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Pastoral &Time Travel

Round stones

    Could be sheep.

Round sheep

    Could be stones.

Once in a while

    The stones move.

Sheep? Or the slow

     Movement of stones

Sliding over silt

     After we stopped


From Turn up the Heat

How We Live Now
How We Live Now

I have heard lately, more than once, of men falling out of their beds.

Sometimes they hurt themselves falling out of bed and so resort

            to sleeping on the floor.

And I have heard as well that the women, living with the men

            who fall out of their beds, are forced to sleep alone

because the force that forces these men to fall out of their beds

            is dangerous to the women they sleep next to.

I have heard lately, of women eating dinner alone because the men

            who fall out of their beds and sleep on the floor

go to sleep very early and so are not awake when the women

            are hungry.

Don’t you think these are strange times? We are wearing our masks


When the women eat alone, they become particular. The place setting

            just so, the candles lit, one glass of wine, one piece of

chocolate to end the meal. This is how we live. This is what

            we have come to.

From Turn up the Heat

St Anthony's Fire

rosemary, cork, oak myrtle, sweet

eucalyptus, pine

branches upon fir branches


a mound piled taller

      than I am, taller

than the house I live in

      and from the center one

living tree bare of branches

     proud as

Giordano Bruno


in the Campo dei Fiori, a man

      tall and cowled       they

burned him

      for thinking too much

of infinite earths        every star

      a sun


In Galtelli, in the center of town

     they light the fire slowly

it starts to burn      one side bright

     one side shadow

                               always and in

all things     one side bright and

     one side shadow


and now I must go, they say

     three times around the fire,

until I sweat like the devil

     in the heat

until I taste the first

     fist of hot ash

in my bitten mouth

From Turn up the Heat

Time Travel

Someday in what we now
call the future

I will write a poem or an
essay or a story

that begins with the line
“That first winter

it snowed often and I was
already edging

my way into being old.”
At that time

in the future I will no longer
pass beyond

what’s called “the dummy
light” to the other

side of the street
to have delicate blonde

streaks woven into
my dyed brown hair.

I will let myself turn
silver and amazed.

I will recall that I read
mysteries one after

another late into the night
hoping that

they would help me

betrayals I didn’t
yet understand.

That winter
of frequent snow


it was unconscionably

and I was also
unconscionably cold, as if

warmth would come at too
high a price.

That winter the snow
seemed beyond relief,

clutched in the naked
arms of trees.

I was edging into age.
I was tentative

Like a young girl

to line her eyes with shadow
for the first time.

That winter the snow clung
to the trees

and tumbled into the river
that rushed past

the place where I lived.

From Turn Up the Heat


In the circle of light that interrupts the early dark she pursues foreign mysteries. Do not take this as metaphor. Rather, she, the writer, has become obsessed, it’s fair to say, with mystery novels written by people she doesn’t know set in places she’s never seen. The crimes are appalling – serial murder pursued as performance art. Spike-loaded apples, aberrant snowmen, and so on. Clues are heavy on archetype. Some readers will recognize the allusions. It doesn’t matter, though; the point is clear enough. Murders in books are acts of imagination
but after a while the mysteries become quotidian. The writer acquires mysteries with increasing frequency, first delaying the purchase to avoid guilt, then acquiring a mystery almost every day because the pleasure is too intense to refuse. She learns that serial murderers begin to leave less and less time between crimes because the kick doesn’t last. The writer understands this. The body gone, there is only language. Serial murderers leave notes, write in code. They grow increasingly impatient. They hate the dark. They want to be found. 

 From Word Has It

Confusion of Tongues
Confusion of Tongues


When I said “constellation” my friend heard “consolation” and my friend was not far wrong. I was talking about the constellations of words that form the grounding of my so-called work (life), my consolations. Thus: light and heat, heat and light, light and air, water and light, fire and light, air and light, light and light.

                                    From Turn up the Heat


In a tree near the water

a smart patch of red. It

makes sense to remark

on the season but the red

flashes by as does

the feathered plume

of a male blackbird’s wing.

Arrival, flight, then gone.

                            From Turn Up the Heat


Ella, the cat, on the ledge, on the edge of discovery. Her eyes follow an uncharacteristic

helicopter until it flies out of the window frame. A matter of prepositions or the novel

proposition that what remains outside of direct perception is a lure of sorts. See the turn

of head, the arched neck, the quivering body of the small cat. Her hunt for what can’t be

seen or known. I love what’s off the edge of the page. It leads somewhere. Now the

helicopter gone, now the empty grey sky. The quivering persists until late in the day.

                            From Turn Up the Heat


We, two women, moving into old age, speak of disappointments. We are too discreet to name them but agree that one must learn to live with disappointments. “We don’t get everything we want,” my companion says, affirming my mother’s admonition: “Whoever said your desires need to be fulfilled?” I was shocked then, not at all shocked now. We are on the way to Nepenthe at Big Sur. Nepenthe is named after a fictional drug of healing: a drug meant to erase pain. We arrive and climb what seems like an infinity of stairs leading towards the sky. We reach the top, turn, and look down. The view of ocean and docks and the small pond nestled below cannot be described except to say there is no disappointment. Ocean and sky, scrubbed rocks, small pond – words cannot contain the landscape or the feeling it evokes. My companion points to the pond, cloudy as the eye of God, and says, “When I die, my soul will go there.” “Yes,” I say. And then she says, “and after a while I will just disappear.”

                                    From Turn up the Heat

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