Category Archives: california

Urushoil: Watch Yourself

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Watch yourself guys
near these leaves of three
along and off the trails we

stroll – the anointed
pretty little leaves

how wet and ready
to wipe fire
across your skin

look how the bees search buds
and how they search
for better buds

Animals aren’t affected by urushiol’
I tell my boy

he asks me why
the plant exists

I try not to answer
with some conclusion that some of nature
needs defence only against people

‘Perhaps there’s something special about them
we don’t know yet.’

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homeschool ravens

after days of rain we need to leave
the house is all spelling and online
math lessons wwhaat’s fo-or diiinnner
and the constant repertoire of piano
that sometimes accompanies the theatre
of my nightly dreams

midmorning cease, the grey sky ascended
distant, moving east. we take an apple
boots and a notebook each
into the woods behind, knowing
post-rain Fall is written for the senses

the burnt patch from early Summer
starting to sprout barely, mostly blackened
inside acres of yellow; the knee high kind of grass, sharp
through clothes, the scrappy kind that looks beautiful
for about ten weeks a year

the burnt earth exposes rocks and its soilless quality
this is manzanita land, oaks and the determined pines
with creamy nuts if we do the work

the house that burnt, it’s garage levelled, a drill press;
will it work again? a garden gnome stares from inside
temporary fencing (not at us) lifeguarding the covered
in-ground pool
no trades have touched this place yet

the house next door burnt two years ago
and rebuilt from its event of kids and cigarettes

my kids always find the best sticks and compete
bulrushes in the awakening dry creek
are about to burst, like those they found last week
explosive, unstoppable, these aren’t quite ready
my middle boy shows us all pushing with a thumb

two ravens in a flurry from the greater pines
and a great brown owl with it’s bulk body
is all wingspan and pointy eared out of a flattened face
we chase them for an hour following the bird terror
around the valley, a hunt for a glimpse
of the great night creature, who lands and disappears
into pines or oak, found again by the two crafty ravens
who we thank for exposing the rare evening bird

a deep closing bluish-grey approaches
faster than my estimate to make it home on little legs

because it is a fine day and

someone made
the rule: no one should have to school
on their birthday

it’s my birthday
and we do
the right thing

we school
for everyone
has to work
or study when the day falls
on a Wednesday

and why should it
be any different
for a homeschooling family

for I am to teach them
responsibility

and work ethic, I am
to teach them how
hard life is and how
hard they need to

we finish before midday
and go skating all afternoon