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Summer/Fall 2023 Poems: Passing and Promise and Lost Dreams

Updated: Sep 13, 2023

An Afternoon

Just hitchhiking trying to

cross the bridge. No takers

until she passed by.

The on ramp from University

Avenue is a quick ride to the

the toll booths.

Carrying nothing but a bota

bag, a wet wool poncho

covering my back.

Hippie looking innocence

she wore well, a sweet

alluring aphrodisiac.

A code of conduct was in

place. If a lady picks you

up, she sets the pace.

Where you going? Anywhere

past the bridge is fine. You

looking for something?

Something? I guess I am.

What is it? I wish I knew

but don’t just yet.

How about you? I don’t

have time to look. Just

making ends meet.

But if you could, where

would you go? I guess

I like Seattle.

Why there? I like the rain.

Grey sky is all life is

giving me anyway.

I would go to Tucson. Was

there as a kid. I saw a big

rock that spoke to me.

But there is so much dust

there. Nothing a little rain

can’t stop.

How old are you? How old

are you? Old enough to

know better. Me too.

I am going all the way to San

Jose. You want to go there

for the company?

I don’t have money for gas so

it’s up to you. I got enough to

get us there and more.

What’s a kid like you doing

hitchhiking? Nothing else to

do. Bored?

Yeah, I guess you can say that.

Must be more to that. I just

need to run away.

I ran away once. I was too

young to know that you

can’t ever leave.

It’s like your shadow. Your

past is like the poncho you

are wearing now.

It is draped on you forever.

You can’t take it off. It just

hangs time on you.

Past is like a second skin that

you can’t clean easily so

you live with it.

I was married once. Can you

believe that? At eighteen,

married to run away.

I couldn’t let him touch me.

Not after our first date. His

hands held hate.

You ever felt hate? Women

can feel hate. It is hard and

unforgiving, a fight.

Do men feel hate? I don’t

know about hate. I get angry

I get ready to fight.

I wasn’t allowed to hit girls. Mom

would not have it, though my

sisters could punch.

And punch they did. But I could

not raise a hand to them or the

belt would make me pay.

Hold my hand. Let me feel your

touch. Your hands are calloused

but soft and gentle.

Why would you say that? Men are

supposed to have a good grip. That’s

not what I am saying.

This has nothing to do with grip.

It has to do with searching not

with imprisoning.

Touch my face. Don’t worry I

can still drive. Lighten your

touch just a bit.

Hold my face like you would a

newborn puppy just born of

his mother’s sack.

See how good that feels. Promise

me you will always touch women

in this way. Promise?

Well, we are here in San Jose. Do

you know where you are going?

I think I do now.

In the throes of thirst

Rush of water from the burst

pipe flooded yards for miles

around but you could not

drink the water and

I was dying of thirst.

Too much pesticide leached

Into the rows and waves

of rising water. You and

the glistening light of

reflecting chemicals

Were further down the road

away from the worst of it

and me and the rest of

the old folk just walked

gently, accepting

Muddy water, insects and

floating rats into the pant

leg openings that waved

apart in the levy break

cascade upon us.

No one warned until the

rain from the gulf storm

became more than a

nuisance and pounding

sheets of water force

uprooted us all.

Don’t drink the water!

I heard the warning at

every turn and I cupped

my hands and tried to

drink the rain without

it dripping away.

Dehydration is a nasty

thing. First it dries you

out then it drives you

mad. And then the

crazy gives way to

the blackout.

In the latter stages of

cancer a guy I knew at

the bar took to drinking

water by the boat load.

I am burning up he said,

filling the bedpan.

I thought of him as the

lights went out and I

thought of him again

when they came

back on.

Budding Fall

Wheat waves of fading

yellow orange sunset

brush across a

horizon memory

Of the day we wept

at the loss of an

innocence we did

not know yet.

The knowledge came

later when the stress

of time lessened and

passed away.

Steps, steps and more

steps, climbing loose

limbed and agile to

our dreams.

Eye-to-eye we looked

deep within and with

out, hazel and brown

meeting halfway.

Ellington played jingle

like In the background

bouncing off the Larry

Blake’s walls.

Before the days which

came later, when you

said, “You know, I don’t

even like jazz.”

Who is to know that a

thing like music can

get in the way, but

a note is struck.

A note once heard can

not be unstruck like

the waning days of

summer love.

Last steps together are

slow, deliberate in their

uncertainty like muggy

budding fall.

