Eye on the Sparrow

I woke to rapid flapping, the air cold
the time unknown. The dog’s paws tapping
on chill hardwood floor. Sudden
commotion. Jumping to corral what was
assumed to be an animal fight, I find
a California Towhee in my dining room.
Frantic, frightened. Brisk movement in her
wings making the room that much more frigid.
I stammer to her. Follow her room to room
as she attempts to fly her way out of walls
until she finally calms, allowing me to cup her
into my hands. We sit together outside
on a frosty concrete step. My bare feet
settling on top of wet fall leaves, gathering
the taste of morning in my mouth, the scent
of rain and dirt. She catches her breath.
My thumb softly wrapped around her chest
feeling her heart rate regulating, her eyes opening,
her fear receding. Leaves rustle, wind and traffic
move along while she and I watch each other
in a place where time moves slower than the rest
of the world. Her eyelids the color of peach
and terracotta. Her body the rusty hue of autumn.
Her eyes the same shade as mine, dark as loam.
I flatten my hand. She doesn’t move. We sit
together for what seems like hours. What seems
like fate when safety is reciprocated. Ten minutes
later she flies, stops on a dog-eared picket
and looks back. The dog quietly watches me.
How I love and let go all at once.

Bones for Everyone

when I wake up
violet rays burn down their warmth
on my arms

I feel it staggering—
beads of heat on skin
slight burns on flesh

the temperature dwindles down
to this
to me
I am not the beautiful
they want me to be

reach your hands inside
and find what you will:
maybe geraniums and thick thighs

I'll leave the windows open for you
what else am I?

a tongue made up of suns
another form of heat

dig deeper and you'll find
exoskeleton of a dictionary
cartilage of the verbose
I am all bones.

white bones
oleander bones
toxic bones
mint bones
red bones

bones from me to you
for me AND you
still bones
broken bones

what is in my bones
isn't just empathy and the obvious shattering
it's something the foxes like to bite down on
and run away with
and throw into the pyre
of granite rocks and bloodstones

make a bone stew and you'll taste longing
you'll taste the lonely
you'll taste the red threads
at the bottom of the pot

that tie my wrists down
to the ground
where eventually
I will become it.

Words Growing on Trees

In observance of summer drought
the emerald trees look to me
as if I have a silver pail with an
endless bottom
             the source of answering thirst

Perhaps the silver pail
has been buried at the bottom
of the river
filled with weighted buttons
           life answers

We’re both thirsty
and have no answers

Only a question of how
a tree can birth a poem
and how a poet
never stops thirsting

Pull the buttons of
branches of
time well spent

never reach the bottom
             of words

Cold Gin and a Pandemic

A swig of fresh lime squeezed over ice
San Francisco’s Junipero gin with a garnish
soothes the overwhelm of more bad news
and sudden heat

What I learned at home today:

           the length of estrangement becomes short
           in comparison to the weight of regret

          100 more days of solitude—a poet’s irony

          bare white walls wait with open-hearts
          to catch our sighs

          how much I miss my father now that he is dead.

Toss back tonic water with an extra kick
catch the sun warming the side of my face
through the glass door into the dining room

now a reflection
of how many years have passed

          how the idea of a father became a ghost

          how a ghost haunted me into adulthood

          how adulthood became a poem always in the works

          how poems became home

          how hard it is to live inside this one