Alaska Haiku

Vast vessels through time
Ships of ice surf mountain waves
We name them glaciers

Beyond lake and road
Mountains rising proud through mists
Dare to reach for God

Eyes sting, nose wrinkles
Gray smoke, black trees, red gold flames
We drive silently

Otter on her back
Baby clutched on her chest
Rock-a-bye on waves

What need of any god
Born of imagination
Nature is divine

Dark green spruce arrows
Shoot high from gray brown rock bows
Bent above the sea

Marsh ducks and tall cranes
Silver road and iron rail
Gray blue Turnagain Arm

Green summer lingers
While golden autumn arrives
Winter white awaits

Suddenly a city
Anchorage stakes our land claim
Mountains ignore us


The road like molten silver
With a streak of gold
Flows, flows
In endless stream
Through endless green

Trees, shoulder to shoulder, crowd the banks
Of the silver and gold road
Claim all vision
All possibility
On either side

Ahead mountains surge upward
Freeing themselves
From the marshalled green ranks
That cling and climb
In doomed determined effort
To best the summit

Tall sharp shooter spruce
Bayonet the watery sky
Then guard the shores
Of the leaked sky lakes

This land is wider than any poem
These trees are deeper than any picture
This road is longer than any map
These lakes are bluer than any color
This sky is louder than any sound
These mountains, ah, these mountains
Rise higher than any god

Here is infinity
Now is forever
Vast is divine

Driving Through Montana

persistent slow as the fields
stretched sonorous
sky to sky
grass and grain
gold and green
dawn to dusk
work to rest
work again

steady slow as the growing
plant to seed
tend the growth
sprout to stalk
pray for rain
ripen to harvest
smell the sun
tractor, thresher
reaper, combine
silo, grainery
fallow fields
winter rest
begin again

straight slow as the train tracks
made for long loads, steady pulls
rulers laid between field and road
measured progress
from terminal to terminal
division lines across prairies

We are will-o’-wisp
picture takers
memory makers
strangers in this long strong land.


Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust
We birth,
live and die
within that “to”

To smell the space perfume
Dripped by stars
Through the firefly night

To stroke the storm
That jerks the chains of leaf and limb
Insistent that trees heel

To finger your lover’s face
Taste the heavy honey
Of bodies shared

To glimpse a child at play
in a world not of any god’s making
creator of a private universe

To wail in silence at a wake
Pound fists sore
On death’s locked door

Ashes to ashes,
Dust to dust
In that short “to” lives
All the beauty and terror
Of life