This, My Columbia

This, My Columbia
... The Columbia River

" Cosmos Cascading " (10x23)

" Cosmos Cascading " (10x23)
August, 2011 id3300

" Blacking Streaking Black Red " ( Right Corner View )

" Blacking Streaking Black Red " ( Right Corner View )
August, 2011 id3286

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Lost Epoch of Cosmic Time


The Lost Epoch of Cosmic Time

                       In the shards and splinters of time
                          The cosmos reigned sublime
                            And upon the galaxies of the universe,
                              Divinity cast her resplendent sheen

                         As Kaleidoscope danced with Infinity,
                            The gods of Astrophysics and Math
                                Bequeathed the children of tomorrow
                             As one named Albert,
                               With some before and several to follow

                         An existential cornucopia
                        Of optics and metrics and the
                           Splendid symmetry and vortex
                              Of binary construct and the montage
                                 Of Tapestry and Topology,

                        Gave Creativity and Existence -
                        From trillions of light years away, pause ...
                " Clever, these Earthlings "
                   said Creativity.

            " Yes, and how long have we
                   been watching them? " said Existence.
            " Ten million years for the California Condor, and
                   oh, a million years or so, for the Earthlings. "
                        said Creativity.

            " Well," said Existence,
                       " What do you think? "

         " You've been asking me that
            About every fifty thousand years -
              Touch and go, I would answer - too tribal perhaps,
                  To evolve much more." said Creativity.

                " They were your idea! " said Existence.

                    " No, no!" said Creativity "
                      " They were the Earth Diva's idea;
                         And we said we wouldn't interfere! "

   " Oh, that's right ..." said Existence,
    " We both agreed about two hundred thousand years ago,
          That the Earth Diva must know what She is doing -
              After all, She made us both! - Two twin brothers! "

                   " I know, I know " said Creativity
                       " And you were able to choose first,
                         Therefore Smart you are, though I
                           Was by default, given Handsome! " 
  " Yes, and that reminds me" said Creativity.
                    " I set up a double date for us
                          With two absolutely divine sisters -
                             Glenda and Godiva! ..."

          " Here we go again! " interrupted Existence.
            " No, no, closer this time " said Creativity
               " Only a googol and light year
                   From the here and now -
                     So program the Inverse Quantum Spectrum.
                      We are meeting them within an Earth hour,   
                          Atop the fifth apex of the Aurora."
                 " Ok, ok already! " said Existence,
                    As he mumbled aside: 
                        " Pulchrum est quad, pulchrum est "
                ( Latin " handsome is, as handsome does " )            

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Walking Long ~ Marching From The Highlands ~ Milady Loch Lomond

   Long marching

   From Cairngorms
   Ben Nevis from Glen Coe

                Crossing Strathmore Syncline

          Down from Inverness

         My Lass, my Lady

         Milady Loch Lomond

   To Edinburgshire

   Three hundred years

   From highlands marching

   From Gaelic lilt Midlothian,

    You heard the bagpipes

    Sharp tumbling crisp

    The notes they came for you

     From highlands marching

     A Falcon in the distance,

     The lover's thighs

     Slapping strides,

     Against a warrior's kilt

      Pressing the belly's heat

      Dreams of sweat and sweet

      The seeds that aged like wine

      And Winter wheat,

       From highlands marching

       Wee red haired boy,

       And darkly Scot, a sister borne

       Blood warmth, Love's long honor

        And fortnights of soft the voices

        Beneath the North Gales

        Ripping the sky of early 'morn,

        Heart charms and long hidden

        From the Anglo Saxon battle axe,

        Clarioned calls from the hill lands

        From the foremother

        Trumpets of dreamers,

        Steep stepping down

        The music of the Wind

        Marching the Highlands

        Three hundred years,

        My Lass, my Lady,

        Milady Loch Lomond

        We died for you,

        We died for England,

          Mother's milk Clan Lawton

          From the Crown to distant land

          Her sons fell into oceans

          Laid down in fire, parched in sand,

            Still it was for our Mary

            One full century, in our hearts,

            The Queen of Scots, we did carry

              Albeit ghosts of other Marys,

              Mary Tudor, Bloody Mary l,

              Mary ll and Oliver Cromwell,

              An English son,

                 Tho it be our Scotland,

                 My Lasse, my Lass,

                 Milady Loch Lomond

                 Three hundred years,

                 From highlands marching,

                 It is our Scotland and

                Gaelic scroll unfurled

                Across these centuries,

               That brings me on bended knee

                As i kneel before thee,

                My sword sheathed,

                My armour by my side,

                 Your image mottled

                 Through the prisms of tears

                   So long has been my journey,

                   So long these three hundred years,

              And though this moment's dream

              Be forsooth, the wishing heart's

              Journey long to rest with thee

                   Now and in the coming morn'

