This Silence is Measured, My Love

This silence is measured, my love.

She places her palms out—the air
of this collective gasp

transfigures them. Fear is salt thick;
hope—paramount but hard to come by.

Cat eyes a squirrel as he shimmies
up the tree—even he reserves

his hunting cackles—as the grey fur
dips into desiccated tomato vine

ash-burned basil. When time
shifts—this time we watch

the plates drift

we dream a new mantle might
marry our outlook.

Take heed—All
women are watching in a halt now.

Lips sewn in wide stitches—we wait
in our masks. Cut us from

the virus at the helm.
The candle flickers in her eyes

in this night before the fall or finale.
And she had hoped for sharper implements

or maybe just the lone woodwind
to braise the whole symphony into resolve.

But what do words hold
when we cannot hold one another?

I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat : Poem

Listen to a musical collaboration of this poem with musiconceptime :

I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat

I took a day to myself                         got into the car            and just

bought coffee and a donut                                                      and just drove

around for hours                     screaming in the dust

-filled air                                                                                 you can hear

it in my voice now. Above                                         Contra Costa, the settled


looked like the “Swamp of Sadness”

from the Never-Ending Story—minus           any dragons

or luck                                                             (these are things not to be found here.)

The round brown hill, a resting                                  turtle shell; do not disturb.

I went up to Lawrence Hall and looked                                 for my city

but that had been rendered                                                      by a nothing

a swift blanket of grey climbing

higher than the sun

and I was the only one there

and that had never happened before

the flowers      be        low                  a          back


There was an old man standing                      outside his car as I

took a swift turn. I think, for a second, he saw                                               me

and I saw                                                                                 him and maybe

he heard

the cacophony of noise                                                           noise


outside of my car,                                                                  maybe he saw

the round O of my mouth.

At some point, as I circled


home, I thought

about another poem I wrote                                                                about

the smoke-ash

as people that we have loved.             I breathed

in harder, trying

to take in this loss


if I could taste                         them, then

they were not gone                                          and the trees

the hillsides.                The immensity                                    of everyone’s grief

could be breathed.                                                                   It could be breathed

in and held

and I could hold it

with these unearthly opera                                                                  lungs.

I don’t sing anymore but maybe

this instead could be my gift

registering                                                                               the sound of loss

and where it falls from sky to throat.

We Sift through the Smoke in our Apartment and You Ask, “Are We in Hell?”

We Sift through the Smoke in our Apartment and You Ask, “Are We in Hell?”

The air has changed. Lightning fires
in the bay. My lungs are still

sliced through from February’s illness.
I watch handkerchiefs-to-lips flee—wonder

where to set what little we can
all lift without a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Pack a small suitcase, a backpack. Just
be ready, Cal-Fire advises every corner of the state.

The smoke inflames my legs, hips, arms. Brings
an uncontrolled eye-twitch. Music fades

with my left ear, in and out. Again, the sky
is dyed unearthly orange. The oranges

enveloped ash. The tomato plants
(I have finally kept alive) wither. Vines

are sputtering husks. Filament collects
in my eyes each morning, thickly

whispers, these particles were once
pillows, mugs, photos, lovers.

On Reading

I’ve been reading submissions for several different places & projects & workshops & friends & life. This poem is a stilted map of my process for reading poetry if anybody finds themselves wanting to traipse through process with me.

“On Reading”

Read for impression. Lines
that pop. A floating quotation, a question, or what has been
spoken, and in what tense?
How touchable?                    A you. An I.

The Title (Any author)
And context of a situation in time. A date. Then, look

to the form. Does she bleed into the creases of the page, or resolve
after six iambs? Does she finish after fourteen lines or given time, does she digress?

Would she repeat herself for your love? A pantoum; a ghazal
or a spell?

Look right. Each phrase. Each word. Each syllable.
Make a new poem along the edge. Look left.

Does each phrase start with the same careful plea? Make
another new poem from the words living along the spine.

Look inside. What do you see? Organs are repeated things. Displace the bones.
Dig between rhyme and reason. Put this stanza with that. Pair line three

with line seven. Touch line thirteen and remove
five words with your finger. Read

around the words you have removed. Fit
new words inside her mouth. Avoid all

theme until you have investigated soft folds
clearly. Join and destroy. Highlight

the unknown. Excavate. Each
lover is hidden in blank spaces. Find them

from the last word up. Look to this aperture. How
open has this illumination been?

What darkness does she hide from you? What beginning
is set in motion and who is resolved by a last, pleading and pointed phrase?

Cassandra Opens the Jar of Peanut Butter and Drops in the Only Clean Spoon

Here’s a newish poem which you can listen to me read here!

Cassandra Opens the Jar of Peanut Butter and Drops in the Only Clean Spoon

Shaking today. I stood up
too long. There are so many objects
in the way when I move. I can
barely move. Even writing is upturning
the centripetal. Hands
shouldn’t. I worry
this will never go away
when it returns. Everything
undoes itself. Trembles. Roars.

But, if I died right now, I could
die near some soup
looking out at trees
with my cat and that seems like the best
way to go.

I could die near some soup. The canned kind.
Minestrone. Low
sodium. Glaring
out the small window. at the giant
light that looks
like a head. Or a moon in orbit. The taller
taller leaves. climb
ing the tree. the kind tree
that reaches down. to my wind
ow. the cat. staring out
at the squirrel. and chittering.
ch ch ch ch ch ch. this
seems like the best way.

If I died right now, I could
die here in this quiet
kitchen. No video
games. No one to badger me
with their determination
for my life or their track
for how I should have seen
signs, symbols
the setting, or steps
for what
they think
are earned amends.

The moon.
The moon out staring
glare at night. a pot of tea.
the carrots i route from the soup.
the cat, fluttering mildly
near his window top of the
tree this is the way I go