Big Sur

It’s the symbolic mystique of the place
and the thread of life that clings to the edge there.
It’s the quiet Zion of a Redwood stand
and the spiny leaves of thistle glistening
with morning dew on a canyon trail.
It’s the aching Buddhism
and the cliff-side alchemy of Esalen.
It’s the still-raw synthesis of land and sea,
the cadence of the waves
and the primordial ministrations of the tide.
It’s the home of gurus and goddesses,
the shrine of canyons and cliffs,
where Nymphs might nestle in wildflowers
and Sprites might caper in rocky streams.
It’s the mathematic perfection of Monarchs wings
and the clean scent of eucalyptus on the salty air.
It’s the coded message of a million stars
in the clear black night,
telling of travels through time and space
to twinkle a silent requiem for sunset.
It’s Highway 1, the black serpent,
winding its way along the California coast,
bringing a new perspective to Paradise.
It’s the Beat poets pilgrimage to Bixby Bridge
and the cathedral of arches
that calls the bards of sage and chaparral,
of sunset and starlight, of time and tides,
of butterflies and morning fog,
to reveal in humble words the nimbus glory
and inexplicable splendor of Big Sur.

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Midnight on MUNI

If you ride long enough,
You’ll see it all—
A host of Apostles,
Come Peter
Come Paul
Come grifters and drifters,
Gangsters and geeks,
Globetrotters, drag-queens,
Colorful Sikhs,
Graduates, dropouts,
Goatees galore,
Drug addicts, groupies
And $10 whores,
Libertine ex-marines
Out on a mission,
And cagey old skinflints
Starved for attention,
Runaways, Romeos,
Hustlers and hacks
And gigolos
Making the bucks
On their backs,
Hoodlums and hippies,
Harpies and hags,
Rasta men hoping
To score their next bag,
Business men, prostitutes
Pickpockets, pimps,
Beer-bellies, barflies,
Winos and wimps,
Musclemen, misfits,
Mumbling nuts,
And hotties with hip huggers
Tight on their butts.

You’ll see housewives
and hookers,
Felons and flakes
Arrive with a hiss
And a squeak of the breaks,
Minorities
Menaced by cultural fate,
And immigrants
Doing their best to relate
To rabbis and rebels,
Rummies and rats,
Criminals, crackpots,
Cold-blooded cats,
Freeloaders, floozies,
Cops on the beat—
You never know who
You might find in a seat.

There’s Tom O’Bedlam,
And Jack-on-the-dole,
Delirium tremens
Shaking his soul,
A gin-sucking savior
Heralding doom,
His harrowing features
Speckled in spume.
There’s palm readers,
playboys,
Poets and pigs,
And frustrated actors
After a gig.
So don’t be surprised
When framed in the door,
With pee-stained fatigues
Dragging the floor,
Is an unsettled vet
With a case of the tics,
Who’d do anything
To get his next fix.
Rarely policed
And knowing no sin,
He’s a beast at the feast
Who’s loosing his skin,
Who’s spun like the rest
From one batch of clay,
But retrogressed
Well beyond
codes of the day.
He’s too close for comfort,
Too close to us—
Too close in his kernel,
If not in his husk.
When he suddenly screams,
“We’re all gonna die!”
The passengers squirm
And the driver replies,
“Go on. Get off—
Back in the street!”
Then lets out a scoff
As he leaps from his seat.

And what do you do
While waiting to go,
And wondering who’s
Really running the show?

You sit back, don’t hide,
Try to relax
(As long as the guy
Isn’t wielding an ax)—
Let angry drivers
And dispossessed vets
Work out some balance
Of common regrets.
It’s sure to enrich you.
Just sit and decide
To join the crew
And enjoy the ride.

AT THE MOUTH OF SAN FRANCISCO BAY

The old rock
white

with the bird
shit of ages

hunkers down
in

rough water
a place

of rest
and

the bawdy language
of gulls

The Fog Horn

From the cliffs at Land’s End,
where the sea is full of horses,
jaunty headlands of Marin slowly disappear.
The fog sloughs in on ancient feet;
The bay is wrapped in elephant’s Skin.
All is mute and gray, dormant, damp and dim,
when water droplets hang in air
like thick mouthfuls of unsaid prayers.
But clap the helm when the foghorn sounds,
It sounds a lusty blast and raises up
the shroud of day with hollowed,
hungry notes—away!

We build too many walls and not enough bridges. – Isaac Newton

We build too many walls and not enough bridges.
– Isaac Newton