Wasteland: on the California Wildfires

Green spring grass on
                     the hills had cured
                              by June and by July



                                                                          gone wooly and
                                                                brown, it crackled
                                            underfoot, desiccated while



within the clamor of live
                    oaks, an infestation of
                                          tiny larvae clung



                                                                        to the underleaves,
                                                             feeding between
                                         veins. Their frass, that



fine dandruff of excrement
                    and boring dust, tinkled
                                       as it dropped onto dead leaves



                                                                    below the limbs. You
                                                          could hear it twenty
                                                  feet away, tinkling.



Across the valley, on
                     Sugarloaf Ridge, the full
                                       moon showed up



                                                           like a girl doing cartwheels.
                                                  No one goes on living
                                       the life that isn’t there.



Below a vast column of
                      smoke, heat, flame, and
                                  wind, I rose, swaying



                                                              and tottering on my
                                                    erratic vortex, extemporizing
                               my own extreme weather, sucking up



acres of scorched
           topsoil and spinning it
                                outward in a burning sleet



                                                                of filth and embers that
                                           catapulted me forward
                                 with my mouth open



in every direction at once. So
                     I came for you, churning, turning
                                         the present into purgatory



                                                                because I need to turn
                                           everything to tragedy before
                                I can see it, because



it must be
           leavened with remorse
                      for the feeling to rise.

Eye Against Eye [excerpt]

As if nothing were wrong egrets dip-feed in near shore channels

the human genome reveals chromosomes from parasites

annexed by our DNA long ago

mongrels to the core and tourists

with cameras take the front pews

the enemy blows himself up at Passover dinner

the enemy trembles in a cave starving

the enemy lets go a daisy cutter

a million cubic feet of mud slides down the slope

toward a single bungalow in Laguna Beach


                     for Jean-Luc Mylayne

Or the vision that holds 

at its razorpoint 

the feathers of a bird 

goes blue. Each sleepless-

ness framed, behind,

by this whine

of insects. So a shutter,

lifted, offers 

to looking

the very oracular

interior of that

openness into which bird 

inserts itself. Its song 

shortening when 

there is wind. Comes

the visible and 

its remainder, a

blur, what? Tittering 

at lower and lower 

luminance. That the 

accompaniment might be

sufficiently responsive.