Our cat orbits me on the stoop, stares
into the door, and goes inside.
He yowls. I haven’t learned his language.
Holy here as blue, he seems to say, as if
I understand. But everything’s as if,
emerging in blue meaning,
drifting through the gray, the dry.

The sun intensifies.
There hasn’t been light like this for days.
From left and right, the crows call out.
I can’t see them but know their voices.
Every morning I leave them food,
and they’ve dropped off two feathers,
a pine cone, and a candy bar wrapper.
I save their gifts in a bowl my mentor
threw on a pottery wheel. He died two years
ago, but his words, as if in whispers
drift through my sleep: Productions don’t steal,
they breeze. There are valleys
that make for sails.

The traffic sounds up on Chavez Boulevard intensify.
A man walks by, talking into his hands-free call. He wears a mask.
The pandemic breaks records every day.
Osteoporosis, I hear him say.
Yesterday, crowds, at the president’s request,
stormed the capital, forcing
legislators into hiding on the news.
By evening they went back to counting votes.

When I breathed tear gas this summer, the first and only time,
a man came out of the dark to pour water on my face.
I didn’t get his name.
The faceless troops proceeded down the street.
A woman called my name and said, I saw you walking around
and said to myself, I know that old guy, that’s Jerry fucking Harp.
Last time I’d seen her was the ICE occupation.
She’s becoming a librarian.
What do meanings manage when the chanting stops?

For now I wait for something. Is it there
in the light, online, and in the clouds,
in the crows’ calls out of sight,
in the traffic up on Cesar Chavez Boulevard?
The same man walks back the other way.
I think they should impeach him, he says into his call.
The sun’s been out ten minutes now, I say aloud,
as if I’m marking time, but I don’t know the time.

Two women go by: The pages have a little metal in them, and the binding is magnetic so you can slide the pages in and out.

Avian voices, though not the crows, send out
intermittent twitters. I’m wishing a long time ago I’d learned
to name them by their voices, learned
to identify trees by the feel of their bark
as I pass them in the dark woods.

The sun goes on, shimmers in the rain
falling on the lawn. The crows
intensify in counterpoint to the traffic.
They gather in the Monterey pines
at the end of the street. They call out,
cry, and chant, forming a conclave, as if
forming a new language they pronounce.
Back to Top