2024: No More Time for Sleeping

Why is my heart not

filled with rage as it had

been before? Lessons

past now cold?

The days beyond good and

evil are upon us as power

to hate is the currency of

the undying day.

Fatigue is the goal. Tire

them out so every new

indictment is so much

meaningless fluff.

When do I jump back in?

when do I put on the

fighting face again?

I am ready. Are you?

January 6 was real. As

real as the day that tore

down the towers. Don’t

ever forget.

History is being rewritten

in Florida like trying to

paint a victim as if she

is the one to blame.

White youths are taking

guns off Second Amendment

racks and killing those whose

face is black.

People are starting to feel

empowered to disrespect

gays, lesbians, transgenders

and all they hate.

Healers are minimized. Total

destruction is the only goal

with which to overturn

our democracy.

As Wes Anderson’s latest

film says, you can’t wake

up if you don’t sleep. The

alarm has rung.

Time to start the campaign.

No more sleeping. Time to

Wake! Ready for the coming

fight my friends.

Wondering along

The morning dirt freshly

scented and laundered

by the dew smells of roots,

and mending manure.

Opening blossoms welcome

hummingbirds feverously

searching for the sweet

nectar of fuel.

Garden smells are not for

everyone. Soil caking

‘neath fingernails, pruning

shears at ready.

Morning conversation with

trees, shrubs, and trailing

plants. How are you this

fine morning?

Leaves carry on the talk

with greening health. Lady

bugs walk along the stalky

boulevard rail.

Coastal birds quickly fly

from limb to limb and

settle on the telephone

hanging wire.

Dogs are barking at each

other. I am here. Are you

there? Still checking my


Tires roll along the road

outside the fence. Purple

flowering shrub whose

name is unrecalled.

I check my watch. Why I

don’t know. I’ve no place

to be or nowhere I am

supposed to go.

Like the garden and the

dog I am becoming a

creature of repeated

habits of morn.

We will grow old together

as I water one and rub

the other, the golden

days alive and full.

On the night train: Bay Area Rapid Transit

BART becomes a select mental hospital at night.

People talking, some yelling at voices in that

indistinguishable hatred that will not quiet,

demanding acts of violence to go away.

A thin man, race, color, gender, irrelevant as madness

knows no national borders or social boundaries. His

white tee shirt stained brownish brackish as if it had been

used to wipe up spilled coffee and then put back on to

dry from agitated body heat.

The woman in the bathing suit panties, turquoise blue with

matching top: is she a prostitute or just a sprite come

to ultra-real life? Approaching men and women and

conversing with the air in a childish playfulness as if

asking to be pushed on a swing.

A man in the black security guard uniform, steadily

retying the handle straps on his lunch sack, his

moving lips appear to be spraying prayers to all

those near him, and yet he makes no eye contact,

as all this was a kind of hell.

Madness and its little sister anxiety are constant

travelers on this night train. People no longer

fearful, just a nuisance is this craziness, like

having to wait in line as you order that latte

with soy milk and extra foam.

Morning Read

In my sixty-seventh year, I have taken to

reading in the time of morn when the

morning dew dries.

I look at the king waves that are crashing

into the receding shore as high tide takes

charge of the coast.

It is my Walden Pond of sorts on this dawn,

with its rhythmic cadence of suds and foam

on this quiet foggy morn.

I can take in the words, even as I reread them

to taste the author’s intent like the dot of fig

jam on my fingertips.

I have taken to tea after coffee, reversing the

Dutch tradition which my love uses to start her

day’s scheduled fare.

The quiet but for the waves is intoxicating like the

hidden delicious memory of a first love’s haunting

stillness preceding a kiss.

I am everyday abandoning responsibilities, moorings

from which I could not in the past unhook, becoming

less relevant to all but myself.

At the start of life, I longed for my parents, in later life I

longed for my beloved, in the bosom of my elder years,

I am longing for myself.

After the imagined amends I make in my heart to all I

have harmed, the thought of a life well lived comforts

me with a soft loving hug.

In harmony with Thoreau, I find a placid reposed mind

makes kindness simple to embrace and behold like the

feel of the sun’s warmth.

To the letters I return to give due to the writer’s struggle

to bring life to a page, making the observed imagined and

the divine revealed in story form.

Ah, a morning read before anyone calls, before the reality

of the day falls, before the hint of regret and its partner

dismay seek to spoil a lovely day.

