Friday, October 29, 2021

This Trip We Didn't Quite

From the bubble that is Berkeley, unbursting

with high brows. I can imagine a softball game  

between subjective idealists versus dialectical materialists.

The polysyllabics, small shops from yesteryear,

university of diverse hills, homeless tents contained

in People’s Park soon to be razed for dorms. Ghost

of Mario Savio, burnt draft cards. Deer

reminding us whose woods these are.


Off to Brentwood, space redefined,

near Livermore, near Antioch,

exurbia near nothing,

sprawl of paved vineyards, patches of farmland

awaiting their fate. Homes behind gates,

safe yet some sinking in the clay of it

as if reclaimed by the elements.

Too far from Sacramento, tough drive to the bay

but there is Bart in its far reach.


Eugene in its splendor, awash in yellow

with ash and dogwood, sorrel and maple,

raspberry to rust, orange between,

clinging or falling, a blizzard of lizard leaves

droplets of dew or misty air stitching each

leaf in its funereal curling. Hamamelis,

elderberry and umbelliferyl bush. Is it

raining or is it not? Umbrellas are a signifier

of Californians. Natives wish it away.


Portland, destination of those in flight,

city of bridges, of two rivers rushing.

Hippies, to boomers to home-owners association,

tear-downs and preservation, urbane and foresters,

Portland of bikes and microbrews

atoning for its history, its shame. Portland,

still whitest of all cities. Only Portland

can be better than Portland.


For micro-moments I can see with Peggy’s eyes:

blue scrub jay darts across golden birch unleaving.

Tears of grief and joy, mingled beads on each fallen leaf.

Who offers the menu with tattooed arms, is noted,

who pushes the wheelchair and waits.

All our kin with wide embrace, love

in the salmon, the cereal and the shrimp,

the pasta, hummus and enchiladas.

Bountiful, the autumnal razzle-dazzle,

the silence of sheets in strange beds.

This trip we didn’t quite, this love letter.



  1. The journey continues, fall contains the seed of spring. Revival is not a choice it emerges just as the budding dogwood

  2. It takes rich soil, virile mulch and loving care...or at least 2 out of 3.

  3. Remarkable, Norm. Ron’s comment is lovely.

  4. A pilgrimage of love, remembrance, and hope.