                   When we as sailboats in the sky

                   Ride once again,

                   Upon the Highland wind

                As a thousand years of starlight

                Collecting in the moment

                Swash to turn and spin,

                    For it is here,

                    My Lass, my Lady

                    Milady Loch Lomond

                    Eternity and remembrance

                    Shall begin.


Sunday, May 05, 2013

The Birds Upon the Winter Winds

It is the Winter Birds 
On barren branches
Hunched over memories
Of bygone Springs
And the warm zenith

Of Summers past.

And the recent Autumns
Of the Whippoorwill
Calling windward to
The winnowing wind.

It is the Winter Birds of Spring
In moon gleam glow
Against the dusking beams
Up from the melting snow.

It is the Winter Birds of Summer
Sun solaced and solitary
Amidst a sudden celebration,
Of night-flight elation,

A lost and golden orb
Turns and pivots
Upon the solstice.

It is the Winter Birds of Autumn
Homing the cloud, shrouding
Torrents of thunderbolts,
And the rainstorms   
Of ancient embroideries
Of changeless time.

Turning towards home
In ecliptic bridal armada
And the sweet bitter promising
Of a coming again Spring.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Riding English Racer

Rode the English Racer
Down the hills
On wheels and wings,

Airstream strider
Head down glider,
Angel on my shoulder,

Pressing faster
Getting older
Missed the rock
Swerved the boulder,

Slipping the eddies
Of time and tide,
Swept down her belly
And banked her thighs
With Elliot Bay beside her,

Pumping legs
Splashed up wet
From puddles
In the small of her back,

And the hum and drone
Of slip clopping tires
Slapping staccato
On cobble street stone,

Near the fountainheads
Of holy waters
And the spindrift
Of epiphanous rain,

Slingshotting man
And bicycle
Free and untethered
From the weathered lands
Of loss and sorrow,

Into kingdoms of Camelot
Where men sing the songs
Of the promise of tomorrow,

And gaze the Canterbury Bells,
Come the return
Of English Spring,

When clarions of trumpets
Chorus freedom and justice
And the voices of troubadours ring.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Holding Time Around Her Waist

I held Time
Around her waist
Sweet and fleetingly
On dancing feet

From arrogance
To enlightenment
In three easy paces
For three easy Seasons,

Though wishing not
To dance the fourth,
While growing older
Slowing and colder,

No longer as handsome
No longer as bold
Nor old man memories for me

As Winter knocks early
Upon every door,
Last chance promises
Of redemption and encore,

For from the dance floor
Swept wide and casting deep
The ballroom music of infinity
Calling from the faraway
With promises of gentle sleep.


The Trumpeting Swan Calls

The Trumpeting Swan calls
Mournful and sonorous
From the deep dead night
And passes over
In white feathered robed flight.

Mystic bagpiper
Winging silent
Through gathering shards
Of morning light.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Crossing New York Ferry

In a dream
i clinged flush
against her
while we rode
the Staten Island Ferry
in October's breeze

And we stood embraced
and pressed together,
Near the railing
and close to the bow
and we felt passion,
we were free

Cleansed from the ocean's spray,
Moist in the nape of our necks
and wet of tears,

We only heard
what we saw
in each other's eyes,
and saw nothing
that we heard,

Crossing over that day
on the ferry,
i said "I love you"
but awoke too soon
for your reply,

And just in that brief moment
My dream went by
and joined the clouds
Crossing the Hudson River
in a New York Sky.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Rudy, F. Scott and Jay Licata


F. Scott,

dead at 43.

. . . and on his gravestone,
are these etched words,

below the date
of December 21, 1940:

"So we beat on,
boats against the current,
borne back ceaselessly
into the past."

