Sunday, December 10, 2017

Thomas Fire - Notes from Santa Barbara

Winter Wonderland
Day 4 (or Day 6 if without my early week business travel)
of living under a cloud of falling ash
from people’s lost homes in Ventura,
oak trees and chaparral from the national forest,
petroleum excavation sites,
burning rings on palm tree trunks,
drifting like feigned holiday cheer
same color as the snow fallen
on my friends, back in Atlanta,
dusting our parking lots
with its surreal dementia

I drove the other day, home from Los Angeles
along the 101 toward Carpinteria,
greeted by the pinkish lunar haze awaiting
at home, like a stray disturbing houseguest
you just can’t shake. Days later its tension-familiar
glaze still disturbs the dawning day,
so you sigh and resign
away any remaining dark novelty
Along the road that day, the burning
palms near beachfront homes along the 101, a sort
of dark bid at humor from the forces of the fire,
after running out of future hellscape to scorch
as it reached the ocean,
somehow surpassing green oasis citrus groves nearby

The next morning, I woke up with haze in my head,
faintly aching and feeling like the sky surrounding my eyes
and nostrils
I texted Melissa to find out if the university had masks,
they did but so did the tent in front of Costco- teal blue,
annoying the bridge of your nose even when bending
the thin metal sheet at the top
I got two and went back again for more to take
to Becky and the kids, who ended up bailing for Oxnard
by Sunday- she said like coming out of a cloud of trauma,
seeing the sun again once clearing south of Ventura
She sent me a picture of the mushroom cloud behind her
that we are still sitting under, Melissa and I

We’ve driven around the city,
noticing the slow drain of people- wearing masks mostly,
less and less of them and their cars
Any novel concept of living among such a mind-blowingly expansive
natural disaster, eroding as a new day unfolds with more haze and smoke,
and lingering advancement of fire
I hesitate to say natural disaster,
I don’t think it started itself

Every day the school systems text, call and email,
cancelling the next round of school, until the time runs out
and they’ll just have to cancel until the new year
But work must go on – I heard official notices have been emailed
in some circumstances, requiring vacation time or unpaid leave
even in evacuation
I can work from home, but others should go in,
or take up to three pretend sick days before a required doctor’s note

People’s homes and lives, hundreds of square miles of habitat, destroyed by this and others,
so unwittingly pervasive this year
among other myriad starts darkening days,
we remain fortunate in the acquisition of the past,

safe keeping of the present,
with nothing owned or owed from the future

MM 12/17

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Walls Have Ears

This foetus form of disquieted love,
a precipice from which it is flung

I thought –
retracing footsteps swallowed in the carpet,
lifting my feet in quiet concert with, or between
gaps in a junior grade inquisition
Confession of first light

Beams creeping from under and around
a crack in a door, down the hall,
transfixing themselves across my position

Ears tuned to voice, vulnerability
seeps out while turning inward
Inducing urge or instinct overarching,
the need to protrude – to comfort,
to feel it yourself,
in lessening another’s pain

Lying so close – behind a door,
your darkness pierced by device-led portal
locked in hand, broadcasting sequestration
against one’s mocking torture,
into another’s comfort

Lapsing time shrinks the distance,
duly noting the reveal
while choking on the indictment
This is Saturday night

MM 12/17

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Signs of Progress

From weathered hollows, gray and orange
outcroppings sharply elevated along twisting pavement,
ascended in failed formation behind,
just waiting for the turnout, moving beyond
too quickly for the sake of others

Fallen canyon, edges into surreal haze, framing
specks of dust bearing repetition throughout lanes,
fractured from or rooted to a spine, flowing below,
currents of static cargo, sweeping the imagination’s
dreams that siphon their impurities

Glancing left within distraction, derricks protrude,
twisted ships lurching toward the shore
unencumbered by miles of sea retaining their majesty,
undisturbed in the channel, tricking the eye
into believing, signs of progress

Beyond all means of vision, horizon bent giving
way, purely discerned in the sharpening light
rising gods beyond the channel, impending reclamation
lying on the shore, blinking eyes re-framed
in the mist of their retreat

