Monday, June 24, 2013


Band-tailed pigeons coo smoothly in the west,
Like a mirror, great horned owl hoots to the east –
Dusky ridge role call.
Then coyotes unseen, cut through the gentle, familiar songspell,
A chilling chorus of barks, howls, and snarls rising up from the canyon.
And a lone coyote further out toward the ocean.
Even some pups join in with squeaky songs,
All hidden in fog and steep scrub.
I forgot my towel, so I run naked from the bath to the house
To make sure you don’t miss the ferocious twilight hymn.
You’re already outside listening,
Looking just as wild as the music,
You ask if I’m scared.
Back in the bath,
Woodpeckers scuffle in the live oak tops.
And a furry black caterpillar inches silently around the tub,
Walks on the rim,
Climbs halfway up the faucet.
I consider picking him up and placing him on the rose bush,
But I don’t know if he likes roses,
Either for eating or living on.
Besides, this trip around the tub might be an important journey in his differently scaled life,
Could be a hero’s quest.
Best just to keep my hands to myself,
Better still to also wish him well.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


California quail, bay nuts, gray squirrels, ground squirrels, and raccoons. Acorns from black, tan and live oaks. Fiddleheads of ferns, stinging nettle, miner’s lettuce, coyote mint, yerba santa, and yerba buena. Rattlesnakes, and gopher snakes. Lizards: whip-tails, blue bellies and western fence. Yucca roots and yucca fruit. Blackberries, huckleberries, elderberries, and elderflowers. Abalone: red and black. Purple sea urchins, limpits, green-lipped muscles, turban snails, and gull eggs. Sea palm and chia seeds. Robins, great blue herons, egrets, fresh green pine-tips, and rattlesnake grass. Sea lions, harbor seals, eel, steelhead trout, crayfish, and purple crabs. Chantrelle and morel mushrooms. Termites, grasshoppers, crickets, and cicadas. Black-tailed deer and wild boar. Larval insects, bumble bee honey, and sea salt. Manzanita berries, pocket gophers, and redwood sorrel. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Papayas are women
Breasts and eggs on trees
Ripe when putrid yellow
We follow the Fijians
Hit them down in October with sticks
Upon Earth impact the innards reveal an ovarian sack of black
Papayas are women 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Song for the High Sierras

My song will be lungs going empty & being filled
My boots slapping granite steps
Panting as we climb

I ask permission from the coniferous citizens to tread the trail – towering lodge-pole pine, stunted lupine & deadly Indian corn.

I seek a blessing from the sub-alpine congregation to ascend through rusty Sierra juniper, abundant heather & chubby white barked pine.

I am honored to sit with the guardians of the alpine – rugged arctic willow, innocuous lichens & mighty little grasses.

And I venerate the wild gods of this place – the coursing waters & roaring wind; the mycelium, the thunderstorm, the glacier.

I have come for a reunion with the black bear & pica, the osprey & the martin, the beaver & the dragonfly.

I have come to gather with the clouds & mountains, stands of trees & piles of stones.

And I have come to remember the wildness in my body & the glory of my home.

My song will be putting down my pack to swim
My calves pulled tight
And a sunburned smile on ancient peaks

photo by Hall Newbegin

Saturday, December 24, 2011

New Year Prayer

May this world be blessed with peace.
May we be blessed with peace.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Our footsteps on the trail scare up a ground squirrel.
He dashes through the hedge nettle to his burrow.
An astringent, citrus smell lingers in his wake.
What a joy it is to know the names of all the players in this simple story.
That wild mint and her distinctive smell have often been nearby,
but now we are that much closer.
The trail of inhabitation, of knowledge of place, is long and lovely.

Monday, October 17, 2011

A Song for the Sierras

Sugar cones & ponderosa pines stand here. They run down the hill to the river, up another hill and along the ridge forever. More ridges with more conifers rise and fall, distant, purple, hazy.

Ravens tumble through the air in quiet play. When they quork from tree tops it echoes out until another raven in the distance takes up the call.

The trees grow straight and tall, with eccentric branches thrust out pell-mell. Many wear staghorn lichen – florescent green.

When the river swells small stones spin in place, wearing holes in the granite embankments. In summer they fill with warm, dirty water away from the flow. Eventually they dry out leaving yellow pollen rings around the smooth sloping edges.

The night is thick with chirruping bats and silent stars. A few meteors seem to fall each hour of darkness.

A fine congregation of beings gather here. Life manifests as pine martin, rainbow trout, and spotted owl: prowling endlessly on down muffled wings – as cicada, yellow jacket, and wolf spider who spins a three-dimensional dome web between low branches – as incense cedar, thimble berry, and manzanita whose seeds only germinate when touched by fire, or when cooked by the inner heat of bear’s belly.

Beings rise in a 100,000 more combinations of sunlight, soil, water, and consciousness, whose names and habits are yet unknown to me – in these mountains and foothills they do dwell. Truly, The Song of the Sierras is sung by a beautiful choir of citizens.