The last few lines

from his masterpiece,

" The Great Gatsby" -

and now like Gatsby, or perhaps
more like Jimmy Gatz, i too, feel the
reflections of:

" The expressions of bewilderment
had come back into Gatsby's face, as though
a faint doubt had occurred to him

as to the quality of
his present happiness." - F.Scott Fitzgerald

Yep. My boat has been borne back.
My ship in the stormy billows of life -
Never having caught up with white whales,
Nor Victorian romances

Tho steady the winds
Still a-blowin' strong and full
Against her schooner sails.

Many levels of Gatsby -
A good story for a fourteen year old;
and as much as a PhD. can handle as well.
- almost as much so, as Moby Dick,
Methinks and sometimes wonder...


Rudy Valentino

( As told to Jay Licata )

- J.Licata21may09

A Jazzy Age mindset -
A Roaring Twenties Deco
Speakin' Easy, Speakin' low
Easy Sax, zigzag ziggy,
Lips upon the horn a-blowin'
Ziegfeld notes all in tow.

Fell into the bluest eyes,
Silk sheets a-waitin' in the morning
1920's Champagne, sunrise glow,
Still my Flapper and me a-dancin'
Right into the Thirties and
The Great Depression's dust
Of not so long ago.

Faint and faded notes
From a sweet Clarinet
An old man's memory,
Playing on winds and time,
Jazzman, Rudy and F. Scott bestow.

Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

Never turned off the lights
Never stopped the show,

Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

Sweet and soft nostalgia,
Ragtime, Charleston
Giddy was me and Giddy was you,
Giddy up the Carousel

Riding the Merry, Merry go-round
Against the Merry, Merry we did go.

Jazzin' man on Trumpet
Saxophone on a Piano bench
Bangles and feathers,
Gold baubles and diamonds and beads,

Legs and tuxedos
Crossing stages and the flow
Against the Merry, Merry we did go,

To forget the Great War
The Doughboys and the Tommies
That you loved
Or the ones you'll never know
Sleeping forever in France,
At the Somme, 1916, on the first day,
Twenty Thousand, they fell,

Soft love stories in the night
They never will tell

From Gallipoli, from Salonika
And Mesopotamia,

Far, far from there
And long and long away,

Only blue jazz in the night
Let us forget the day

For all we pray
And wish not to know,

We tipped our glasses
And drank Holy Water
And then and once again
Against the Merry, Merry we did go...

- j.licata21may09

Walking Long to Tintern Abbey - by John Jay Licata

To Tintern Abbey walking
Along the English border,
Of ancient Wales,

From Hay-on-the-Wye,
Walking long
The afternoon of Spring,

To Tintern Abbey
Coming to hear
An Anglo Saxon princess sing,

Her walking long
From centuries moss dead,
We sang the Abbey chorus again,

Then reversed and tread
Back up the English terraced land,
Stone fenced beneath steep cliffs,

To Wales -
To Welsh heavens
and sun setting red
Glimmering her hair,
Brushing gentle against us,

And her Aberystwyth
Blue green eyes
Were the sky,

Her Queen Mother's tears,
The waters of Swansea Bay,

For in the green grass valley
Under Dylan's echoing lyrics
We did lay,

Hearing endless the poems
and songs of South Wales
As lovers from the antiquity
Were wont to do,

After walking long
Into the early dusk
of late moonlight day,

Returning to Tintern Abbey,
To the Wye Valley of Wales
and finding you,

In the Opus of eternity
Lingering forever
In the land of Cymru.

Stones Pebbles and Poems

Stone poems,
Lifted and gathered
Amongst the wild grasses
Of unkempt gardens,

Caked and swaddled
With dry earth
And the palette's paint
Of ancient soil,

Sun baked
With bark and leaf
And the mottled sheens
Of memory's motif,

From the far lands
Of other times and places
Of the heart,

Winds return the dust,
Covering crevices
And veins of iron rust,
Etched upon lodestones,

Poems for eternity
Held in trust.

Poems as stones,

Wash them up
Wash them down
Wash them off

Hold them under the gush
Of an ageless wellspring,

And polish and shine
The corners,
Then the rounds.

Flip them over
Scrub their belly,
Gather them up
In little mounds,

And place them
In a poet's bag,

Shake them together,
Rattle their sound,
Scatter them back,

And pour them
Into fountainheads
and the wild weeds
Of garden beds.

