Flow

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It flows
over highways
dripping down
lamp-posts
through gutters,
pounding
storm drains,
filling
narrow lanes,
past dark houses,
past high-tension
wires, driving
through
constraining fence,
unfettered
it fills
the green hills
and rolls
through folding slough, past
low bridge and causeway,
ever lower
down to Suisun Bay,
unstoppable
like a swimmer’s blood
pulsing through throbbing vein,
reaching for gate of gold
to break free,
to become
one with
One.

(19 April 2011)

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Three Poems for My Father

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Overcast in Oregon
Photo: Brian Federle, Overcast in Oregon
…on the 40th anniversary of my father’s death

i

When I last saw you
Your hands were clenched
With a rage foreign to your voice
And you were rushing inward
Away from the moon, beyond the glowing
night
Of my grief.

Yet on my way home
I saw the moon rise.

Where have you gone, then, If not
to that land behind the moon?

ii
In the emptiness above the earth
In the terrific clashing of jet with atmosphere

I heard your new voice
I saw your new hands

Tearing at the cold, hurtling steel,
Casting off silk shroud

For dark soil
And even darker rivers.

iii
If stars loom too large
Is not my window too small?

(11/24/1978)

Wildfire in Paradise

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Yellow glares
the burnt sky of
Paradise, drifts
towards the sea.
 
On acrid breezes
ashes fall —
promises consumed
and scattered,
 
as the sun —
its dark,
bloody husk,
exposed at last —
hangs, ruined.

Preparation Day

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The light is fading early today.

Rain turns the whole world to night.

I drive through watery streets,
headlights
stretch to bright tapers,
red lamps
softly trailing
blood beneath my wheels.

Death’s details
fill my busy day.

First, the uncut granite,
sorted and sized,
words neatly arranged,
ready to inscribe
the bare facts of your life,

and then on to the small, white house,
with its big front window and spring garden
hidden behind the black iron gate;

this is where your party will be.

Our guests will arrive soon,
and I must order flowers, great
purple blooms
to dim this too bright room.

Now we’re nearly finished,

but first I must see
to your final ground,
small patch
of turned earth,

and then tomorrow you can finally rest.

Attend us gently
as we weep
and slowly walk away.

(10 Dec. 2010)

Contact

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I search the narrow rooms of memory
through steep, childhood hallways
under high ceilings, past dim, flowered lamps,
when, trembling, I hear echoes calling me
in deep tones of summer thunder
to our willow tree out back
just as the blinding lightning
contacts
and shatters the still-living wood.

Afraid,

but compelled by my father’s gentle voice,
I retreat
to another room
in my mind.

In the kitchen, at the top of the long, painted staircase,
I hear small, shrill squeaks and low, electric hums
coming from your ham radio set,
and walking down, I see you,
hunched in the red glow
of your magic box, calling softly
into your silver microphone,
“W8PNW calling CQ, calling CQ, calling CQ”

O lonely angler, you cast gossamer lines into the eternal, black sea
looking for a catch, any response, any acknowledgement,
but I’m with you! Standing by your shoulders,
I hear the distant human voice respond
“K8QJZ to W8PNW, receiving you loud and clear!”

I feel your joy of connection
as, quickly you fill out your special postcard,
(American Bald Eagles triumphantly unfurling your call letters)
to mail to your Newfoundland friend.

This, too, is contact.

Another soul found, identified, and filed
in your list of ham-buddies, and I grin with you
as you sign off
and resume your patient search.

(7/14/2010)

Cry Aloud

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Conflagration Clear Lake

Photo Steven Federle: Conflagration at Clear Lake, 2018

 

A voice said, “Cry aloud!”
and I said, “But what shall I cry?”

Shall I sing to the people
a song of spring,
hills aflame with green,
dry grass igniting
with joy?

In darker days,
when the high meadow fell fallow
and flowers of the valley
dried to dust,
I thought you’d turned
away, took your giving hands
to other lands.

Despairing, I wept,
stung by tears
from angry Hell,
and doubted
your love.

Oh, forgive me, pity your child
and make your enduring rain fall

on the riotous grass,
on the bold crocus
and passionate
rose.

Pacifica Path 2014

Photo Brian Federle: On the Pacifica Path, 2014

Lazarus Waiting

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Mendocino Sundial 2016

Photo Brian Federle: Mendocino Sundial 2016

 

falling sun, life swarming
in the liquid light
as I gaze west, through trees,
over houses, over slatted-fence,
towards the waiting, unseen sea.

a foraging bird drops to my mown lawn
(taking note of my still form)
and pecks out her meal…and flies away.

My apple-tree bends towards heaven
new leaves unfolding;
surely it will be leaf-full by Easter!

so I’ll wait for the world to turn
yet another slight degree, for the lines
of golden light to lengthen towards me
and then end in gentle night.