye
turned
towards you:
as if feeling
the rhythm
of your stomps
and calls.

These are the days
the city longs for,
when the rains cease
and the silence
turns into song
as every being
celebrates
warmth
longer days
cool mornings:
when ravens waken
those sleeping
with their piercing
demanding calls
and song birds
answer timidly
as if in apology
for these black pirates,
marauders
tricksters
I’ve come to love…

We place
a special
mound of peanuts
just for them
in the corner
of the fence.
They’ve come to
expect it –
watching us
perched
on the highest
branches
of this hundred
year old maple tree
as if they’ve done it
for just that long.
Their calls are
distinct
high pitched
directed
clearly to us.
If we doddle,
they buzz us
and alight
on the roof
to wait
complaining
loudly,
You point
and laugh,
then swerve
to my side
for
comfort
and protection,
peering from under my arms
whispering
in your tender
babble.

The afternoon brings
naps
for both of us:
under the hum
of the fan
we rest
on cozy sheepskins
our breath
in sink:
a perfect lullaby
the dog
cannot resist
as he lies
at our feet.
This is our dream time,
to plot
adventures
in green lined
streets
perfumed
with the scent
of blooming roses
and lilacs.
In a short while,
you will run
and fetch
“zapatos”
and point at
the door
knowing
all to well
there
is so much
to discover,
I will oblige
and plunge
into afternoon
heat
to see
the world
through your
young and tender
eyes
and rejoice
at the chance.

 

I lie on cold wet grass
snail like,
a child curls
its spine
against my belly
the sweet scent
of mother’s milk
wafting
with each
precious breath.
In the distance
somewhere
in the deepest
earth
beneath us
life awakens
seeds
splitting
in the dark
their frilly
tongues
poking
moist sod.
Clouds
thinly veil
the sun
and
the afternoon
breeze
is laden
with dandelion fuzz:
it settles
on our hair:
a gentle kiss.

A song sparrow
breaks
silence
its crisp twirls
hang in the air
suspended
in time,
the babe
answers
with a sigh
and nuzzles
its head
against my breast.
Roses
fragrant in stillness
open
toward
warmth
wings
hummingbird
flit
tonguing
honeysuckle
vines
bees
swarm
blueberry
blooms.

I dare not stir:
this small one
is in my keep,
but I sense
danger
great fear
as the chill
sets in
ending
a long
afternoon….

Warrior
cloaked in black
keeper of the night
trickster
guardian of the blackthorn tree
onyx knight:
you’ve
flown to my side
and
catlike curled
around my neck
your
hard ebony beak
tucked
against my cheek
its cold sharp
edge
poised
ready…
but I feel
only
a light
nudge
which wakens me.

In the dark
of my room
I sit up
still
feeling
his spirit
blessing.

I summon
all the souls
that linger
in the daybreak:
come
guide me
to infinite light,
where I might
find
radiance
courage
hope
for
all
the children
far
and dear.

 

 

The day winds down
in the loud and busy city,
weary work warriors
tromp
in the mud slimmed
streets
shoulders heavy
from the weight
of the world:
They pass
me
oblivious
blinded
by routine
averting
my eyes
or my dog’s
silly gait –
I send them
silent kisses
and light-
blessings
from one
who
has come to know
the value
of seeing,
truly seeing,
for life
is ever too short.

I pay them little heed,
in my own
smugness
for I know
soon
they too will
stop
one day
and see
the last crimson
rays of a shy
winter sun
swell
over the city.

As the light fades
the ravens
converge
in the tallest
pines
and
call their clans
to lift wing
and fly
off into
the night.
I love their
boisterous
calls
unfazed
by the city’s rumble.
At this hour
they are captains
of the realm.
I sometimes
wish
I could alight
following
my clan –
but have none.
I am an orphan
both real
and poetic:
here
I stand
rooted
to this
brown earth
singing
in my heart
to every crocus
that defies
the long cold
knowing
soon
the dogwood will bloom
and so the lilies
and I will
caress their scent
many times over…..