For the poet
Is but a moment,

His book hovers brief
Above the ground,

While the stone poems,
Will return again
For millions of years,

Beneath the sea,
Along the river's banks,
The forested floor
And sculpted canyon walls,
And sides of mountains,

Atop the ribbed crest
And ridge of infinity,
Forever and endless,

The stone poems
Will trace the paths
Of icing streams
And anchor out
The trench and pinions
Of lakes, artesian wells,
Gaps and gullies,

And the spine and ribs
That lift and pillar,
The beams and girth,
And bones of Earth
And brethren star,

Poems in the garden wall,
So close, were once
Comets and meteors
That tumble and fall

Warmth upon stones
Solstice day play
Led you off
To the far away.

And when missing,
Those who knew you
Will be wont to say:

"Gone. Gone to stay."

In a puzzled reflection
Both magical and sad
Words of bewilderment
They might add:

"She danced alone"
With only the garlands
Of Rosemary and Mint
Upon her moonlight skin
But seemed embraced,
Spin footed and enthralled,

As if listening to
The sonnets of lovers,
Though none could be seen -
Her garden was empty
Her garden was walled.


A Troubadour's America

Oh, America!
Where has your muscle gone?
For thin-legged office men
Build houses of paper
And their paper tygers
Peddle futures against the dawn
And the ghosts of hungry 1930's men
Know it's all a con.

So scatter stock and debenture
From the airship O'plenty
The computer god's box
Lost America's wealth
In the wild black yonder
Of red numbers and trades
Of muscle and blood for paper
And signs to read:
"Out of Business"
Had to eat the seed corn -
Too leveraged to wait for dawn.

Had to float more paper
And sing the song
Of "put and call"
Had to sell America
When her engine
Began to stall.

"So boys, we got to borrow
And buy her back on margin!
Before they call her notes"
And the pies-in-the-sky begin to fall
And before all Corporate Liberty
Is shipped across the sea
With no memory of

The workin' muscle of America
That made strong her economy
With the sweet-sweat nectar
Of the free
And her dark and shaded sons
That still wait to fully be.

Wall Street's One Hundred Men

One hundred men
Of Wall Street
Control ten trillion dollars.

They didn’t dig the well,
But they surely drink its waters.

Citizen soldiers,
Few of them
Have ever been.

Our great grandfathers
Fought for nationhood
In the Civil War,
Not for economic win.

Your Elephant Party
Cuts your taxes,
Making others pay for war.

Your lobbyists,
Saddle Uncle Sam with debt
Still, you juggle and shake
The piggy bank for more.

Your daughters marry well,
Sons, have the best deal around
Their hands are soft and clean
And the banners of Ivy League, abound.

Americans believe their patriots
Rejoice for fair shake, fair play,
But they run hungry on empty
When you take most all the pie away.

So think about these issues, sir
When the money bell rings
At the close of your day,

For we all love
A strong America
And Lady Liberty’s bills
Are running high,
But parity and ability to pay
Should be, the Yankee Doodle way.

Your cards and candies
Sent to Congress
Have given you full sway.
You have great influence -
The rules are written your way.

You know whom to call
And what to say,
But sir, it is a point of honor
To raise and to tell,

That the Robber Barons
Of the Roaring Eighties
Who cleaned the cupboard bare,
Learned that government
Is not theirs to sell,

And discovered
That wealth without ethics,
Is not a Bull
Nor a Bear,

And good citizenship
Is not freedom without a care

For the Little Man,
Once, your father’s neighbor,
Is now, not anywhere,

And yet his son
Is over there
To save your oil,

While you labor away
In silk shirts
And soft shoes,
Makin’ a million bucks,

The poor man
Sings the blues,
The soldier,
Has much to lose.

And certainly, you say
It was his to choose.

Wake up, Mister
And lend a hand!

You’re kicking our dreams,
Down the street,
Like an old tin can.

My Populist Poem About Bankers

From Seattle...

Comes a Populist.

"Boss Man Office Man"

Make a cake
Bake a cake
Banker Man
Makin' mortgage money -
Nibble quick gold
Flashes in the pan.

Boss Man
A-comin' down the aisle
"Oh, no!" cries the Office Man
"Please let me be!"

Many good men
Longing to be free
Dreams from the cubicle
Like notes in a bottle
Thrown into the sea.

Capitalism's got their mortgage
Hound dogs of debt
Got them cornered
Got them up a tree.