MM 11/2017

Friday, November 10, 2017


It must have been a strange sensation
navigating tension neuroses, from space
Flesh and blood appear alike,
at least enough to be identifiable,
with some of the odd

Amorphous without clearly
delineated courses, spinning cones
shape clay into something
The day, shifting into hazy dusk,
drifting into Fall, sullen steps,
tracks uncovered

You bought me a tape,
King Diamond’s Abigail, when you took
me to the driving range
at some weird little record store
adjacent to a gas station in exurbs,
still in the 1980’s,
Sandy Plains

The weird little ways to make
with those who are thirteen
Oh, the horror spared you
in the lyric sheet
Lines compelled to cross,

Despite all sacred text, best laid
inversions stare back oblivious
to righteous origins
In brooding emaciation, the years affixed,
ungrateful and unknowing
lacking comfort and dignity
in your generations’ passing

MM 11/17

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Summer Camp

We drove long treks- indifference and back,
from the armpit of Florida’s Panhandle
to higher grounds in Tallahassee
He told me the day before, they’d met way back
in the early 19th Century
halfway between Pensacola and St. Augustine
breaking ground on a capital city

Peeling off miles over marshy rivers,
with docks penetrating an easing flow,
past random houses on pilings
embedded within pine trees, solitary
across vacant lots, unsold

Solemn ritual, stopping to shed light on the mileage,
biscuits and gravy at a Hardee’s with senior coffee
and a flimsy plastic cup of water for the road,
exacting timing of the chemo pill 45 minutes before
the radiation treatment,
despite the fact we’d arrive an hour early

The waiting room of the cancer center
sitting watching the space before him dissolve with time,
somehow without a screen to burn his eyes,
before the calling back, before the mask directing
waves to the tumor shrouding the right side of his brain
to slow the malignancy
You asked me in hushed tones if I’d noticed anything unusual
in his movements, his quiet dignity

Pleasing October sun, the way home with tiny breezes drying air,
hints of autumn away from the Southern California heatwave
Unaware of my state’s impending secession,
you brought it to my attention after I mentioned
my civic pride to drive a hybrid
The personal connection to the lens
degrading my livelihood and passion,
much less the world around me

Stopping for lunch in a ramshackle building
nestled in whispering pines near water,
dirt in the parking lot, dusting up and stirring
the remains of the drive
Blackened gulf oysters on a bun with Louisiana hot sauce and iced tea
His glass of wine you didn’t want him to finish
Settling the differences between us when the check came

MM 11/17

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wax Casting

Your voice pleading,
heaving on the other end of the line,
sucking up the air between
this episode and the tension you've razed

A tic away,
the disorder, books are strewn about the floor,
scissors in hand, inanimate objects lying
in defense of gravity

Everyone pleads,
their voices pitched across octaves and back,
with contingencies against what hope
remains lost

Cleaving the plot
into an idyll manor and scorching charred frame,
disparate parts seem unable to be made whole
in their defense

Scavenge in grasp,
we circle the pattern, elevating twisting symbols alight,
carelessly shifting away the calm of containment
into craft dysfunction

Gritting teeth through
the fallen hours on the other end of the line,
unable to signal motion ending
as if it never began

MM 10/2017

Saturday, October 21, 2017


           The moon tonight
a small sliver of the sky, mournfully
mounting an end of the day’s
funeral song

            Whispered through wires
connecting radio speakers to God’s ears
humming below audible bounds
subterranean distraction drones

recovering daylight hours shine,
their shadows lurching out of morning’s
disjointed colors through surreal filters

            Cold settling
congealed solid particles bonded grief
stabilized in solution, isolated impurities pull
through resolve’s uneasy impact

            Throes ingested
they magnify all hope swayed into favor,
bleak yet brimming in consciousness
terminal drift cum obligation

            Tidal decay
movement en masse measured in sediments’
malignant and parched encroachment
carved through archaic frozen fortresses

MM 10/17