Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Turn

Mist floats north / above the pond / past white roses.

All night
the final summer rain
comes & goes.

Low fifties
call for flannel jammies
& wool socks.

Naked on shower tile 
we shake waiting 
for hot water.

Daylight stalls
behind peaks
till breakfast’s over.

Mist floats north 
above the pond 
past white roses. 

Stone fruit’s gone.
Apples replace

On failing wings
mosquitos hover
close to sunny walls.

Auburn grape leaves
curl, absciss
escape in the wind.

A hummingbird 
sups at a yellow flute.

Too cold
we decide
for early bicycle rides.

Mike’s green blanket
my red
keep us in bed.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Among so many grasshoppers

Among so many grasshoppers alive & dead in long grass I nearly missed
the zebra stripes along the legs of a half-a-thumb-sized yellow frog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Unforeseen, the snake coils

Unforeseen, the snake coils below the final pile of construction debris
— a duffel, two jugs, a broken wheelbarrow — the worker kills it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Following a Script

Following a script, the pair performs a two-act play: first, the male
inseminates to prolong the species; then, the female won't share lunch.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Lolling

Ahoy land, a sailor shouts
aloud on a barge, a la-la-la
& alack aday. A year or two
I hoped to dawdle along adrift
a layabout, a deck chair
away from honest pursuit
a fair wage, a dollar a day.

A tisket a tasket, I’ve bypassed
cornucopia’s basket, to-dos
gang astray. A cider press
becrazes gnats & bees, adaze
they dip & die, agoggle, amazed.
A penny a play I bask in the breeze
at dusk ablaze in fireflies.

Asleep, amire in dismal slough
I dream about alligators
idling afloat, a wrestle I may
hunker to ante up for:
alas, admit what I’ve lost
not only babies but noon
verses spun in haste, admired

& saved to a file, archived
doodle of digital waste.
Olé, I prefer to lollygag
not flagellate my infantile
gaze at mica-faced arcades
tumbleweeds of macaroni
a gargoyle, a ghost, a maze.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


huerta maze

I learned first that huerta is the Spanish word for orchard. Then I learned that huerta is also the word for vegetable garden. I have one fruit orchard (apple, apricot, fig, orange, peach, pear, plum, pomegranate), one vineyard (table grapes), an herb garden (anise, basil, chives, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme), and fifteen or twenty vegetable gardens. For two months we have been eating our own figs — huge, purple, swee-ee-eet — and table grapes.

The vegetable gardens and paths that link them compose a maze, that is to say a labyrinth without a center goal. I reimagined them from a few kidney-shaped vegetable plots drawn in our landscape plan after I realized that no one intended to build them. The narrow winding paths are laid with orange gravel, while the gardens are irregular shapes with mostly rounded corners. Each garden is no wider than I can step easily across. Some are small, some are long. Mike took the above photo of me and my gardens before much of the gravel was laid on the paths.

I spent a couple of weeks building the maze. The work consisted of weeding, removing and hauling away rocks and construction debris, raking, hauling large stones from all corners of our lot, laying stones in pleasing patterns, testing wheelbarrow clearance along the paths, wearing through and stitching up the fingers of two pairs of gloves, extracting thorns from my skin, sweating, eating like a horse, sleeping like the dead.

I miss waking every morning knowing exactly what I will do all day: eat, work, eat, work, eat, shower, sleep. I like that my body rested a suitable amount of time after each wheelbarrow trip to and from the rock pile. I like that I learned to know the cars, trucks, and motos that drove the service road all day, which drivers waved (mostly motos) or hollered Buen día (trash tractor pulling wagon and my gravel delivery man). I like all the workers and horseback riders who stopped to chat. I like the clouds that rolled in most days after lunch and made afternoons better for working than mornings. I like the poems I wrote on my iPhone while standing on fresh-turned earth.

I’ve planted a few seeds I bought from in Salta from Easy (Argentina’s version of Home Depot) and in town at the Pulpería (old-fashioned country store) — beet, carrot, chard, cilantro, cucumber, dill, lettuce, radish, spinach, zucchini. Most are sprouting, though it’s already the season of cosecha — harvest — here in the high desert (even winemaker Cecilia’s baby is almost ripe). I expect we’ll be eating most if not all of my crops before first frost unless the liebres — European hares — eat them first.