Wall Street owns America
Paid cash for Lady Liberty
Two hundred years later
Jefferson, Theodore and Lincoln
Are weeping for you and me
While the USS Citizenship
Flounders in a green money sea.

Mallahan and McGinn for Seattle Mayor - A Poem by John Jay Licata ~ Troubadour Poet & Seattle Native Son

Will we ever have another Mayor
That's born in Seattle!
Who knows the city -
Its visceral spit and spaddle,

And understands the City Council
Is prone to fiddle faddle

Wherefore these two Irish lads -
Mallahan and McGinn,
With rolled up carpets
Under their arms, glib tongues
And with out-of-towner's charms,

Are making promises of Easy Street,
Promises made without a care
Like so many fish like us
Flinging across Pike Place Market -
Flying through the air.

Several Octobers Ago ~ Saint Mark's Cathedral

Several Octobers Ago
Holy water and blessings,
Four generations
In a gathering
At Saint Mark's Cathedral
On Capital Hill
And the wee Anglo Saxon was me,
Bequeathed into tomorrow
By the Bishop of Canterbury.

While Great Grandmother
And Grandmother and Mother,
In the nexus of the moment,
Were cast into memory,
Endless and days to be,
And have now all passed
Save for the infant me -

Last one standing
One Hundred-Thirty years
Of a Seattle family history.

Albeit, Great Grandmother -
Lucy Valerie Berry,
Grandmother - Lucy Lawton,
And Mother Carol Ann,

Still share the same epiphany
Of that Fall Sunday afternoon,
In October of Evermore
When love imbued encore,

And seeds of Forget-me-nots,
Spindrifting and broadcast
Against hills of Seattle green,
Playing in meadows of Rainier
and along the sea spray shore,
Bloomed then and forevermore,

And when passing along
The road near St. Mark's,
With Seattle General near by,
Where we both were born,

And sometimes framed and glimmering
In the same blue of my mother's eyes,
The Dover Apartments, to the West,
At the corner of Fifth and Marion,
Within sight, and still standing,
Between towers and monoliths,

And thus this triad bricolage -
This trilogy of the heart's opus,
Beckons its image flush with tears
And bids me stay and not wander
A better land -
Nay, for this be
The lodestone and fountainhead
That these three mothers of me
Gave auspice in the Alma meter
Of Love's immense eternity.

This, My Columbia

This, my Columbia!
As long your waters run
Under eternal stars and time,
The ancient evenings of the moon
Will flow endlessly upon
Your river's immortal rhyme.

"Pacific Northwest Poems"

Arriving From An Odyssey

They were there
In ice silkened
And silent solemnity
Eternally postured
and awaiting my return
Saint Hood, Saint Rainier
As twinned pyramids
And sentinel gatekeepers
Of the Pacific Northwest
Paramount and panorama,
They were there
Awaiting my return...

The Trees

Barren and leafless
Stand in sculpted groupings
Along the banks of
The Lewis River in December,
Days before the solstice
And with promises
Of noble Spring green
Soon to shield
The lone Birch barked white
Their dormant dance surrounds
In the riverlands of Winter sight
As late migrants
Ring the air crisp
And birds on travel
Wing their mottled sounds
Slip-skimming the frozen grounds
In streams above the hunters
And their trophied towns...

The Logs

Laid side by side
Strapped in with iron chains
Upon beds of logging trucks
Which rumbled and thundered and
Swooshed along the roadway.
The logs, down and dead
And boughless now,
Once trees,
Whose last rustling notes
Now merely echoed faint
Reverberations on the breeze.
And on the memories of the leaf
And the green clustered jewels
Of a thousand sails
Once glimmered in ocean skies
Now brown ghost dibblers
Trip-dancing across the frozen sward
As the loams of Spring
Call soft the leaves of shard...

Birds Purple and Blackberry Blue

Birds Purple and Blackberry Blue / 
Swashed still purple / 
And black to be / 
Enmeshed in fields of Summerly. / 

An old woman now,
Lost in the memory gardens
Of thorn and sticker
And a once young lover's pain,

Her blooms in wait
To taste tart sweet verjuice,
The black and purpleberry

Toes pressed and curled,
Wreathed and twined,

Into moist Pacific loam,

And the silted sand dunes
Along the firth and quay
Of the sacred lands
Of the Duwamish,

Now embraced against the cold to come
When Autumn damp danks the air
And Winter icings freeze the fountainheads
Of Lilac and the Sugar Berries
Of forbidden fruit...

