Santa Cruz Wharf, September

The quieter you become
the more you can hear.
— Baba Ram Dass

Orion lies over the wharf
staring at the moon, dangling
like an unyielding eye, barring sleep
while below the waves wash
onto the shore, licking the pilings
and tasting the sand, a calming roar
broken only by the barking
of the harbor seals.
It is not a night for hunting
the bear has fled over the horizon
preparing for the coming winter
and the hunter tires from the chase.
A gull nips at his heels, and plunges
back into the swells, he must be
content with the odd fish and scraps
from the strange ones who mass
on the wharf each day and retreat by night
until there is only the hunter
and the goddess and two young men
curled into the sand.
I stand on the balcony
and stare at the hunter
wishing that sleep would come,
that the white eye would blink,
but the waves wash in
and the harbor seals bark
and the stars beat
a slow retreat.

First publshed in Lighthouse Weekly, January 17, 2022
https://www.lighthouseweekly.com/post/geography-and-santa-cruz-wharf-september

CASSIOPEIA

You sit on your self-made throne
and stare at the night sky
as clouds gather
and dissipate beneath you.
Do you even recall
why you were cast out,
condemned to your cell so vast
yet infinitely confining?
Does your body remember
the touch of his hand
the crude hunter
who set you aflame
with a white heat
that paled the sun of summer?
What do you imagine
as tongues of the Perseids
lick across the sky
and disappear into
the ebony holes that lurk
in the corners of your eyes?
You move slowly across my world
and only the dawn brings you peace.

First appeared in Abyss & Apex, Spring 2021 Issue 78
https://www.abyssapexzine.com/

WALKING

Today was downright exhausting,
and my hour long walk along the river
left me dripping and drooping.
It wasn’t different than most days,
same time, same place, and
the usual 756 miles, according
to my old friend Orion, who
was watching from his usual perch,
unseen, as he prefers it by day.
When I was done, I started to complain
about how I felt, when Orion interjected,
“Just be thankful you’re not
in Florida today, its hotter by far,
and your usual walk would
have covered a full 930 miles today,
and there you’d have reason
perhaps to complain just a bit.”
Heading home to shower, I
called out to Orion, “You know
you are one heavenly pain in the ass.”
“Yeah,” he replied, “that’s what Artemis said.”

MORROW’S WISH

Each night I stare up at the sky, scanning
for the one star that is there solely
to answer whatever entreaties I choose to make.
It is said that we each have a lucky star,
but perhaps, given the ever-expanding population
of the world, mine is just too dim to see
from the city in which I live, or perhaps,
I simply haven’t found it, and addressing
someone else’s star brings you nothing,
not even thanks from the lucky soul
who won the big lottery last week
all at my urging, I mean how could I know
it was their star I addressed with my request,
it isn’t like they wear name tags after all.
Still, I don’t give up trying, though
I often swear that Orion and Cassiopeia
spend a portion of every evening together
just laughing their celestial asses off at me.

DEEP INTO THE COSMOS

I want to tell her to look up
into the night sky and imagine
the stars are forming pictures
just for her alone, and what she sees
is what the cosmos intended all along.
She laughs when I say this,
says, the pictures were all taken
a thousand years ago
and given names, like Orion
and Cygnus, the Ursas.
I tell her that I see
many other things in the sky,
and when she presses me
for examples I point to what
she calls Orion’s belt.
What do you see, she demands,
and I pause, then say, ellipses.

MISSING

Orion failed to appear last night
which allowed the bears an evening
of peace, certain they were not prey.
They cavorted as bears are wont,
to the pleasure of Cassiopeia.
The lion stuck his head in, but
lions know the bears need their space
and anyway, they could see the dragon
lurking on the horizon
and even lions know you
don’t mess with dragons
more than once.

SUMMER NIGHT

The moon etches itself
into the cobalt sky.
Orion rests on the margin
of too tall eucalyptus
that reach up to ensnare him.
Luna’s face floats
on the gently shifting pond
staring up at the moon
recognizing no one.
She wonders why the stars
move slowly as she
sits transfixed.
On the window sill
Shakyamuni Buddha
looks at me with
his gentle smile
and bids me goodnight.