Medina Morning

April 10, 2012

7:30 am.
Medina City Hall.
Six sleeping police cars,
A flat silver lake,
And a dock that glows like metallic bamboo.
Not a drop of bird crap in sight.

The Wild Requires

September 24, 2011

The wild requires
That we learn the terrain,
Nod to all the plants and animals and birds,
Ford the streams and cross the ridges
And tell a good story when we get back home.

Gary Snyder

How Poetry Comes to Me

September 24, 2011

It stays frightened outside the circle of our campfire.
I go to meet it at the edge of the light.

Gary Snyder

Passing Through

September 24, 2011

As the cricket’s soft autumn hum is to us,
So are we to the trees.
As are they to the rocks and the hills.

Gary Snyder, after a conversation with Lew Welch: “Gary — do you think the rocks pay attention to the trees?”

On Tiger Mountain

September 19, 2011

Climbing Tiger Mountain last Saturday.
Summer subsiding: the moutaintop washed by wisps of fall.
Creeks up high singing softly after a month of silence,
Lower down still bone dry.

As usual, I start at Reflection Lake but quickly leave the crowds.
Nook Trail—home of the mosses—is the elegant and gently start.
Then up. Oily salt in my eyes up the Section Line.

Crossing the railroad grade where the lumber hasn’t rolled for almost a hundred years.
No tracks now, and overgrown, but it’s still wide and flat and speaks of work, not play.
Then finally to the unsummit of West Tiger 3. People.

West Tiger 3, 2, 1.
It gets easier and lonelier with each successive hump.
No glassy white shine of Rainier today,
And I’m finally on the soft untrodden duff of the Preston trail.
Almost nobody comes here, but the forest is waiting and welcoming.

Slanting back west I drop down to Fred’s corner, then the K8 to the TMT.
Just as I’m crossing a bridge before Anschel’s Alley I’m stung by a bee.

A bee! Stupidly, it exhilarates me as I run the last few miles.
And I stay that way as I scratch at the reddness on my arm two days later.

Little Snail

September 17, 2011

Inch by inch
Little snail —
Climb up Mt Fuji!


Kobayashi Issa, translated by Gary Snyder

Desolation Peak

September 7, 2011

Like others, I came to Desolation Peak looking for something.
I found: The old fire lookout, the rope-spring bed,
And the glass-insulated stool
To stand on when lightning threatens.

And, watching for fires fifty years after Jack Kerouac,
I found a young man who seemed out of place.

Daniel was in his late 20s with a marine corps bearing
And two tours of Iraq behind his eyes.

Climbing the final hill to the summit we saw him first in silhouette.
He stood in the window erect,
Like the small flag he’d planted in the hard-packed earth outside the hut.
But then he waved, and bid us come in.

He was happy for visitors.
“The longest I’ve gone without seeing anyone was four days. Nearly went crazy.”
Kerouac did it for 63 days and left more fragile than when he arrived.

Daniel offered us coffee, and I gave him the fresh blueberries I’d carried up.
In Iraq he’d guarded tanker convoys.
On Desolation Peak he watched the crows and hawks,
And the cerulean ripples on Ross Lake nearly a mile below.

Before leaving I went outside to do what Kerouac did all those years ago.
On the slope facing the craggy witchiness of Hozomeen mountain I knelt down.
Placing the top of my head on ground I unsteadily raised my feet in the air.

For a few seconds the mountain hung down from the roof of the world
Like a giant tooth biting into the void below.

August 2011

Desolation Peak Fire Lookout