Poetry


When we crested the ridge, shirts stuck to sweaty backs, blood pushing through veins, lungs swollen then empty, I caught my first glimpse

and I gasped and laughed. hours of uphill effort disintegrated

my hungry eyes grabbed the mountain scape, ate the view, fed my soul.

There were pyramid shapes

in any direction

snow basins, pregnant snow bowls

crusty ridgelines, seams

dividing one peak

from the next,

velvet snow fields

speckled by evergreen tips

All small in our eyes

but we were the smallest

tiny, our presence an instant, a fraction

And the mountains’ presence

monumental

the reason, in fact, we lived that day.

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Blue bottomed vapor puffs

hover over shadowed mountainsides

a storm brews

growls;

the highest peaks dissipate under

cover of  thunder claps, rain sheets;

charcoal shades join, fade,

deepen, soften and

hang

above ridgelines.

Minutes ago the sky was endless

wide big blue broken only by

sundrenched mountain chunks, summits

a gentle breeze just brushed

the skin,

dogs dove for shade,

stroller wheels squeaked on sidewalk,

spandex emerged on roadbikes.

Now a gale gusts

dogs scatter

trails clear of strollers, spandex

and the clouds–the clouds!

only here in spring

wild rocky mountain spring

Bits, pieces, inspired by peaks, open spaces:

Reach into the self

on the ridge

to the summit

fingers feebly grip frozen granite

a gale beats your back

body presses into mountainside

in the hardest of places we see ourselves best

heart skips

stomach lifts

knife ridge bottoms out 1,000 feet below

yet wide eyes gaze boldly instead

at pristine snowpeaks of the mountainscape

in nature’s sacred spaces we see ourselves best

hunks of rock, ice and snow (mountains)

exemplify man’s inability to control his surroundings

try he may through blasts, mine pits, weather forecasts

when the avalanche slides,

when the blizzard buries the ridge

and all else

we are the same the earth the snow the granite

the mountainside

we are.

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Disconnection, longing

homesick not for place but for people

those people, those old friends people,

familiar faced people encountered en route

to this lofty place, these open spaces.

girl sits alone among high mountains

girl sits alone

alone a mountain.

Sometimes–and only that–

the aspens, evergreens

granite faces, limestone cliffs

powder fields, river rapids

just aren’t enough.

And sometimes

sigh–

I so wish that they were.

 

Powder Days

Powder falling so hard

so fast

we gasp

and giggle as it melts on

tongues and ski tips

Swish swish

tele turns

dropped knees legs lunge

glide

a long arcing S

in thigh-brushing fresh

snow

 

glittering confetti fills

my goggle vision

tops my pompom hat

at the edge we pause

glance down heart stopping steep

carved into cliff edge––

you nod my way

Cheshire grin stretched wide

brown curls coated

in thick white snow

 

together we drop, cascade down

velvet vert like water from a fall

skis float like boats sail

poles barely brush

lungs just breath

hearts beat hard

turning, turning, turning

 

Our bodies silently sing

as the snowflakes fall

flakes gently fall

as each turn takes us

closer to home.


fresh houses–grey slate rooftops

red siding stands beside

a bushy evergreen,

Japanese Maple erupt bossy

crimson hues, the city blocks

stretch long–wait

–this is a city?

neighborhood sprawl conceals

the urban identity

of these quaint house rows

tucked in hillsides

arranged in grids,

small town, simple town

so laid back Seattle.

It might be ok that

these soggy grey clouds linger

that these folks don’t seem

so hip so gritty so out as ‘Frisco;

how about those forest greens spilling

between man-made structures

those snowcaps rising

behind skyscrapers

glassy lakes

lined with colored branches and houseboats?

And the smell–oh that smell! rich dense earth

so sweet my lungs swell, nourished,

and those Olympics! fog shrouded peaks

beyond the Sound, mysterious shapes beckoning,

their calls heard louder than downtown traffic.

this might just be that union, that perfect union

man’s makings, nature’s bounty

intertwined

Henry Coe

Gnarled scrub oak frames the horizon and straw-colored California hills rise to meet a nearly cloudless sky. The hum of a passing plane whines softly, grass stalks gently rustle, bugs buzz. A bird caws. Last night, as dusk settled into the hills, we saw a bobcat, it’s white tipped tail bobbing as it escaped into deeper grass.

We camped by a bog. Was once a pond; apparently is in spring. We woke to November sun radiating in our tent. California, surprisingly 70 degrees, not a sign of fall in sight.

Touching down from Seattle, one pretty evening

A fiery band of light rips across

the ocean like prairie fire, only this prairie

is purple and gently dimpled, ridged.

The Pacific darkens

beneath a righteous sky that glows

fuscia, blood orange, pastel blue

the clouds pocketed magenta strips

that run the length of the great wide ocean

Great West Coast.

The sun dips–fiercely radiating orb drops

the plane wing tilts, shows

a bold half moon arising, the city

twinkling beyond folds and hills of Marin.

A sigh, what a welcome home.

Day’s end, Embarcadero

An orange cable car pauses beneath towering palm tree fronds on the Embarcadero. Seagulls chuckle and caw, perch on the weathered wooded fences lining the pier. Ferry building bells sing six strokes–oh they sound so sweet against the grinding city hum! Two benches over,  a bum in a red baseball cap rustles his bags. His buddy lays on the bench beside him, passed out or drunk or both. A brown gull whines on the concrete beside them. She cries like a wounded dog, her head bobbing as she paces zig zags around a shallow puddle. Without warning, her wings spread, take flight. She hovers just above the iridescent water. Her brown fades to dusk.

The bay shimmers, glassy ripples reflect fading light above, smudge the lines of the Bay Bridge so that its shape becomes a thought of Monet. Across the water, windows of Berkeley Hills homes sparkle, the hills themselves glow red, deep dusky red, seductive and rich yet fading so quickly to brown.

A memory hits–

a wave high, wide

grows, crashes

water rolls over my shoulders–

~Mountain sun crests

a freshly snow powdered horizon,

golden aspen leaves dangle

from this stems, whisper

last breaths, drop

from gnarled white branches.

the alpine streams

gurgle, bounce between

ridged granite slabs, their numbing cold

water will soon bounce

no longer. evergreen boughs tremble

gently in mountain breeze. my lungs swell

with the piercing dense air

of fall in the Rockies.


For a moment, briefly in this city, I was in Colorado, taking a big old breath of that amazing mountain air. We may not have fall in the city, but it’s still fall somewhere…


To see the mountains again

hazy Sierra shapes

on a pale blue horizon–

I am young

my child heart flutters,

dances lightly in my chest.

Around us, the dry California flats

stretch from east to west

Coast Ranges to Sierra Nevada,

straw yellow fields

green irrigated squares

tidy orchard rows,

expansive space occasionally interrupted

by house clumps

a glaring aluminum silo

the chunky scales of a palm tree trunk.

We are driving North–

two sisters and a dog named Check

in a shiny blue rental,

We are bound for granite peaks

and alpine lakes,

We left our city lives in the San Francisco fog–

office days, bus schedules, the constant spasm of city activity–

We are now the children we were before

(and always are inside),

two little girls with braids in their hair

marveling at the wonder

of a blue mountain on the distant horizon.

Civilization imprints the mind

but mountains imprint the spirit,

We giggle and sigh as they come closer.

Morning in the Trinity Alps Wilderness

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