The jewelry of the jacaranda tree
should be on top of a music box,
revolving, as the breeze off the ocean
slightly moves the tree. Wind whips up
in the evening like meringue
with fish on its breath. Jacarandas
and bougainvillea clash like parti-colored
bikinis. Rigging slaps in the marina. A woman
walking toward me tips her hat down
over her eyes, the hat listens for unwelcome
recognition. Everyone could be someone.
Goldie Hawn spoke at commencement,
exhorting us this morning to count each laugh,
every tee-hee and guffaw, in our day.
I am stoned on Cipro.
I meant the clouds gather in puffs of meringue.
The wind takes me to someone
I never want to forget. I saw a woman
in her front yard, wearing a red jacket,
performing a martial art with a red fan.
Thwap goes the fan. Red like the bleeding
bougainvillea that was you. L.A.
spangles the beach, I run
in the sky, thinking of you, how youíll become
the hooded adder of a Peace plant
blooming in a cafe. Eres tu plays on the radio.
The pen opens itself and writes:
The jacaranda makes a tinkly sound.
Wide Sargasso Sea
The children were always asking,
If a tidal wave came, would it come here?
If we ran up there, would it come there?
They stayed close when it did come, awed,
while the tide pulled out with the sound of machinery
on gravel, sucking almost to the horizon.
Sea creatures flopped in the mud and the ropes
of kelp fell exhausted, trying to keep a grip
on their world. Then there was a great stillness
as the wave gathered, and I guess the children
ran fast enough to reach high ground, because they lived
to tell about it. Although now they donít say much.
A tidal wave has nothing to do with the tide.
It has to do with an earthquake.
(This poem was written in Spring 2004, and
is meant to be metaphorical, not descriptive of the
The bright river on one side, on the other bare trees.
The bright, ribboned river, so open in the cold light.
I walk on the levee and try to forget: the courtroom,
the great metal seal above the judge, the silent clock.
In the shadows, sycamores, pollarded, their limbs in knots.
Another, not knowing the word, would not say "pollarded."
The jury is out. We reconstruct the scene differently
in the modest bowls of our twelve minds.
There are forensic diagrams, testimonies to character,
appeals to sentiment, police reports, the defendant
with his slicked-back hair. But there are no witnesses.
Could he lean to the left in that cramped space?
Was there a gun in anyone's hand?
A wake cleaves the river into a triangle of light.
On the street an old man weeds his garden under an evergreen.
Splay-legged, with stiff knees and puny thighs.
Could you say how tall the tree is? Its botanical name?
Squirrels sprawl on the roof unzippering tangerines.
The rinds of the fruit litter the ground, opened like cracked pottery.
The vessels turned inside out, a pebbled glaze to their walls.
in The Persistence of Vision, a book
of poetry from The Poet's Corner Press, Stockton, California.)