Coal ash spill


Who would have thought
hiking alongside a river
would leave me so confused

To my right
I see rivulets of sand
not along the riverbank
but all across
like a newly formed desert
granules that remind me
of anthills
light as Florida seashore in spots
elsewhere dark
just like in the shaker
to pepper my mashed potatoes

I reach my hand into it
sludge similar to the spa scrub
people plaster over their faces
cucumbers on eyes
towel wrapped around hair
they lie
back to forget the ails of the world

I reach my hand into the river
the water
once blue, green, maybe roiled brown
after rainstorms
never permanent

Never this collected murk
the rowboat acts like an icebreaker
oars wedged into the soup
the handles breaking from the pressure

I guess we’ll be seeing
more of this soon…

Oil Spill


By the time I finish with this
whatever this is
another hourglass will shatter
fine grains of golden sand
across tar-stained
crableg-littered shore.

The blackened soil swallows herons whole
about to fly off
the birds with wings frozen
sculptures masked by shadows
that substance dripping like blood
hot coffee grounds swirled into spirally shapes.

Diseased and distorted
like some reductive image of mud
lost in treeless forests
sun eclipsed by invisible masks
all beaches filled
with lifeless molasses-covered … things

What was it
that truly lurked in the deep
that blackened frothiness
wrapping tentacles around our faces
the same image I see in my coffee cup
curlicue scribblings of
some watercolor artist
but poison.

A calm and pleasant and sunburned tide
reds and yellows
mixing as makeup powder
glowing and decadent
but deceptive
swirling with a life-force I don’t know
always moving
always changing
blemishing my vision with false hope.

Pipes burst from the pressure
flames engulf all objects
the surface of the gulf’s sheen
and we are left to scoop away
to find the surviving elements
of carved imperfections
and spoiled dreams.

Freedom of the Press

Snicker some more about how
we shall never have to worry
about freedom of the press in the US
about rights being taken away from us.

Just see Turkey:
whenever something offensive
became hyper-visible
banning followed not long after

Whenever a reporter shared
uncomfortable slices of news
that few people knew
arrests and silencing appeared instantly.

Notice the number of people
government officials who bemoan
the evil left spouting lies!
they must be silenced, shouted down!

Don’t trust them, ever, never
they can’t come to certain places
and record what’s happening,
what we say in the public sphere!

Why worry — what’s happened
and is happening in Turkey
can never ever
happen here!


Poem #30

I watch parades on the sidelines, people walking with rainbow-painted faces, raising banners, drumlines and bagpipes, endless drone of some centuries-old dirge smothered by radio screaming pop songs, the age range of child holding candy to grandmother walking poodle and an American flag on her wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses required, whistles to let people by, cars waiting patiently for the throng to pass.

I watch protests going down that same road, people shouting with fists in the air, signs voicing disgust, slogans of hope, songs and hymns proclaiming centuries-old persecution and sadness, the age range of child holding water bottles for police officers with shields and gas masks to the battered man of 80 who has seen too much bigotry in his long life, cars waiting impatiently for this group of people to pass for good.

I watch marches at night, people wearing all black in mourning, nothing in the air, only one coffin closed, burnished wood and cleansed in snow paint, the hymns could be a capella, spirituals and low hums by bass or alto, prayers raised or spoken silently, the age range of child knowing reality too quickly to the elderly who have lived past those who have died much too soon.

Poem #29

feet slamming on concrete
once was brick formed by molds
each step has its own shape
each emotion a hue
each life forged with patience
infused color patterns
ready to create fire
from nothing for someone
heart will glow after chants
revive creation myths
shapes a narrative path
circular around lungs
breathe in and step to beats
keep on the patterned hum
of tires on brick, old school
old-fashioned world structures
we return to walking
we continue marching

Poem #28

Lime floats on full glass
crackles of carbonation
dance on the green pulp

Fiesta every Saturday
only when sun casts
temperatures at 80

The ice cubes are rafts
more special are those
resembling inner tubes

Ride them along river
lazy most days
except for refills

Soda gun roils
fizzes the surface
and soon returns to calm.

Poem #27

To know the difference between bonfires
constructed by people who feel cold,
abandoned and forgotten
stepped on with giant feet
ready to construct pyres that
produce voices that no language
can envelop?

The materials.
Other than that, none.

Poem #26

My eyes rove
turn red and water
fill with a dew
purified with solution
return to orbs
glassy and smooth
strong response
but no real change
same as they always were.

Poem #25

A snake swerves along the ground
painting its skin with dust
the chalk of nature bleaching scales
every rustle through the dried grass
perks up ears and sets vermin aflight.

Each flicker of the tongue
a black flash — a tarry sheen
not unlike searing summer sun
at noon when all life itches to eat
some rare nourishment from gods.

The snake licks the earth to hear
not to sample the powder and the lime
but to find each patter and scuttle
until swerving stops and the arch to wait
before the lunge and the second-long meal.

Poem #24

There is something to be said for fake flowers
that stand and reach tall in my thin glass vase.

No water needed to keep death at bay
for another extra week / No withered

petals that release the fumes of decay
or discoloration of water or

leaves / Only bright and unnatural hues
and the texture of paper not fine silk.