Monthly Archives: February 2015

February poems

February’s poems wrap up a year’s worth. We expect to publish them all in book form soon. We hope you have enjoyed the journey as much as we have. What comes next, who knows?

Poró tree*

Down the canyon
a hornet’s nest waves
paperwhite high
in an erythrina tree
leafless canopy
blooming coral.

*Erythrina poeppigiana

wasp nest



Steve died last night
Hospital México
brain tumor
surgery radiation chemo
nine months of hell
Costa Rica, the States
just fifty-four working
American company
good insurance.


El Cajón wind
gusts all day
Grecia hot, still
the viewing closed casket
mourning chairs line walls
funeral home unusual
as is the cremation
to follow the mass.
Justa bereaved and beautiful
in a simple black dress
young woman suddenly
aged a widow.


When father died
mother for a while
dropped the veil becoming
one never before known
open honest touching.
Took me half
a lifetime to feel.
She met another man
and again was gone.


One last weekend
family leaves
woman’s home
atop the mountain
hollowed out
the view from there stretching
out over the valley
asudden uncertain.
El Cajón women hoping
yoga teacher returns.

Summer day in winter

Drizzle light
through the night
day dawns
warm and damp.
José takes the car
to Riteve today
yearly inspection
but Leo the mechanic
his wife had a baby
the shop backed up.
Next week
no hay prisa.

The way back
stop talk to Dave
looking for Juan Carlos
to fix a water pipe
kids broke yesterday
up on the road
at least they turned
the valve off
that’s how we knew
the line was broke
four in the afternoon
no water.
Patched it up for the night
hose clamp, mender, duct tape
leaked just a little.
Dave says his glue is fresh
he’s got the fittings
fix it ourselves
even though the break
is on the acueducto
side of the meter.

A lineated woodpecker
chisels in the top
of a dead pine
carving a hole
deep and rectangular
like pileated woodpeckers
in the woods of Oregon.
In the canopy
just down the canyon
an oropéndola burbles.
At day’s end
in the dark
fireflies blink
on and off
just a few
turned on by moisture.
A paraque calls
a slow beat
deep into the night.

The winds

On the veranda
stare with a buzzard.
Tree swallows swarm.
Clouds roil the ridgetop
beyond San Luis
riding the trade winds
Poas to the Pacific.

A billion years air
thin filming the globe
spinning, churning
driven by the Sun
banded winds drifting
to the north to the south
marking the seasons
always changing
always the same.

Time of the trades
tend to sprinklers.
Soon enough doldrums
drift north again
currents quieted
hoses put up
afternoon skies grow
heavy with moisture.


Tiny buds
at the base of a cactus.
Pluck them out
careful teasing the roots.
Pot or plant
in the succulant garden.
A year or so
flowers like spines
nippling areolea.

Nothing happened

The other morning expecting friends for brunch, wondering what to serve for drink. Not wanting to be standing at the espresso machine, too early in the day for alcohol. Fresh orange juice that’s special, half dozen or so oranges on the trees, not nearly enough. Lijia the housekeeper is done drop her off, continue down to Gran Bodega, buy two bags of Costa Rica oranges. Approaching the driveway, coming back, check mirror there’s a moto, check blinker, turn, whunk! what the . . . ? Motorcycle, young man, scattered across the macadam.

A midwinter morning, high Sierras white with snow, sky blue and clear. Good day for a hike, thousand feet top of the ridge, the sunny south side. Two boys, girlfriend’s sons, booted, jacketed. Easy going in the trees but then the snow turns icy, melted by day, frozen by night. Punch footholds through crust with toes of boots. Near the top the slope levels off. Whoops! boots don’t hold, sliding, faster, headed straight for a scrawny tree clinging alone at cliff’s edge, rooted in stone. Hit that tree hard catapult over, reach up blindly one last grasp a piney branch dangling, naked rocks far below. Hoist up, brace at base of the tree, down sleds the smaller Rodney, scoop, tuck him in safe. Now coming Michael, bigger, heavier. Slam! breaks tackle bounces over, reaching out right hand clamps corner of parka at bottom of the zipper, rips out scarecrowed in the thin air. Pull him up. Boot holes in the ice straight across the top of the face of the cliff towards a crease, trees, soft powder, safety. Follow the green line down, back at cabin in time for lunch, their mother waiting. Nothing happened.

