in mendicino, california, on the russian river, 






i love this place, it is so beautiful.

my dad and i camped here,

to watch the perseids, every summer,

lying out on a tarp, in our sleeping bags,

counting stars, trying to stay awake.

annie and i are staying at a b and b.

i'm not sure how much star-gazing

we'll do, but it will be nice for us

to be away from the city, to enjoy

each others' company, to be close.

i was far too harsh in my words.

annie, of course i love her, i wouldn't 

be doing this if i didn't. yesterday i was

frustrated, there are issues. i do know 

what we have isn't enough, but it's good 

now, and now is what we have.

she is thinking only of now. regardless,

this is a special place for me, i have

so many memories, happy memories,

of being here. it will be a fun weekend.




my dad works hard and worries much.

i am seven, eight, nine, maybe ten. 

we come to watch the streaks of light, 

and sleep outside, and even though

i am so young i see him in this world 

of beautiful hills and the gorgeous river,

and i see this is where he feels like himself, 

spending so much of his youth roaming 

and camping and hiking and climbing, 

and he tells me stories, as we lay out

on the cold tarp, of his adventures, 

playing down the summits, highlighting 

the beauty and comradeship.

he's cool when he's here, he moves

differently, his face wears a different

expression, if only for a few days. 




annie's mother is first generation 

japanese-american, her father is vanilla,

as he says, though he is from puerto rico.

the result is annie's long black hair, 

thick and straight, and features 

that remind me of easter island figures, 

though softened and beautiful. she wears

an expression that alternates between 

impish and sanguine, occasionally mocking, 

when i act the way i sometimes do. 

much of her energy goes into finding 

her peaceful center. she mediates, 

gives massages, reads alan watts,

and the newer new-age writers. incense

is important to her. finding her chi, 

this means something to her.

her inner-peace should rub off on me,

sometimes it does, sometimes it brings

out my aggression. grrr, i say, 

when i see the world's harshness, 

and step around a homeless woman 

asleep in a doorway on a cold day, 

grrr, i say, to lentil soup and rose hip tea, 

grrr, i say to flowing skirts and om

grrr, i say to slow and sensuous love. 

bring it on, i say, let's get messy.




we lay under the stars talking about

the constellations. he asks me

gentle questions about my friends

and my school work. it was a good time 

in my life, i had friends and school 

was going well (still do, still is). it was

an easy conversation. though i was

but a child, we talked beyond my years.

he didn't know how to do otherwise,

guileless, and unqualified in his love.

at the same time, he was, and is, 

incapable of small talk. all talk, one way

or another, becomes serious, is about life,

about things that matter, because 

in his life, it all matters. baseball, 

which he loves, is, in his mind, pure,

and that reflects something of society,

and that, in turn, reflects something

of humanity. that is the way he views life,

things matter. nothing does not matter.

nothing is too trivial not to matter.

i didn't notice it then, so much as now,

in retrospect. i liked lying on a tarp,

cozy in my sleeping bag, talking to my dad,

waiting for a particle of dust to streak by

at one hundred and thirty-three thousand

miles per hour, at a temperature of

three thousand degrees fahrenheit.

i knew it was an out of the ordinary occurrence.




i know, because i can be, and am, critical

of annie, that this isn't it. she thinks it's it.

i come off as harsh and even cruel.

it is difficult. in a conversation between 

a dreamer and a realist, the realist

has to constantly be busting the ballon.

annie's mind is sensation based, and the cold

realities do not penetrate. it has served

her well, she's drifted through life thus far,

in a loving way with few bumps. 

what can't be solved by homemade soup

and a back rub? why take college seriously

when what matters is in the air? why

question love when it feels so good? 




my dad taught me the constellations, 

he also taught me that things matter, 

that actions have consequences, 

that the work is hard, that money 

doesn't grow on trees. there is

a side of me that is a dreamer, that believes

in romantic love, and a side of me 

that is hard and reality based, and though

sensuality is a beautiful thing, it isn't everything.




annie and i arrive at the b and b. 

