The moment you are certain
that you know where
you are going
is the precise moment
at which you become totally lost.
The moment you realize
that you have little idea
where you are and none
about where you will end up
is when you found yourself.
At this moment you are here
which was there a moment ago
and will be there a moment from now
even if you do not move, so it
is easier to say you are nowhere, always.
As we walked slowly through the Forum
the Coliseum receding into the late
afternoon, the Virgins stood patiently
as befits a priestess trained to avoid
the stares of passing men, even tourists
such as we were, the columns staring
down reminding us of our youth
despite the birthdays that we celebrated
with the joy of togetherness, and
the nagging knowledge that we were
another year closer to that moment
we refuse to acknowledge, aware
always of its growing proximity.
We stare back at the Coliseum,
as the sun slides behind its walls,
and as the vendors selling all manner
of items the buyer will regret
in mid-flight home pack up for the day,
I imagine Caesar pausing in thought
then, sneering, turning his thumb down.
It is odd, when you stop
and think about it, that
our sense of place is dictated
by places other then here.
For centuries we were the center
of the universe, and all
celestial bodies moved around
us — without us, no movement,
but if t here were no suns, moons,
planets or stars to see then we
ceased wholly to cosmically matter,
an unsettling state at best.
Now we know our little corner
of the galaxy, our planet, country,
our city, our neighborhood, our –
but what we don’t want to acknowledge
is that our requires not our, here
demands there, and we, as
history has repeatedly demonstrated,
requires they, which means you.
“It’s the difference between anthracite and lignite,”
he said with a sort of all-knowing smirk.
“Quite the contrary,” she snapped back
“It’s the difference between pahoehoe and aa.”
He clearly wasn’t pleased,” those examples are
like night and day, and you’re in the dark.”
“You can’t begin to tell between makai
and mauka, but I love you despite it all.”
“And I you, so what if you couldn’t hope
to distinguish between a fastball and a knuckler.”
“You’re really going to hang a curveball like that?
Even a girl like me will take that one downtown.”
He laughs, “that’s why we’re so good together
we agree on so very little most of the time.”
She giggles, “I can’t believe you said that
on that one narrow point I must agree.”
We crossed the Hudson this afternoon
on a Dutch named bridge
in a driving rain so strong
you could hear little over the beat
of the wipers throwing sheets of water.
You wondered why the superstructure
was only on the Eastern end.
I wondered why they had to have
a Dutch name no one can translate.
The river’s surprisingly wide here
and you can’t even see the dead fish
or the waste from the plants up river,
its just a silver sheet of water
and the slashing of the wipers
and that name no one can translate.
First appeared in Calliope 21:1, 1997
He is worried, he says
that we will be leaving on a full moon.
I remind him that he leaves
in two weeks, that this morning’s
half-moon will be gone then
replaced by its now absent other half.
He says it should be full if it’s half now
and half a month passes.
His statements seem logical enough
But the moon and stars have their own logic
and don’t care what we think,
that’s why I say, Luna never turns
her back on us so she’s always half unseen,
and she and the stars are willing to remind us
they were all gods and goddesses once
and could go back to that with very little warning.
The cannery, long before it was a mall,
sat on the verge of the bay
bellowing steam into the night sky
shrouding the stars in a gauze blanket,
listening to the braying of the harbor seals
pleading for the morning’s dross
to be returned to the bay waters.
The otters lie on their backs peering
over the rocks and the monolith
its lights blazing as the trucks and carts
are laden with neatly stacked boxes,
grasping their stones, crushing
the shells nestled on the bellies.
Outside the fishermen, boats
scrubbed clean, stagger
down the narrow streets, stumbling
from bar to tavern, sleeping fitfully
on benches in the nearby park,
dragging up narrow alleys
to small, fading framed houses
kerosene lamps growing dim,
knowing the sun merely dozes
below the horizon, soon
to edge up and watch the boats
ease back out of the harbor into the sea.
Steinbeck walks slowly, savoring
the smells of morning, tasting
the stale beer of the night before.
First Appeared Online at Beachfire Gathering, 1996.