Among the Redwoods: Daniel's Poem

Marbled murrelets nest among the

tall redwoods and at some appointed

time return to the sea.

Marble murrelets are known as the

Enigma of the Pacific, dove-sized

and mysterious.

Marble murrelets are rare. They

do not form breeding colonies but

rather keep to themselves.

Among the trails in the Mendocino

tall trees area, a friend points out

the web-footed bird.

Marble murrelets belong to the sea.

The land is a truck stop for them.

Floating is their destiny.

His mystery and magic reminded

me of the marble murrelet. He

longed to be free.

Nesting in the forest and valley for

a bit, it did not surprise me when

he returned to the sea.

Surroundings: Sally's Poem

Surrounded by buildings architected

to house people and businesses, a

Dr. Suess silliness emanates.

Everything goes up to the sky,

competing to take up space

from land that creates.

Towers hosting peoples’ anxieties

and passing along a few dollars

to a CAO and his mates.

I stay close to the open air where

a cup of coffee and a writing desk

house new dreams.

The majestic redwoods and the scattered

oaks and pines, the weeping willows—all

being, just being, despite us.

My system of exchange is words that at

times make sense to some and confuse

so many others.

I sit at the crossroads and imagine the

crosswalks I traversed when I worked

in little boxes in the sky.

Enough is now my baseline and the

thought of more is something I

thankfully left behind.

The blue sky in the morning and the

scattered stars of night are the only

currencies I need to survive.

I am freely surrounded by pastures

of gratitude where the songs of

truth drown out lies.

Then I see your kind face and I feel

the softness of your heart. I breathe

in your nurturing eyes.

Simple words are hard to find. Towers

love complex words that make it hard

for others to thrive.

Here at the crossroads the sign for

happiness is clear and direct: Just

be where you are at.

“I can only be where my feet are

at,” she said. She sounded like

a clever cat with a hat.

But she is right, I am surrounded

by the space where my feet rest

and my heart begats.

And words begat words and “So

it goes,” said Vonnegut. Thus, I

go to where my feet are at.

The Road to Lakeport

When in the course of travel one

Veers away from the interstate

To roam the old highways which

Run on trails left by curious settlers

Of days gone by, a freshness of

Heart and mind take in Oaks that

Lead to Redwoods as high as the

Eye can visually fly.

The road up Cobb Mountain

To Robert Louis Stevenson’s writing

Den and the path to Middletown

Smell of drying grass as the sun bakes

The ground to a crisp brush, but most

Of all one feels the distant presence

Of tribes who called this area home

for eons of years.

Mount Konocti with vineyards lying

At its feet looks across the valley

Where indigenous people lived off

The bounty and essence of a land

That now lives off the tourists up to

Spend time on a water wonder

Called the Clearlake.

The road to Lakeport is lined with

Joy and sadness. The beauty of

Nature is evident to all but the

Loneliness that resides here is one

That incites tears, tears for what it

Can be and tears for what has been.

A lake filled with tears.

As a pilgrim to this beautiful place,

I can only wonder what it can be.

Like the settlers and the tribes that

Still inhabit here, I ask: can the dreams

Of redemption for a forgotten land

Be fulfilled in the days of social

Media-fueled schemes?

Out of Place

The palm dried out as a warning.

Its brown and withered frons

hanging like weathered signs

at abandoned restaurants.

For a while, the palm flourished,

a gambler on a run at a craps

table buoyed by yells of “roll

another winning one.”

Eventually, its luck ran out. It

should never have been planted

above the Santa Barbara County

line. They were right.

Out of place, out of time, a mis-

used syllables out of rhyme. A

palm belongs where it belongs,

No denying a mistake.

Remember when we tried to make

a pair? For a short time, it worked.

But we were fooling no one. Out of

place, we became dried straw.

When the young

When the young no longer believe

that life will blossom dreams at

the break of twilight

When the young no longer believe

sacred moments define each day

making trouble go away

When the young no longer believe

their mentors seeing something

that they do not see

When the young no longer believe

the promise of optimism and instead

embrace inevitable defeat

When the young no longer believe

the promise of a bird’s morning

call to begin again

When the young no longer believe

they will be acknowledged for the

contribution they make

When the young no longer believe

their elders that even the horrors

they feel will pass

When the young no longer believe

faith in anything is worth the effort

or the loss of precious time

When the young no longer believe

in humanity as a source of love

and potential for happiness

Then let us laugh and frolic and ask

the crew to pour the drink as we

dance with the doom.

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