Lepus europaeus, European hare, la liebre

Every second evening we uncoil our hoses to water the orchard, the vineyard, the vegetable and herb gardens, the flower gardens, the ornamental grasses. Once a week we water native trees and cactus. It takes two hours to satisfy all the plants on our three-quarter acre. Often the wind blows the water back at us, a chilling spray in these cooling dusks of early fall.

Recently Mike ordered US$1,200 worth of parts from an irrigation vendor in Buenos Aires, the same knowledgeable, delightful señor who designed and supervised the irrigation system for the Bob Culp golf course. Saturday two local workers dug what seems like miles of ditch for electrical cable. Sunday Mike connected the first of six solenoid valves to the underground irrigation water pipes — no leaks! The six-zone controller will be mounted on the south wall of our tender — outdoor laundry-hanging enclosure. We hope the system’s up and running by end of week. It’s Monday: I’m shoveling dirt back into ditches.

An acequia — irrigation canal — runs through our lot and is a principal reason we chose this lot over others. We built two ponds, a small pond that widens the acequia at the front entrance to the house

acequia pond

and a much larger and irregularly-shaped pond south of the driveway. Because the vegetable gardens lie south of the large pond, they will draw overflow water from the ariete — ram pump — that will soon sit in a deep hole next to the maze and move pond water back into the acequia. At night, the acequia running outside our bedroom window relaxes us to sleep.

From today’s few figs, table grapes, and herbs we expect our gardens to grow much fuller a year from now: the detail of the vegetable maze hidden by beans, corn, eggplant, melon, peas, peppers, squash, and tomato; fruit trees bearing small first crops; daylilies crowded, begging for division and sharing with neighbors; native trees and ornamental grasses marking a visible shape to the boundaries of our Argentina home.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Mammalia to Aves, Aves to Gastropods

Achatina, Giant South American Snail

                   Dream is the reaching out feelers like a snail’s horns. 
                   Reality is the shell or the thing of crystal boxes. 
                   We must have the two together.
                                                                                          — H. D.

Tantalizingly slow, 
the snail shapeshifts across the road
proceeds without distinction 
to death under wheels 
or to safety on the other side.

Unlike a dead fox —
worth a close examination, a photo too — 
I look aside from a dead snail
the smashed box
fluids drained to a shiny smear.

Likely I'll see
another snail alive
extending fore & aft, but not another fox 
like a dove on a city sidewalk 
circling its dead mate.

Strewn by death
these souls linger for reincarnation: 
mammalia to aves, aves to gastropod
time slows 
while gods shake dice.

Vulpes vulpes, Red Fox, zorro

Friday, March 9, 2012

8 marzo

Cabello de angel — angel hair — an ever-sprouting vine, a try-to-stop-me
twiner, fruitings of radial whiskered struts adrift in summertime.

7 marzo

All night the soft steady rain keeping me awake, teaching me this:
you are old, you needn’t comb your hair, always, more rain will come.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Free Flowing: A Technical Manual

For anger, lie down, close your eyes, repeat until quiet comes, om mani padme sum

For anguish, pick up your bucket & trowel, walk to a weedy spot & weed

For depression, pay no mind to the nonsense your psyche commands, tell a friend who will understand

For envy, remember how much you have & love

For fear, accept it as what will keep you from harm, if you need to, arm

For gluttony, rinse umpteen ribs of celery, peel a peck of carrots, & stuff yourself sick

For hot flashes, indulge in cold splashes

For hunger, think protein, think green or root vegetable, think fruit

For insomnia, find a book to read & drink ginger tea

For loneliness, celebrate yourself with a favorite meal, a gift, a smile

For lust, if you & your target do no harm, welcome your fortune & succumb

For mania, clear rocks from the back forty, shear a sheep, whitewater kayak a big river, twist & shout until you fall asleep

For panic, talk about weather, basketball, or your cell phone to the first stranger you come to, even if she is you

For pride, only you can decide whether you deserve it, whether it’s worth it

For shame, figure out who taught you to feel the shame & at what time in your life, give it back to them: it’s their strife

For sloth, slow down, listen to every part of you, find the hidden pain you must identify & care for

For an upset stomach, suck on ginger candy (always keep it handy)

For wanting to do what you think is evil, better than to shut it off is to pretend, imagine carrying out your evil thought to its natural end