" Tacoma Blue Sky "

From Lawton to Hopkins
From Watson to Hoode,
To Great Grandmother's house, I go.

From Hill to Berry,
Generations vary
Timelines tarry,
Tho my mother's genealogy
Is well within me
And still in tow.

My long dead
My long forgotten,
I've come to know.

Putting pen to paper,
They are close within me,
Part of my constellation -
A gene stream -
A starlight show.

Three hundred years in America
And I will be next to go,
Childless, a screeching halt -

A part of the tree
That did not grow?
A flower from whence
Tomorrow's seed did not sow?

Nay, I say
For well after I am dead,
My words, my poems
Singing like voices of children,
Will still be read.

For with pen to paper,
No sense of loss or of dread,
For dances with the past
And love dreams of tomorrow,
Are twice be loved
And twice be wed.

For coming full circle,
Great Grandmother's house
At the end of my path
Where destiny was etched,
And the returning heart has lead,

Back up the mossy,
Northwest steps
And through aching hinges
Upon a sparsely painted, warping door,
And along a musty carpet floor,
Passing tables, wooden pieces
And a rocking chair

Out onto a back porch
And the patina of disrepair
To where a backyard of childhood's,
Crumbling fences and an ancient Pear,
Remembrance, it is there,
The sweet scented soil
That begot me

And the out-of-fashion
Flower beds and borders,
And amongst the weeds of time,
I laid myself down again,
For but a few moments
That turned into an hour,
And slipping too easily
Into the by and by
Of Tacoma's bluest sky,

I sat up startled knowing then,
It was too soon to die,
For many and many
Of lines of verse to write
And waiting for goddesses
Tipping into the night.

And standing up
Deciding not to overstay,
And the sound
Of my Grandmother's voice,
And hearing her say:

"Add another poem."

Then she said:

"Add another day -
Go on Grandson,
Walk away!
I am with you
Step by step,
Moment by moment,
Word by word.
Weave your children,
Noble son..."

"Fade from here
And journey back to me,
And once again
We will embrace
In the sunsetting
Of yet another day."
. . .

I always knew
That I would see her
Yet once again,
My Great Grandmother.

That we would speak
And I would feel
Her cotton apron
Against the side of my cheek
And her hand cupped
On the back of my neck
As i stood three feet tall

And her scent mingled
With the work of her day
And the warm sweet of her breath,
Down the sides of my face,

Because always
Have I remembered
That week of Summer's first day,
When lying on my back
In the freshly turned soil
Of her flower beds,

As she sat higher up

On several flights of stairs
Upon the back porch,
Looking down
And across the yard at me,
Saying nothing
For moments upon moments
And minutes upon daydreams,

As i wandered
The bluest Tacoma sky of 1949
And the radio's voice
Of President Truman;
She liked the president,
Told me he was "pure Missouri"
And a good man and "resolute"
And i thought that meant religion
Or something complicated;
But she liked him a lot;
And Glen Miller as well -
He had the big band orchestra,
And who was lost in a plane
"Near the English waters"
As i think i remember
How she said it,
It was during the war,
She said it was.

And now I look

Across and down
Into her backyard garden
From my mind's eye view
And see her napping lightly
Upon the freshly turned
And scented flower beds.

And sleeping gentle now,
All our memories are scattered
Amongst those Forget-me-nots
And from seeds of Poppies
That she had planted,
Each Spring now fifty years
They merge and bloom
After once drawing
So softly into the earth,
All the time
We had together,

And the scent of Lilac
And the song of Bluebirds
Carried on the winds
With the perfumes
Of English Heather.

The Two Best Poets in Washington State Since 1889

Win, place and show
The second best poet is silver
And this be poetical,
Upon myself bestow.

The gold is Richard Hugo,
My neighbor at West Seattle High,
A generation before me,
With forty years of overlap
Under the same Seattle sky.

Indigene sons of Washington soil
Born, bred and begotten
Within the same Seattle mile,

Where tugboats would toil
And foghorns were heard,
With Liberty ships
Through the Ballard Locks
In single file.