it is charming. our room is charming,

though on closer examination, maybe not 

quite as charming as the online photos

had indicated. i am not surprised, 

as our budget dictated the level of charm. 

it is nice enough, and we are alone together

in a new place, a beautiful place.

we can make love or go for a hike 

or go to a restaurant. these are good choices. 

we do some of each. if terri was my dolphin, 

annie is my kitty. there is a lot of purring 

and gentle battings with claws retracted. 

the b and b is on a wooded hillside. 

there are mountains in the background, 

and more hills, some forested, some 

in grassy pastures, and below that,

fertile bottomland, then the river, 

wide and black and blue and green, 

laced with sand bars and graveled shores. 

we hike to the river. the weather 

is california perfect. it is hard to think thoughts 

that are anything but pleasant.




time is elastic. the two evenings spent

with my dad watching perseids seemed

very much longer. it seemed, in its own way,

a lifetime, perhaps because of the repetition,

the years we made the pilgrimage, 

it became one event, one trip, in my mind. 

those two evenings, spent annually, 

carved a deep passage in my psyche. 

why we stopped coming, i'm not sure, 

other than life does that. the reasons

are not always clear. my approaching

adolescence probably was part of it.

i imagine there was an attitude adjustment

on my part, and not for the better. 

i can imagine an oh dad and some eye-rolling.

what matters is that we did it. we didn't 

have to do it forever, and it wasn't the end 

of anything, only a shift. there were 

band concerts and school dances, 

the emergence of myself and my desires, 

there was a lot going on. star-gazing was in the past. 




annie and i have no tarp nor sleeping bags.

we sit on the deck overlooking the river

and the river valley, waiting for the last

light to fade, for the show to begin, 

though i know the peak hours of perseids

are toward morning, looking to the north, 

toward cassiopeia. it will be a moonless night.

it is clear. we watch for an hour or so 

with glasses of wine in hand, seeing only 

a few streaks, then, sleepy and yawning, 

retreat to the soft indoor lighting and bed. 

i set my iphone alarm for four. we make love and sleep.




i remember coming out of the deepest sleep,

disoriented, my father gently waking me.

it is four o'clock, the show has begun. there, 

a streak, a minute passes, maybe two, there,

another, there, the milky way, there, 

the seven sisters, there, behind us, orion, 

there, above us, cassiopeia, there, 

another streak, this time was a trail that lingers, 

there, the big dipper, there, cygnus, there,

a satellite making its stately, quiet way

across the heavens, there, another streak, 

there a jet plane, hear it? the sound half

the sky behind the blinking lights, and i 

imagine the people inside the plane,

and wonder where they are going, and if 

they can see the streaks that we're seeing,

there . . . every minute or two another streak,

and there . . . the heavens circle around

the north star until the sky begins to lighten 

in the east, and the show is over,

and the curtain comes down, as do my eyelids. 




annie and i sit on the deck in the chill,

pre-dawn air, wrapped in blankets. there, 

a streak, there, another, there, 

the constellations, there a satellite, there a jet,

trailing its sound half the sky behind. 

where is the happiness, the innocence, 

the joy, the mystery? where is my dad? 

where am i? who is this woman beside me, 

and why isn't it rose? it should be, it really, 

really should be. every comment annie makes 

irks me. i don't need to be told to look

i am looking. i sigh as i write these words.




we drive south through sonoma, back

to the city. we're quiet. i drop annie off 

at her apartment. i go home. i call my dad.















Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 652 times
Written on 2015-08-16 at 07:01

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Jamsbo Rockda The PoetBay support member heart!
I love the way this switches from one time period to the next while witnessing the same event. That plus how you ponder how your personality evolved between the two periods. And then the event which brings the sober reality of your situation and who you are with coldly to you. Very enjoyable to read.

Lawrence Beck The PoetBay support member heart!
All of these things which are close to, but not exactly the same as what's remembered. The phone call probably was like that, too.

I liked this a lot. It has a real intimacy and honesty about it that's often lacking in modern poetry. The father seems like a nice guy. I wish I'd had a father who liked to lie on tarps and look at the night sky and who believed that everything matters.