Cool Pool

You know that feeling.

Like when you sense something move in the cool stagnant water

underneath the surface,

where it shouldn’t,

it is.

Like being away,

the opposite of home,

and even as you jerk your leg away 

you can feel it cramp,

ripping hot.

You can feel the vessels crimp;

doubled,

twisted,

restricting you,

keeping you just within reach,

within reach of the cool,

the cool of the bottom of the pool

where the water doesn’t move

or isn’t supposed to.

from terra galleria

On The Line

When I knocked on the kitchen door, I carried only clammy hands, a thin resume, and a fascination with a world that I had begged to be let into. Cory, my soon to be Chef, gave me the once over, pointed to a cashier, and continued violently tearing apart poultry.

A week later when I came to interview, he saw in me something from his teenage years. At least that’s what he told me as I signed the workman’s comp forms in the hospital after I rammed my thumb into the mean side of a mandoline.

I started small and assumed I would slowly be introduced to the kitchen, but Cory had other plans and a short staff, so one night I was thrown an apron and instantly I became a fixture of the frier. I played tetris with time, organizing chicken wings and okonomiyaki style tater-tots. 

What they don’t tell you is that short order cooks are prep cooks, janitors, singers, and comedians. 

When we ate cold food on milk crates, the cooks told stories of long nights in food service, they told me about forearm sized scars, crazy chefs, and what homelessness taught them. The dishy had a stutter and sometimes he needed a ride home, José wanted to teach art, Steven was overqualified, and I was hungrily learning everything I could.

Working on the line roaring with heavy metal and a hot range taught me that kitchens aren’t about food, they are about people. They are about stories.

Fire

I

The leaves rustle gently at first,

barely moving in the otherwise stagnant air.

But the wind comes, and will come again. 

Every year.

II

It’s eerily warm when

the hearty Santa Ana winds,

the december gusts, come 

to breathe full of life

limbs of dry straw.

Shrubbery sings with that transient weight;

shrubbery that won’t be here tomorrow.

III

Before the door could be closed

a delicate leaf let itself in.

Frail, yellow, brittle.

Winter boots shatter it; 

the shards driven into

the green carpet.

IV

Autumn came when no one was looking, quiet and still, 

but Winter knocked on the door.

Warm winds; loose leaves;

oak and sycamore;

helpless faces;

unpacked clothes strewn, full of life,

on the floor.

V

Fires often blow through on winds like these,

—the threat, toothsome and tangible—

but even as the wind whips

and the sparse clouds hurry across the sky,

cruel circumstance sits suspended in hot heavy air.

VI

Heavy walls went like cardboard 

big weight bearing beams became matchsticks

that snap between fat flaming fingers

recollection ripped out of picture frames

folders full of ash

crumpled filing cabinets

and melted metal memories 

a world engulfed

in wind

in the night

in warm welling eyes

in the sweltering night.

VII

Gnawing on the bones

baying at the hunt

howling in the wind

a hound of three heads sicced 

uncontrollable 

delighting in the chaos 

in pandemonium’s wild embrace.

VIII

silence settled,

the land rested.

no fireman’s boots,

no tennis shoes,

no cars,

no buildings,

no birds.

Just cold black earth,

warm embers,

warm breeze.

IX

Green growth sparsely populates the scorched earth.

Grasses, gaining ground.

But deep in the center the blackness still sits.

Telling you things are not as they once were,

Succession is a process, aching and raw;

but nothing could be so delicate and pure

as the inkling of new life

among black expanse.

X

These winds will whip 

hearts to attention

for years to come.

From: KPCC

A year like no other—2020 in review

in shuttering silence

happiness is fleeting

buoyancy is turbulent 

and the grey world deteriorates

breath is belabored

and the periphery begins to seep in

the color is fading fast 

fast

faster still than hot flames

the fury and the fire in the center

burns has burned and will burn

hot

hotter than before

but still it burns through its fuel

and the sides still fall away than the center can build back

better to be honest 

better to be free

better to seek the middle even as the edges fray

better to worry about the now than lose hope in the future

as the color fades into gray

Andrea Mantovani for The New York Times

Stars on the Open Ocean

the men in that big wooden boat heaved against the ocean

that endless blue

through the night they rowed

moving galaxies out of the way with each successive stroke

in the middle of the boat seated parallel to the back of the outrigger

one man focussed on his brown arm and the way it seemed to work by its own volition

his bicep roared in its quiet fight against the mighty open

In the back of the boat one man fell so deep within himself that he lost track of the stars

but the boat knew the way

and right here sat a boy who simply rowed

in time

open like the ocean

https://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/2016/08/26/hawaii-news/two-day-oil-painting-workshop-at-volcano-art-center/

Perspective

From my solemn post, alone on a sun baked cliff, 

I can see further than light.

As happenstance and hot horseflies circle,

I can feel those hills burst forth into mountains.

And I can hear the trees fall on deaf ears.

From my perch,

three or so feet glare at my toes.

A rigid sun hides shadows adeptly.

And the wind is coaxed by the birds.

Sure, perspective can be height. 

There is altitude to be gained.

But as he increases his distance from the ground, the gravel and grass where his body will land is obscured.