We were the lads
In the Spring
Of Evergreen's history,

While the carpetbaggers
Of the poetry business,
Didn't arrive until the Fall.

Still, our Big Mountain
Is big hearted
And all are welcome -
Come one and come all!

Though one must remember
That Lady Rainier, you see,
Dances her best
With Richard and me,

And only the honor
Of her embrace
Can place bards and poets
Upon the high mantle
Of Northwest native grace.

So come ye troubadour and penman
And pay your homage and due,
To the land of Cascades and Olympia,
With lines, couplets and sonnets
And a chapbook or two,

As nimbus and karma,
And the aura and muse
Of poet Richard Hugo,
Place a blessing upon you.

"Seattle Poems"


This romance…
This love
This Seattle.
Born on her hill
As was my mother
As was she...

And now
Her Ladyship,
Still too young
To dance with Chicago,
She dances with me
As old man New York sits
While I waltz
Flush with glee.

And later,
Not far from the Sunday Ballroom Cathedral
of her hills,
In the riverlands of the Duwamish,
I sweet sleep deep,
Cradled in the folds and holds,
Of night harbor music
and the lyrical tapestry
of her arms...

"Seattle Sunset"

Seattle huddles her lakes
In long arms of green rims and ridges
Pressed bold and folded
Across the rosetted fleece of sunset,
Her sculpted stone men-in-waiting
Perch luminous and bathe in gold aurora,
Along the velvet edges of dusk,
And gaze the nippled swash and sway
Of night-comings and their maiden’s passion
For courtship’s sunrise promise of early mirth
And the color brush canopy of day...
. . .

" Wolf " " Salmon "


An eternal epitome
Of the Northwest’s timeless freedom -
Pristine and elemental
Brutal and beautiful
As the earth’s history itself,
Made manifest and woven
By the endless matrices
of rivers and streams,
And fed by the hydro-genesis
and full moons
Of snow-melted Millenniums
And the epiphany
of the many midnights
Of the ageless howl of the wolf
And the water’s wellspring rush
To alma-matered and acqua-bellied lakes...


Five year salmon
Jeweled and gemmed
And king fish crowned
Returning full loop to Puget Sound
Through endless and oceaned pools of loss,
Having left behind those several many
Strewn about in cruel seasons of storms
and caught in the rivers’ thatch
They swell and swollen to hatch,
Circling back from sea wide odyssey,
Carrying the genetic banner of honor
Missioned before the millennia of sunrises,
Anteceded before the rivers sculpted
The rock and stone
From the many long times ago,
An unending passion
Fulfilled and quenched
in spawned-out endings
From thrusts of life
of all the young to come
Expatriated in halves-of-decades
And the pain-sweet circle of birth
And travels of travail
To homecomings of tattered ecstasy
Piqued in memories
of aqua-mapped topography,
These noble cousins
Of old elephants
Wandering away to die -
Of three score and ten,
Alaskan men
Pushed off for their one-way
Canoe ride to future blessings
And ancient dreams enroute
To the sweetbitter noblesse oblige’
Of down-side-up joie de vivre’
And the last ride home
From wayward boundings -
Salmon and man
And the homings and roamings
Of feathered minions -
Hawks and Swallows Capistrano,
Pacific Groved and Monarched Butterflies
And ghost flocks of Passenger Pigeons,
In the rhythmic and staccatoed cadence
Of ancestral journeys
Spread splendorous
Across the dawnings of time...

It Is Good to Be the Seaweed

It is good to be the seaweed
Floating, drifting
In the crystal,
In the clear Vashon, Puget Waters
In the Summer sparkling,
Gifted shoreline of afternoon,

Albeit knowing,
These jeweled days,
Are few remaining -
No longer stuffing the pockets
Of the young man
That once was,

But rather soon enough
With nostalgia's mirth,
Will come to dance as seaweed
Amongst the ocean lodestones,
Beneath the mountain white

Of spindrifting clouds,
And the ice diamond waters,
Surrounding the glint green
Of Seattle's hillside birth.

Mrs. America 1865

Mrs. America 1865

All the sons
We never had
Fell into
The mud and blood
Of the Civil War.

For into the soil
And still they toil
To fill the branches
Green, each Spring
On Dogwood and Magnolia
When the Easterbells ring.

The Bohemian of Carmel Bay

        The Bohemian of Carmel Bay

Chase the throe
And the thrill of struggle
Homestead the soul
Lay down lean and thin and smuggle
Into the opulence of the California coast.

