Drop Drill


         From the head

                   of our class

                            the teacher shouted:


        and our chairs

                drilled back

                        across the floor.


        We dove ahead

                for a spot

                        fastened safely

                                under tables.


        We kneeled down

                and dropped

                        our heads--

                                the blast

        unseen, the burnt

                offering unknown.


        We almost prayed

                against the rule--

                        Moslems without rugs

                                and no Mecca.


        Nothing fell

                that moment 

                        but silence

                                and a little

        wonder on a ear.


        Then the teacher said

                that all

                        was clear--

                                so we dropped

        back to normal:


                        lifting up

                                hazy heads.              

             from  A Hollow of Waves (1983), first appearing The Junction City Daily Union (March, 1983)



Blue Clouds

for Susan


            Some day we may see them.


            They come not at all in summer

            and rarely in winter.


            A good time to look might be

            in the fall, or in that little

            spring in October's first rain.



            Frost and fog are their enemies

            as well as hot sun, but brief


            downpours and the wind

            good friends.



            All of one thing is no good.

            They prefer variation

            among their gray neighbors.


            And if the moon's in the daytime sky,

            it's much too clear for them.



            Except, perhaps, only in theory,

            the sky is one blue cloud.



            But mostly they're like moons

            of the same color, leaps around clouds.


            A gap here may serve their purpose

            or a touch of nearby white.


            There they are for a moment.


            Then gray again

            like the rest.                                 from A Hollow of Waves (1983)



The Fly


            What frightened you

            was what they made you

            think you didn't want


            to see.  The man covered

            with black cloth carried

            your attention in his


            furtive movements. When

            his wife brought him gruel

            at the door, the man jerked


                                                                                it in with his only human

                                                                                arm. And the camera caught

                                                                                the wife as she listened 


                                                                                for the slurp. So much

                                                                                for scientific experiments

                                                                                gone wrong, the fly in the


                                                                                works. You missed the con-

                                                                                                    fusion: a big half-man, half-

                                                                                 fly and a tiny, buzzing thing


        with a squeaky voice. No

        scream you heard could

        release the long affliction.


        Squeezed in a vise, some-

        thing lurked home with you

        that night, flashing back


        to every facet of 

        an eye you finally saw

        so garishly exposed.                                    from A Hollow of Waves (1983)




Early Renunciation


            We give you this early spring

                        while we peer up

                                    all winter still trying

            administration of the sky


            This is your time

                        for shining yellow green

                                    we only can remember

            glancing down

                        each spring about this time

                                    thanks this year to you


            Some other day you may find out

                        moss and grass are childhood

                                    friends and going

            upward stiffens late complexions

                        in an overgrowth


            That time of course

                        must have its own rewards


            But for today hold on

                        just a little while

                                    you touch the tender

            we no longer cash


            We are standing straight

                        barren branches

                                    letting down a sunlight

            and a shower

                        knowing now to make

                                    a bit of room for you            from A Hollow of Waves (1983)




    The Columbia Gorge from Larch Mountain

for Jarold Ramsey

            Some time in March

                        snow stops coming out of the sky

            grey mists open

                                and darken

            clouds unloosen their hold on the trees


            One day later

                        blue cliffs appear

                                and frozen falls come down

            flooding throats with song


            Then it's time

                        to let the winds blow in the mind

                                 to look up into falls and rivers

            or up through cloud gaps

                        past white-watching peaks

                                 bright under sky


            Now that spring is certain

                        there's an evening hour for stories

            old fishing rocks surface

                        with petroglyphs

                                    and remnants of villages

            submerged by modern dams


            Trees swing again

                        salmon return in great numbers

             voices of spirits

                        human and animal

                                    walk on mountain winds


                                        (first prize winner of the OSPA's Oregon Country Prize, 1981)



Unfolding The Future


                    The future unfolds

                    one leaf at a time.


                    Your head heavy on the pillow

                    this morning

                    stirs gently, rubs against

                    the fabric of sheet and case--

                    the whole warming Earth

                    spinning and attracting you down--

                    your brain unfolding a little,

                    groping for that conscious self

                    you must lift up each day.


                    But you surrender a little longer.

                    Bird calls, car engines

                    unfold too, causing you

                    to roll over. And another ear

                    receives the morning news.


                    "We're not getting very far today,

                    are we?" announces

                    your significant other,

                    whom you begin to see now:

                    already up, unfolding the blankets,

                    refolding the curtain.


                    Then you notice together

                    the buds, the flowers, the yellow green

                    leaves, unfolding in the bright spring sun.                 Beyond  Modesto