The garden outside droops and gasps

as if drought has struck the earth.

Just this patch–

the patch near the house–forgotten

by all the mountainous vistas,

sometimes visible, sometimes imagined.

I am too tired to water

this withering in the late summer sun;

this withering of untended memories.

The flowers have opened their fingers,

opened like a singing mouth,

the sticky pollen of their stamens, sirens

to honey bees and hummingbirds.

Now dry, they forget the ideas

they had earlier of melon and squash.

“Water!” They cry, “We are

dying of thirst.”



There is time.

There remains a chance for forgiveness,

for salvation.

Drop your chores

drop the bundle of others’ obligations

on the floor.

Grab a shovel and start digging.

Go to the river with a burnished jar if you must

and bring the water here.

They are gasping, the untended,

their roots stymied in the dry soil,

their flesh eaten by the unwatched squash bugs.

Go to them, speak softly in the faces of the flowers,

caress the bony arms of the tomato plants.


The moon is a sliver.

It will be bloated and teary-eyed

in a month.

We have this work to do.

This digging, watering and tending.



The relay towers are long fingered specters

on the periphery of every edge

of every road and hill.

Can you hear compressed between the static

and the announcer’s dumb drone,

the quiet clicking and whispering of the stars?


A field mouse outside the house

pauses, one paw up, his nose twitching

he listens

for one moment

and continues on.

The owl flies in search of food

but hoots into the sky at the spread

of clouds and stars.


The night driver on his radio listens

to the static and in between jarbled voices

of people speaking into microphones

in single rooms alone–

of one or two people speaking to the world

of news or weather or the random thoughts

of night sweats and anxious dreams.

The universe speaks back in ambient noise to the earth,

the prey and hunter pause momentarily,

the driver pauses–suddenly aware

that they are alive.


The relay towers on the periphery

shooting up like stalks of blood red flowers

in the unreachable fields of the darkness

on the edge of the roads, hill and mountain.


As you dig in the soil,

lifting up interred and buried memories

you notice the red lights blinking

from the top of Sandia Peak

in the late afternoon,

and off to the north,

the night lights that come up

like poppies

when you come down Girard at midnight.



Those lights? What about those lights?

We are watering rainbow corn

on the west side of the house

in the hot August sun.

What lights concern you now?

You talk of roads and mountains.

Look at your hands,

you hold a clump of clayey soil.

Dying soil.

There is your priority.

We cannot grow girders and bridges,

we are on a mesa now,

the river is down below.

The sea that flows in your blood

is two thousand miles away and filled

with the dead that have fallen

into despair.

The brown swollen rivers of which you speak

are too tragic to bear.

Let them flow as they will, choked

with childhoods and failed schemes.

The sun gets lower by the minute.


Ah yes. The rivers near the towers,

the wild rivers that broke the back

of all those factories,

left just cement and concrete hulks

in the bends and swimming holes of the river.

Those last remnants will soon smooth

and slick down with moss.

The rivers that have had everything dumped into them,

that have gone into Long Island Sound

and the dark silt and oily sand

of the two intermingle in the docks

of Bridgeport,

where out at sea stand the towers.



One small globemallow grows

in the soil next to the corn.

The asters stay hidden in the ground.

The sunflowers are as brittle as death.

In the shadow of the immense electric pole

nothing grows.

Nothing sings.



It is fall and the owl in the maple tree

next door is quiet

because it is day,

but I am fifteen

and aware of that owl.

We are taking armfuls of wet leaves

and crushing them shredding them

in the shredder.

A small trickle of snot runs down

my nose and I wipe it with the flannel

of my shirt sleeve.

The leaves smell rich like rot,

like dry oatmeal.

We shred and rake, shred and rake.

The owl is quiet in the bare tree.

Finally we fill the wire basket.

He and I have not spoken the whole time.

We rake, gather and shred

to hasten the compost process

to turn into humus the blood red

droppings of the oaks and maples.

My father bends down and picks up an acorn.

We look at its smooth hard burnished body

he pockets it and I say nothing.

There will be more to hope for now.

The cold air of the evening begins

to settle down in the nest of our yard.

It will be time for the owl to speak.



The great migrations, north to south,

the cranes and herons, the mallards

all coming south.

We see them from this spot

but it is too early,

a month until the harvest moon.

Keep your eye on this task,

we must atone for the sins of this summer;

we must sing these sick crops back to life.



The flyway of the continent is a crosshatch

across the swatch of the Milky Way,

now visible in the evening sky.

We lie exhausted, intertwined on the wet worked ground

and the movements of the continent

the geologic rapture of the earth,

the swirling of water and seaways

that suck the rivers of eastern cities

the rain storms that leap the mountains of Albuquerque,

pass above us, through us

penetrated by the universe,

we are viable seed in the soil of the world.