For Robert Stoller


Stretched, teetering, ladder
To eaves, clearing pine needles
And live oak leaves from
Gutters, an hour or two after
I hear of your death, looking out,
I see my life
Is cowardice and lack of discipline.

I've read the masters and done otherwise.

But it's there, even in the newspapers,
In fragments of a line, tersea despair
That leaks into the ordinary words
They bury in back pages, among ads
For Macy's, as though the awful weight
Of what's left unsaid
Might crush us, finally

And in a dream where you go down,
Odysseus-like, to parley among shades,
That kingdom, oppressive,
Without substance, bears down
With the accumulated force of its not
Being, on souls who come
To talk with you ...


A fallen apple mined by yellow jackets
Sweetens the earth, east of Point Reyes Station.
Today, here, we need rain. Salmon and rose
Are going to ground, a dwindling sunlight powers
October's ghost of weather. When winter
Rains fall hard enough, steelhead
And Coho salmon push
Up Lagunitas Creek, past
White House Pool, on up toward Peters' Dam,
Where all up-running fish get stopped cold
By a stone bed, the small clean river
Gravel volunteers spread for the amorous
Males to fin over, spilling milt on bright
Orange-yellow globe jellies females let falldenser
Than water, dropping, fertile
                                                    eggs settle
Between the small stones


Five years of drought, six months
Without a drop
Of rain anddammed,
The creek is depleted. Thin-quick, it runs somehow
Inviolable in shade,
In channels and meanders as
Late afternoon
Moves, beetling along
Past brushy slopes, roadsides, waste fields, what's left
Of a summer's alluviumthe sediments
Outwash to fill, in more time
Than we have, shallow Tomales Bay

Along the "northwest trending transform fault"
(The papers say residents "felt a tremor" or "shudder"
Each time it slips a little)
And we can't or will not imagine the accumulated
Weight of our whole age sloughed in one

Mute eons lying down
In ancient sea-beds, buckled, raised in time
To form the present landscape


Minerals marry
Under pressure, and in heat:

Out of cooled fragments men compose
Convincing stories: from
The fossil record, a corrupted but emended
Text, or what a word reveals of its secret
Origins, by slips, or what seem accidents
Orthography records (words
Differing from worlds by a letter)
                                    from what shows, and slows
The universal
Toward increasing entropy

The garbled truth dreams
Blurt out to a careful listener
You to an accurate, unsatisfactory
Understanding of another (always partial,
Tentative, and apt
To be refuted
By the testimony of some later dream
Or act:)

                                  Indian summer's blue smoke is

Sketched in over a thin, receding line
Of hills

Inside, there is talk
And listening in your language, mutable, and rife
With tropes
                         these tricks

Of perspective sometimes
Ease the soul, walking up and down
In the earth, looking in and out.
Now I'm inclined
To move, down from the roof, to join the field
Sparrows. Are you there?


End-of-October, and the water
Bearing light builds
Transitory halls
Of mirrors. The minor shrill
Auroras (of anthracite,
Shatter, in shade falling
From Oregon alders, just upstream
Of White House Pool, on up
Toward Peters' Dam. Now the circuitry
Of photosynthesis decays, the colors fade,
Drained, or get replenished by the eye
Looking inward, and again outward, as we are left

These impressions,
That lie, full of truth, easily, like sleep
On water's apparent surface, changing as
We gaze on it


Poems by Jamie Irons:

On Hearing, But Not Seeing, a Cardinal
A Second Reading of The Book of Tea
Celestial Mechanics and the I
Mowing the Field, I Spare Convolvulus,
Blue-Eyed Grass, Wild Iris, Wild Hyacinth
Spring Equinox Spent at Planned Parenthood
Fourteen Lines for Elijah by the Sea
Motion in Three-Space, Motion in the Plane
Beautiful River
Finding the Complex Roots of Unity
After the Shipwreck, Crawling Back to You
The Calculus of Variation Holds

TIMES TEN: An Anthology of Northern California Poets