Park-niche Midnight each evening,
With her dark metallic blue paint
Under the shadow of Santa Rosalee
On wharf number two
In the ebb tide summer of ninety three.

Not the tourist wharf -
Replete with seafood restaurants
And shops and curio stands,
Saltwater taffy and espresso peddlers

And boat tours of people watching
The drinkers in the wigwams
Of the whale watchers
On the piers of people,

All within the shore lined distance
Of a boomeranged starfish -
Its twirling tips draw the eye
To its turn and pivot

Back along a famous cannery row
Of gentrified Sardine packing houses,
A la Steinbeck-esque tapestry

  ... Under the shadow of Santa Rosalee

Each night on the service wharf
Bordering and mooring
The fisher vessels of commerce -
No longer Sardine boats
Rather, the Squid fishers
Calamari harvesting the night,
With light to draw them up
To the masts of star dappled crosses
In the dark mottled velveted sea

  ... In the shadows
        Of Santa Rosalee

With some last grandsons of Sicilians,
Their boats seen from across the bay
And the Carmel Beach view

Of night time Christmas candled triangles
Floating on a soft bend sea
For the nets of the Calamari

To the early-light unloading of squid
Other fishes, too
From full-bellied boats
Named for wives and paramours -
Into the sheds that straddle the docks
To gush-rush and slip-slide through chutes
And onto the trucks of Southern-Euro names,
Banner-like spread across their sides,
Extolling the new found power of Family & Sons –

Not like the turning of the Nineteenth Century
Albeit, not unlike any day
Of the ocean giving up her currency
Near the cemeteries of Italian immigrants

And half a hundred miles south
From the Di Maggio Brothers
Who hit the ball long and hard
And watched their Joe
Sweep across diamond framed fields
With the ballet grace of athleticism
And the backdrop of Sardine fisher men,
These grandfathers of baseball players
Who now rest in soil
From days of water and cold and fog

  ... In the shadows of Santa Rosalee

Where aunts and uncles and darkish-eyed girls
Who brought thin hard bodies to weddings,
Mostly their own
‘Til later, their little girls
To first communion at San Carlos Cathedral
And whose Pompeii tempered husbands
Grew boring and provincially bombastic -
Eventually some wives running off
With the sons
Of South and North Dakota
From Fort Ord
On their way to deaths and trauma
In Southeast Asia

 ... In the shadows of Santa Rosalee

Yet some having expiated cruel fates
With the sweet flavor and bitter taste
Of the Mediterranean feminique
As some mamma's boy princes
To Santa Clara Law School,
Finding red haired girls to marry
Whose grandparents of another novel -
 ‘The Grapes of Wrath’
Three generations from the dust bowl
Now meeting in the irony
Of a pas de deux across the floor
Of the Valley of the Heart’s Delight
Where the rose dust of San Jose’
Veneers the sweat labor stench of Sardine skin
By the auspice and renaissance
Of each year’s fruit blossom parade
When on Sunday Morning
A wife rests in the arms
Of the parish priest
As her family chants Latin
In the mission church
That saved the Ohlone Indians
From sins and hell

 ... Under the long shadow
       Of the Santa Rosalee

And the guise and garb
Of a squid fisher -
Though crew member not
Only nighttime repose lengthwise
Across the bench of Midnight Blue -
Her metallic sides reflecting
Against the tat and tatter
And the tiptoed tattoo
Of harbor patrol lights

And the derelicts
Both human and wood
Awakened at the end of fitfulness
By the night shore lapping notes
Of a sea lioned cacophony
And the waves music of salted air

 ... In the shadows
     Of the Santa Rosalee

Then the stumblers
Into hotel lobbied resting rooms,
Washing away the taint and smirch
Of having fallen from the perch
Of the upper class grace
Of long legs with lace
While all through the night

    The statue of Santa Rosalia

Thirteen Centuried Sicilian saint
Stands blessing the fisher boats
For rites of safe passage -
A New York little sister
Holding high mass
For the hovering and gathered

Her seashore liturgy
For the shoals of souls
That beached hard
Lost against the shores,

She now sings God’s encores
In open sky services
Held in harvest time courtyards
On the public square
Under the arbor and canopy
And the sonata of Santa Rosalee.