Imports: Middle East

Would you believe me
if I told you once the
carrot was purple
but a sickness came
over them and they
turned the color of curry
and all the carrots in the
world come from the cradle
just like you did—the cradle
and the angel—see, you
said once, see? Where
the angel dips her hands
in the ocean, there lies
the center of the universe
where you are from and
will never return
for fear of war and nitrate
and sickness that comes
not from nature but man
the violent pursuits of
kings and farmers
who dip their hands
in the center of the universe
and create chaos
and call it science,
are we not all on the verge
of utter transformation
teetering between extremes
is it rotten, you asked,
with my teeth halfway
through a purple carrot
not rotten, I said,
just rather old.

–ECW

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A Native

This place, this now, you can see it

you can see what it is too, beside

the quiet border you trace around it

this is a home town too, among other things

among everything else. I was born here, 

in this empty lot, that was a hospital

in a room with one rectangular window 

packed with people I would never see again,

including my mother. Cities are cruel that way

but not all together so, there is a mother here

in the rubble and the dust, and as far 

as I ever got I came back to it, 

I learned to love it

to love myself in it. 

The west was won in a saloon

over a poker hand 

and a screaming slot machine. 

This place remembers even the drinks that were spilled 

the out turned pockets, and moment before 

the wheel stopped turning and any number 

was a winner, you had to pick one was all, 

and you did, because the charm was ammonia 

on a weary life. There was beauty in it, and I 

can remember coming home over the valley to 

an oasis of light. The stars were false

but the city was true, I felt it then, a fortune 

of gaudy joy, be this city, it said to me, 

and I was, suddenly and always a native. 
–ECW

Mojave 

A desert underneath

The crooked line that makes the shore

Which calms and curls the sand back

To an image of itself.

The winding pull of water still

Remembers every grain of sand

It’s hot rough essence, the quiet still

At the bottom of the current

On the crest of a dune. It calls out

With a winded hush, what matters now 

Is water, what has always been, 

what will never be

Enough. A desert underneath, 

takes time to quench. 

Santa Cruz, 2016

They came to see the death
–even my mother, who turns from the evening news–
shuffled quickly to the edge and bent to better see.
The air was sweet with the prayers of strangers
and yet, they came to see the death
to witness the unyielding bay
which swells on the rocks and tempts
even the bravest to jump,
a dare–perhaps–an urge.
On this day, we stood quietly, hands wrung
while they searched for the swimmer
who was not swimming
who was surely lost.

–ECW

Europe, Summer 1997

we count first on our fingers
in bundles of five,
the places we have seen
the people we would visit
then we count from memory
the houses whose doors are yellow
standing out against rusted drainpipes
taking a second moment before
becoming grey in the passing view.

We watched the compounding skyline
which began as rooftops but became high-rises;
a wooden rendering of our own jourey,
which began on foot and boarded the railcar.
You, looking at me from behind our father’s glasses,
offer up a sigh of relief–we are moving now.
Moving on to something else.
We were young but I remember a sense of longing
an emptiness only time can fill,
following the footpaths of cobbled alleys
knowing a home-land in a place I’d never been.

–ECW

Stations

thoughts before i start a new job

.

.

 Beasts know it true

to guard against the larger

and feast on the lesser

this is not the only rule

rather a lesson of bounty;

of knowing ones station:

what stands before us

always a conflict of weight.

And yet we are burdened

with other means. A look 

in a look in an instant. 

And what we look for 

are cues of weakness, smallness

in another. We are looking 

outward with wide thirsty eyes

when the vital notion is inward,

essential and unknown. 

–ECW

Coracle

for my father whose friend has passed

That silence spoke for itself
an infinity of wide open eyes
and I stood with you at the edge
with my hands on the brim of your
canoe and gave a gentle nudge.
Ours was a bond of time
as much as it was friendship
and after all these years,
my quiet hope for you is peace.
As it is for myself; as it is for my children.
We have seen enough to know
the difference between life and living
the difference between happiness
and the burden of hope. I wish
you carry all this life’s sweetness
with you on your journey, even
the bittersweetness,
which came with time.
–ECW