The young man sits up, shorts, tee shirt, no helmet. Nothing broken, dazed, surely concussed. A buddy hearing the crash runs out, punches his cell. Down the hill others come, inspecting. Their friend, a few cuts and scrapes, right buttock badly bruised. The moto, two broken light standoffs on the right side. Door of the car, no importa, what matters is el. Clasp hands, cuidate hermano. An amigo picks up the moto, hops on, starts it up, el herido eases on behind, ride off up the hill. Abel at the body shop down the El Cajón road across from Gabi the modista to replace the door Thursday, straighten the rocker panel, when done drop the car off with José for Riteve, transmission fluid. The orange juice was terrific. Should have made coffee.

What didn’t happen.
Haunting enough the specter
of what might have been.



In the cool of the morning
in the shade of the awning
a gound anole* chocolate
spotting chevrons down back
perched on a branch
of a bare frangipani
shifting only a bit
not much concerned
by human moving about
salvaging cacti uprooted
by night gusting winds.

* Norops humilis

view from carport


Morning one

T’ai chi on the carport
distracted by fussing
up high in the trees
bundle of feathers
crashing through leaves
not quite reaching ground
part spreading wings
two brown jays
embracing copulation.

Morning two

Too high in the mountains
two rufous-naped wrens
eyeliner striped
chestnut red back
wings tail barred
white, brownish, black
whistle and chatter
chase low in the limbs
of blooming hibiscus.

Morning three

Awakened first light
tussle on the veranda
feathered tangle
laughing gurgling
bursting in song
our pair of wrens
joined at cloaca.

The male swaggers
ridge of the taller
chest puffed up
tail fan sweeping
singing his glory
a clay-colored thrush
watches cool on the railing.
Later picks up his lilt
perched on a chair
at casita window
a pair of grassquits
gleaning the bushes
a hummingbird tongue
probing red blossom.

Into the afternoon
a repair needing done
discover the male wren
trapped in the shop
sneaked under the eves
not finding way out.
Snagged in butterfly net
let loose resumes song.

Song sparrows thought
to mate for life
staking out defending
territory for nesting
finding new partner
one should die.

Two marriages busted
abandoned kids
refuge in Bolinas
Point Reyes the BirdO
Walking mist nets at dawn
living in the back
Dino called home
not sharing dorm with
young women grad students.
Birds bagged and brought
back to the banding lab.
Swab cloaca
prepare slides
send them off.
Study shows
male at one corner
turf singing atop shrub
female the other side
entertaining neighbors.

Morning four

Sun rising wren
song on the railing
at the bedroom
at the dogs’ room
down at casita
strutting the roof.
Sparrows rufous-collared
flit a pair in the hedge
male song much sounding
like that of the song sparrow.

Morning five

Walking the path
dog dives into bushes
a pair of sparrows
distress scream as one
drags wing in distraction.
On command the dog drops
a juvenile soggy
limp on the lawn
mouth still gaping yellow.
Mourning calls linger
a while longer
then quiet.

Ancient chorus

Fading of night
calls ancient chorus.
A hundred million years
swelling with dawn glow
crescendo as sun peeks.
Chatter of parakeets
filling the canyon
cooing of doves
soft in the forest.


Still and dry.
Sun, fierce.
Touch up the roof
rains to come.
Two beer lunch
clouds barely crawling.
Nap all afternoon.
Together watch the sun set
sip Cacique and tonic
three cubes of ice
frozen glass
sliver of lime.