Praying for What Falls

In the valleys of the northwest
spring rains continue,
not from a mass of gray
like December
but dark fleeting clouds
that flatten leaves
and soak the ground
before the dry heat
of August;
the earth yearns
with every move desiring
the keen edge blunted
by my rusted faith;
pelted leaves drip
with gathering strength
as light finds its way
to my thin veined aperture
praying for what falls freely
from the passing sky.




What is Near

Slowing down the pace

of fire fueled seeking

to know and be known

repeated in a loop

until the green leaves

with darkened edges

remind us to water

what is near.






First light crawls across the lake
carving geese and birds against the purple sky,
orange flames spiraling into spring cold,
the language of the sun written in light
upon the sleeping world,
the night walkers solace folded
like the heron’s broad wing,
the coots thin faces suddenly white
on the edges of the wind,
drifting in the shallows
as if on the first morning,
their wings on the water
beside swaying cattails
disturbing the peace
with their wildness.




Before first light the men arrive
in their battered pickups, dented
from the in and out of heavy tools.
Jack Benjamin helps J.C. lift the power trowel
and strike the blades from yesterday’s pour.
The first sweat of the day is glistening,
the air still night cool when in the distance
the sound of gears, a concrete truck hitting speed
then slowing into the sandy gravel cut.
Once the first truck arrives there’s no stopping
the tsunami of mud,
the men adding as much water as I’ll allow
to get the weight to flow into the spaces
between long runs of rebar and steel mesh,
working with come alongs and wood handled shovels,
the chute roaring back and forth like an angry elephant
as the cylinder turns, the diesel motor strains
and the mass of concrete flops around in its womb
before dropping out in a surge.
The younger men move the cement,
jitterbugging rocks, pushing the dead weight
while J.C. and Benjamin drag the screed,
getting something near level on the first pass
before the mass begins to set.
Benjamin starts working the edges with his trowel,
flattening around the anchor bolts,
truck after truck rolling down the long country road
dumping its store then turning back
until the hole is filled and the slab is poured.
The harder work is done as the sun rises
and starts lifting moisture from the slab,
the concrete turning color as they lift the big trowel
onto the hardening edge, J.C. pulling the chord
until the two stroke turns,
throwing out a choke of black smoke
and the blades rotate, flinging an arc of slop –
so J.C. turns it off. It’ll take a bit more setting time
so he and the men go back to their edge troweling,
sweat pouring into their rubber gloves,
their boots thick with goo, their arms flecked with concrete
washed off with the truck’s hose along with the chutes,
the sun slowly rising, the long day just begun.







Leaves with the Night

Saudi sheiks and French bankers
avoid this street
with the litter of trees
and traffic from the bars.
No gold paving or upscale shops,
no drug traffic or night ladies
foiled by police,
only my son in law’s smile
and grandson in his straight billed cap,
the air clean from afternoon rain,
bamboo glistening in the iron tub,
strangers walking by with flowers dropping
into cement gone soft from their fall
as the sky clears and the last of winter
leaves with the night.



Street trees 2