Saturday, September 13, 2014

leaving in six parts

Three weeks ago I wrote a series of poems about leaving the San Francisco Bay. A lot of the content of these poems has to do with how difficult it had become for me to live in a city. It was actually hard from the minute I arrived, but for a long time I thought I'd get accustomed to it, or that what so many other people appreciated about cities would become things I'd appreciate. And even though I did indeed enjoy access to good sushi, and big art galleries, and cities with very liberal agendas, mostly I just felt less and less at ease as time went along. These poems are about other things too.

Leaving I
Aerial-photograph-wise, the whole
Bay is
Criss-crushed, tidy-concrete
Divesting hills of their water-runs-down-ness, their
Echoing capacity. Instead, un-
Furrowed, earth un-used except as back-
Ground for coffee shop and crosswalk and
Industrial space: cool glass-steel
Jammed with space, nothing but space, rentable space,
Kempt with a hint of rough.
Lo, this is why I'm leaving.
Mammalian, I seek a den or home, not this, not this; even
Nomadic, even un-pegged-down, not this.
Orion, guide me. Orpheus, guide me.
Protect me. I may
Quake but let me not waver.
Reckoned by the wish-plea-yawing hope to
Somehow be homed, knit, known
True, known human, better human:
Undivided or di-
Vided or visioned or divested of
Wantonness. E-
Xtricate me, give ear to my
Zip me into your protection and spirit me away.

Leaving II
Slipping through the fence opening
under seagull call blessing,
the in/ex hale of waves--hale of moon reckoned,
this sea-Bay, my body,
another kind of blessing, the receptivity
of the water of me,
the non-independence, how I'm tossed and swayed,
sifted and churned, flooded and ebbed.
And now, here, soon, I'll say goodbye.
Step to the threshold. Slip through.

Leaving III
Desert land irrigated into a tropical
landscape they all believe in.
I can't. I never could.
It's all just one perpetual skid,
not even across the earth where I live,
but across the thin water membrane
on top. Except we're in a drought,
and we're running out of water.
I'm tired of trying to stand here.
I want my feet to touch the earth.
I want to stand where I stand,
sit where I sit, walk
where I walk. Wherever you go
there you are, true. But
also, where you go makes you who you are.

Leaving IV
Who/where am I?
Who/where are you?
Not four different questions.

Leaving, V
Thirty months in this Bay,
most of it flood tide.
Now I ebb. I'm still filled with you.
Just now in other scapes,
other coves, other harbors.


  1. I and III perfectly describe my feelings about where I live right now....I live for the weekends I can escape to crowded parks!

  2. Ma, is that you?
    Thanks for reading, and for getting it.

  3. Very nice. Thanks for posting.........Leaving I struck the tone of a Psalm, to my ears. A heart longing for something, something to be presented.

  4. I like Leaving I. And I didn't see the alphabet until I was to X!