Wanting to Give Birth

Loden green moss
and gray bark
mark the trees
gathering rain
and mists of fog
as winter settles in
with cold comfort.
I rise from the dream time
to rivers running full,
carrying mountain messages
to the ocean bar, telling the great sea
what lies beneath those peaks,
ready to awaken when the gods call.
Feeling tremors beneath the river,
the wanting to give birth,
I keep a winter vigil,
tending to the seeds of color
deep within the silent landscape,
deep within the earth.



photo by Peter Mansbach


Murder Incorporated

On Seventh Avenue
near the crossing with Sandy Boulevard,
thousands of crows fill the street trees,
line the rooftops, the power lines,
every pole and perch in sight.
Crows are flocking to Portland,
crossing every border.
They like our progressive politics,
the entrepreneurial business climate
for crows are innovators, dressed in mod black,
always in touch with fashion and the latest trends.
They’ve taken seventh avenue
spreading east toward high ground.
No walls will stop them
although the hawks we brought in
and built nests for on the river bridges
chased them from downtown.
The hawks won a battle
but the crows are here for the war.
The city is prime picking and they’ve cornered
trash removal, avian security.
Murder Incorporated, they fill the overhead
as people below drive on.
Me and my buddies are loading up on ammo,
oiling our guns, dressed in camo.
We know a fight when we see one
and we’re damned if crows will take our town.
We do like the way they look on the high wires though,
the black gear and cocky attitude, free air and all that.
Maybe we’ll make a truce, carve out a treaty.
There might be room for us and the crows
but there’ll be a price. No handouts,
no camping on the rooftops.
So far the crows say no deal, but we’ll see.



photo by Gabriele Diwald


Fisher of the Dark

I throw a line into the dark,
the only bait hunger and a sense
of what lies waiting
in the last hours of night.
There are tugs on the line,
then a bite, a face
from the dreamtime,
something to satisfy
the soul’s craving.
I pull you in,
remembering how
we fought and danced
across the time we were given.
I passed you in a doorway,
glad to be unrecognized,
felt you behind me
in a crowded room,
angling for contact
but this dark morning
there’s no escape.
I look and hold
your pulsing body,
remember and let
there be this knowing
before releasing you
back to the eternal.




Breadcrumbs on a Trail

I walk alone from the dark night
leaving behind tormented dreams.
Why trouble over details
when the house is on fire?
The soul needs solitude and silence
like a creature food and water.
Shouting across barricades,
fists high in the air, do you wonder
whose world this might be?
So convinced of agency
that morning light
will not affect your equation?
Serious questions I know,
but I drop these behind me
like breadcrumbs on a trail.
Somewhere ahead in a sharp bend
where the river runs in rapids
I’ll pause for you beside the high rock.
Have faith in the maker of mountains
and just let go. The river is calling.




Crow Medicine

The black body of crow
sits heavy on a leafless branch
surveying the street with dark inquisitive eyes.
A low winter sun slowly burns off the fog,
lighting the gray city with hints of warmth.
The colors of autumn have dropped to the earth,
the palette of winter here for the season of rain.
When I was younger I’d walk forested canyons,
the air rich with evergreen smell and spray
from rushing creeks and rivers.
I hold them now in my mind,
letting them tell their stories in words,
returning their gifts to the people.
With crow I study the street,
calling up the ancient memory
I see in the bird’s dark eyes.
None of us are really apart
though the world will tell us so.
This is crow medicine
you hear them barking
from their murder in the trees.



photo by Dimitar Donovski